Recipes the World Forgot: Thanksgiving

Are you deep in the throes of Thanksgiving menu planning or is your head buried in the sand? Or maybe you don’t even have to worry about it because you are going to your mother-in-law’s house and she does all the cooking?

Lucky you. Lucky, lucky you.

As you know, every so often, I post a list of favorite recipes that have gotten buried and lost in the archives over the years. It inspires me to remake those family favorites, and the lists have proven helpful for those readers who might be new around these parts and don’t want to search through over a thousand recipes in the archives.

Today’s forgotten recipes are all about Thanksgiving. Each of these recipes is a huge family favorite for the holiday (heads up: I’ll also be sharing some new favorites over the next couple weeks!).

I haven’t officially planned our Thanksgiving menu yet (mostly because I’m not sure what our plans are since most of our extended family members who live close are ditching us this year), but when I do, there’s something to be said for going with the classics (read: now may not be the time to experiment).

Each of the recipes below fit that requirement. Classic, tried-and-true, delicious.

Hopefully the recipes here will inspire a little creativity on your own Thanksgiving or holiday menu plan!

And if you have time, answer me this below in the comments: what are the dishes that MUST appear on your Thanksgiving table (to avoid family mutiny)? 

81 Responses to Recipes the World Forgot: Thanksgiving Edition

  1. Teresa says:

    Mel, thank you for such a wonderful blog! I found your Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake a few years ago while looking for something new and yummy for my birthday and have been a fan ever since. Everyone in my house are huge chocolate fans and we fell in love with it! Since then I have made dozens of your recipes and have found very, very few we didn’t love! You get me so excited to try new things! Even if the title of a recipe doesn’t sound that good to me as soon as I read your post I want to make it!
    Here is a recipe I thought I would share that comes from my husbands family and they never have a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without it. I think it came from his grandparent’s Jamaican maid years ago.
    Pineapple Stuffing
    Cream together 1/2 softened butter and 3/4 cup sugar. Beat in four eggs one at a time beating well after each one. Fold in a 1lb can of crushed pineapple, drained and 5 slices of bread, cubed. Bake uncovered in a greased 9×9 at 350 for about 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Best eaten warm.

  2. Robyn says:

    Hi! Our menu remains the same year to year. Turkey, stuffing, corn, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and most loved…my grandmothers orange rolls-YUM!
    P.S. I’m still star struck meeting you at BYU!!! From the girl who used pancake syrup on the cashew chicken!

  3. Oklahoma says:

    We can’t have Thanksgiving (or Christmas) dinner without homemade stuffing. Not dressing – stuffing. I use the same recipe as my mother and grandmother….it has stood the test of time for a reason! My husband will not eat dressing, even if one of his sisters uses the recipe their mother did. He will pull me aside and say in an undertone (coward!), “Tell sister x you will make the stuffing from now on.”

  4. Kristin C says:

    I am so sad looking over all these delicious recipes! I really could cry right now. I am a Thanksgiving girl big time! I love this holiday and usually have it at my house every other year at least! I love making pies and rolls and eating until I’m sick! This year I guess it’s going to be at a restaurant in San Diego. Never in my life have I had to do this but soccer tournaments don’t seem to care about me an my feeling! Good luck on your Thanksgiving meal! I am sure it will be fabulous!

  5. S says:

    We have to have certain store bought roll or there is mutiny. I brought homemade rolls one year that were absolutely delish but you would have thought the world was ending without the “right” rolls. I buy a ton of packages so there are plenty left for round 2, sandwiches.

  6. Natalie Hedman says:

    Excited for Thanksgiving coming up! I’m always in charge of making the pie in our family. I used to not like green bean casserole too, until I tried the Pioneer Woman version, now it’s my favorite part of Thanksgiving (besides the pie of course).

  7. KK says:

    We always have turkey, mashed potatoes, my moms rice-based dressing and Harvard beets (so good)! There will usually be a few other veggies too, like squash or cauliflower gratin. So good we have the exact same thing on Christmas too!!

  8. Liz says:

    I am making that stuffed apple bacon sweet potato casserole for this year!

    My own must haves: turkey (I really love turkey!), mashers and gravy, cranberry relish (cranberries, oranges, juice, some sugar – not cooked … kind of on the order of your cranberry salsa in method), green bean casserole (homemade except for the canned onions on top) and homemade rolls.

    I might look up the Lion House creamed pearled onions via Sherri Baird’s comment.

    And this year, dessert will be pumpkin ice cream – homemade.

    ***I like to cook my own TDay so I get all I must have. My family is spread out and although I try to get to my Mom’s sometime this time of year before or after TDay most often I enjoy the day at home so my own traditions. I grew up with big family dinners and as I’ve gotten older, I enjoy remembering them but also enjoy a quiet day cooking for me and not needing to be anywhere.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Liz, if you can’t find the pearled onions recipe, I’ll email it to you. It’s a really old cookbook and I don’t mind typing the recipe up for you. What recipe do you use for your green bean casserole? I’m loving the idea of that homemade pumpkin ice cream! I think we’ll be celebrating by ourselves this year, too. 🙂

      • Liz says:

        I’ll send you an email Mel. I’m having trouble with comments last 2 days.

        Green bean casserole I just make a mushroom gravy with frozen French cut green beans and the onions on top.

        Hope this makes it through and sorry if a duplicate pops up!

  9. Tiff says:

    I have to make Chex mix first. My family always made it to snack on while cooking, so the smell as it bakes immediately takes me back to being little, watching the Macy’s parade on TV while shredding or chopping something to help. We also have broccoli with hollandaise sauce on the side. I only make that once a year, and my kids get so excited they probably eat more broccoli than turkey. Drowned in a butter sauce, who can blame them?

  10. Tiffany says:

    There is a old pioneer dish that is a MUST at Thanksgiving. It is whipping cream with pomegranates, apples, raisins, and pecans. All of things the pioneers in St George would have had. It is just not Thanksgiving without Dixie Salad.

  11. Anna S. says:

    Traditions that I WON’T give up:
    STOVE TOP! It is the only stuffing that I like!
    Mashed potatoes
    Jellied cranberry sauce, out of a can!
    My grandma’s broccoli/cheese/rice casserole

    And then a mix of old and new favorites, primarily from blogs:
    Glazed Ham (
    Green Bean Casserole (From
    Confetti Corn – Mel’s Kitchen Cafe 🙂
    Mac and Cheese (Patti Labelle’s recipe)
    Whole Wheat Rolls (
    Lion House Rolls – Mel’s 🙂

    Desserts are always pumpkin pie, something apple-related (cake or pie), and something chocolate because I must have a chocolate dessert!

  12. Kristen says:

    I’ve made your confetti corn for a few Thanksgivings now and it’s the favorite of all my nieces and nephews. We have an interesting old family recipe from my grandmother that we make often on Thanksgiving. Sounds weird but everyone loves it, you layer whipped cream, crushed graham crackers and slices of jellied cranberry sauce. I’m newly married and going to my in-laws this year and my mother in law put me in charge of bringing dessert. I will be making several of your pies to bring. I’m planning on doing your apple pie, cherry pie, chocolate pudding pretzel pie and banana cream pie. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes, they truly make me a rock star in the kitchen!

  13. Courtney says:

    We’ve been make the creamed corn for thanksgiving for years, a family favorite. My mother in law makes a mean wassail, and my family must have your caramel apple Bundt cake, holy moley, divine!!!

  14. Allegra says:

    The absolute must in my family is the 24 Hour Salad. It’s peeled grapes, bananas, crushed pineapple, and mini marshmallows in a lemon curd/custard/whipped cream sauce. I’ve heard of a similar salad called ambrosia but none have quite this recipe. And yes, the grapes must be peeled- we’ve tried it without and it’s not as good. So, it’s a family tradition to hang out the night before and watch some silly holiday movie and peel grapes together. It goes much faster now that we have more adults and fewer impatient children wielding butter knives.

    Not an edible, but we always have five corn kernels at each place and before eating we take turns saying one thing we are thankful for with each kernel. It’s always heartfelt and moving, and frequently funny, and hands down a favorite tradition. When I left home my parents mailed me some of their kernels.

  15. Sherri Baird says:

    Creamed Pearl Onions (found in the Lion House Cookbook). Mild, pop-in-your-mouth, incredible side. My Mother-In-Law served them with our Thanksgiving Dinner. I have loved them ever since.

  16. Evelyn says:

    The cheese ball is a must, but even more important is the pumpkin pie (with real whipping cream, thank you very much!)…for breakfast. At my house, the pies are made the day before so they can be enjoyed first thing on Thanksgiving morning. When we go to someone else’s home for the holiday, I have a hard time remembering that most people wait until after dinner for the dessert!

  17. Paige says:

    We made a lot of your recipes last year for Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit! Can’t wait to add some more to the table this year!


  18. Lucy says:

    You should’ve included your recipe for Chantilly Potatoes! We’ve had that dish on our Thanksgiving table for the past couple of years!! SOOOOO good!!!

  19. Courtney says:

    Besides turkey For me it is always my mother in-law’s sweet italian sausage stuffing. Nothing says Thanksgiving and Holidays to quite like that does.

  20. Julie R. says:

    Grandma’s sweet potato casserole. Pecans, brown sugar, lots of butter. No marshmallows. I even make it when we’re with my inlaws. It’s also my go-to leftover…as in, the leftover I go to first.

  21. Erin says:

    5 years ago, my parents visited my husband and me for Thanksgiving while we lived in the Midwest. My mom found a random recipe in the local newspaper to make and I was honestly a little scared to try it… Some of the ingredients: granny smith apples, pomegranate, pecans, celery, curry powder, balsamic vinegar, etc. It worked and is now one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides. It adds color and crunch to the typically soft and color-lacking Thanksgiving meal!

  22. Ashlee says:

    As I was reading through your recipes, I saw a lot of bacon…and I loved it! Bring on that thanksgiving bacon!

  23. janet says:

    i have had the corn recipe marked since last thanksgiving! excited to make it this year!! Homemade gravy is a must for me. None of that canned business! Thanks for all the great recipes!! We eat your recipes most days out of the week!!! YAY!

  24. Emilee says:

    I don’t like gravy, so my mashed potatoes have to taste really good on their own. I’ve added roasted garlic before, but never parmesan. I’m going to try that recipe this year!

  25. Laura M says:

    Our Thanksgiving dinner must have stuffing, whole berry cranberry sauce and Mashed Melange of Root Vegetables (my own recipe). Our Christmas dinner is a traditional Danish smorgasbord.

  26. Shel says:

    We *must* have roast turkey and homemade stuffing. The stuffing must be made from fresh pulled bread, sauteed onions, celery, various seasonings (sage, poultry seasoning), and cooked in the turkey. The side dishes we serve have changed over the years but those two dishes are a constant on our Thanksgiving menu.

  27. ~ R says:

    My family would revolt and fire me (tempting at times!) if we do not have a big turkey (leftovers for 3-5 days worth of big), mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes (no marshmallows or sweet/crunchy topping), stuffing (box only but I have to add mushrooms, onions, and celery), and roughly one-pie-per-person: one cherry, two apple, one cheesecake, and one chocolate is the bare acceptable minimum. (There are five of us and occasionally my parents. *eyeroll*) Usually that is all I have the patience to make all by myself. But if I have extra stores of patience, your confetti corn is a favorite, too.

  28. Tara says:

    If my (31-year-old!) brother does not have canned cranberry sauce with his turkey, he is a very unhappy camper. So much so that he has taken to bringing his own can to dinner in case someone actually makes homemade sauce! Hah!

  29. Helen Martin says:

    My husbands family has a tradition of homemade noodles served with Thanksgiving. The recipe and noodle making were passed on to my by my husbands grandmother. My kids have now taken over the kitchen on noodle day! I love the tradition and treasure the pictures of them making noodles since they were little.

  30. CrystalB says:

    We must have sweet potatoes sliced, roasted, and drizzled with butter. There are NO marshmallows. We also have to have stovetop stuffing. My husband doesn’t fly with the homemade stuffing. Only storebought box will do. Our pie ratio however, is one per person. No joke. Because we all love different kinds of pie, we all bring our favorites and then we don’t have to share. I will be making a key lime, banana cream, and a pumpkin. It’s grand!

    • Mel says:

      Ok, I love you just for the fact that you don’t put marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. 🙂 And I cracked up at the 1-per-person-pie-rule. That IS grand!

  31. Jen T says:

    Love it when you do this! Actually two things that have to appear are yours! We have to make the creamy confetti corn and bacon and then my daughter always makes your amazing banoffee pie. Yum!

  32. Jessica Chamberlain says:

    Your Confetti corn is a favorite at our house ever since you first posted it several years ago. My boys plow through that, the mashed potatoes and gravy, and then pick the sausage out of the stuffing before waiting patiently (or not) for the pies to appear on the table.

  33. Jenny says:

    We have started a new tradition where we eat whatever we want. So, for example, if my family votes for surf n turf, we have steak and shrimp. We always have some sort of rockin’ pie. I have a cinnamon pie that’s fabulous and a deep dish apple that’s a favorite.

  34. Kristi says:

    Turkey, crock pot stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the jellied cranberry from the can (I think my kids would cry if the “jelly” was missing!)

  35. Blair says:

    Love the idea of the pretzel stuffing recipe.

    I did a survey on TGC Facebook a few weeks back on what favorites for Thanksgiving. I was shocked that green bean casserole was not loved. That is a must have for our house. We also like to do some kind of asian fusion thing (Pho with turkey) to keep it interesting.

    Great site Mel – enjoying it. Thanks Blair.

    • Mel says:

      I’m afraid I’d be in the camp of your fans that don’t like it either! But I totally get why it’s part of the meal. Tradition, tradition! Love the Asian fusion vibe…

  36. Donna says:

    Broccoli salad and of course turkey and stuffing.

    I love hearing about everyone’s favorites. I wish they would share their recipes too!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  37. Annie says:

    We have a lot of musts for Thanksgiving. We always end up with too much to accommodate everyone, but we are more specifics with our Thanksgiving must haves than our Christmas turkey dinner. In no particular order: cranberry from the bog in Muskoka, Brussel sprouts, butternut squash, candied sweet potatoes and cheesy au gratin potatoes. In fact, it is YOUR recipe for cheesy au gratin potatoes (without the corn flakes) that replaced mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving four or five years ago, and now they are a MUST. This year, I made two, yep TWO extra large lasagna pans of potatoes. GONE. I mean, not even a spoonful for leftovers. I was devastated because they reheat beautifully. And Thanksgiving Monday in Canada, the actual holiday, is our leftover day and my favourite meal of the year. Next year, I may have to make three pans. 😀

  38. Heather bell says:

    Mashed potatoes, don’t hold the butter. Rolls, don’t hold the butter. Pumpkin pie, Dont hold the crust. Lol though your crustless pies look tempting!!

  39. Frieda says:

    Our must have recipe is Mimi’s(my mom) Cornbread dressing. I have to make this for my daughter even when she eats with her in-laws. It is super easy and so tasty.

  40. Dona says:

    Make the corn. It’s easy and wonderful. Guaranteed hit.

  41. Janabananagirl says:

    Chicken and dumplings, orange marmalade rolls, and my mom’s amazing homemade stuffing. The first two are carryovers from the Thanksgiving traditions my dad grew up with. The third is a recipe my mom found years ago in a newspaper and has been making ever since. It even showed up as the stuffing layer in a popular Thanksgiving-inspired sandwich at a local sandwich shop my sister used to manage (she took the recipe with her when she left, and their Thanksgiving sandwich was never quite as good after that).

    • Mel says:

      I love, love, love how so much of holiday meals are traditions that have been around for years. They might seem unusual to other people but to us, the ones enjoying them for decades, that’s just how it is! The chicken and dumplings sound amazing, as do the marmalade rolls! I’d love the homemade stuffing recipe, if your mom shares (and I totally understand, if not – recipes can be very personal things!).

      • Janabananagirl says:

        I don’t know how closely she guards the stuffing recipe. All of us kids have it and take turns making it when the whole family gets together. I’ll ask, though. 🙂

  42. Laura says:

    The must haves for us our homemade rolls and mashed potatoes and gravy. And lots of dessert (they don’t care too much what it is, but they’re already lobbying for more pies). I think they wouldn’t care if I changed all the rest. Thanks for all the great recipes – you’ve become my most trusted source for recipes we will like!

  43. Kath says:

    The must-haves are turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry chutney, and pumpkin pie. The vegetables, salads, and other desserts change from year to year.

  44. Jill says:

    To ensure success…we must start with a cheese ball and shrimp ring a couple hours before dinner…my kids would be so unhappy without this! And then it’s pretty much standard fair for the meal! Wishing you the happiest of holidays…your many years of recipes will make mine the best and easiest… Thanks for all you do to make us rock stars in the kitchen!

    • Annie says:

      That is so awesome. Our Christmas Eve staples are shrimp and my father’s famous cheese ball (my very favourite). The rest of the appetizers rotate every few years, but it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without those. 😀

    • Mel says:

      Same to you, Jill! I like how the cheese ball and shrimp are to “ensure success” – that made me laugh!

  45. Kat says:

    We MUST have carrot casserole. The concept is a simple one, a 9X13 layered with cooked carrot coins, a white sauce flavored with a little onion powder, grated cheddar cheese, and topped with buttery bread crumbs. Bake until hot and bubbly and eat til your stuffed.

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