One could argue that Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. An actual holiday dedicated to eating—and counting your blessings and spending time with loved ones, of course.
But back to the eating—I know that traditional Thanksgiving recipes have a somewhat sacred place at the table, but I’m a cook that can’t help but to explore ways to improve those favorites or find new ones that put a unique spin on things.
Up to this point, I’ve suppressed my tendency to tinker with the Thanksgiving staples, but this year, I’m finally giving in to the temptation. I’ve scoured blogs, cooking magazines and more looking for ways to make this Thanksgiving the most delicious one yet.
My goal wasn’t to find recipes that transform Thanksgiving dinner into something unrecognizable, just ones that put a tasty new twist on some old favorites.
Here’s the best of what I found.
The turkey will always be the symbolic star of Thanksgiving feasts, but too many experiences with dry, flavorless birds have caused many to shift their love and devotion to the side dishes. It’s almost as if people feel like it’s their patriotic duty to suffer through a few slices of turkey, rather than piling it high because they enjoy it. Well, enough is enough! It’s time to return turkey to its rightful place in the Thanksgiving hierarchy—and these are just the recipes that will help do it.
Brined & Buttered
Contrary to popular belief, basting your turkey won’t make it more juicy. Not only does the liquid roll off the bird before being absorbed, it also leaves the skin soggier than most would like. The solution? Brine that bird and then brush it with clarified butter. The brine causes the turkey to absorb more liquid so that it stays juicier as it cooks. And the pure butterfat in the liquid gold known as clarified butter helps you achieve the crisp, golden-brown skin of your Thanksgiving dreams.
Think the brined and buttered approach is right for you? Check out this recipe from Chef Thomas Keller (Courtesy of Epicurious).
Better with Bacon
The logic behind this one is pretty straightforward: bacon makes everything better. Everything. And if it’s good enough to be wrapped around fancy-schmancy filet mignons and sea scallops, shouldn’t it be good enough for your Thanksgiving turkey? Yes, yes it should. So, go ahead and try this recipe for bacon-wrapped turkey from Tyler Florence. You won’t regret it.
Fusion cuisine is everywhere, so why not bring it to the Thanksgiving table? Sure, some may argue that this non-traditional approach feels inauthentic or even un-American. But America has always been affectionately known as a melting pot of cultures. So, really, what could be more American than jazzing turkey up with a little ethnic flavor? Try any one of these recipes and you’ll be sure to fall in love with turkey all over again.
Italian Roast Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus (From Giada De Laurentiis)
Latin-inspired Adobo-marinated, Mojo-sauced Turkey (From Barbeque Bible)
Greek Turkey with Yogurt and Dill (From The Chew)
French Provençal Turkey Roast with Riesling (From Serious Eats)
Irish Guinness®-brined Roast Turkey (From Delish)
Korean-style Soy-sauce-and-honey-glazed Turkey (From Food & Wine)
Indian-style Tandoori Roast Turkey (From Bon Appétit)
Vietnamese Pho-inspired Turkey with Sweet and Spicy Plum Sauce (From Joanna Meyer)
Warm, savory and comforting—Thanksgiving side dishes are already nearly perfect. But, now that you’ll have an even more tantalizing turkey, you’ll definitely want to step up your side dish game as well. Explore these tasty twists on the traditional—and consider investing in some bigger plates while you’re at it. I guarantee that your guests will thank you.
Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes (From Michael Symon)
Blue Cornbread Chorizo Stuffing (From Better Homes and Gardens)
Grand Marnier® Sweet Potatoes (From Cooks.com)
Bourbon-maple-glazed Carrots (From Guy Fieri)
Creamed Corn with Rosemary and Turmeric (From Alton Brown)
Pancetta Mac & Cheese (From Food Blogga)
Grown-up Green Bean Casserole (From Domestic Fits)
Homemade Cranberry & Dried Cherry Sauce (From Delish)
Dessert—the grand finale of the feast. Much like side dishes, there’s nothing wrong with ordinary Thanksgiving desserts. But if you’ve read this far, I think it’s safe to say that you’re not interested in going for just ordinary. Make one of these sweet treats and even the fullest of guests will somehow find ample room for dessert.
Thanksgiving PieCaken (from Zac Young)—Okay, so this one probably needs a little explaining. Inspired by turducken and playing to America’s love for stuffing delicious foods inside of other delicious foods, this show-stopping dessert features layers of pecan pie and pumpkin pie, topped with apple upside-down cake, all slathered in rich, cinnamon butter cream frosting. Because why would you ever want to choose one dessert when you can truly have them all?
Nutty Caramel Apple Pie (From Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)
Pumpkin-espresso Tiramisu (From My Recipes)
Apple Cider Magic Cake (From Tasting Table)
Bourbon Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake (From Epicurious)
Cherry Spice Cake Trifle (From My Recipes)
Hungry yet? I sure am! I hope reading about these Thanksgiving recipes gave you some inspiration that will help you take your feast to the next level. But even more importantly, no matter what you cook up this year, I hope you and your family have the best Thanksgiving yet.
Adam Siegel is the Editor of The Accelerator and VP, Creative at Seed Strategy where he draws upon his diverse experience in advertising, research and innovation to craft breakthrough creative and winning concept copy.