Published on October 20, 2020

Planning a Thanksgiving menu may seem straightforward—after all, you already know what the main course will be—but when you’re aiming for a less predictable spread, that’s when things can get complicated. Each side dish, salad, and dessert should have flavors that work together while also catering to the pickiest members of the family. It can be done, but the key is thinking it through in advance. 

From make-ahead appetizers to knockout sweets that go beyond pumpkin pie, here are the Thanksgiving recipes worthy of your table.

Ginger, Cardamom, and Rosemary Gin Cocktail

Impress your guests with something fancier than wine. This zesty, aromatic beverage from Jessi’s Kitchen is a great way to elevate your pre-meal (or post-meal!) cocktail hour.

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Photo by Jessi’s Kitchen

Roasted Butternut Squash Tartines

These prepare-ahead tartines feature a delightful mix of sweet and savory thanks to the squash and tomatoes. Make them for a festive starter, or whip them up in the morning for a tasty Thanksgiving brunch.

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Photo by Cody Guilfoyle

Beet-Dyed Deviled Eggs

Not your typical garden party staple. Pink beet “dye” adds some extra pizzazz to this crowd-favorite app.

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Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Roasted Butternut Squash and Purple Plum Salad

Salads are usually an afterthought on Thanksgiving, but it’s time to change that. Hearty kale, juicy plums, and sweet squash mingle with umami-rich Parmesan and a splash of lime to make this recipe a definite winner.

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Photo by Cody Guilfoyle

Roasted Squash, Caramelized Fig, and Feta Salad

The autumnal salad to end all autumnal salads, Half Baked Harvest’s squash and fig concoction is just as delish as it is photogenic. Serve it up with the turkey or as an appetizer to get those greens in between bites of stuffing.

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Photo by Half Baked Harvest

Butternut Squash Soup With Coconut and Ginger

For a slightly more unorthodox (but nonetheless delicious) first course, try Jeanette Peabody’s fall soup. Silky and sweet, it’s the ideal kick-start to an evening of indulging. 

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Photo by Kristen Strecker for Food & Wine

Burnt Carrots

Pay no attention to the title; there’s nothing negative about this tricolor veggie dish, courtesy of Sunday Suppers. Sweet on the inside, crispy on the outside, this simple side will quickly become a mainstay in your repertoire beyond Turkey Day. 

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Photo by Sunday Suppers

Sage Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

A Thanksgiving staple gets a fancy twist with crispy sage and decadent brown butter. It’s the ultimate comfort food and, since it’s a holiday, you have free rein to indulge in as many servings as you want. 

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Photo by Michael Wiltbank

Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Pine Nuts, and Green Olives

This fresh take on the trendiest fall veggie, courtesy of Athena Calderone, is a salad for people who hate salads. A light lemony dressing ensures you won’t fill up before getting to the good stuff—aka the pie. 

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Photo Courtesy of Athena Calderone

Cauliflower Gratin

This outrageously flavorful dish makes a great Thanksgiving side—and it’s slightly healthier than classic potatoes. If you’re entertaining for a health-conscious crowd, it will be a lifesaver. Seconds, anyone?

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Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Apple Hand Pies

If your aunt is bringing the full-blown pie, try a mini version for your contribution. Oh Sweet Basil’s recipe for the tiny treats is more buffet-table friendly than traditional deep dish—but there may still be fighting over the last one. 

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Photo by Oh Sweet Basil

This story was originally published in October 2019. It has since been updated. 

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