The Perfect Thanksgiving Menu

The perfect Thanksgiving menu requires a lot of thought. A lot of brainstorming. A lot of energy. And sometimes a lot of tears. To avoid that last one (and just the overall stress and suck-the-life-out-of-you thing), I’m sharing my favorite Thanksgiving menu picks this year. There’s a whole lot more Thanksgiving love where these come from but to spare you the task of sorting through endless recipes, I picked out the best of the best (or at least the ones I’m hankering for this year).

Many, many of these recipes below have make-ahead tips to ensure the stress level and maximum oven usage isn’t overloaded on the big day. Always a plus.

I’ll be sharing a handful of other recipes this week (the perfect Thanksgiving pie + a tried-and-true easy roll recipe) but this is should get you started. A few of the highlights are…

that slow cooker turkey (most delicious, most tender turkey in all the land)
the sweet baked ham
the fresh cranberry chutney that changed my view of cranberry “sauce” forever
don’t forget the buttermilk potato rolls; takes Thanksgiving rolls to a whole new level
the creamy confetti corn? I’m always slammed with requests for the recipe
same with my beloved spinach salad (and that homemade jello is not to be underestimated)

So much love. I can’t even start with the desserts. Ok, I can’t stay quiet. I’ll just say this: the pumpkin pie cupcakes are totally happening and so is the peanut butter cheesecake and apple pie, that’s all I know.

Ok, I’m done. Happy menu planning!

turkey and ham




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23 Responses to The Perfect Thanksgiving Menu

  1. Christy says:


    I just wanted to share with you how I decided to change things up a little this year.

    Since I’ve begun reading your blog, I’ve become so inspired by you and recipes that I decided to base my entire menu off of your recipes. Here is what I chose:

    Slow Cooker Turkey with no fuss Gravy
    Fresh Cranberry Chutney
    Thanksgiving Stuffing (used loaf of Rustic Crusty Bread)
    Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
    Stuffed Apple & Bacon Sweet Potato Casserole
    Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole
    Buttermilk Potato Rolls
    Banoffee Pie
    Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

    Before you say anything, Yes that was for just my Husband and I & Yes I am completely crazy for attempting all of that in my tiny apartment kitchen. But let me be an example to everyone; It was a huge success, anyone anywhere can pull this off as long as you plan ahead and prep everything. I enjoyed every minute of the challenge. I’ll also have you know that EVERY single recipe I chose I had not made before. So this experience is a testament to how “doable” all of your recipes are, even though they are all from scratch.

    I hope you don’t mind if I share a little of my experience with you.

    My saving grace for being able to successfully knock this out with one oven was the turkey recipe. It was complete coincidence that I chose it and was later thankful that I did because at one point my oven had four different dishes in it and I realized if I had a turkey in there, there was no hope to finish everything at a decent time. My Husband was a little weary of it at first because he wasn’t going to get his crispy skin, but was literally eating his words later because we have had yet to eat a juicier turkey breast. Thank you. My husband is gradually learning to stop questioning your wisdom
    I specifically chose the cranberry chutney and that sweet potato casserole because my Husband is normally not a fan of either. Oh. My. Gosh. He LOVED the Sweet potato casserole. In fact, he claimed that was his favorite part of the meal. The cranberry chutney however, I couldn’t get him to try. But I still consider it a win with the Sweet Potato Casserole. I was thrilled. (plus more chutney for me)
    Everything else was amazing, I’m looking forward to pulling out the other half of the green bean casserole that I split up into two 8×8 glass pans.
    In fact, when Christmas rolls around I doubt I will do much cooking at all. I have the green beans, half of the rolls, cranberry chutney, leftover turkey, and gravy in the freezer on standby for another meal down the road.

    I’m sure this isn’t he first time you’ve heard this: But I rarely leave comments if any at all but I just couldn’t go on without letting you know about this experience and how you’ve probably changed my Thanksgiving lineup forever. I love your cooking style and how you strive to make your recipes as simple as possible but from scratch as well. This really speaks to me and I look forward to raising my family on REAL food. I’m even saving my pennies for a Bosch mixer and Komo mill.
    Please keep up the great work. You are truly an inspiration.

    • Mel says:

      Oh my goodness, Christy – your comment seriously made my day (and almost made me cry, honestly). Thanks for taking the time to comment back with a full report of your Thanksgiving meal. I’m so flattered you trust the recipes here and am SO impressed you made such a spread for you and your husband. He’s a lucky guy. 🙂 You are a rock star in my book!

  2. Laurel says:

    Hi Mel- you are my go-to for recipes and have been for a really long time. I’m putting together my Thanksgiving meal plan RIGHT NOW and had a thought- for next year, perhaps- maybe there are others out there like me who are “in charge” for their family’s get togethers and have visitors coming for not just turkey day, but several days. Do you have recipes that can feed large groups or some that would be easy to “mulitply”…I’m in for several days of cooking, not just one. Though the other days will certainly be less fussy than Thanksgiving (and ya better believe one day will be leftovers and another will be ordering pizza!!), I still need to feed my whole crew. This year, in addition to my family of seven, we’ll be having 9 kids and 4 “grown-ups” joining us! Serenity now! 😉

  3. melissa says:

    This is always my first stop to get focused and excited for the upcoming holidays. Thank you for being a big part of our family cooking traditions.

  4. Kelsey says:

    We love your sweet baked ham! I don’t think I can ever make ham another way! I want to try the brined turkey this year. It looks fabulous!

  5. Emily says:

    The creamy confetti corn is to DIE for. I made it a year or two ago for the first time. It received raves!

  6. Paige says:

    YUM! I’m so excited for Thanksgiving this year! All your recipes look delicious! I’m definitely going to be trying out several of your recipes this holiday season!


  7. Janet says:

    ps……I am very traditional and to me, Thanksgiving is for turkey. We usually have ham for Easter. I don’t like offering more than one meat at a holiday meal. For Christmas we usually have Beef Roast or Chicken Steaks.
    just me!!

  8. Janet says:

    Thank you for helping with some new ideas for our Thanksgiving table. We have the favorite way of making turkey, stuffing bake, potatoes n gravy, but I like to try new things also.
    One of my kids ever asked for Holiday dish is my fruit salad…… has red jello, cubed…..fresh and canned fruits…..whipped cream…..we call it Mom’s Window Pane Salad.

  9. Jessica C. says:

    Looks great, Mel! I’ll see you on Thursday. What time do we eat? 🙂

  10. Jen T says:

    Yum! Thanks! We have made your banoffee pie and creamy confetti corn with bacon for thanksgiving the last few years. Yum! They are a constant on our menu!

  11. Rachael says:

    This looks so amazing EXCEPT I really think that cranberry fluff Christmas salad should also be a Thanksgiving salad. I made it last night for our annual “Fakesgiving” and my husband told me it needed to be on our table way more often (but he didn’t see all the cream cheese and whipped cream that went in!!).

  12. Laura says:

    LOVE this post so much!!! Thank YOU!!!!!!

  13. Liz says:

    Cranberry chutney – perfect! I made cranberry marmalade yesterday and have some leftover cranberries that will make a perfect small batch for me, me, me!

  14. Sheila says:

    Thank you for all this hard work on our behalf. The Thanksgiving decision is still so hard with all your excellent recipes to just pick a few! I have been wanting to make those pumpkin cupcakes.

  15. Christine says:

    One more question….have you ever smoked a turkey? Any tips?

    • Mel says:

      Oh my goodness, YES! It’s my favorite, favorite way to cook a turkey. I’ve never included a recipe on my blog since not everyone has a smoker (although you can do it on a grill, too). I always brine my turkey beforehand (actually using the same brine recipe for the roasted turkey above in this post) and then I use apple or hickory to smoke it.

  16. Christine says:

    I always come here first when planning any menu! Thanks for all the great recipes and inspiration! Just wondering….do you think the slow cooker turkey would work with the entire bird rather than just the breast if I had a big enough slow cooker to get it all in there?

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