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Thanksgiving Dinner - Favorite Holiday Recipes and Traditions

I will be hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time ever and so naturally I came to Chowhound for some inspiration. Being a Chowhounder, I want to make sure what I put on my table is the best of the best, so I need all of your help. Please join me in scouring the planet for the best stuffing, the perfect pie, and of course, the most succulent turkey recipes. Cranberries, side dishes, starters and leftovers are all welcome as well.

If you have a favorite family recipe or a special family tradition you share around your Thanksgiving table, please post it here. Or, if you know of a great article or another thread, please post a link.

Looking forward to reading about how everyone else welcomes this holiday into their homes!

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  1. http://www.chow.com/stories/11385

    Here is a great article I found on Chowhound with a classic menu offered by Charlie Palmer.

    1. While I am the Thanksgiving Scrooge, there are a couple of things about Thanksgiving (aside from the Pinot Noir) that I look forward to.

      One is my brother's Oyster Stew Florentine.

      He sautes some garlic and a shallot in butter and then gently browns some Proscuitto and a bag of baby spinach. He then add the liquor from a quart of oysters along with a quart of whole milk and a pint of half and half. Heats that up, checks for seasoning (salt, pepper, hot sauce) and lets it simmer to the consistency he wants and then add the oysters and lets them just heat through. He serves it sprinkled with Parmesan Regianno.

      His other dish I always look forward to are his sweet potatoes. He bakes the potatoes about 75% and lets them cool. He peels them and cuts them into big hunks and adds them to a pot that has melted butter, brown sugar and chunks of fresh pineapple and a healthy splash of rum and cooks over low heat (or bakes) until the potatoes are done and the whole thing is a gooey mess of goodness.

      And my favorite is the pumpkin pie. Libby's version with the spices doubled.

      1. As to the gravy, I think I mentioned it in another thread, it's a basic turkey gravy (butter, flour, drippings, broth as needed), with the cooked liver puree'd in.

        As a snack, grandma always made fruit salad, consisting of various fruits (usually banana, apple, peaches, pears, strawberries) and vanilla whipped heavy cream, to be served around lunch time or so to keep everybody tided over until dinner.

        1. You might try cooking the turkey breast-side-down, turning it over half-way through to get the breast side golden. This will give you a moist, juicy turkey (without the breast meat getting dried out). Another tip: If you put the stuffing in a separate casserole dish to heat up in the oven for the last hour or so (as opposed to stuffing it in the bird), the turkey won't have to cook quite as long to get to temperature (again, probably resulting in a moister turkey). Plus, it sure makes it easier at serving time, that you don't have to dig it out of the bird!
          As for sweet potatoes, a favorite for me is to bake them instead of boiling. You don't throw all that extra flavor away in the cooking water that way. You can even do this the day before, removing the peel after they cool. Mash them, and on serving day, add a few ingredients (including 1 egg, for extra moistness and good texture)- top with a streusel-like topping (pecans included is deluxe).
          However you do it, it'll be great. Turkeys are so tasty, even just thrown in the oven and left on their own for a few hours. Who can complain?!

          1 Reply
          1. re: JenniferCote

            I too do not stuff my turkey for reasons stated above, but also becasue I want lots of leftovers. I do a sausage, cornbread, french bread vegies, etc.. style. http://www.chow.com/recipes/13708 I have two different versions of sweet potatoes that I rotate. One is a sweet potato ginger pudding/souffle, the other is a roasted sweet potato "salad" served warm (my favorite, sweet, tangy and spicy)http://www.chow.com/recipes/13666. You must make fresh cranberries, they are so delicious, my Mom makes a roasted pear and arugala salad with goat cheese and nuts.

          2. Hey dkennedy, I am a shameless shill for my mama's cranberry sherbet, which is an icy, light, tart accompaniment to the main course (NOT a dessert!). I'd be happy to share the recipe if anyone is interested.

            We also do homemade noodles, because, really, there just aren't enough carbs in T-day dinner, right? Seriously.

            OH OH OH. Y'all all need to do yourselves a favor and slice and fry your leftover dressing this year, ok? Sliced thin, a little oil on the griddle, fried up crisp on both sides, and drowned in gravy. And when you eat it, you need two forks: one for getting fried dressing from the plate to your slavering maw, and one for menacing your zombie-eyed, jealous relatives who will make desperation dives for every crumb.

            6 Replies
            1. re: LauraGrace

              Nice, love that idea for leftover stuffing, will do. Also, would love the recipe for your mama's cranberry sherbet. Thanks!

              1. re: LauraGrace

                Cranberry sherbet sounds DIVINE! Do post a recipe.

                1. re: LauraGrace

                  Here it is. You can make this way in advance... hell, now, if you feel like it. We've been known to do a double batch and save leftovers a) to accompany hot open-face turkey sandwiches and b) for Christmas.

                  Cranberry Sherbet

                  1 qt fresh cranberries
                  3 cups water
                  1 3/4 c. sugar
                  1 packet unflavored gelatin bloomed in 1/4 cup cold water
                  2 egg whites
                  1/8 t. salt

                  Boil cranberries and water until soft. Push FIRMLY through a sieve, reserving juice and whatever other goodness you get out of those puppies. Discard skins and seeds, return liquid to pan. Add sugar, return to a boil, and boil for five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, whisk in bloomed gelatin. Chill.

                  When cranberry mixture has chilled, whip egg whites and salt to stiff peaks. Fold into cranberry mixture. Now. There are, I suppose, two ways of going about the freezing process. Because of the egg whites, this sherbet never gets rock hard, so we always just keep the whole mess in a mixing bowl in the freezer and run through it with the hand mixer every couple of hours until it's well frozen, but I reckon you could put it in your fancy-schmancy ice cream freezer if you feel like it.

                  Do make it -- it's so lovely! :)

                    1. re: Rubee

                      Thanks to LauraGrace for the Cranberry Sherbet recipe, it sounds wonderful.

                      1. re: dkennedy


                        I come from a restaurant family and although I try different recipes and methods every year to experiment, if you will, my family in the end always looks forward to the stuffing made with breakfast sausage. They say all the fruit, nut and oysters versions I have tried can be forgotten.....

                        Simple recipe......sweat some onions and celery, brown some breakfast sausage and mix all together with turkey stock,melted butter and cream.....eggs optional.