The interwebs are aflutter with recipes and resources for Thanksgiving. Umami Girl, having read a surprising number of them, helps you find the best of the best.
I don’t know whether you all are starting to take me seriously or what (and if so, I would strongly caution you), but I’ve gotten a tremendous number of requests for Thanksgiving menu advice this year. We’re also hosting Thanksgiving for the first time ever. (See what I mean about taking me seriously?) So just like in prior years, I’ve pored over November magazines, immersed myself in blogs and newspapers, smeared newsprint on my face like war paint, and hit the test kitchen countless times. Unlike years past, when my only excuse for this behavior was that I am just so gay for Thanksgiving, this time I have a couple of pretty solid reasons and a write-up to prove it.
Unlike the typical posts around here, I haven’t tested quite all of these recipes, though I have tested many, and some are mine. However, I’ve only drawn from sources I would trust with my own Thanksgiving table, and I’ve read carefully and repeatedly before posting. With so many great-looking recipes out there and familial expectations that certain traditional dishes will make an appearance, I’ve chosen just a few of my favorites to highlight here. We’ll be hitting this list pretty hard ourselves next week.
If you have any tried-and-true Thanksgiving favorites you’d like to share, please add them in the comments! We’d love to give them a try.
Menu Planning Tools and Advice
It’s amazing how much general T’givin knowledge is out there on the web—almost too much to be helpful. These are a few of my favorites.
- Serious Eats Thanksgiving Section makes me proud to be affiliated with them. Thanksgiving is the official holiday of serious eaters, and this section does it justice
- Bon Appétit’s Interactive Thanksgiving Menu Planner is a little bossy but pretty cool
- Fine Cooking’s Create Your Own Thanksgiving Menu feature is atypically generous with beautiful recipes for non-members and will even make a shopping list for you
- Thanksgiving 911 on food52 answers tough questions, including yours if you want
Cocktails and Wine
Whether you’re gathering with family or friends, there’s always a reason to be thankful for drinkies.
- Emeril’s Red Rooster is a real holiday knockout (literally if you’re not careful)
- Martha Stewart’s Pear and Sparkling Cider (and, um, Whiskey) Cocktail looks sparklingly spectacular
- Eric Asimov of the New York Times offers 10 affordable bottles for Thanksgiving
- Food & Wine selected their Top 10 Wines for Thanksgiving, all $20 and under
- 12 Reds for the Thanksgiving Table: American Pinot Noirs from $13-$35 by Wine Spectator
- Guide to Blanc de Blancs Champagnes from Bon Appétit, in case you want to go all-out in this unlikely year
- Just kidding, I don’t give much thought to these beyond turning on the tap
On Thanksgiving, no one wants to fill up before the main event, but it’s best not to have your loved ones keeling over (or worse, dipping their phalanges in the gravy boat) while you finish mashing the potatoes. These hors d’oeuvres are festive but relatively light so they won’t get in your way and, with any luck, neither will your guests. The recipes that use precious oven space can all be made in advance.
- Marcella Hazan’s Bagna Cauda with Crudités from Saveur
- Oysters with Mignonette Granita here on Umami Girl
- Poached Shrimp with The World’s Best Cocktail Sauce here on Umami Girl (Don’t be alarmed by the photo of the horseradish. I was a little more hardcore when I posted that one back in the day. Just scroll down for the recipe.)
- Candied Peanuts from David Lebovitz
- Parmesan Straws from Everyday Food
- Gingered Butternut Soup from The Crisper Whisperer on Serious Eats
- Richard Olney’s Garlic Soup from 101 Cookbooks. Don’t be put off by the name. It’s one of my new favorites
- Celery Root and Apple Soup here on Umami Girl
- Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry and Thyme from Fine Cooking
- Raw Beet Salad here on Umami Girl
- Carrot and Cranberry Salad with Fresh Ginger Dressing from Bon Appetit
- Autumn Green Salad with Roasted Pears and Walnut Vinaigrette from Pithy & Cleaver
- Winter Greens with Black Olive Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese Croutons from Fine Cooking
- Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad with Hazelnuts and Shaved Parmigiano from Fine Cooking
Turkey and Gravy
- Serious Eats helps you decide what kind of turkey to buy and has a generally amazing section on Thanksgiving turkeys, with tips, recipes and even hotlines to call when in doubt.
- Short video on how to brine a turkey from Epicurious. Brining is especially important if you’re cooking a heritage turkey, which will be leaner and darker than the flightless DD-cup birds you may be used to.
- Martha Stewart’s Perfect Roast Turkey
Vegetarian Main Dishes
- Acorn Squash Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce from The Crisper Whisperer on Serious Eats
- Spinach, Portobello and Béchamel Lasagna here on Umami Girl
- Kabocha Squash, Radicchio and Mushroom Lasagna here on Umami Girl
- Oy. I am obsessed with béchamel lasagna, apparently.
- Molly Wizenberg’s Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding from Bon Appétit
- Flaky Feta Tart from Sunset Magazine
- Sweet Potato Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing from The Crisper Whisperer on Serious Eats, which counts as a vegan main dish if you add the black beans or lentils. Since many vegans will already be the skinny, urban butt of all their families’ jokes during the holidays, let’s make sure they’ll at least have something yummy to eat.
- Umami Girl’s Vegetarian Mushroom Stuffing from my post on The Mushroom Channel
- The Silver Palate’s Cornbread Sausage Stuffing with Apples from Serious Eats
- Gourmet Magazine’s Sage Stuffing from Gourmet Unbound
- Giada De Laurentiis’ Ciabatta, Chestnut and Pancetta Stuffing from Food Network
- Salt and Vinegar Broiled Fingerling Potatoes here on Umami Girl
- Classic Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes from Martha Stewart
- Sage-Infused Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips from Sunset Magazine
Green & Cruciferous Vegetables
- Roasted Broccoli (and some poultry humor) here on Umami Girl
- Tarragon Green Beans from Martha Stewart
- Green Beans with Shiitake Mushrooms from Epicurious.com
- Kale with Garlic and Cranberries from Gourmet Magazine
- Cauliflower with Brown Butter, Pears, Sage & Hazelnuts from Fine Cooking
- Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnut Butter from Fine Cooking
Root Vegetables and Squash
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Rosemary, Pecans and Gorgonzola from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Basic Mashed Rutabagas from Food Network
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola and Fried Sage from Closet Cooking
Condiments and Breads
- Mom’s Homemade Applesauce here on Umami Girl
- Gourmet Magazine’s Classic Popovers
- Basic cooked Cranberry Sauce from Simply Recipes that is easily adapted
- A collection of gluten-free recipes for Thanksgiving from Gluten-Free Girl Shauna Ahern