Our 2021 Thanksgiving Menu
This comprehensive list of everything we’re planning to serve for Thanksgiving dinner covers the gamut, from cocktails and appetizers to how we’re preparing and cooking the turkey, vegetables, side dishes and, of course, dessert! If you’re still struggling with your Thanksgiving menu, I hope you’ll find some inspiration below.
Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK!
I have always absolutely adored the Thanksgiving holiday and am elated when it rolls around every year.
While planning a big meal can be daunting, I keep a spreadsheet with tabs for different years to keep track of how many people we host, what we eat, how much, if people liked it, how much was leftover, and notes for what to change for the following year. Yes, I am totally THAT PERSON, but it is a LIFESAVER when it comes to planning the meal!
And now, without further ado, is our menu for this year…
Our 2021 Thanksgiving Menu
This year we are having 11 people for dinner (plus two more for dessert), in addition to our three kids, and this is what we’ll be feasting on…
- We always have an assortment of water, soft drinks, beer, and wine on hand.
- A number of years ago, I made this cranberry cider punch and everyone LOVED it. It’s a non-alcoholic drink, but some guests chose to spike it with their liquor of choice 😉
I like to keep pre-meal apps and snacks pretty light since Thanksgiving is such a huge and heavy meal. This year we are having a cheese ball to nibble on while the turkey finishes up.
Previous favorites have been:
- Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms (my mom has been making this recipe for a few years now and they get totally devoured).
- Cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates disappear in seconds!
- A cheese board is always a massive hit and you seriously cannot go wrong. I’ll load it up with fruit and veggies, too.
I have brined a turkey for the last nine years, and plan to do so again this year. Up until four years ago, I had done traditional saltwater brines with sugar and aromatics, but two years ago, after seeing a recipe in the Wall Street Journal, I tried dry brining. It was easier and produced an incredibly juicy turkey, so it’s become my go-to method ever since. [Please note that the recipe link above appears to be behind a paywall, but if you Google “dry brine turkey recipe” you’ll find tons of similar recipes!]
We first deep-fried a turkey at least 10 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 a couple of years without any issues). The indoor fryer is safe, easy to use, and the turkey cooks extremely quickly. We love it!
(You can read how we do it here –> How to Deep-Fry a Turkey)
Alongside the turkey come its duo of accompaniments:
- Fresh Cranberry Sauce – I love this chutney/relish-style cranberry sauce and have been making it for years.
- Make-Ahead Gravy – This is my go-to gravy; since we deep fry the turkey, there are no pan drippings to make traditional gravy.
I like to have a variety of side dishes, encompassing all of the necessary categories that people expect to see – stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, etc. The amount you choose to serve totally depends on the number of people you are having!
- Stuffing: This year I am going to do a sausage stuffing (either cornbread or Challah), but we always love a good traditional stuffing, too!
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes – I usually triple or quadruple batch this so there is enough for dinner plus extra to send home with the leftover turkey.
- We are skipping a sweet potato dish this year since we are a smaller crowd, but this sweet potato gratin is always a big hit, and pineapple-bourbon sweet potato casserole is so, so good for something unexpected and different!
- Green vegetable! My mother-in-law is making Brussels sprouts with pancetta, cranberries & pine nuts and everyone enjoys them. If you want to go a homemade green bean route, totally check out my green bean casserole from scratch.
- Corn Casserole – Quite possibly everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish!
- Dinner Rolls – Some years I do them homemade, but this year we’re getting them from the bakery.
(For more side dish ideas, check out 27 Thanksgiving Side Dishes That Are Better Than the Turkey)
(For more dessert ideas, check out 29 Thanksgiving Desserts Worth Saving Room For)
I’d love to hear what you’re planning to make for Thanksgiving this year!
Are you hosting? Are you bringing a dish somewhere? Give me all of the yummy details!