What to CookFall

The Thanksgiving Menu for the Modern Person (Whole Turkey Not Required)

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Think about it: Some people have eaten the exact same meal on November 26th for decades.

Don't let this happen to you.

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Traditions can be sleepy (nice, fine)—if you hold on tight. But let them inspire you, allow yourself to riff, and they can rev you up and introduce you and your family to new favorite dishes or ingredients—or even new traditions

So this Thanksgiving, trade cranberry sauce for pickled beets and a whole turkey for just the breast (it won't be dry—promise!). If Auntie Sue protests the lack of gravy or little Jimmy is missing his mashed taters, too bad there's always next year.

Photos by James Ransom, James Ransom

The classic turkey: Russ Parsons' Dry-Brined Turkey (a.k.a. The Judy Bird) | The updated: Torrisi's Turkey

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Torrisi's Turkey recipe gives a turkey breast a spa treatment (the official cooking term), which is a genius way of outsmarting dry turkey and bypassing the whole bird. (P.S. If you want to skip the turkey altogether, we support you! This is your chance to go rogue.)

Photos by James Ransom, James Ransom

The classic potatoes: Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions | The updated: Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese

This gratin is a new classic: Merrill landed on it after switching up the roots, cheese, and flavors of a classic potato gratin recipe she'd been making for 15 years. The colors of the butternut squash and potato rival the best mashed potato swoops and swirls.

Photos by James Ransom, James Ransom

The classic stuffing: What We Call Stuffing: Challah, Mushroom, and Celery | The updated: Farro Risotto with Caramelized Apples and Fennel

In this risotto, you get the fall flavors you seek from a stuffing by way of caramelized apples, fennel, apple cider, and orange zest, but in a saucier form that begs to have turkey dragged through. You won't even have to make gravy!

Photos by James Ransom, James Ransom

The classic green side: "Pot-Stuck" Brussels Sprouts | The updated: Swiss Chard Agrodolce

This year, trade in brussels sprouts in favor of another cruciferous vegetable: Swiss chard. It'll be worth it when you realize that their stalks can be tender, their leaves can be sweet—and honey and vinegar make magic together.

Photos by James Ransom, James Ransom

The classic red condiment: Canal House's Cranberry-Port Gelée | The updated: Gingered Beet Pickles

We already have mellow sauce covered with the multi-tasking risotto, so let's welcome crunch to the Thanksgiving table. These pickles would be mighty good in November 27th's turkey sandwiches, too.

Photos by James Ransom, James Ransom

The classic salad: Northern Spy's Kale Salad | The updated: Autumn Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

Go ahead, put fruit—and roasted vegetables, and beans—in your salad. Thanksgiving is the celebration of the harvest, after all.

Photos by James Ransom, James Ransom

The classic allium: Tuscan Onion Confit | The updated: Molly Stevens' Sweet Braised Whole Scallions

In this Genius recipe, scallions graduate from garnish to side—ready to be nestled on rolls or mixed into a bite of salad, turkey, chard, or risotto.

Photos by James Ransom, Bobbi Lin

The classic bread rolls: Heavenly Oatmeal-Molasses Rolls | The updated: Late-Harvest Carrot Rolls

When have you had roasted vegetables in your dinner rolls? Yeah, we hadn't either until we tried this recipe from Bien Cuit. Don't think the roasted veg is the only trick, though: Carrot juice goes in the dough, making the rolls amber-hued and vegetal-sweet. (Note: Give this recipe a go only if you're ready for a baking project. But we promise it's worth it.)

Photos by James Ransom, Nikole Herriott

The classic pumpkin pie: Meta Given's Pumpkin Pie | The updated: Chai Masala Pumpkin Pie

When you take all the spices you'd put in chai and stick them in your pumpkin pie, the ratio of sweet pumpkin to spice gets a little more balanced. It's not enough of a departure to make Grandma mad, but it might have you rethinking your go-to recipe

Photos by James Ransom, James Ransom

The classic drink: wine | The updated: Winter Spritz

We're not suggesting you ditch the wine from your Thanksgiving buffet, but rather that you add a low-alcohol spritz of Campari, cider, and blood orange juice to the mix. Or drink a couple while you're cooking dinner. Or both. Whatever you choose, this spritz will add some life to the otherwise small repertoire of Thanksgiving drinks.

You're breaking all the rules (and Thanksgiving will be better that way):

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Why You Should Drink Rosé All Winter by Cathy Huyghe

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10 Non-Pie Thanksgiving Desserts

10 Non-Pie Thanksgiving Desserts by Brette Warshaw

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The 5 Rules You Should Break While Setting Your Thanksgiving Table

The 5 Rules You Should Break While Setting Your Thanksgiv... by Lisa Kolb

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9 American Classics—Better Than Ever

9 American Classics—Better Than Ever by Sarah Jampel

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Get the recipes from The New Classic Thanksgiving Menu:

Torrisi's Turkey

Torrisi's Turkey

Genius Recipes Genius Recipes
Go To Recipe
Serves 12

For brining the turkey:

  • 1 cup kosher salt (we used Diamond Crystal, which is 135 grams/cup -- if using Morton's kosher salt, use 1/2 cup, or see headnote for other types of salt)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 boneless turkey breasts, 3 to 4 1/2 pounds each

For the glaze:

  • 8 heads garlic, lightly smashed but intact
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoons if using Morton's kosher salt)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
Go to Recipe
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Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese

Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese

Merrill Stubbs Merrill Stubbs
Go To Recipe
Serves 6
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound butternut squash
  • 3/4 pound white potatoes
  • 1/2 pound parsnips
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino
Go to Recipe
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Farro Risotto with Caramelized Apples and Fennel

Farro Risotto with Caramelized Apples and Fennel

meganvt01 meganvt01
Go To Recipe
Serves 6 as a side

For the caramelized apples and fennel:

  • 1 large honeycrisp apple, peeled and chopped (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup white wine

For the farro risotto:

  • 1 1/2 cups farro (rinsed and soaked in water for 20 minutes then drained)
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup chèvre, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
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Chard Agrodolce

Chard Agrodolce

Meatballs&Milkshakes Meatballs&Milkshakes
Go To Recipe
Serves 2 to 4
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard or Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated, with stems chopped into 2- to 3-inch pieces and leaves chopped into thirds
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (optional)
Go to Recipe
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Gingered Beet Pickles

Gingered Beet Pickles

Amanda Hesser Amanda Hesser
Go To Recipe
Makes 1 quart
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch thick disks
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 pounds beets, peeled and very thinly sliced (using a mandoline, if you have one)
Go to Recipe
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Molly Stevens' Sweet Braised Whole Scallions

Molly Stevens' Sweet Braised Whole Scallions

Genius Recipes Genius Recipes
Go To Recipe
Serves 4
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound scallions (about 5 bunches, or 3 dozen)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon (do not substitute dried) or 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon
Go to Recipe
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Autumn Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

Autumn Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

Ali Slagle Ali Slagle
Go To Recipe
Serves 6

For the salad:

  • 3/4 pound brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
  • 3/4 pound cauliflower florets
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch cubes of butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • A few pinches of cayenne
  • 1 cup cooked white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 cups arugula

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Handful of chives and/or parsley (optional)
Go to Recipe
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Late-Harvest Carrot Rolls

Late-Harvest Carrot Rolls

Food52 Food52
Go To Recipe
Makes 1 dozen rolls

For the Starter

  • 66 grams (1/4 cups + 3 1/2 tablespoons) white flour
  • 0.1 grams (small pinch) instant yeast
  • 66 grams (1/4 cup + 1/2 tablespoon) carrot juice

For the Carrots & Rolls

  • 300 grams (10 1/2 ounces) large carrots
  • 7 grams (2 teaspoons) light brown sugar
  • 2 (1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon) fine sea salt
  • 15 grams (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
  • 248 grams (1 3/4 cups + 1 1/2 teaspoons) white flour, plus additional as needed for working
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons) buckwheat flour
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons + 2 1/4 teaspoons) medium whole-wheat flour
  • 8 grams (1 1/4 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 0.8 grams (1/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 255 grams (1 cup + 1/2 tablespoon) carrot juice
  • 25 grams (1 3/4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Go to Recipe
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Chai Masala Pumpkin Pie

Chai Masala Pumpkin Pie

Tara O'Brady Tara O'Brady
Go To Recipe
Makes a 9-inch pie
  • Butter, for greasing the pan
  • Pie dough, enough for a single-crust 9-inch pie, plus extra if making the braid
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 15 ounces pumpkin purée (see note)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark, packed
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (I prefer grade B)
  • 1/2 teaspoon medium-grain kosher salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
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Winter Spritz

Winter Spritz

sandy peccerillo sandy peccerillo
Go To Recipe
Serves 1
  • 1 shot Campari
  • 1 shot freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1 shot hard apple cider, or more to taste
  • 1 slice blood or Cara Cara orange
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Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker!
Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker!

Tags: Thanksgiving