Best Thanksgiving Recipes and Planning Guide

Take the guess work out of Thanksgiving with my tried-and-true Thanksgiving recipes. With my Thanksgiving Planning Guide, you’ll know what to cook and when to start it so that the entire dinner comes together at the same time. 

Best Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Thanksgiving dinner—it’s one of the biggest meals of the year! With so many sides and desserts (not to mention the will-it-ever-pop nature of turkey timers), it can be a challenge get the timing right! When do you need to start everything so that the entire meal will be hot-and-ready at the same time?! 

Spending a little time creating a plan helps take the stress out of Thanksgiving day.

If you are one of the lucky ones in charge of hosting dinner this year, use one of my Thanksgiving planning guides to help you get your dinner on the table! It’ll tell you when to prepare and cook each of the items on your Thanksgiving menu. (Scroll down to the bottom of the post to download your guide.)

Bread Stuffing

Best Thanksgiving Recipes

I’m hosting a big crowd this year—my grown children alternate years at our house and their in-laws. This year, I’m so excited to be hosting my full family, complete with my in-laws, my son and his fiancee, my twins with their fabulous significant others, my daughter’s family with my wonderful grandsons and my tiny new granddaughter.

For the most part, my family demands the classic, traditional Thanksgiving recipes that I’ve been cooking for years. However, I always throw in a few new things to keep it fun for me. Here’s my line up of Thanksgiving recipes for this year:

Turkey

Dry-Brined Turkey: I’ve been making this dry-brined turkey since 2010. The recipe is quite simple—just salt and turkey—and allows the turkey flavor to really come through. Plus, the dry brine ensures the turkey cooks up moist, flavorful, and delicious.  

Thanksgiving Turkey and Mashed Potatoes

Traeger Spatchcock Citrus Turkey: This turkey is new to our menu this year! I have loved cooking on my Traeger and have been looking forward to smoked turkey ever since I got it. I did a test run of this recipe for a family event, and my family devoured it and asked for more. Even though the flavors are a bit nontraditional, it makes a delightful gravy and would be a great fit for any Thanksgiving table.

Pressure Cooker Turkey Breast: Yes, I’m cooking a third turkey this year. My grown children love it when I send them home with leftovers for turkey sandwiches, and making a quick turkey breast ensures we have enough gravy for seconds (and thirds) of mashed potatoes. 

Tips for the best Thanksgiving turkey:

  • If you’ve never roasted a turkey before, be sure to give yourself plenty of time so you’re not stressed about getting dinner on the table. 
  • Make sure your turkey is fully defrosted; if there’s even a chance the center of the turkey is frozen, you’ll need to add extra cook time. (See the USDA’s recommended defrosting schedule here. It always seems to take longer than expected to defrost the turkey, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time.) 
  • Take the guesswork out of cooking and use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your turkey is cooked to 165°F at the thickest part of the breast. 

Sides

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy: These are a must-have at my house—you can’t even think of making turkey without lots of mashed potatoes for the gravy. I like to make my mashed potatoes early in the day and keep them warm in a crockpot with a little milk on top. For extra creamy potatoes, there’s no replacing my potato ricer.

Mashed Potatoes

If you make just one pressure cooker Thanksgiving recipe this year, let it be mashed potatoes. Seriously, steaming the potatoes in the pressure cooker is the best way to cook potatoes for mashing. No boiling over, no watching pots, no steamy kitchen. My Pressure Cooker Creamy Mashed Potatoes are the only way I’ve made potatoes since I started pressure cooking.

If you’re looking for a nontraditional mashed potato recipe, try this Bacon and Caramelized Onions recipe.

Bread Stuffing: This recipe is one I’ve been making for 40 years now, based on a recipe my sister-in-law gave me when I first got married. This bread stuffing features classic seasonings. The secret to this stuffing/dressing is toasting the cubed bread first—it dries the bread out, which allows it to absorb the broth and seasonings without getting mushy.

Sweet Potatoes: Several years ago, I swapped out my marshmallowy syrupy-sweet recipe for Paula Deen’s Easy Sweet Potato Bake, and I’ve never once looked back. To make it even easier, I’ve converted it into a pressure cooker sweet potato casserole, and it’s a fixture around my table.

Cranberry Jelly and Cranberry Sauce: I’ll be honest—I like cranberries a little on Thanksgiving day, but I really love them for day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches. My husband and boys still prefer the classic Cranberry Jelly, while I prefer a fancier Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Green Beans with Almonds

Roasted Green Beans: Oftentimes, vegetables get overlooked at Thanksgiving dinner. Not with this recipe—my family frequently argues over who gets to finish these off. And I usually double or triple the amount of almonds so there’s enough to go around. 

Green Jello Cream Cheese Salad: I know that this is a Utah-centric food, but it’s just not Thanksgiving for me without this classic Jello salad recipe. 

a basket of homemade Lion House Rolls

Dinner Rolls: My sons and grandsons are crazy about homemade rolls. Each year, I like to make a huge batch since there’s nothing better than turkey sandwiches on a homemade roll. This year, I’m planning to make my Lion House Rolls. These rolls are awesome—light and fluffy with a fun rolled shape. I also love these Crescent Rolls, which make a great base for a turkey sandwich.

I really like parbaking my rolls to free up some time on Thanksgiving. Many years ago, I came across Frieda Loves Bread’s Brown & Serve Roll technique, and it’s still my go-to way to make rolls for Thanksgiving! They taste, look, and smell fresh-baked, but you do most of the hard work several days ahead of time!

Desserts

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is when it’s finally time to break out the pie! At my house, everyone has a favorite, and I often end up making at least three or four pies each year.

Pecan pie thanksgiving

Pecan Pie: There’s a reason this pie is a Thanksgiving favorite! Pecan pie is such an easy pie to make—just whisk the ingredients together, toss in the nuts, and pour it into a pie crust. The nuts rise to the top and brown up beautifully as the pie cooks. For a twist on the classic, try my Cranberry Pecan Pie. This cranberry-citrus-pecan topping has a tangy-tart flavor that is an awesome alternative to sweet pies. 

Pumpkin Pie: What can I say—my husband loves the flavors he grew up eating. At this point, we still haven’t found a pumpkin pie recipe he prefers more than the classic Libby-on-the-label version. Since my husband is the main reason I make pumpkin pie, I generally cook a smaller one just for him in my pressure cooker

Brown sugar banana cream pie

Brown Sugar Banana Cream Pie: This one is new to my menu this year—my grandsons are demanding it. They love the sweet brown sugar pudding and the crumbly crust. 

Lemon Blackberry Chess Pie: My mom loved Thanksgiving. Her favorite pies were lemon pies, so I’m always sure to include a lemon pie in her honor. This Lemon Blackberry Chess Pie is a great flavor combination with a beautiful presentation. If you want a more traditional lemon pie, however, you can’t go wrong with this Creamy Lemon Yogurt Pie or a No-Bake Lemon Cream Cheese Pie.

See more of my favorite Thanksgiving Pies on my roundup post.

Thanksgiving Planning Guide

Once you’ve got the menu planned. It’s time to make a planning guide. Preparing as much as you can in the days before Thanksgiving helps alleviate a lot of the stress of a big meal. In addition, so many sides and desserts can be made ahead of time and either frozen and kept in the fridge ready to bake or serve.

Download my Thanksgiving Planning Guide here, and use it as a template to make your own Thanksgiving meal.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family, love, and good food.

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Best Thanksgiving Recipes and Planning Guide and Timeline