HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Your Unique Thanksgiving Dish

  • s

Name one dish you traditionally make for Thanksgiving that *probably* nobody else makes. Unique to your family, at least that you know of.

I'm interested to see what form tradition and inspiration can take, even though it all stems from the shared tradition of Thanksgiving.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I make Brussels sprouts with cream, butter, and parm. I bake it in the oven. It is amazing. I've never met anyone who eats them that way (if they eat them at all.) When given the chance, I will also make my special butternut squash risotto with bacon, parm, and brown butter. I am going a bit rogue for tomorrow and making something I have never seen at a holiday dinner, honey bbq baked beans with chopped bbq beef mixed in.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sisterfunkhaus

      Those Brussels sprouts sound great. I do completely traditional everything on Thanksgiving day, and am trying to cut down on waste, so not doing Brussels sprouts tomorrow, but the market had some great looking fresh ones, so I may put them on my list to do later in the weekend:) Care to share some more specifics?

      1. re: sunflwrsdh

        Sure! The recipe is from years ago pilfered from Todd English, but I can't seem to come across the actual recipe anywhere. It's a gratin.

        I wash about 1.5 lbs of sprouts and dry them and cut them in half. I generally heap them in a small casserole dish, including the loose leaves. I pour heavy cream over them. I would guess about 1 cup or so. It needs to be enough so that when it is done they will be coated with a nice amount of sauce, but they won't be swimming in it. Next, I cut up 3-4 tbs of butter in cubes. I toss those on top, then put in a couple of handfuls of good grated parm. I add salt and pepper and a clove or two of chopped garlic. I stir it all together. I cook for about 20 minutes on 400 and then stir. I put it back in the oven for about 25 more minutes, or until the sprouts are tender. I do not boil them before baking, but if you do, I would cut the cooking time back by 10 minutes or so.

    2. Desserts that conspicuously aren't pumpkin pie, usually creme caramel or a cranberry tart in nut crust (from Martha Stewart). I'm not making either this year, as I am dining alone, and am off sweets to the degree I can be.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jay F

        My daughter made Martha's apple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for yesterday's dinner. They were heaven.

        1. re: sisterfunkhaus

          Do you remember which book the apple cupcakes are from? Thanks.

      2. Kasha varnishkes; lokshen kugel.

        4 Replies
        1. re: mamachef

          Mmmm..... I make sweet potato and carrot tzimmes instead of a tradional sweet potato casserole. And I love a good kugel.

          1. re: iluvcookies

            Do you put prunes in your tzimmes? I do a tzimmes pot roast to die for...

            1. re: mamachef

              I use raisins since prunes aren't well liked in our home. Dried cranberries also work well, though they are not traditional, just tasty.

            2. re: iluvcookies

              Oh, kugel at Thanksgiving. How yummy.I love noodle kugel with a passion.

          2. Going back at least to the 60s, my granddad (deceased in '97), made something he called Wonderful Cheese. When he died, Wonderful Cheese died with him because he never wrote down the recipe. I have brought it back to life, though. From memory, I recreated it and it's very close to the original.

            Basically, I make a cheese log (only a couple of inches in diameter) out of extra sharp cheddar, cream cheese, L&P worcestershire, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne. I then roll the log in chili powder. And then I roll it again in crushed pecan. After that, it's wrapped in saran wrap and refrigerated until meal time. Truly a blast from my family's past.

            Requiescat in pacem, granddad.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Perilagu Khan

              Sounds mighty gooooood, PK. Enjoy the day!

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                Yum, that sounds like a variant of pimento cheese. And very tradition-worthy.

              2. A spinach and gorgonzola 'souffle.' My sister introduced me to the recipe and it may have come from her MIL. Anyway, I've been making it for 15 years so that counts as tradition, I hope.

                8 Replies
                  1. re: mcel215

                    Here you go:

                    Spinach & Gorgonzola Casserole
                    1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, undrained
                    1 16 oz. container small curd cottage cheese
                    4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
                    ½ c. butter, melted
                    3 T. flour
                    5 large eggs, beaten to blend
                    Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 6 to 8 cup soufflé dish. Place spinach in large bowl, mix in cottage cheese, Gorgonzola, melted butter, and flour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add eggs and stir til blended. Transfer to prepared dish. Bake until spinach is set in the center, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or room temperature.

                    1. re: tcamp

                      Sounds yummy and I can't wait to try it -- I've been checking back every few hours since your first post to see the recipe!

                      Your post and the original post reminded me of a story about one of my students. I teach in a school with a large number of immigrant children. One day a few years ago, my students and I were discussing the holiday Thanksgiving in class. One student, a young girl who was born in a Middle Eastern country, expressed her excitement about having spinach lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner. Turns out that when she and her family first arrived here in America they were at a refugee shelter over the Thanksgiving holiday. The center had had so many mouths to feed on Thanksgiving day that they had run out of the traditional turkey and trimmings. So, reaching deep into their freezers, they began pulling out what they could. And this girl's family had a wonderful feast of spinach lasagna and garlic bread. The family cherishes the memory of the event and the delicious food so much that they now make spinach lasagna every Thanksgiving in lieu of turkey. :)

                      Thanks for the recipe for your Spinach and Gorgonzola Casserole, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

                      1. re: AnneM5

                        Yikes, this will make the foodies cringe! I just got a call for an addition to the menu -- Watergate Salad. You know, the one with pistachio jello, crushed pineapple and Cool Whip. But it is pretty hard to resist a breathless-with-excitement child. I don't know which is worse, the request or the fact that I have the ingredients!

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            Ha! It took me a minute. Will do! :)

                            1. re: AnneM5

                              That Watergate Salad had to be the best thing on the table, just for the context of your story! "...pretty hard to resist a breathless-with-excitement child..." I am touched with how sensitive you were to the little one's request.

                      2. re: tcamp

                        Thanks, sounds so good. I will add this one to next Holiday dinner.


                  2. Either Xiao Long Bao or dumplings.

                    1. In answer to my own question, for us it's onion pie. We've been making one for at least twenty years.

                      9 Replies
                        1. re: mamachef

                          From another thread:


                          How much of the bacon fat you use is up to you. I probably don't make it the same way twice in this regard.

                          So now it's your turn... what is lokshen kugel? ( I know I should know this, I might have my membership card revoked.


                          The nutmeg should probably read 1/8 teaspoon. Use sparingly.

                          1. re: Steve

                            Thank you, Steve!! Lokshen kugel is just savory kugel w/ many many variants - can be made of potatoes, noodles, sweet potatoes, spinach......ours is grated potatoes, schmaltz, caramelized onions, smetana, and 'shrooms. If I use noodles, we go all goyische and just call it "noodle kugel w/......", and if it's a sweet version, it's kugel pudding.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              If you go on any further, I will have to sign those adoption papers.

                              Though grated potatoes never liked me as much as I like them. There must be some trick to using them successfully which I have not masterered. I would probably be inclined to opt for the noodle version. I am guessing you layer everything?

                              I am making this next week.

                              1. re: Steve

                                There's a full-on recipe for a family favorite version on WFD #172, which includes all the above, plus a hit of mascarpone, and spinach.....best thing in the whole wide world w/ a roasted chicken.....

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    What's For Dinner. Home Cooking thread. Hey, check your mail, dude.

                                    1. re: mamachef

                                      Hey, Marci. Now you check your mail. I sent you one from my regular account. And I'll check out WFD.

                      1. We have a stuffed cabbage that contains no meat or rice like many others. Save the large outer leaves, cook the rest, drain and mix with cracker crumbs and eggs. Put the mixture in the large outer leaves and tie up in a ball with cheesecloth and boil. When done it still looks like a whole head of cabbage. Slice like a pie after having poured browned butter on top.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: swamp

                          Wow, so interesting! I can't say I've ever heard of that... what nationality's cuisine does that come from? Or is it just a family dish?

                          1. re: kubasd

                            My great grandmother's recipe and she was from Germany. Not sure if it is German or something she picked up once they immigrated here.

                            1. re: swamp

                              Thanks!! Hmmmm... I'll have to investigate! :)

                        2. Wild rice casserole with roast beef and mushrooms. The roast is cooked first, then shredded up with the mushrooms,lots of onions, and beefstock and baked along with the cooked rice. Real wild rice is a necessity.
                          My grandfather's recipe from a little diner along the Mississippi in Iowa or Illinois.
                          (He worked for the Santa Fe in Ft. Madison, Iowa)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bbqboy

                            Sounds good. Wouldn't mind that being a tradition in my fambly.

                            1. You should all give special thanks tomorrow that the following recipe is unique to my family, invented pre-Depression by my grandfather for Thanksgiving: a "salad' of lime Jello mixed with cottage cheese and studded with maraschino cherries.

                              It is simply hideous.

                              We literally just make a small dish of it, and put it on the table like Buddhists leaving fruit at an altar for their departed relatives. It's then thrown away.

                              As Colonel Kurtz put it, "The horror! The horror!"

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: EarlyBird

                                I believe that stuff was dumped on the VC outside the Da Nang perimeter.

                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  "I believe that stuff was dumped on the VC outside the Da Nang perimeter."

                                  Yes, and it was condemned as a war crime.

                                2. re: EarlyBird

                                  I had a roommate in years past who made a variation: peach jello powder, mixed w/ cottage cheese and cool-whip. Oh, the horror, is right - and she was crushed without fail when nobody would touch it. But it always showed up. I remember her making it for a Txgiving that included my adult kids, who looked at it w/ Great Suspicion, politely asking, "what's in this?" And then taking a teensy tinsy infitesimal speck that they then hid under whatever else they were pretending to eat.....

                                  1. It's that Sour Cream Apple Pie that I've mentioned on CH before. Totally yummy. I made mine today so it is well chilled before we go to our friend's tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner.
                                    My mother always made this pie for the holidays, and no other time. And I do the same. (Unless I get an uncontrollable urge when apple season starts, then I have to break down and make one)

                                    1. Not unique, and really no cooking involved (or, not much) but I make a big full antipasto tray for every holiday I host. Three or four kinds of nice olives; pickles; gardinera; hot capicola; salami; prosciutto and melon; figs/dates; three cheeses (usually brie, pecorino, and cheddar); hard boiled eggs; tuna in oil; caponata; homemade pita crackers; marinated string beans, etc. Items vary---whatever looks good, and what I can afford, and I gladly take requests.

                                      Guests pick on it while watching tv while I'm in the kitchen buzzing around. I keep a stash for myself, btw ;-)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                        I could go for that any day of the year and twice on Tuesday.

                                      2. Eggplant "Souffle." An old southern dish, also called Scalloped Eggplant or Eggplant Casserole.
                                        The never-the-same-twice Potato Cheese Gratin with Goat Milk
                                        Savory Pumpkin Soup
                                        Pumpkin Panna Cotta, some years

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: drloripalooza

                                          Recipe for the Eggplant Souffle, please? Please?

                                          1. re: jmcarthur8

                                            Please #2 for the eggplant souffle. Love all things eggplant.

                                        2. I have to say when I started this thead I had no idea what I was going to get. I am so impressed with the responses, I want to try EVERYTHING. From the kugel to the wild rice casserole to the spinach and gorgonzola to the eggplant souffe to the stuffed cabbbage. I might even make my own xiao long bao. Maybe one T-day I will dedicate just to make all these wonderful dishes.

                                          1. I'm asked to make a Syrian dish called bazargan, a sweet and sour bulgur and walnut salad, each year.

                                            1. I'm not making it this year because there is just two of us and we have so much food already, but I often make a cucumber salad. Use a mandolin to slice the seedless cucumber very thin, set overlapping slices out in a flat serving dish. Sprinkle lightly with a dressing made of whisked rice wine vinegar, a touch of sugar and salt and red chili pepper flakes. It's a nice, light, fresh and sweet-mildly spicy side with all the heavy, roasted things. Also, very simple to prepare. I know cucumbers aren't very Autumn-y, but the flavors appeal to me in combination with the turkey and other things.

                                              1. When I was doing The Family TG dinner, I'd always add scalloped oysters because I love'em if nobody else does … but as of this year the family dinner is kaput. However, on Friday we always go to my niece's house in San Diego for TG2, because my brother flies there from Nashville. Maybe three years ago I brought some scalloped cabbage I'd made from a whole lot of leftover braised cabbage. It was such a huge hit with niece and her brood that she insisted I bring it every year. No secret recipe involved: just braise the cabbage until it's tender but not mushy at all; make a cup of white sauce for each quart of cabbage and mix together; spread out in a baking dish, top with buttered crumbs and bake until browned and bubbly. To make the trip easier I take creamed cabbage and crumbs in two Ziplocs and use one of her dishes.

                                                1. Back in Maine: lobsters, clams, mussels, home smoked scallops and crab dip app. Screw the veggies! Here in NM, red chile and pork "gravy" and a side of pork and red chile tamales.