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Illustration by Adriana Gallo, Feast photos by Bobbi Lin.

Thanksgiving with Julia, James, and Friends

If Julia Child, James Beard, and Mollie Katzen threw a potluck Thanksgiving, you’d want to go, right? This menu is our attempt to honor the forefathers and mothers of American cooking, full of favorites from the Food52 community and staff, and blogosphere at large. Importantly, there are four kinds of pie, three kinds of booze, and lots of cream.

The Latest Thanksgiving Features, Recipes & Tips

Cocktail Hour

Don’t forget to toast—and snack. M. F. K. Fisher's sherry and vermouth cocktail (b. 1942) and Laurie Colwin's spiced walnuts (b. 1993) make a festive kickoff to the big meal—and a salty icebreaker, to boot.

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M. F. K. Fisher's Half and Half Cocktail

Sure, this cocktail fits with our love of sherry and has a timeless classiness, just like M. F. K. herself—but Fisher's angle in How to Cook a Wolf, her World War II-era treatise on kitchen thrift, was that sherry was cheap, and recommended buying it by the gallon.

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Laurie Colwin's Rosemary Walnuts

Colwin made these every year for Thanksgiving, serving them at the end—we're especially thankful for spicy, herby snacks to sustain any impatient types while they wait for the gravy to be done. Use fresh rosemary if you prefer it to dried, or keep it as Colwin intended.

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Let the Hotline Help

Read our essential last-minute Thanksgiving checklist.

The Main Dish

Make a bird worthy of the center of the table—in under 2 hours.

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Barbara Kafka's High Heat Roast Turkey + Giblet Gravy

Barbara Kafka’s high heat-roasting technique ruffled feathers in the 1990s (500 degrees! No rack, no trussing, no basting!)—until everyone realized it gives you crackly-skinned turkey in no time at all. There's no salt, which isn’t a typo. The bird is so juicy you won’t miss it.

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Let the Hotline Help

Beyond the recipe: the essential guide to times and temperatures for cooking your bird.

Mollie Katzen's Mushroom Yogurt Pie with Spinach Crust

This is 1980s hippie food in the most comforting, best possible way. Published in her hand-written book The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, it’s a vegetarian main that will feel substantial enough to make the vegetarians feel special, but you might need to make extra for the omnivores.

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Let the Hotline Help

Have more than a few vegetarians coming this year? Here's how to accommodate special diets and keep everyone happy—yourself included.


The Sides

The sides are the real reason we show up on Thanksgiving. This year, we’re passing gems from Julia, the Silver Palate duo, Thomas, and Edna—and yes, we think we’re on a first name basis.

Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock's Sweet Potato Casserole

This casserole is a proper Deep South jolt of sweetness from the two cooks who wrote the book on Southern cooking, but with an elegance in textures that the marshmallowy version (all due respect) lacks: a thick layer of craggy pecans and brown sugar on top of smooth, whipped sweet potatoes.

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Julia Child's Brussels Sprouts and Braised Chestnuts

Brussels sprouts get an autumnal anchor in braised chestnuts—buy them prepped, or use them to keep helpers busy. Our favorite instruction from Julia can be applied to most holiday recipes: "Toss gently with several tablespoons of butter to glaze."

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Silver Palate's Thanksgiving Potatoes

Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso's mashed potatoes have a cult following, though it's unclear whether this is due to their ease, their make-ahead friendliness, or the three kinds of dairy (butter, sour cream, and cream cheese).

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Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish

Every year since 1972, Susan Stamberg has been reciting her mother-in-law's oddball cranberry relish recipe on NPR's All Things Considered. Its infamy might come from the strange ingredients—raw onion, cranberries, and sour cream, frozen and partially-thawed?—but it's surprisingly good.

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Thomas Keller’s Savory Leek Bread Pudding

Here’s how to do right by stuffing: Remove stock, replace with cream. Add plenty of cheese. We’ve been thanking Thomas Keller for this recipe for years. Join us?

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Let the Hotline Help

Beyond the recipe: Our solutions for stuffing slip-ups.

Not sure how much to serve? Head here for our definitive pounds-per-person guide to turkey and potatoes.

Need help plotting out your perfect Thanksgiving? Ask us anything!


Dinner Rolls

We’re tying everything (our day-after turkey sandwiches included) together with a 19th-century roll recipe.

Astor House Rolls

Astor House is thought to be New York's first great luxury hotel, which explains the secret ingredient in these rolls, first published in the New York Times in 1878: Each portion of dough gets a lump of butter tucked inside before baking.

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The Pie

Three pies is not overkill. Especially when James Beard is bringing the pumpkin, and Craig Claiborne’s mom is handling the pecan. Feeling overwhelmed? Take a bite of Maida Heatter’s boozier-than-all-get-out rum pie to calm you down.

Craig & Kathleen Claiborne's Pecan Pie

This is Craig’s mother's recipe, shared in an early New York Times cookbook. It’s sweet but not too sweet, and has a less jiggly filling than most. In short, it’s perfect.

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James Beard's Rich Pumpkin Pie

We love a good pumpkin pie with plenty of spice, cream, and Cognac. Serve it like Beard did: “on the warm side, with Cognac-flavored and sweetened whipped cream."

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Maida Heatter's Rum Pie

Meet eggnog in pie form. This pie is not kidding around—“not for sissies,” says Heatter. She preferred to make the graham cracker crust, freeze, and carefully remove it from the pie pan for fancier presentation, but we hope she'd forgive us for taking the lazy way out.

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Let the Hotline Help

Dessert’s done and you’re just waiting for guests to arrive? Read our essential last-minute Thanksgiving checklist.


Let's Table Talk

Our favorite holiday table is one that's covered end to end with plates of food, but this is the season of excess: Here's how to dress yours up for the occasion.

A 3-Step, No-Fail Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Amenable to all kinds of things you have on hand, this checklist makes a pretty table come together (and quick).

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How to Marble Paper for Place Cards

Your favorite childhood craft just reached adulthood.

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How to Make Dried Flower Arrangements

Never worry about your centerpiece dying again.

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How to Make a Pom Fringed Table Runner

A linen runner gets an upgrade—no sewing machine required.

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The Easiest Thing You're Making This Thanksgiving

Hint, hint: It isn't the cranberry sauce from a can.

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Gear up for Thanksgiving

Name your first collection or try one of these: