What’s for Thanksgiving Dinner?

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Thanksgiving is the day every year that we gather our loved ones close and give thanks for all the blessings in our lives over a deliciously home-cooked feast. Celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November, the day is generally observed with parades, football, and — of course — the dinner, with a plump, juicy turkey at the center of a myriad of side dishes to satiate any palate. If this is your first year hosting Thanksgiving — or if you just want to make sure you have all your bases covered — check out the most popular dishes served for Thanksgiving dinner.

  1. thanksgiving-turkey
    The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal: the turkey.


    • There’s a reason Thanksgiving is nicknamed “Turkey Day,” and it has nothing to do with bowling. Although turkey likely wasn’t served at the first Thanksgiving (and nobody’s quite sure how the tradition started), eating turkey has become synonymous with Thanksgiving dinner. Unless you’re opting for ham, chicken, or another turkey substitute, chances are you’ll want your meal centered around this perfectly cooked bird.
  2. Stuffing

    • Although nothing says “Thanksgiving” quite like a turkey, the meal wouldn’t be complete without a hearty filling with which to stuff it. If you don’t have your own go-to recipe for this classic dish, check out some creative and appetizing stuffing recipes to thrill your guests.
  3. Mashed Potatoes with Gravy

    • Good for any day of the year, especially as a comfort food, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy is about as close to food heaven as you can get. Try this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, and consider swapping out the chicken stock for turkey broth to make this dish even more Thanksgiving-y.
  4. Cranberry Sauce

    • Amidst all of the savory Thanksgiving dishes, cranberry sauce offers the perfect sweet-yet-tart combination to shake up your tastebuds mid meal. Try it canned or air on the side of adventure and make yours fresh.
  5. Green Bean Casserole

    • Perhaps the newest edition to the Thanksgiving feast, the green bean casserole wasn’t invented until 1955 although it quickly rose in popularity and is now a staple at most Thanksgiving meals.
  6. Sweet Potatoes

    • Although they’re sweeter than regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are just that primarily due to the cinnamon, sugar, and marshmallow topping. Eat them like baked potatoes or try making a sweet potato casserole.
  7. Corn

    • Whether it’s on the cob, creamed, off the cob, in a casserole, or made into bread, corn had a place at the first Thanksgiving dinner and has remained ever since. Even if you aren’t a fan of corn itself, you’re sure to find a corn-based recipe that will thrill your tastebuds.  
  8. thanksgiving-dinner
    Thanksgiving dinner is a great time to feast on autumn’s seasonal vegetables.

    Fall Vegetables

    • A rather broad category, “fall vegetables” covers all of the family favorite dishes from butternut squash to caramelized carrots to coleslaw with fresh cabbage. Incorporating seasonal vegetables into your meal can give the dinner a final touch of fall.
  9. Pie

    • It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pie — most notably pumpkin pie — to round off the meal with a delicious dessert ending. While apple, pecan, strawberry, and cherry pies are all big hits, pumpkin pie is usually the crowd favorite, inspiring a whole season of pumpkin-spiced goodies.
  10. Other Sides

    • Aside from the staples, there are other popular side dishes that people choose to serve during Thanksgiving dinner. Rolls make a great pre-dinner appetite-whetter, as do cheese plates, light soups, and other savory appetizers that get mouths excited for the feast to come.