Our 2018 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.

Dessert table in the background with Thanksgiving menu categories written over top.

Thanksgiving is ONE WEEK away!

Growing up, this was one of – if not THE – most special holiday traditions. When my grandfather’s family immigrated from Italy, he settled here in Western Pennsylvania to work in the coal mines, while his parents, two brothers and a sister continued on to the midwest and settled into factory jobs in Chicago. Every year, his family traveled here to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving, often spending the entire week.

It was so much fun for us kids to see those great aunts and uncles and cousins that we rarely got to spend time with. My grandma would start baking weeks in advance and she cooked feasts for them every night, never mind Thanksgiving dinner! We would play cards or dice late into the night, which usually resulted in my grandma taking out a spread of breads, Italian meats and cheeses for sandwiches. It was the best time and I have so many fond memories of those Thanksgiving weeks.

To make a long story short… I have always absolutely adored the Thanksgiving holiday and am elated when it rolls around every year. 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!

Our 2018 Thanksgiving Menu

This year we are hosting 13 people, this is what we’ll be feasting on…


  • We always have an assortment of water, soft drinks, beer, and wine on hand.
  • Last year, I made this cranberry cider punch and everyone LOVED it, so I’m making it again this year (we went through a triple batch last year for 10 people). It’s a non-alcoholic drink, but a couple 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. While we’re not doing it this year, a cheese board is always a massive hit and you seriously cannot go wrong. Appetizers for this year:

  • Cranberry Brie Bites (my sister found this recipe on Pinterest, so we’re trying it for the first time this year)
  • Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms (my mom has been making this recipe for a few years now and they get totally devoured).
  • Prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks (because I couldn’t resist the massive package of prosciutto at Costco this week)

The Turkey!

I have brined a turkey for the last seven years, and plan to do so again this year. Up until last year I had done traditional salt water brines with sugar and aromatics, but last year, after seeing a recipe in the Wall Street Journal, tried dry brining. It was easier and produced an incredibly juicy turkey, so I plan to do it again this year.

We first deep-fried a turkey six 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 may try to roast some turkey legs this weekend and save the drippings to amp up the turkey flavor!

Side Dishes

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 amount of people you are having!

(For more side dish ideas, check out 25 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!