My Thanksgiving Menu 
A run down of what I’m making for Thanksgiving this year – drinks, appetizers, the turkey, side dishes and dessert.
Thanksgiving is a week away (!) and earlier this week I worked on getting my menu finalized. It’s become tradition to share my menu with you; I hope you enjoy browsing! As is the case with most holidays, there is only a minimal amount of tweaking that happens year-to-year – there are definite favorites that need a spot on the menu no matter what. Tradition is tradition, after all :) I keep an Excel spreadsheet with a record of what I’ve made each year, how much, and then notes about how much everyone liked it, if there was way too much, not enough, and how to tweak for the following year. It’s immensely helpful, as I could never, ever remember all of that if I didn’t write it down immediately!
For reference purposes, we’ll be hosting about 12 people here for Thanksgiving. Now, without further ado, this is what we’ll be feasting on next week…
We will have an assortment of red and white wines, a variety of beers, and soft drinks stocked in the fridge. We also keep Sambuca, Kahlua and Anisette on hand for those that like to add a kick to their after-dinner coffee (which is pretty much everyone).
I usually keep appetizers pretty light for Thanksgiving since the meal is so heavy, so I generally keep away from heavy foods and hot dips. Think simple and low maintenance. I’m planning on a cheese board similar to the one above with maybe one or two additional nibbles.
(In the past, I’ve made cheesy bacon-wrapped dates as part of the appetizer spread and they always disappear in record time.)
THE BIG BIRD
I have brined a turkey for the last four years, and plan to do so again this year. Two years ago I used Jessica’s Maple-Bourbon Brine, and I’ve previously used Alton Brown’s Classic Brine, both of which have been huge hits.
We first deep-fried a turkey three years ago, and I don’t think we’ll ever look back. Everyone agreed that it was the best turkey, ever. We have the Butterball XL Indoor Turkey Fryer, which holds up to a 20-pound turkey (although we fried a 22-pound turkey last year without any issues). While it’s not necessarily cheap (peanut oil is pricey!), the indoor fryer is safe, easy to use, and the turkey cooks extremely quickly. We love it!
CRANBERRY SAUCE AND GRAVY
This year, I am again making the fresh relish-style cranberry sauce that is now on its fifth year. I’ll also serve a can of the jelly-style for those that like the tradition.
Two years ago, I made apple cider-bourbon gravy to go along with the maple-brined turkey and it was FABULOUS. I’ve also had tremendous success with my make-ahead gravy that always gets rave reviews. Plus, I can’t resist getting as much done as possible ahead of time.
Side dishes are my favorite part of Thanksgiving, so I naturally have a hard time narrowing down my menu. This is what will be serving up along with the turkey:
- Stuffing: sausage cornbread, as well as a plain bread stuffing for those that don’t like sausage.
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes – Last year, I made a quadruple batch, which was the perfect amount for dinner and leftovers.
- A sweet potato dish from my sister
- A couple vegetable side dishes from other family members (in years past, these have been hits: brussels sprouts with pancetta, cranberries & pecans… mixed vegetable casserole… brussels sprouts and bacon gratin… cheesy creamed corn casserole… and fresh green bean casserole)
- Dinner rolls from a local bakery
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
- Pumpkin Pie (x2)
- Pecan Pie
- My grandma’s Italian Walnut Pillow Cookies
- Chestnuts – For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving wasn’t complete without roasting a huge pan of chestnuts. Even if only a few people still eat them, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it!
What are YOU making for Thanksgiving?!