Unless you're Martha Stewart, planning and executing the perfect Thanksgiving meal is an intimidating task. First, you have to think about getting the turkey in the oven. Then you have to prepare the appetizers, sides and desserts. By the time you've finished making a shopping list, it can leave you feeling tired and overwhelmed. It doesn't have to be that way, though!
Making a Thanksgiving meal that your guests want year after year is a lot easier than you think. Plenty of recipes out there that can earn the most novice of cooks a lot of praise. Stop stressing and get out a pen! The 25 recipes you'll see here can take your reputation as a cook from zero to holiday hero. All you have to do is gather the ingredients and give them a try.
You'll start with appetizers and work your way through the main course. You'll even find three different ways to serve sweet potatoes during different parts of the meal. By the time you reach the dessert portion, you'll have a newfound confidence in your ability to make Thanksgiving dinner special. We know you can do it. When you see these recipes, you'll know that you can do it, too!
Candied Walnut Bruschetta
Amazing appetizers are easier than you think! With only 15 minutes of prep time and a few simple ingredients, your Candied Walnut Bruschetta will start your Thanksgiving off with flair! Toasted baguette, goat cheese and pear are topped with a sweet and savory walnut topping that you'll make yourself. More than one of your guests will want your recipe!
Sweet Potato Bites
When you make Sweet Potato bites for your friends and family, they will admire your creativity. Sweet potatoes are traditionally served as a side or as a dessert, but it's your dinner. You can make it any way you want! Why not make a sweet potato appetizer? Incorporating Thanksgiving favorite vegetable at the beginning of the meal will give your guests a taste of things to come!
Raspberry Baked Brie
The holidays should be for enjoying those you care about — they shouldn't be spent stressing out in the kitchen! Adding this simple baked brie recipe to your menu will save you both time and effort. All you'll need is a wheel of brie, some raspberry jam, an oven and a fresh baguette. It's one appetizer that's sure to keep your guests happy until the main course is served.
Apple Cheese Walnut Salad
You already have the walnuts out, so you're all set to use them again. What could be easier than making a salad? The answer is making your own dressing! After you've tossed together the perfect blend of goat cheese, diced apple, walnuts and fresh greens, you'll drizzle it with your own savory vinaigrette. Whether you plate this Apple Cheese Walnut Salad as an appetizer or as a side, your attention to flavors will not go unnoticed.
Easy Stuffed Mushrooms
When your dinner guests see stuffed mushrooms on the appetizer tray, they will think you have have been hiding your fancy cooking skills. You don't need to tell them that you've only used mushrooms, leftover salsa and shredded cheddar cheese to wow them. You can dress them up with any toppings you like. The simplicity of this recipe will inspire a brand new wave of culinary creativity!
No Baste No Bother Turkey
Are you intimidated by the thought of making a turkey? Don't be! This zero-effort turkey recipe makes it so easy, you'll wonder why you haven't already tried it. Salt, pepper, butter, onion and carrot are all you need! You'll need to reserve at least seven hours of cooking time for your oven rack, but you'll feel proud of yourself when you see everyone smiling.
Classic Herb Stuffing
If you're up for the challenge of making a turkey, you can handle stuffing! In fact, you probably have most of the ingredients you need. The great thing about this recipe is that you can customize it anyway you like. You can substitute the herbs for your favorites, or you can add cranberries and pecans. With this simple recipe, you'll feel inspired to use your imagination!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Homemade cranberry sauce should never come out of a can! Why? Because it's so easy to make that a toddler could do it. From start to finish, you can create your own lemony version in only 23 minutes. No matter what your reputation in the kitchen, making your own cranberry sauce will get your skills an extra star.
Parmesan Smashed Potatoes
On "Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro," Ina Garten teaches the kitchen impaired that great food doesn't have to be difficult. This Parmesan Smashed Potatoes recipe will prove the same to you! Save a little oven space to bake small potatoes. When they are soft, you'll get to channel your stress into smashing them and topping them with parmesan and chives. Of course, you could always customize the flavors you want to add and make it your own.
Apple Cider Gravy
Don't let the thought of making gravy scare you! Rachel Ray's Apple Cider Gravy makes quick and easy work out of creating the perfect topping. You'll need apple cider, chicken stock, butter and flour — that's it! Begin by melting the butter and folding in the flour, and then stir in the liquid components. By the time the turkey has finished, you'll have a gravy boat full of something truly delicious.
Gluten-free Cauliflower Rice
Considering the dietary restrictions of your guests will take you from being a good host to being a great one. With this easy-peasy gluten-free cauliflower rice, you can take it one step further. If you substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock, you'll make a vegan and gluten-free side dish that you'll be asked to bring to every potluck.
Miso and Honey Carrots
If anyone can help make your Thanksgiving spread a memorable one, it's Martha Stewart. To wow your guests with her miso and honey carrots, you'll need one pot and five ingredients. First, you peel fresh carrots leaving the tops on. Then you slowly simmer them in the rest of the ingredients. Be sure to make extra — your guests will want seconds!
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Long gone are the days when Brussel sprouts were viewed as nothing more than secret treats for the family dog. These days, Brussel sprouts are almost a necessity on any well-rounded dinner table. And, it doesn't take a lot of effort to make them! Set aside five minutes of prep time and pull the basics out of your pantry. Within 30 minutes, you'll have another side dish that your friends will rave about!
Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
If you're like most new chefs, you are sure to have received a slow cooker as a gift. Drag it out this Thanksgiving, and make an easy creamed corn that will make you wonder why you've never used it before. You'll be happy with the traditional side dish you've perfected. Your guest will never know that it only took you 10 minutes to throw together!
Maple Bacon Sweet Potatoes
Showcasing different preparations of sweet potatoes throughout the meal is a great way to keep the Thanksgiving theme flowing. Maple bacon sweet potatoes offer a hearty and simple side. If you can peel and bake a potato, you'll have no problem whipping up enough potato slices to feed four hungry mouths. Depending on the size of the potato, baking times will vary, but you'll want to add them to the list of your new favorites.
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Before you turn your nose up, know that this is not your Aunt Mildred's green bean casserole recipe. This vegan green bean casserole has been modernized! In fact, this recipe takes the best of all Aunt Milly's ingredients and makes a brand-new dish that will bring back old memories. You don't have to skip the fried onions, but this version is both meat and cheese-free.
Whole Roasted Shallots
Serving a platter of whole roasted shallots will add a touch of sophistication to your dinner table. You need a roasting pan, olive oil, butter, balsamic vinegar and a sprig of your favorite herb. Other than trimming the shallots, creating a savory side that brings adulthood to the table couldn't be easier. You'll need to plan to roast them for about an hour, though.
Wild Rice and Cherry Pilaf
Bringing healthy food to the Thanksgiving table doesn't have to be boring! For guests looking to eat a little less bread this year, your wild rice and cherry pilaf will be a great alternative. Although the recipe uses dried cherries, you could add dried cranberries instead. With cinnamon and nutmeg, the holiday flavors will practically jump off the plate!
Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
The hardest part about making this butternut squash soup recipe will be peeling and cubing the squash! From start to finish, your homemade soup will take about two hours and 30 minutes, but it will be worth the wait. Whether you serve it as a side dish or as an appetizer, your guests will want to go home with your recipe.
Sweet Potato Casserole
You'll take everyone back in time to their childhoods when you serve up your own version of sweet potato casserole. Despite what you may have heard, making this classic dish is as easy as anything you'll cook all day. Make sure to boil your sweet potatoes long enough to get a nice consistency when you mash them. The rest will take care of itself! Try not to eat too many marshmallows when you're putting it together.
Even if you've never made bread, you'll be able to fill a basket full of cornbread with this recipe. Cornbread is not a fussy bread to make. All you have to do is combine cornmeal with eggs, oil and milk. You might have to move the turkey over to have oven space for it, but in under 40 minutes, you'll have a beautiful golden pan full of your new favorite thing to bake.
Mini Monkey Bread
Offering a variety is the key to making Thanksgiving meals special. Why not add a basket of mini monkey bread to the table, too? You won't have to create the dough. You'll use the refrigerated dough, and you'll top it with garlic and chives. If you want to get really fancy, you could grate some asiago or parmesan on the top. Seeing your guests devour them will be a reward for all your hard work.
Cranberry Orange Fluff
Transition everyone from the dinner part of the meal to the dessert part with this palate-cleansing treat. Desserts can range from incredibly difficult to extremely simple, and this one falls near the easier end. You'll need flavored gelatin, mandarin oranges and marshmallows to bring it all together. The look on your guest's faces when they try it will feel sweeter to you than the fluff tastes!
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
Now that you've polished off Thanksgiving dinner, continue the party with a holiday favorite! Serve your guest mugs full of warm salted caramel chocolate and bask in the glow of your good work. You'll make this treat from scratch, but it's not difficult. Follow the directions closely, and you'll want to add this recipe to your collection. It's good enough to drink any time of year!
Easiest Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pie is the penultimate Thanksgiving dessert! There are many versions out there that can get quite complex, but this recipe keeps things easy. As long as you remember to pick up a couple of frozen pie crusts, the rest will be a breeze. Finishing the meal with such a classic will have your guests shows that you've thought about every last detail. All that's left to do now is kick up your feet and rest.
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