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My Favorite From Scratch Thanksgiving Dishes

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For me, it's a time where family can get together over great food and there are no expectations beyond that because there are no gift requirements. (buying gifts for people stresses me out) It is the most low-key holiday, and I love it.

I especially love hosting Thanksgiving. Planning a huge menu, and figuring out how to get it all cooked so it's all the right temperature when it gets the to table is weirdly satisfying to me.

Over the past ten years, I think I've hosted Thanksgiving eight times. In that time, I've collected several Thanksgiving recipes that have become favorites for our family. And I'm going to share them all with you!

First up, the main event.


I have two recipes for turkey. Some years I do a simple turkey breast, and other years I do a full turkey. here are my two recipes for those options.


1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 teaspoon, chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 turkey (10-12 pounds)



1 large bunch fresh thyme

1 whole lemon, halved

1 Spanish onion, quartered

1 head garlic, halved crosswise


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the zest and juice of the lemon, and 1 teaspoon of the thyme leaves to the butter mixture. Set aside.

  3. Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry.

  4. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, halved lemon, quartered onion, and the garlic.

  5. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  6. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.

  7. Roast the turkey about 2 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh.

  8. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil, let rest for 20 minutes.

  9. Slice and serve the turkey.


1 cup unsalted butter (I cut this down to 1/4 cup)

3 springs fresh rosemary

10 leaves fresh sage

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 turkey breast (4-6 pounds), patted dry.


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set up oven so there is only the bottom rack.

  2. Add the turkey to a large roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels.

  3. Mash the butter, herbs, salt and pepper in small bowl. Set 2-3 tablespoons aside for later.

  4. Use the back of a spoon to lift the skin from the turkey breast and spread butter inside. Smooth the skin back down to spread the butter all over the breast. Be careful not to tear the skin as the butter will drip out when cooking.

  5. Roast for 90 minutes, or until the innermost part of the breast is cooked to 165 degrees. Top with remaining butter and let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Okay, now that we've taken care of the turkey, we can get to my favorite part.

The Sides

If you ask me, the sides are what really make Thanksgiving dinner. Here I give you my favorite Green Bean Casserole, Salads, Brussels Sprouts, and Roll recipes.


3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

2 cloves garlic minced

12 ounces fresh button or cremini mushrooms chopped

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 cup half and half

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound fresh green beans, halved, and blanched.

1 can quality French fried onions.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy.

  3. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

  4. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

  5. Melt the butter in the same skillet and whisk in the four. Once combined, continue whisking for another 2 minutes until the mixture has slightly deepened in color.

  6. Add the half and half and chicken broth while constantly whisking to prevent lumps. Once slightly thickened, add the cheese and whisk until melted and combined.

  7. Next, add the mushroom/bacon mixture along with the salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the green beans. Stir to combine.

  8. Pour the bean mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish and sprinkle the French fried onions all over the top. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Note: Everything can be done in advance expect for adding the crispy onions, otherwise they'll get soggy. Add those just before baking. Also, let the casserole sit for at least 30 minutes after removing it from the fridge before baking.


1 lb butternut squash peeled and cut into ¾-inch chunks

1 lb Brussels Sprouts stems trimmed and sliced lengthwise in half

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¾ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup dried cranberries unsweetened or sweetened

Dijon Vinaigrette:

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or rice vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

two pinches kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the butternut squash chunks and halved Brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet. Drizzle them with the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and toss them with your hands to distribute the oil evenly.

  2. Sprinkle the vegetables evenly with kosher salt and pepper, and toss them again with your hands. Spread the vegetables out evenly onto the baking sheet. Roasting Tip: Place the Brussels sprouts cut-side down, this will allow them to caramelize more evenly against the surface of the sheet pan.

  3. Roast the vegetables for 20 to 30 minutes (time will vary depending on the size of your Brussels sprouts and butternut squash chunks), tossing them gently 1 to 2 times during the roasting time to ensure that they caramelize evenly on all sides. Scatter the dried cranberries onto baking sheet in the last five minutes of roasting time. Allow the pan to sit on a rack to cool slightly while you prepare the Dijon vinaigrette.

  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard and rice wine vinegar. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking continuously with your other hand, until the ingredients are emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Gently place the roasted vegetables in a large serving bowl or platter. Pour on the Dijon vinaigrette and toss the vegetables gently until they are lightly dressed. Serve warm, lukewarm, or cold.

Ingredients Salad 5 oz baby spinach

3 mandarin oranges (10 oz), peeled and segmented

3/4 cup pomegranate arils*

1 medium avocado, diced

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup chopped walnuts


2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup light mayonnaise (tested with Hellman's light)

1 1/2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp poppy seeds

1 Tbsp milk, if needed


For the dressing: In a small mixing bowl whisk together vinegar, sugar and salt until sugar and salt have dissolved.

Add mayonnaise, honey and poppy seeds and whisk until combined. Mix in milk to thin if desired. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the salad: In a salad bowl layer spinach, mandarin oranges, pomegranate arils, avocado, almonds and walnuts.

Pour desired amount of dressing over top (or alternately just dress each serving). Serve immediately.


1 14 oz. bag 3-color coleslaw mix

1 large apple chopped

½ c. dried cranberries

½ c. chopped walnuts

4 green onions sliced


¾ c. lowfat mayo

¾ c. plain yogurt not Greek

6 tablespoon honey

¾ teaspoon dried, ground ginger


  1. Combine coleslaw ingredients in a large bowl.

  2. In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix well.

  3. Pour dressing over coleslaw and stir until evenly coated.

  4. For a less creamy coleslaw, use ½ c. mayo, ½ c. plain yogurt, ¼ c. honey, and ½ teaspoon ginger.

Rolls. I have a secret about the rolls I make. The recipe I use changes over the years depending on how many rolls I want to make, and what kind of yeast I want to use. The secret to making Thanksgiving rolls the most amazing rolls ever, is to roll the dough in melted butter when you form the dough into balls. The butter seeps into the dough while it rises, and then when the rolls bake, it creates a delicate crispiness on the outside.

Here is a popular recipe I've used for simple yeast rolls. It makes 24 rolls, but I've halved this recipe before and it works out great.


1 1/2 cups milk

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for brushing 1/2 cup sugar 1 package active dry yeast 1/2 cup warm water 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 6 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and sugar and let cool.

  2. Dissolve yeast in warm water and let sit until foamy.

  3. Combine milk mixture, eggs, yeast, salt, and 1/2 of the flour in a mixer with the dough attachment and mix until smooth. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir until a smooth ball forms. (If you don't have a mixer, knead the dough for 10 minutes and skip the next step)

  4. Remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 60 to 70 minutes.

  5. On a floured surface, punch down the dough and shape into desired shapes. (This is where you roll the dough in melted butter)

  6. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover again and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes.

  7. Preheat the oven 350 degrees F.

  8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter before serving. (Skip brushing with butter if you rolled it in butter)

So, there you have it. Those are my favorite side dishes for Thanksgiving. But we're not done yet! We still have to cover the delectable desserts! You're not going to find pumpkin pie here, because Thanksgiving dessert should be the show stopper of the day! Here my 3 favorite dessert recipes.


Ingredients Carmel Sauce - follow link for recipe.

Crust 2 1/4 cups (302g) graham cracker crumbs (about 17 full sheet graham crackers)

5 tbsp (65g) sugar

1/8 tsp salt

10 tbsp (140g) unsalted butter, melted

Apple Filling Layer 1 1/2 medium sized apples (about 260g), thinly sliced

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup caramel sauce, from above

3 tbsp all purpose flour

Cheesecake Filling 24 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup (144g) loosely packed brown sugar

3 tbsp (24g) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (115g) sour cream

1/2 cup (130g) applesauce

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 large eggs

Apple Topping 1–2 medium sized apples, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions 1. Prepare the caramel sauce according to the recipe and allow to cool to at least room temperature. You can prepare the caramel sauce several days ahead, if you like.

CRUST 2. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides. 3. Combine the crust ingredients in a small bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. 4. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes, then set aside to cool. 5. Cover the outsides of the pan with aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in (see how I prepare my pan for a water bath). Set prepared pan aside.

CHEESECAKE 6. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F (148°C). 7. Toss the apples for the apple filling layer with the ground cinnamon and add to the bottom of the crust. 8. Add the flour to the caramel sauce (which was prepared in step 1), then pour the caramel sauce evenly over the apples. Set pan aside. 9. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar and flour on low speed until well completely combined and smooth. Be sure to use low speed to reduce the amount of air added to the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 10. Add the sour cream, applesauce, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon and mix on low speed until well combined. 11. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly to combine after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined. 12. Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust, over the top of the apples. 13. Use the thinly sliced apples for the topping to create the “rose” pattern on top of the cheesecake filling. Start from the outside edge, slightly overlapping each apple as you add it, and work your way around to make a full circle. Continue creating circles until you reach the center of the cheesecake. 14. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it evenly over the apples. 15. Place the springform pan inside another larger pan, trying not to jostle it around too much. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan. 16. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. The edges should be well set, but the center couple of inches will still be jiggly because of the caramel sauce in the filling. 17. Turn off the oven and leave the door closed for 30 minutes. The cheesecake will continue to cook, but slowly begin to cool as well. 18. Crack the door of the oven for 30 minutes to allow the cheesecake to continue to cool slowly. This process helps prevent cracking. 19. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath wrapping and refrigerate until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight. 20. Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and place on a serving dish. I used some remaining caramel sauce to brush over the top of the apples and give it a shine. Cover cheesecake and refrigerate until ready to serve.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

3/4 cup butter, melted


2/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1-1/4 cups cold water

4 cups chopped peeled tart apples (about 2 large)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix flour, brown sugar, oats and butter; reserve 1-1/2 cups mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture onto bottom and up sides of an ungreased 9-in. pie plate.

  2. In a large saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and water until smooth; bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in apples and vanilla. Pour into crust. Crumble topping over filling.

  3. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly, 40-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Ingredients Crust 1 3/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter melted

Pecan Filling

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup dark corn syrup

1/3 cup unsalted butter melted

2 large eggs lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups pecans chopped

Cheesecake Filling

24 oz cream cheese softened

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

2 tbsp all purpose flour

4 large eggs

2/3 cups heavy whipping cream


3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup toasted pecan chopped

Instructions Crust

Line the bottom of 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine vanilla wafer crumbs and brown sugar, stir in melted butter, then press the mixture evenly into bottom and halfway up the side of 9 inch springform pan. Set in the fridge to firm the crust while making the filling.

Pecan Filling

In a medium saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, pecans and vanilla and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer stirring constantly until thickened, 5-7 minutes. Pour into prepared crust and set aside.

Cheesecake Filling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the cream cheese until creamy, then add brown sugar and flour and beat until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Do not overbeat it!!! Stir in heavy cream and vanilla, then pour cheesecake mixture over pecan filling.

Place springform pan on a cookie sheet, put it in the oven and reduce the heat to 325 F Bake the cake for 60-70 minutes (until toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean). Turn off the oven and leave cheesecake in with oven door closed for 1 hour.

Run a knife around edges of cheesecake but don’t take out of the pan until completely cooled.


In a small saucepan combine butter and brown sugar. Cook for 3-5 min or until very bubbly, then stir in cinnamon, heavy whipping cream and chopped pecans. Cool to room temperature.

Release the sides of springform pan and spoon the topping over cooled cheesecake.

Store the cake in the fridge.

There you have it! All my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Which ones are you going to try this year?

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