Thanksgiving. I love the holiday. And I’ll confess, I’m totally, 100% in it for the turkey. Love it the day of and for days afterward. Mmm, yes, I love me some turkey. Better yet, I love me some tender, juicy turkey smothered in mustard and sandwiched in a soft dinner roll.

Over the past few years, I’ve detailed some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. I like to stick with what we think of as the classics and not go overboard. I’m not crazy about spending three days before, pulling an all-nighter, and slaving away in the kitchen the day-of. Simple, traditional and straight up good food (and lots of it!).

This year, we’ll be celebrating with my brother and his family who gloriously moved within 30 minutes of us recently. Below is the tentative plan for what we’ll be devouring. You’ll see a few of the old stand-bys (with links to the recipes) as well as some new recipes that I’ve been wanting to try (if they haven’t been tested and tried, I haven’t linked to them but you may seem them pop up in the next few weeks as I experiment!). Also, check below the menu for my tips on what recipes can be prepared ahead!

If you haven’t already planned your Thanksgiving menu (and seriously, it only speaks to my insane nerdiness that I actually have), I hope you’ll gain some inspiration for your meal. If you already have it all planned out – please share! What’s on your menu?

Appetizers
*Note: I’ve never forged into the realm of appetizers for Thanksgiving but I love the idea and am going for it this year. I may or may not decide it was a bad idea. I’ll keep you posted.*
Pretzel Crisps with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Blue Cheese and Bacon Deviled Eggs
Bruschetta (classic or maybe a fruit variety)

Drinks
Citrus Water Punch

Main Course
Roasted Brined Turkey
Perfect Turkey Gravy
Possibly this Slow Cooker Maple and Brown Sugar Ham also (we always had turkey and ham at Thanksgiving growing up and it makes for some good leftovers)

Sides
My Favorite Stuffing (Celery Herb Stuffing)
Green Bean Casserole (Make-Ahead!) or Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon
Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (my favorite mashed potatoes in all the world)
Cheesy Cauliflower Bake or Spinach Gratin
Honey Lime Fruit Salad or Creamy 5-Cup Fruit Salad
Lion House Dinner Rolls or Buttery Cornmeal Crescent Rolls (with lots of extras for…you guessed it…leftovers!)

Desserts
*We shall not be enjoying all of these desserts (too much work for my lazy bones!) but I haven’t narrowed the list down sufficiently so I’m including all the options at this point.*
Bittersweet Chocolate Torte
Blue-Ribbon Apple Pie
Old-Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie
Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Cheesecake

Make-Ahead Tips
Citrus Water Punch can be made ahead 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated (add lemons and limes just before serving to avoid a bitter taste).
Stuffing cubes can be toasted the day before and the stuffing assembled the morning of Thanksgiving.
Green Bean Casserole components can be made and frozen up to 2 months in advance.
Mashed Potatoes (any recipe, really) can be made the day before or morning of and reheated and/or kept warm in a slow cooker the day of.
Both the Cauliflower Bake and the Spinach Gratin can be assembled the night before (don’t sprinkle on the bread crumbs for the cauliflower until ready to bake) or morning of and refrigerated until ready to bake.
The Creamy 5-Cup Fruit Salad benefits from being made a few hours in advance and refrigerated.
The rolls can be made, shaped, placed on the baking sheet and covered with greased plastic wrap the night before. Refrigerate overnight and take the rolls out about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on the warmth of your kitchen) before you want to bake them to let them come to room temperature and double before baking. I like to bake the rolls the morning of Thanksgiving and keep them covered with a towel to stay tender – it helps free up oven space later in the day.

45 Responses to My Thanksgiving Menu

  1. what a great post! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas : D

  2. jackie says:

    Thanks for this post – glad to see I”m not the only one that has already planned their dinner :-)

  3. Kim in MD says:

    I am loving your Thanksgiving menu, Melanie! Can I invite myself to your house for Thanksgiving dinner this year? ;-) Seriously, every single recipe on your menu looks amazing! The brined turkey recipe that you use is the #1 rated recipe on FN, so it must be totally amazing and well worth the cost of the candied ginger. I alway brine my turkey, but haven’t tried that brine recipe yet. Also, your green bean casserole recipe is the best I’ve ever had (and no canned soup-yeah!). I love your make-ahead tips (you know I am all about doing as much ahead as possible). I love that you can make the rolls the night before and refrigerate- brilliant! You can also bake your cheesecake anytime between now and Thanksgiving and freeze it. Take it out of the freezer the day before Thanksgiving…cheesecake freezes beautifully!

    Isn’t it funny how every family has their favorite Thanksgiving food traditions? It’s not Thanksgiving at our house without the cranberry sauce and the candied sweet potatoes (both home-made, of course…none of that canned stuff!). I noticed that you don’t have a cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving menu. I have an amazing, crazy simple home-made cranberry sauce recipe (make ahead, too) that my family loves. Let me know if you want me to e-mail it to you! Trust me when I say that turkey + stuffing + mashed potatoes + green beans + cranberry sauce = Thanksgiving heaven on a plate! :-) Again, thanks for the fabulous menu, Mel!

  4. Jody says:

    You are definitely not the only nerd planning their Thanksgiving. In fact, I was just creating my Thanksgiving folder yesterday with printed out recipes and created a grocery list spreadsheet for all the ingredients I will need. I originally was going to have a casual 5 adult/1 toddler meal but found out last minute that my brother, sister-in-law and two kids will be joining us for 5 days!!! So that snowballed the planning.

    On Thanksgiving day:
    Turkey and gravy
    Stuffing
    Make ahead mashed potatoes (Pioneer woman)
    Green bean casserole (will now make ahead- thanks!)
    Corn casserole
    Homemade rolls (make ahead and freeze)
    Pies

    For the long weekend:
    Chicken Enchilada Lasagna (Freezer meal)
    Baked Ziti (Freezer meal)
    Breakfast burritos (Freezer meal)
    Cinnamon Rolls (freezer meal)
    Sweet potato muffins (Freezer meal)
    Breakfast casserole
    Freezer biscuits.

    I’m planning on making as much ahead of time and freezing as possible as I will be taking a 5 day trip to Denver the weekend before and not getting home until 10 pm on Tuesday, then working on Wednesday – YIKES!

  5. Shannon says:

    I must be a bigger nerd than you say you are, because I’ve had my menu planned for about 2 weeks already! I’ve never hosted Thanksgiving at my house, so I’ve always brought sides and desserts to someone else’s house. My in-laws are coming, so I should have their help in cooking the turkey, but if they don’t have a recipe (which I’m sure they do), I’ll be using yours. In addition, I HAVE to have my mom’s cornbread stuffing recipe, which I make every year. My in-laws are Puerto Rican, so I’m sure they will be making rice (it’s awesome). I’m also planning mac n’cheese, either green beans or asparagus, sweet potato delight, rolls (probably using one of your recipes!), pumpkin pie, apple pie, and oreo truffles. It sounds great in theory, but we’ll see if I can pull all of that off!

  6. Amanda says:

    U. R. Awesome.

  7. Heather Miller says:

    I knew you would come through with a post like this and I have just been patiently waiting! And I am glad it happened sooner rather than later! Thanks for all the amazing ideas…I am sure Thanksgiving (well actually, all holidays for that matter) is absolutely spectacular at your house! I am hosting this year and hope to use some of these great recipes! Thanks again!

  8. Mandy says:

    I love it! I use your dressing recipe every year and it gets rave reviews each and every time! We are traveling for Thanksgiving this year, so I won’t be cooking :(, which I am actually sad about. Your menu plan sounds amazing, I may use some of these ideas at Christmas!

  9. Stephanie says:

    Shannon–I don’t know if you’ll see this reply, but I have Puerto Rican in-laws as well. Arroz con gandules is good, but my MIL’s pernil (roasted pork) is fantastic. She brought it to our Christmas party last year and everyone was raving.

    Mel–Your menu looks fabulous! I usually love Thanksgiving and start planning at least a couple months in advance. This year we are keeping it small (just our family of 5 plus my little sister), so I haven’t really gotten into the spirit yet. Just thinking about all those yummy recipes–well, I’m definitely more motivated now!

  10. Allison says:

    Looks great! I am definitely using some of these recipes for our Thanksgiving!

  11. Ashley says:

    These all look fabulous! I was really looking forward to trying the mashed potatoes, but the link goes to pork chops! Oops! Can’t wait to try them when it’s fixed. :)

    • Mel says:

      Hi Ashley – it is actually the right link. If you look closely at the pork chops recipe, the mashed potatoes recipe is kind of hidden in there. I need to split it out to a separate post but until I do, the dreamy mashed potatoes are with that pork chop post. Hope that helps!

  12. Liz says:

    Thank you so much for the menu! We are still in the “figuring out who’s coming” phase, so once I have that I’ll be on to the “what we’re eating” phase. You have some great ideas here, and I really appreciate the help that gives me. I LOVE your website, and have made quite a few things from it, and can’t wait to try more!

  13. Sherri Beattie says:

    I love people that plan ahead. My husbands family waits until the last possible minute so it is usually up to me to bring all the sides. Hmmm maybe they plan it that way on purpose! I am making:

    green bean casserole, pineapple stuffing (we are trying ham and turkey for the first time), corn casserole, pumpkin praline (which is a dessert but I put it on the table as a side dish-yum!)

    I have never made homemade rolls as I just joined the land of yeast dying to try though!

  14. Ashley says:

    Thank you very much! :)

  15. I start thinking about Thanksgiving dinner probably in September! It’s seriously my favorite holiday. I love the idea of having bruschetta as an appetizer…I usually think of Italian dinners to pair with that, but it sounds perfect for Thanksgiving, too.

  16. Jaqui says:

    You’re a genius! Your site is my absolute favorite!

  17. Jackie Brown says:

    I think I’ll become a nerd, too, based on the conversation. I’m going to start my plans also:) I love the freezer meal ideas, Jody, posted because I AM a freezer nerd. I love to cook just to have leftovers to freeze! And wow, Mel, I’m impressed with the extensive full course Thanksgiving menu. It’s inspired me.

  18. Rachael says:

    Your Thanksgiving meal sounds great! I started planning mine last week since we are moving this weekend. I do all the traditional recipees but I include: cucumber punch, 3 layered blueberry (or blackberry) jello salad and I may include a strawberry pretzel salad or a cookie salad too.

  19. Michelle Rocha says:

    Can you fix the link for the mashed potatoes? they sound yummy and I would love to have the recipe, but it links to pork chops…Thanks!!!

  20. Eva says:

    “lazy bones”? HA! i don’t believe it for a second.

    i’ve been following your blog for a while but haven’t left any comments but thought i probably should! i LOVE your blog and your food. it’s been wonderful trying all new recipes and shaking things up. i’ve even shared a few things on fb and got some people into your site that way – just today i recommended it to another fb friend. i like it b/c it’s so much better than a “professional” cooking site. it’s more like good friends sharing recipes – that way you know you can trust them. b/c they have kids and a real life.

    and the funny thing is, we only have 2 degrees of separation between us. i know suzie (doll) egge from our home church in SD. we moved to NE but i think she must be how i ever found your blog in the first place. so keep em coming!

  21. Kira says:

    Can I just come to your place? Lucky for me, actually, we will be having Thanksgiving with the in laws. So, I will only have to bring a side or dessert. Good luck with all that hard work!

  22. Liz says:

    Thank you for sharing this! We are hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever this year and I am getting anxious about the whole turkey cooking and carving thing. I’ve been watching carving videos on youtube in order to learn the proper way to carve. In the past, my family always shredded the turkey and served it on a platter so that by the time it made it to the table the turkey was dry and chilly. Not good.

    In addition to the turkey, I will be making cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry jello salad and maybe your five cup salad. I still haven’t decided on making rolls or must having a guest bring some. I’m worried that I will try to do too much and mess everything up!
    Thanks again! Love your blog!

  23. Lauren says:

    I stumbled upon your blog today. OMG, I’m in LOVE! I can’t wait to try out some (most… okay ALL) of your recipes.

    This isn’t spam, I promise nor is it a shameless plug — but I see that you’re possibly going to make a pumpkin pie, and I wanted to pass along my recipe. I tried this last Thanksgiving and it was to DIE for. Check it out: http://www.recipe-arsenal.blogspot.com/2010/11/best-pumpkin-pie.html

  24. Sheila says:

    Our yearly Southern menu for Thanksgiving and the only time I can get my mother to cook since we all left home: Your brined turkey (I must remember breast side goes down!), your crock pot ham, mom’s giblet gravy, my cornbread dressing, mom’s sweet potato casserole, mom’s lima beans, your lion house rolls, deviled eggs, and skinny pumpkin pie.
    YUM! Not too many leftovers, which can be good and bad. Love the ideas for use on another holiday.

    • Mel says:

      Hey Everyone – just a reminder that the link to the mashed potatoes is actually correct! It links to the pork chops and if you look at the recipe for pork chops, the mashed potatoes is right there with the ingredients listed below the pork chops. As I mentioned in my comment to Ashley – eventually I’ll put the potatoes in their own separate post but for now, the pork chop link is correct!

  25. Heather Conger says:

    You are a thanksgiving person of my own heart, no nasties in the stuffing, no nasty stuffing in the bird, and a flour not corn starch gravy, and I love the idea of creamy cauliflower. Wow I can’t wait til I can do my own Thanksgiving dinner some day I will definitely keep this post in my book to come back to these great recipes, and I can’t wait to brine a turkey.

  26. Paula B. says:

    I’m all about the turkey too. (And, I like mustard on my turkey sandwiches also.) The menu sounds scrumptious!

  27. Janelle says:

    I recommend your stuffing to everyone. I’m a stuffing hater. This is the only stuffing I’ve ever liked, and I LOVE it. Though I suppose, technically speaking, it’s dressing since I don’t actually stuff it.

  28. [...] more: My Thanksgiving Menu Categories: Thanksgiving, Turkey, Uncategorized Click here to cancel reply. [...]

  29. Ashlee Marie says:

    Hi! I’ve never commented on here before but I wanted you to know that I absolutely love your blog! I am an avid reader and am always trying your recipes! Just wanted you to know how much I love your stuff! Keep up the good work!
    -Ashlee

  30. I started thinking about Thanksgiving as soon as November arrived. I will be celebrating at my parent’s house and will probably help with the planning and prep but we haven’t actually started planning yet. We plan to get together this weekend to map it out. Your menu looks delicious though and hopefully we’ll incorporate those mashed potatoes of yours!

  31. Sallie Sullivan says:

    I’m with you on the desserts. My kids will protest if we don’t have pumpkin. My brother in law loves coconut, my in-laws like apple and pecan and I might die if there isn’t some type of chocolate involved. I don’t know how I will decide!!

  32. Lisa says:

    Thank you, thank you for your awesome website! This is my first post and its long overdue! Stumbled across your site about 6 months ago and have been thrilled ever since with all of your excellent recipes, tips and ideas. I’m amazed that you have the time and energy to test all these meals and maintain such a great site. And your enthusiasm for cooking has definately inspired me. I needed some thanksgiving ideas and you had them on there! Very cool! Keep up the awesome work and blessings to you and your family.

  33. Leslie says:

    I am totally going to annoy you with all of my questions. We are traveling 5 hours to spend Thanksgiving with friends this year. I am planning on making your brocolli & rice, green bean casserole, & your rolls. Do you think I can make all of this ahead of time (the day before) and put in cooler and cook when we get there?? Your versions are so much better than the easier, less tasty versions I am used to making. I’d love your suggestions, but totally understand if you don’t get back to me!! Many thanks!!

    • Mel says:

      Leslie – no worries – you aren’t annoying me, I promise! Do you want to bake the rolls in advance or just shape them? I definitely think you could make the broccoli and rice casserole and the green bean casserole ahead of time, refrigerate and then keep well-chilled in a cooler to bake at your friends’ house. For the rolls, I would suggest baking and freezing the rolls earlier in the week and then pulling them out the morning you travel. They’ll come to room temperature as you travel and before dinner, I’d lightly tent with foil and warm them in the oven for dinner. You could also try shaping them, placing them on the baking tray and freezing them – and then taking them out the morning you travel. If they are on a level, safe surface while you drive, they’ll probably have just the right amount of time to come to room temperature and rise (maybe even rise some more once you get to your friends’ house) and you could bake them there. The only risk you run with that option is that with the bumping of the car, they could deflate while rising – depending on how long it will take you between the time you take them out of the freezer and arrive at your friends’ house.

  34. Jescee says:

    Does this recipe work well with a roaster that you plug in? Also, can you by vegetable stock by the gallon or am I going to have to measure it out?
    Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Jescee – I’ve never made it in an electric roaster so I’m sorry I can’t help you with that one. I have found vegetable/chicken stock by the gallon in some of the stores in my area – otherwise you can measure it out or make a homemade version. Hope that helps!

  35. [...] that’s right – a bacon-wrapped turkey!Mel’s Kitchen Cafe has shared her entire Thanksgiving Day Menu – from perfect turkey gravy to blue-ribbon apple pie – it is an inspirational [...]

  36. [...] Kitchen Cafe has shared her entire Thanksgiving Day Menu – from perfect turkey gravy to blue-ribbon apple pie – it is an inspirational [...]

  37. Please please please post a hummus recipe! It is easily my favorite appetizer and one I feel silly buying since it’s glorified bean dip, but I haven’t found a nice, practical recipe. I serve an amazing chickpea curry that would be fantastic accompanied by hummus and big tasty pieces of naan (your recipe rocked my world) that is all…

  38. Clarissa Meegan says:

    This is such a great post! I seriously can smell the Brined Turkey just by reading your post about it. I think it will also be making an appearance on our Thanksgiving table this year!

  39. Keri says:

    What is your recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Hummus?

  40. Heidi H. says:

    I’m all about the traditional stuff, too, but this year I’m adding a Sweet Plantain Pie that I tried out earlier this month! Yum!! http://www.thelatinkitchen.com/blogs/2012-12-06/sweet-plantain-pie-tarta-de-maduros Check it out! And Happpy Thanksgiving!

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