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Nov 10, 2006 03:31 PM

Thanksgiving Dinner ideas

Hello all. I'm starting this thread with my first pass thanksgiving dinner menu. I'd like everyone to chime in with either their menu, with references for recipes, or recipes they have followed with the best results for items on my menu. If it gets too long(I hope!!) I'll split it out into two topics.

Also, what is your 'must have' side on Thanksgiving? Mine is a plate mix of mashed potatoes, corn, and gravy.

My menu with -- recipe places for some items

-Cheeses (sharp cheddar, irish cheddar, one other – longmont cheese shop)
-Shrimp & cocktail sauce - Costco

-Brined Smoked Turkey(~12lbs) -- epicurious for brine
-Oven Roasted Turkey(~15-20lbs) -- open roaster w/lift out

-Corn(frozen, warmed w/salt, pepper, little garlic)
-Mashed taters
-Greens(collard, little mustard)
-green beans w/ almonds
-Salad with cranberries, oranges
-YAM-bilee w/ marsha mellows – maybe just fluff
-Corn Bread(one traditional, one chile’s and corn) -- betty crocker cb
-Mac n Cheese(homemade)
-Homemade Cranberry dressing -- back of cranberry package, less lemon
-Sausage Stuffing
-Wild Rice

-Cider – hot apple or Sparkling cider
-Egg nogg – rum yum yum

-Pecan Pie --
-Pumpkin Pie
-Ice Cream & Whipped cream – homemade fresh

-Champagne(White Star, need flutes)
-Riesling/Sauv B(have, might want one more Kim Crawford)
-Chardonnay(have 1 devils lair, 1 Indian Wells, might want to get more madfish)
-Pinot Noir(Have Williams Selyem, Sharecropper)
-Port(have, dessert)

-Case fat tire


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  1. Wow! What a menu for your first Thanksgiving - I'm impressed, can I come?

    Here's my changing menu (about 10 people). Having a postage-size galley kitchen in downtown Boston, I really have to plan ahead. Trying to figure out if I should add that Sweet Potato Gratin with Chipotles. Questions: Has anyone tried keeping mashed potatoes warm in a crockpot? Also will be trying my first deep-fried turkey with a new electric turkey fryer. How important is brining and type of turkey with this method? And what's a good injection flavoring recipe?

    Baked Brie en croute with cranberry compote
    Blue cheese and caramelized shallots dip with rosemary chips (Epi)
    Herbed Marinated Jumbo Cocktail Shrimp


    Deep Fried Turkey
    Do-Ahead Gravy
    Grand Marnier, Apricot, and Chestnut Stuffing (Silver Palate)
    Mashed potatoes with caramelized leeks and fresh thyme
    Braised Carrots with Parmesan (Hazan)
    Peas and Pearl Onions Au Gratin (adapted F&W p.257)
    Jellied cranberry sauce
    Cranberry sauce with Marsala, Rosemary, and Cherries (FunwithFood)

    Cream Cheese Biscuits (frozen Meetinghouse 72-layer)
    Crescent Rolls

    Brandied Pumpkin pie (Epi)
    Anybody have a favorite cheesecake recipe that can be adapted to mini-cheesecakes?

    17 Replies
    1. re: Rubee

      If you're in Co, sure :-) Not first thanksgiving, but first pass at the menu. I'm a shameless thief of good ideas for dishes or recipes, which is the reason I started this thread.

      And I'm going to steal your Brandied pumpkin pie idea, because it sounds more interesting than the recipe I've followed before.

      1. re: TNC

        Well, I won't be in the neighborhood, but I'll take a shipment of leftovers. : )

        1. re: TNC

          Yes! Thanks for starting this thread!! Although I went ahead and posted my menu before I checked everyone elses... but I have to ask RUBEE--

          Is this the recipe you are modifying? I think this would be another perfect dish with the prime rib because SO loves pearl onion dishes. :) (With peas instead of edamame)


          1. re: Dommy

            Hi Dommy!. Ooh, that recipe sounds great, but no, this WAS the recipe I was going to make (especially because Barbara Lynch is the chef at my favorite restaurant in Boston)


            but my husband looked at my menu and said "gratin? what happened to my plain old creamed peas and onions".

            HA. Every year he wants it simple and I try to doctor it up so I like it. So now am contemplating doing a basic recipe and just adding some caramelized shallots. Though I'm quite intrigued by Gardencub's Nana's creamed onions with brandied cream sauce.

            1. re: Rubee

              Thanks Rubee!! Whee!! :)


        2. re: Rubee

          this thread will be very helpful for me since i'm doing thankgiving for 25. yikes! have done it the last few years but never for so many.

          also, being a shameless recipe thief - i'm totally stealing your blue cheese dip idea. anything that can be made ahead is key.

          some thoughts about desserts - last year i made sweet potato pie and i thought it was better than pumpkin (sweet potatoes are way more manageable than fresh pumpkin and have a way better texture than canned pumpkin). just a thought.

          also, i made this cheesecake for a christmas party last year and it was fabulous and very easy. i substituted red currants for the strawberries. it was nice to look at too:

          1. re: hopalong

            Thanks for the cheesecake recipe! I just bought this mini-cheesecake pan because it was half-price, and wondering what I can do with it that isn't pumpkin.


            And that blue cheese dip is great - one that quickly became a crowd favorite. Dad even requested it for both his birthday and anniversary this year. It's even better two days ahead.

            1. re: Rubee

              I made an interesting cheesecake last T'giving, called pecan pie cheesecake. You buy a frozen already cooked pecan pie- slice it
              in 6 slices. Place the slices onto the cheesecake crust inside to spriing pan. Then you pour the cheesecake stuff over the slices of pie, covering it. I made a rum sauce with pecans, butter, and brown sugar to spoon over the served slices.

          2. re: Rubee

            It's important that you don't brine a turkey you're going to fry. The added moisture could cause the fat to boil over and besides, it's unnecessary. By injecting and frying, you're going to have a really juicy bird. My favorite injection is olive oil flavored with fines herbs. It's subtle and won't overpower the rest of your thanksgiving flavors the way that most of the spicy/garlicy injections will.

            1. re: Rubee

              I was just given one of those tabletop Sabrett hot dog carts with 4 steamer inserts and am planning on using it Thanksgiving to keep my mashed potatoes and stuffing and 2 of the veggies warm while I make the gravy and carve the turkey (unfortunately good help is hard to find around here). I expect it to work out great, and I could see a crock pot working here too. It lowers my stress level just thinking about it.
              I'm also planning on trying the Chipotle Sweet Potato recipe, and since I just got back from upstate with a bushel of beautiful Winesapp apples, was thinking of putting some quarters of that in it too. Anyone who's already made it, do you think that would work out?

              1. re: Rubee

                My friend often makes the Apricot/Grand Marnier stuffing from Silver Palate - it's very good.

                What is do ahead gravy? Do you have a recipe you could share?

                Already had my Thanksgiving Dinner (Canadian!)

                1. re: ElizabethS

                  I linked to a recipe below for the gravy that is basically what I do( though instead of butter, I usually have schmaltz or rendered chicken fat on hand). I started doing it when I bought a deep-fried turkey, but now I always make it beforehand. If I roast a turkey, I just add the pan juices to the gravy.


                  1. re: Rubee

                    Thanks for posting this link! My least favorite part is running around like a crazy person at the end trying to get everything out on the table and making the darn gravy at the same time!

                    1. re: bananie

                      Now this is HANDY information! How far ahead can yu make it? Will it refrigerate overnoght and heat up well the next day?

                      1. re: Susanbnyc

                        I missed this - sorry for the late answer. I've actually made it weeks ahead and froze it. Yes, you can freeze gravy (I just found this out in the last couple of years!). This year, I made the stock last weekend and froze it. Defrosted this weekend, and am making the gravy tomorrow.

                2. re: Rubee

                  Hi there,

                  I just looked in my Silver Palate book to find the Apricot and Chestnut stuffing, and couldn't find it in the index or chicken chapter. Could you please direct me to the page number, it sounds very tasty!

                  1. re: Laura Jones

                    Hi! I should have said it's in the Silver Palate "Good Times" Cookbook. Grand Marnier Apricot Stuffing, page 285 (I use the exact recipe but add chestnuts,some Bell's seasoning, and a couple TB of chopped parsley or sage).

                    Recipe here:


                3. Here is our Thanksgiving menu: appertizers - cocktail meatballs in chili/BBQ sauce (freeze and cook overnight in crockpot!), shrimp w/ cocktail sauce Salad - frisee/radiccio lettuce with blue cheese, toasted pecans & sliced pears w/ balsamic mustard vinaigrette, main - brined roasted turkey, do ahead mashed potatoes with cream cheese, sour cream & chives, roasted root vegetables (sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, turnips, onion) with maple syrup glaze, stuffing with corn bread, celery & mushrooms, carmelized brussels sprouts with shallots, and dinner rolls. this year I decided to "outsource" dessert (bakery): pumpkin pie, pear frangipangi tart and choclate chambord mousse cake. Then we retire to the family room, unzip our pants and watch football!

                  1. Wow, that's a feast! I really like Cook's Illustrated Pecan Recipe. I have the problem they tried to solve that when you cut the pie, the pecan pieces don't cut but get pressed into the pie. They have you chop the pecans first. Doesn't look the same but it tastes great. As corn bread goes, I really like spoon bread. It's easier to eat and not as dry. For corn, I love Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn. I've baked it, too, and it's really good. For shrimp and cocktail sauce, I like Costco's big shrimp (if you aren't planning on making it, they have a frozen precooked-- I can't remember the number per pound, maybe 12?) but I don't like their cocktail sauce. I have a recipe for a cranberry salad-ish that's made with whipping cream, cranberries, pecans (can't remember what else). If anyone wants,I can post that or the C.I. pecan pie recipe.

                    As for what we're having, my SIL is hosting this year so that means queso dip for appetizer (can of cheese whiz, can of chili dumped in a crock pot) with nachos, dry turkey, Stove top stuffing, green bean casserole, potatoes au gratin (sliced potatoes, cream on top--that's it), gravy from a jar, oh, but there will probably be mashed potatoes from scratch!

                    1. I change my menu every year. Well, I should say, for turkey day, most of the recipes are experiments. This year is no exception. The only repeat will be the garlic rosemary mashed potatoes. I am going to change the technique though. I will try Marcella's potato cooking method, ricer and all, with my way of making potatoes. I usually boil the potatoes in chicken broth with the garlic. I warm the rosemary with half and half, then toss it in after the butter.

                      The only thing I haven't quite decided on is which turkey, stuffing and gravy recipe to use. If I get more than 10 guests, I am going with JK Grence the Comic Jester's link below:


                      Butternut squash and apple bisque (I may change this, I'm not enamored with it, but it looks pretty good).


                      Rosemary garlic mashed potatoes
                      Roasted sweet potato wedges with bacon vinaigrette
                      Cauliflower with mustard lemon butter
                      Brussel sprouts with shallots and wild mushrooms

                      Pumpkin tiramisu
                      Banana cream pie
                      Chocolate pistachio torte with chocolate ganache

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: beetlebug

                        My mother-in-law (on my husband's recommendation) made Tyler Florence's turkey for about 22 people last year and it was a huge hit! Here's a link to the recipe: <a href=;&lt;img src= title="MySpace Comments" border=0></a><br><left><a href=';&gt;&l... size="2">MySpace Comments</font></a></left>

                        It's a maple-roasted turkey with sage and smoked bacon. I would not be lying when I say that it was one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten!

                        1. re: josheva

                          I just saw that turkey on FoodTV. That bird looked so beautiful coming out of the oven, I was tempted to change my menu.

                          1. re: Rubee

                            It is delicious and was a huge hit! If I were making Thanksgiving dinner this year, I'd use it. :)

                          2. re: josheva

                            Thanks. This looks great. It's on the short list. I'm really intrigued by the bacon on top of the turkey.

                        2. We go traditional, for the most part. There will be about 20 of us. I do the desserts and meal, my family guests supply the appetizers. As you can see, we are vegatable lovers!

                          Appetizers: Mexican dip, shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs, clam chowder, chips, cheese, dips and stuffed mushrooms

                          Mashed pototoes
                          Green Beans
                          Butternut Squash
                          Sweet Potatoes
                          Creamed Cauliflower and Onions
                          Moms Cabbage Salad
                          Asparagus (added to please my 5 yo nephew)
                          Cranberry sauce - both homemade and canned

                          Apple Pie
                          Blueberry Pie
                          Lemon Meringue pie
                          Pumpkin or squash pie
                          Am also toying with some kind of chocolaty thing. Love these boards for ideas