Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve said it for years, and I’ll say it again: It’s the highest of high holy days for cooks and bakers.

If you’re at all like The One and me, we look forward to Thanksgiving dinner for months. We start planning at the beginning of November, shop mid-month, and begin cooking five days before.


Yup, that’s right. We pull our pots and pans the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Dishes like turkey gravy, pie crusts, pumpkin cake layers, cream cheese frosting, cranberry sauce, and so much more can be made ahead of time.

I even make our mashed potatoes and some components of our green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and mushroom sausage stuffing by Wednesday morning.

And that gives you plenty of time on Turkey Day to tuck into a relaxing breakfast and veg out on the couch to watch Macy’s parade. (That’s our 30-year tradition!) All that’s left is the turkey. And if you spatchcock the bird, like we did last year, you can roast that sucker in no time.

Whether you’re a host or a guest this year, I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving.

The word "David" written in script.
A whole roast turkey on an oval serving platter with cranberries, fresh herbs, and orange slices tucked around it.
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Simple Roast Turkey

Simple roast turkey is an easy way to cook the perfect bird for Thanksgiving. And by that we mean the best, most juiciest roast turkey imaginable. A failproof technique, even for beginner cooks.
A person whisking gravy with a large metal balloon whisk in a metal roasting pan.
Weldon Owen
2 of 14

Classic Turkey Gravy

Everyone needs a classic, foolproof, go-to classic turkey gravy recipe. This is it. And all it takes is pan juices or drippings from your turkey, stock, butter, flour, and 20 minutes of your time.
A baking sheet lined with parchment and covered with easy roasted carrots and onions with burnt edges.
Carl Tremblay
3 of 14

Easy Roasted Carrots

These easy roasted carrots boast four ingredients–carrots, butter, salt, and pepper–and one simple and perfect technique for roasting them to magnificence, bringing out their earthy sweetness.

Yummy! The carrots get caramelized nicely and they are tender and sweet. I like them with a drizzle of honey and an extra sprinkle of salt!

vicky f.
A partially sliced pancetta and herb stuffed turkey breast on a serving platter with a serving fork on the side.
David Leite
4 of 14

Pancetta and Herb Stuffed Turkey Breast

Whether you're hosting a small Thanksgiving gathering, or don't have the space, time, or inclination to wrestle with a whole bird, this pancetta and herb stuffed turkey breast makes for an easy holiday main course.
A wedge of bourbon sweet potato pie topped with a crumbly brown sugar streusel on a metal plate.
Beth Branch
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Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie

This bourbon sweet potato pie, filled with sweet potatoes, butter, cream, eggs, spice, and bourbon, is topped with a brown sugar streusel. Suddenly, Thanksgiving is even better.
Green beans with browned butter and almonds in an oval white bowl with a serving spoon.
Connie Miller
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Green Beans with Browned Butter and Almonds

Lemon zest, shallots, and red pepper flakes—as well as fragrant toasted almonds—give classic green beans amandine a bold update with plenty of texture. The browned butter amplifies the nuttiness of the almonds, adds a touch of richness, and ties everything together.
Layers of pasta with mushrooms, spinach, and bechamel sauce between each layer.
Hirsheimer & Hamilton
7 of 14

Three-Cheese Vegetarian Lasagna

Three-cheese vegetarian lasagna is easy and exceptional and even sorta elegant anytime of year BUT we especially welcome it at the Thanksgiving table when we need something vegetarian and lovely. Here’s exactly how to make it plus what kind of cheeses work best.

I made this for Friendsgiving this past November (I’m vegetarian so this lasagna was the centerpiece). Followed the recipe exactly, and it was soo smooth and flavorful! It is a fun recipe to make if you truly want to make everything “from scratch” and have your guests ooh-ing and aah-ing in the same way they might if you were bringing out your roast turkey masterpiece…

A white rectangular dish filled with herbed bread and celery stuffing with a fork and spoon next to it on a napkin.
Elena Veselova
8 of 14

Herbed Bread and Celery Stuffing

This herbed bread and celery stuffing, made with celery, onion, thyme, basil, and parsley, is a sort of basic blank canvas of a stuffing that will satisfy you as-is or make a terrific foundation for your other embellishments. Lovely with chicken as well as turkey.
Sheet pan lined with parchment and sliced maple roasted parsnips.
Imen McDonnell
9 of 14

Maple Roasted Parsnips

These maple-roasted parsnips are a simple yet unexpectedly delicious side dish. Few ingredients and easy prep make it a winner for both weeknights and special occasions.
An oval casserole dish filled with potatoes dauphinoise, with a silver spoon resting in it.
David Leite
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Potatoes Dauphinoise

Potatoes Dauphinoise are potatoes, cream, cheese, and a French lineage. They’re like scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin but are even more fancy but without being fussy. We really don’t think comfort food gets any more comfort-y than this.

This was excellent! Better than any scalloped potato recipe we’ve ever tried. Used Gruyere.

A rectangular pan of icebox rolls with a pastry brush resting on the side and a small dish of butter
Angie Mosier
11 of 14

Cheryl Day’s Icebox Rolls

Leftover mashed potatoes were my grandmother Queen’s secret ingredient for these tender icebox rolls. The potassium and starch molecules in the potatoes allow the yeast to rise quickly and also condition the dough, which makes for a soft, delicate crumb.
A chocolate pecan pie in a ceramic pie plate with one slice missing on a linen napkin.
Kate Whitaker
12 of 14

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This Southern chocolate pecan pie is a great classic. My American friend, the chef Art Smith, taught me how to make this recipe, and my friends are all in love with it.
Caramelized honey pumpkin pie in slices on dessert plates, each garnished with dollops of whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.
Alex Lau
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Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie

Caramelized honey pumpkin pie will make pumpkin pie lovers out of even the most pumpkin resistant. Gently spiced and with the addition of brown butter and caramelized honey, it hits all the right spots. An all-butter crust is a perfect complement to the sweet, creamy filling.

We made this for Thanksgiving and it was delicious. The flavor is deeper and richer than a typical pumpkin pie and will now be on our holiday rotation.

Cranberry upside-down cake with a large piece missing, on a white plate with a serving knife beside it.
Zoë François
14 of 14

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

The Grand Marnier (an orange liqueur) gives the cake a pleasant kick that plays beautifully with cranberry. Making this tender, buttery cake provides a perfect excuse to share a slice over the backyard fence, maybe with someone who’s short on their own cranberry source.


How many different dishes do I need to serve at Thanksgiving dinner?

If you’ve got a big main, such as smoked turkey, then plan on 4 to 5 side dishes (ideally a mix of starch and vegetables), and 2 desserts.

How much wine should I purchase for Thanksgiving dinner?

As a general rule, plan for 1/2 a bottle of wine per drinking adult.

I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. Any tips?

We’ve got so many great tips that we’ve written a whole guide to hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner. The most important things to remember are to get organized early, make sure you have all the tools you need for the big day, don’t be afraid to ask for help (especially with clean-up!), and most importantly, relax and enjoy it.

We hope you’ve found the perfect combination of dishes to create a delicious Thanksgiving menu. Need more inspiration? We can help you find the right recipes for appetizers to tide everyone over to the main event, dishes for your vegan guests, or even more Thanksgiving desserts to choose from. It is the most important meal of the year, after all.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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