My Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and my menu is finally… finalized! I got all of my groceries yesterday, minus a couple of produce items that will be better fresh, so I will pick those items up on Tuesday. Many of you have asked what I am planning for our first Thanksgiving, so I thought the easiest way to answer that question was to just put it all together in one place for everyone to check out. For reference purposes, we’ll be hosting 12 people here for Thanksgiving. Now, without further ado, this is what we’ll be feasting on come Thursday…


We will have an assortment of red and white wines, a variety of beers, and soft drinks on hand. In addition, my sister is making an autumn-themed sangria, which I cannot wait to taste!


Thanksgiving Appetizers

I wanted to keep appetizers pretty light for Thanksgiving, since the meal is so heavy. I didn’t think we needed any heavy, hot dips or things like that. I kept it pretty simple and low maintenance. I’ll have a spread of these items to nibble on while the meal is being finished:

The Big Bird

Frying the Turkey!

I have brined a turkey for the last two years, and plan to do so again this year. I have previously used Alton Brown’s Classic Brine, but this year I’m planning to use Jessica’s Maple-Bourbon Brine. Seriously, that sounds so fabulous.

Last year was our first year deep frying a turkey, and I don’t think we’ll ever look back. Everyone agreed during dinner that it was the best turkey, ever. I bought the Butterball XL Indoor Turkey Fryer last year, which holds up to a 20-pound turkey. We will definitely be frying again this year!

Cranberry Sauce and Gravy

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This year, I am making two different cranberry sauces – the relish/chutney-style one I have made for quite a few years now, and I am adding a homemade jellied cranberry sauce for those that loved the iconic canned sauce.

I love my make-ahead gravy because, well, I can make it ahead of time. However, since I’m going with the maple-bourbon brine on the turkey, I’m planning on making a batch of the apple cider-bourbon gravy to go along with it. If it’s as good as it sounds, I’ll want to eat it with a spoon.

Side Dishes!

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Side dishes are my favorite part of Thanksgiving, so I naturally have a hard time narrowing down my menu. This is what I’ll be serving up along with the turkey:


Pumpkin Pie

I have almost as much trouble narrowing down dessert! My grandma’s pillow cookies are a Thanksgiving tradition in our family, and are a must on the menu. The dessert menu is built around those and pumpkin pie, naturally 🙂

Now tell me – what are YOU making for Thanksgiving?!


54 Responses to “My Thanksgiving Menu”

  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks on November 24, 2013 at 12:30 am

    What an amazing spread you’re turning out! Wow! You have a very lucky family 🙂


  2. Pieliekamais on November 24, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Just WOW!


  3. Ellen on November 24, 2013 at 4:26 am

    Now I’m dreaming of Brie and homemade apple butter. I will be contributing pie to my family’s dinner. Pumpkin and/or my signature apple-cranberry streusel.


  4. thesweetestpea on November 24, 2013 at 4:38 am

    We are having an 8 lb. free-range turkey breast cooked in my 6 qt. crock pot and 3 turkey thighs cooked in my 3.5 qt. one. My grandmother’s recipe for bread dressing, my mom’s Broccoli Puff casserole, my recipe for sweet potato streusel casserole, my homemade raw cranberry/orange relish, my bread machine dinner rolls and pumpkin and apple pies. We are still debating on whether to get a ham as well.


  5. Domenica on November 24, 2013 at 5:39 am

    The menu looks wonderful! I never had fried turkey before. How much does if differ from one made in the oven?


    • Michelle on November 24th, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      Hi Domenica, It’s so fabulously juicy! There’s really no way to over-cook it and risk having a dried out turkey.


  6. Elaine Hannas on November 24, 2013 at 6:05 am

    You really brought back happy memories from my childhood about roasting chestnuts for the holidays :o) Thank you. Happy Thanksgivivg to all!


  7. becca @ Crumbs on November 24, 2013 at 6:13 am

    I love this post! So nice to see how you are putting your meal together


  8. Clare on November 24, 2013 at 7:16 am

    We also fry our turkey but we have an outdoor one – I am loving your indoor fryer!!! Sides are mashed potatoes (for the children), carrot souffle, steamed broccoli, mushroom stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce and turkey gravy. We will start with firecracker shrimp and your jalapeno popper dip. Dessert is my Skor bar cheesecake.


  9. Beth on November 24, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Hey BEB! We usually do Alton Brown’s brine as well, but this one sounds awesome. Can we do it and just bake it in the oven as usual instead of smoking or deep frying? Also, Im making the sweet dinner rolls, but we are traveling about 5 hours away wednesday night, so to avoid transporting my mixer, flour, etc, is it possible to make them ahead of time, and freeze, and then thaw and bake on thursday? I thought I saw something like this on the King Arthur facebook page…?? Thanks so much! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! xoxo


    • Michelle on November 24th, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Hi Beth, Yes! You can definitely brine it and bake it in the oven (I did that the first year we brined a turkey). For the rolls, I would probably bake them, then wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. When you’re ready to eat, I would reheat in a 350-degree oven until warm.


  10. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on November 24, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Is this an invite to your house? Because with all these goodies served, I’m there! What a great round-up!!! Your going to have an awesome Thanksgiving!


  11. Laura @ Laura's Baking Talent on November 24, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Everything looks wonderful 🙂 Enjoy cooking!


  12. Lauryn on November 24, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Thank you for sharing! Everything sounds delicious and many good ideas here.


  13. Lynn on November 24, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I am also doing the gingerbread pumpkin trifle! I’m the “cake lady” which also translates to “dessert lady,” so that’s my contribution to my in-laws’ hosting. Everyone has oohed and ahhed already, so I’m excited to try it! And I’m going 100% homemade with the pastry cream. Can’t wait!!


  14. Emily Wells on November 24, 2013 at 10:27 am

    I have the same turkey fryer, and I also fried my first turkey last year. There’s no comparison…I will never bake a turkey again! I injected mine last year with a cajun marinade, but someone suggested brining it. I’m glad you posted this because I wasn’t sure if a fried turkey could be brined–I assumed maybe there would be too much liquid left in the bird, and it would pop/splatter too much. I’m glad to know I can brine mine before frying!!


    • Michelle on November 24th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Emily, You can definitely brine a turkey that you fry, but be sure to dry it with paper towels REALLY well before you drop it in the oil! It should be completely dry.


  15. Louise on November 24, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I’ll be fixing all the standards. New this year are cranberry applesauce and your brussel sprout gratin.


  16. Diane on November 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Your menu sounds wonderful!! I’m having 16-17 this year. My Mom, who passed away 4 yrs. ago was Pennsylvania Dutch, so homemade noodles are always a part of our holiday tradition. Luckily, she taught me how to make them, but I still get nervous making them without her looking over my shoulder and giving mr advice. Anyway, we’re having 2 turkey’s, noodles, giblet dressing, mashed and sweet potatoes, a corn casserole, cranberries and yeast rolls. For dessert, pecan and apple pies and a pumpkin pie sheet cake. And, of course, lots of wine and a fall sangria. Love having everyone together!! Happy Thanksgiving to all 🙂


  17. Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate on November 24, 2013 at 11:45 am

    We have already had our Thanksgiving here in Canada but I have never deep fried a turkey before. I always roast it at a super high temperature and then turn it down to 350F for the rest of the time.


  18. joan trueblood on November 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I have spiced pecans in the oven as I type. Going to use then in a salad with greens, goat cheese, fried pancetta, sauteed pears, topped with a champaign vinegarette. I know that salad is not traditional for T-day, but we wanted something a little on the light side. Also going to try a new cranberry sauce with blueberries from Averie Cooks.


  19. Steve on November 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Sounds like a great menu. For the last 5 years, I’ve been buying a fresh turkey from our local Trader Joe’s that is already brined. I make it on Wednesday so I can not worry about timing and there are other benefits as well. I make the turkey stock with the giblets, neck, etc, I cut off the turkey wings to be used in making the stuffing (Thanks America’s Test Kitchen), and when the turkey is done and a little cooled, I carve the meat from the carcase, and put all the bones in the turkey stock. I make the gravy from some of the stock with the addition of a classic roux. Thursday, I reheat the turkey by placing the meat in an aluminum tray pan, and surrounding the meat (not directly on it) with the stock, covered, and warmed in a low oven. Everyone gets hot, succulent turkey, and all the timing problems with worrying about when guests arrive and whether the turkey will be done on time disappear!


    • gary on November 24th, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      I take that method a step further by using the stock as the moisture for the stuffing. You get much more and much more flavorful gravy than you could ever make from pan drippings and much more and more flavorful stuffing than you could ever get from stuffing the bird. Plenty of stock left for soup, etc. You miss seeing the golden bird on the table but the gravy and stuffing are MUCH batter and you don’t run out of them before the meat is gone.


  20. Anna on November 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Your menu sounds amazing!! And I LOVE that indoor turkey fryer!!! I need to get one of those. For Thanksgiving, we’re having turkey, mashed potatoes, focaccia stuffing, sweet potato casserole w/ a pecan streusel topping, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls. Oh yeah, and lots and lots of gravy! For dessert, we’re having apple crumb pie, pumpkin pie and mini pecan tarts. I can’t wait! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


  21. sharon butler on November 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    You were kind enough to help me out with some advice of what a thanksgiving dinner entails (Im the one from england who has 12 american students comming) So after some reasearch here is my southern Thansgiving Menu
    Thanksgiving 2013 Menu


    Turkey and Gravy
    Coca Cola Ham
    Cranberry Sauce
    Apple Sauce
    Green Bean Casserole
    Sweet Potato Casserole
    Mashed Potato’s
    Baby Garden Peas
    English Yorkshire Puddings
    Roasted Potato’s

    Pumpkin Cheescake
    Apple Pie
    Pecan Pie
    Mars Bar Pavolva
    Peach Cobbler & Peach Ice Cream
    Hope it turns out OK Thanks


  22. Charissa on November 24, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    One word: WOW!


  23. Emily on November 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I will be making your fresh green bean casserole too. It really is the best! Made it a couple years ago and have never looked back! My husband doesn’t like “casseroles”, and he even loves it! 🙂 happy thanksgiving!


  24. Lori on November 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Besides the turkey, I also use the Alton Brown recipe for brining, we will have mashed potates, stuffing, creamed spinach, fresh green beans, a broccoli casserole, BEB fresh cranberry relish (yummy), german potato salad, (it’s a tradition in my house), assorted olive and antipasto tray, buttercup squash casserole and hopefully homemade rolls or buttermilk biscuits. For dessert we will have a homemade pumpkin pie, a coconut custard cream pie and BEB gingerbread trifle. My son’s girlfriend is bringing an apple pie. I’ll be pooped by Thursday, but it will be worth it. My youngest son will be home from college and my parents who are 88 years young will be joining us. I have plenty to be thankful for. All my best to you and my fellow followers.


  25. Lynne on November 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    My sister host TG dinner (we eat at 12:30), so she does the lion’s share of the work with a roast turkey (stuffed – we have never, ever, had a dry turkey – not sure what kind people are buying that come out dry, but they shoot them full of baste, etc., it’s always so good), bread stuffing with cranberries cooked in the bird, mashed potatoes, gravy (my sister makes this ahead too, but she cooks a 2nd turkey to do it!), fresh green beans, and creamed onions. Others contribute: squash, sweet potato pudding, mashed turnip, pecan sticky rolls, apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and lemon meringue pie. It’s quite the feast! While I’m at my sister’s, I’ll have my own stuffed turkey roasting to be done when I get home, so we can have hot-turkey sandwiches, and I can make turkey carcass soup.


  26. Emma on November 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    That sounds amazing! We’ll be having a smaller Thanksgiving this year, due to the stress of just having moved across the country, and not having all our kitchen things with us, but I will live vicariously through you for 2013’s Thanksgiving menu! 🙂


  27. Diane on November 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Well I’m not a fan of turkey so I make chicken and biscuits…using the chicken stock to make yummy gravy and the rest of the meal will be traditional Thanksgiving fare. Dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, real cranberry sauce, corn casserole, mom’spumpkin pie. No matter whats on the table we are always Thankful!!


  28. Teresa on November 24, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Wow, that’s quite a spread; makes my paired-down menu look quite skimpy in comparison.
    My Menu:
    Roast Duck
    Gratin Dauphinois (thinly sliced sweet & yukon gold potatoes with turnips)
    Brussels Sprouts (exactly like your MIL is bringing) but without pine-nuts
    Homemade hot rolls
    Derby and butter milk pies


  29. Tracey on November 24, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Your menu sounds fantastic! What time should I be over for dinner? 🙂 I’m not hosting but I’ll make a dish or two to bring to my mom’s house – still trying to decide what.


  30. Vicki Pieranunzi on November 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner, Miss Brown Eyed Baker. Chestnuts,according to Uncle Ray, have been outstanding this year. See you Thursday!


  31. Mandi on November 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    YUM! I do believe I will be picking a recipe from your menu, as well as begging my husband’s grandmother to teach me a couple of her passed down traditions 🙂


  32. Mick14513 on November 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    My Momma (God rest her soul!) and her Momma taught me depression-style cooking and have learned over many years, via internet, how to tweak the classics with just *slight* cooking methods and other simple ingredients.
    Our Thanksgiving has BrownEyedBaker written on it as well, Bravo!


  33. Elisa on November 24, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Every year we go to my SIL’s in PA and have such stood time. We always have a ton of desserts and so mucho gets thrown away since we’re all totally stuffed. This year were making dessert shooters. Can’t sit to see the choices and how cute they’ll all look!

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  34. Mandy on November 24, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Your spread sounds delicious 🙂 I’m planning on making your Brussels sprouts gratin (they were a huge hit last year), the perfect mashed potatoes, sweet potato brûlée, brown butter butternut squash, and a spinach and gruyere thing I found today. I’m also making a pumpkin cheesecake and am debating making the salted caramel apple pie. My mom is making a pumpkin pie, and I’m honestly not sure what the rest of our extended family is making, but there will for sure be turkey and plenty of food!


  35. Mamie on November 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Salad: Freestone Inn Salad (with pears, candied pecans, and gorgonzola crumbles)
    Soup: Smitten Kitchen Winter Squash Soup
    Mains: Roast Salmon with Smoky Maple Mustard Rub
    Condiments: Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir and SticksnScones Vegetarian Mushroom Thyme Gravy (divine, now a tradition)
    Smitten Kitchen Mushroom Bourguignon (now a tradition)
    Pacific Northwest Sour Dough Dressing (family tradition)
    Smitten Kitchen Braised Brussels Sprouts
    Asparagus With Roasted-Garlic Aioli 

    Café Sucre Farine Smashed Potatoes w Fresh Herb Gremolata
    Caroline Brouwer’s (my Mom) Squash Casserole (rifted, but using panko and Julia’s béchamel)
    Barefoot in the Kitchen Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes (new this year)
    Breads: Two Peas and Their Pod Family Tradition Potato Rolls (now a tradition)
    Desserts: Brûléed Bourbon Pumpkin Pecan Pie (rifted from Nov 2013 BA), Malted Walnut Pie, Pear Pie with Red Wine and Rosemary


  36. Emily on November 24, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Working this year, so not cooking. Your dinner sounds fabulous. Thanks for sharing!


  37. Zoe on November 25, 2013 at 7:05 am

    We have a pot-luck style Thanksgiving at my brother’s. This year I’m bringing a pumpkin cheesecake (Cake Central Magazine, Oct. 2013) and maybe your broccoli casserole, which looks heavenly.


  38. Anna on November 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I keep coming back to this page just to read all of the Thanksgiving menus. Everything sounds so delicious! I’m very intrigued by that indoor turkey fryer and I have a couple of questions. How long does it take to fry a turkey in it and what type of oil to you prefer to use?


    • Michelle on November 25th, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      Hi Anna, It’s 3-4 minutes per pound. Last year, we did a 14-pound turkey in about an hour. I use peanut oil to fry the turkey.


      • Anna on November 27th, 2013 at 11:13 am

        Thank you!


  39. Sarah on November 25, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Appetizers are clam dip, a relish tray, baked brie cups with walnuts, and crasins, and a cheeseball. For the main, we are having smoked, dry brined turkey with a hard apple cider gravy; from-scratch green bean casserole; brussels sprouts with cranberries, walnuts, and bleu cheese; maple and bourbon glazed sweet potatoes; mashed yukon gold potatoes; sausage and apple stuffing; rolls; jellied cranberry sauce and homemade, mulled wine cranberry sauce. For dessert we have pumpkin pie and chocolate pecan cheesecake. Also, assorted wine, beer, and hard cider.


  40. Dana on November 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    That’s a whole lot of food to make! I would love to try fried turkey some year; I may just have to get a fryer!
    My sister-in-law is hosting this year and has asked me to bring dessert. I plan on taking my mother-in-law’s egg-free chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream and Paula Deen’s Apple Cheesecake Bars – – (because I haven’t had enough apple yet this fall!).
    Hope your holiday hosting is a blast!


  41. Angeli on November 25, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Michelle! Sounds absolutely yummy! I’m mainly focusing on desserts and I have a few orders of pies and cinnamon rolls. For the dinner I’m attending, I’ll be making:

    2 pecan pies
    cinnamon rolls
    a stovetop creamy corn dessert.. (kind of like a thai dessert.. so there is something not so traditional) mainly consists of coconut milk, canned corn, and sugar and a bit of cinnamon and vanilla
    corn bread

    as far as the order goes, i’ll be making a pumpkin pie, your Dutch apple pie, your coconut cream pie and another pan of cinnamon rolls! 🙂 happy thanksgiving!


  42. Heather on November 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Amazing! I am not doing Thanksgiving this year but I am definitely going to do this spread for Christmas!


  43. Laura Dembowski on November 26, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Can I cone over?!? Sounds like a great menu. Is there a certain recipe you use to roast chestnuts? That’s something I’ve always wanted to do but don’t know how.


    • Michelle on November 27th, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      Hi Laura, My uncle usually takes care of the chestnut roasting. I think he cuts little slits in the bottom of each chestnut, then roasted them in a rimmed pan with a little bit of water. I want to say maybe 350 for 20 minutes or so? I’ll be sure to pay attention tomorrow 🙂


  44. Mad die on November 29, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Well now that Thanksgiving has past I’m gonna say what I ate! We go to my grand moms house and she goes ALL OUT. For the appetizers she had a spicy bean dip with tostitos. Dinner we had ham,turkey,Mac and cheese, butter rolls, zucchini rolls, corn pudding,sweet potatoes,cola greens,string beans,stuffing and some wonderful cranberry sauce and gravy. Desert we had my aunts 4 layer chocolate cake, pumpkin cheesecake (which I made) peach and apple cobbler and a 2 layer pineapple orange cake! Drinks were whines, but for the kids there was a raspberry punch with raspberries in it. Phew! I must of gained a pound! My grandma really does go all out! 🙂


  45. Maddie on November 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Sorry, the auto correction changed my name to Mad die….. LOL!!


  46. Ann Mc on December 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I am getting ready to make your grandmother’s cookies. They look VERY similar to “nut rolls”….my husbands favorite Christmas cookie. He’s also from Pittsburgh, so I think I may FINALLY have his favorite cookie from his childhood! (which his family wrote down for me once and it’s forever lost!) Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!


  47. Olga on December 29, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I think you are right! I for some reason just want to dertoace right now! Normally I wait till after Thanksgiving but I guess I have been listening to Christmas music for the past couple of weeks and I am getting in the spirit!


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