Home » Our Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Our Thanksgiving Dinner Menu


It’s no secret in my family that I just LOVE Thanksgiving!  It’s one of my very favorite holidays.  On what other day do you have permission to stuff yourself full of yummy food without the pressure of getting that perfect gift for Aunt Bertha?  🙂

We always have my family’s Thanksgiving celebration at our house, mostly because I love to cook and entertain.  So I thought I’d share our 2013 Thanksgiving dinner menu with ya’ll, complete with my secrets for making everything extra yummy, along with some links to great recipes we have.  And if you want to learn how we serve this delicious dinner on the cheap, you can do so by clicking here:

**Note: One of the reasons our Thanksgiving dinner goes over so well is that we keep processed, chemicalized foods to a minimum.  No low fat or “fat free” stuff.  We go with real butter, and only use Daisy pure sour cream, etc.   It really does enhance the flavor.

Turkey: Gotta have turkey!  As an animal lover, I feel somewhat guilty about the turkey, only because of a wonderful, sweet turkey named Glen that I knew years ago.  Glen was a turkey that lived on a friend’s hobby farm.  He weighed 50 pounds, and would sweetly saunter up to you and stand on your feet, waiting to be picked up and held.  Isn’t that hilarious??  Good thing I had strong biceps in those days!  Whenever I start roasting that huge turkey on Thanksgiving, I think about sweet Glen and how I had no idea turkeys could be so loving. 🙂

We bake our turkey the traditional way, in the oven.  We don’t put the stuffing in the pan, though.  Those turkey juices are valuable!  We use them to make homemade turkey gravy, and we pour them over the stuffing and then bake the stuffing in the oven in separate pans.

Normally, we don’t do much to the turkey, except for generous basting, but this year, thanks to a friend generously sharing her brining recipe, we’ll brine our turkey.  Check out the brining recipe/instructions here.  This is a good way to give an extra “oomph” to your turkey.

Stuffing.  When I was a kid, I HATED stuffing.  My dad, an amazing cook whom I credit (and blame 🙂 ) for my love of cooking and food, always put lots of “stuff” in the stuffing that added all kinds of weird tastes, in my young and naïve opinion.  It should come as no surprise, then, that I not only follow his stuffing recipe to the T, but I’m constantly dreaming up other things to add to the stuffing to change things up a little bit.  I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving, and serving dad’s stuffing, for nearly 20 years now, but my two brothers always ask me every year “Are you making dad’s stuffing?”  I’m not entirely sure they’d join us if I wasn’t. 🙂  Here’s dad’s simple recipe:

1-2 bags of Brownberry Sage Stuffing bread crumbs

1 roll sage sausage, fried and crumbled

1 small jar green olives

1 large onion chopped

2 sticks celery, sliced thin

Melted butter, turkey juices and water added in before cooking, for moisture.

Additional add-in ideas:  a couple of strips of bacon, fried and crumbled, 1/2 c. dried cranberries, 1/2 c. slivered almonds.

Mashed potatoes.  Homemade, of course.  And super fattening.  We don’t bother with low-fat/no-fat garb in our Thanksgiving dinner or any other meals. I’d rather deal with the fat than with the chemicals they use to “de-fat” things like cheese, sour cream, etc.  To make our mashed potatoes extra delicious, we add real butter, heavy cream, sour cream and whole milk in our potatoes.  Season it with salt, pepper and a bit of turkey juices, and it’s yummalicious!

Gravy: Homemade, with the juice from the turkey.

Green bean casserole.  The traditional version, with cream of mushroom soup and French fried onions.  The only thing we do differently is cut the amount of mushroom soup in half to enhance the flavor of the green beans.  We’ve tried versions without the cream of mushroom soup, which is full of chemicals, but the family prefers tradition here.

Green bean almondine.  Green beans with butter, slivered almonds, and real bacon pieces.  This is a healthier alternative to the green bean casserole and tastes great.

Corn.  We use frozen corn, bake it, and add butter, salt and pepper.

Corn and Bacon Casserole.  NEW THIS YEAR!  This recipe from Tanya over at Eat Laugh Purr has the rare honor of butting in on our traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu. 🙂 You can find the recipe by clicking here.  Doesn’t it sound/look awesome?  I’ll have to let you know what the family thinks. 🙂

Lefse.  You may have had the crappy store-bought Lefse in years’ past, but don’t let that turn you off to this yummy, light and delicious homemade Scandinavian treat.  If you haven’t heard of Lefse, it’s kind of like a thin version of a tortilla, only made with potatoes.  We serve ours with butter, but many families do butter and white sugar before they roll it up and place it on a plate.  It’s spendy, but our one Thanksgiving menu splurge, and worth the price (mom will pay for this so we can keep our budget reasonable).  They’ll even ship it straight to your house!  Click here for more info (no affiliate link).

Brown ‘n Serves.  I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that our whole family LOVES the cheap and not too terribly high quality brown ‘n serve rolls, even in generic form, , and we always have them instead of homemade.  I’ve often thought about making them from scratch, but the store-bought ones are SO cheap (a buck for a dozen) and no work at all, so we’ll keep this tradition.  Oldest younger brother brings these.

Funny side note: Years ago, when we were kids, mom forgot about the rolls in the oven and burnt the hell out of them.  Ever since then, we’ve called ’em Black ‘n Serves. I was totally embarrassed at the grocery store one year when I was searching for the rolls and accidentally asked the stock boy if he could tell me where the “black ‘n serves” were.  🙂  I tried to stumble out an explanation, but the silly smirk on his face wouldn’t go away. 🙂

Broccoli salad.  My sis-in-law always brings this, and never ceases to impress us with her different versions of the broccoli salad.  It’s a must have at our Thanksgiving dinner.

Cranberries.  Canned, whole and the jelly.  People seem to either be in one camp or the other.  Most of our fam prefers the jelly, I like the whole berries in jelly sauce.  You?

Banana Cream Supreme.  My youngest brother’s birthday is near Thanksgiving, so as a kind of birthday celebration, we always make one of his favorite desserts, Banana Cream Supreme.  This Pampered Chef creation is different and delicious.  Don’t let the sour cream in the ingredient list throw you off – it totally makes the dessert! **Note: this recipe calls for lowfat sour cream and Cool Whip.  Don’t do it!  Use the real stuff.

Apple pie and Pumpkin pie.  My dad usually brings the pies, and apple and pumpkin are at the top of the list.  Sometimes we do homemade, but we usually just try and get the best deal, via Sam’s Club, etc.

Milk and water to drink.  We keep the beverages simple and cheap, and no one complains.  My “oldest” younger brother always brings the milk.

What do you think – are we missing anything?  What kind of fun and different stuff do you have at Thanksgiving dinner?



  1. Ok Laurie, you officially made me hungry! 🙂 We love Thanksgiving as well and usually get together with friends as our family is so far away. This year though, we’ll be having my youngest brother join us as he moved to about 2 1/2 hours from us with his first job out of college. The kids love having him around and it gives me someone to watch football with. 🙂 Have a great weekend Laurie!

    • Laurie says:

      That’s my goal, John. :-)So glad your brother will be joining you this year – super cool! I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time.

  2. FI Pilgrim says:

    Ha, love the “black ‘n serve” story. 🙂 Those are the kinds of stories that make Thanksgiving great. And that stuffing recipe looks delicious…

  3. Canadian Thanksgiving is in mid-October and it is not the big holiday that you Americans have turned yours in to. It almost seems like your Thanksgiving is bigger than Christmas.

    I love American Thanksgiving because it fills the television with lots of extra cooking ideas and sappy family drama movies. I love cooking tips and I love tear jerkers so American Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday for me.

  4. Laurie, you’ve made me so hungry now! I am unfortunately going to miss out on the traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, unless I can somehow find a restaurant or a grocery store in Ecuador that can provide some of the main pieces. I may end up trying to whip something together if I can find a whole chicken, potatoes, and if I can bring down a can of cranberry sauce. (In our house, Mrs. DB40 is the good looking one and I’m the one who can cook. Between the two of us, we are the total package. :))

    Wish me luck and thanks so much for this post…I’m bookmarking it for next year.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, funny, DB40. 🙂 So glad you are heading down there, DB40, it’s going to be a wonderful Thanksgiving, turkey or not, because you guys are together. Good luck smuggling those cranberries onto the plane. 🙂

  5. Wow! I am so honored to have my recipe included in your Thanksgiving feast! Gosh, I hope you love it as much as I did!! 🙂 Of course, I never think you can go wrong with bacon. I must admit that I am intrigued by your Dad’s stuffing, which is my favorite dish at Thanksgiving. Olives are an unusual addition but I can see how their saltiness could add a nice component. I love my Mom’s stuffing. She’s famous for it in my family. She normally hosts Thanksgiving but if she doesn’t for some reason, she always brings the stuffing. I love living in California but I really miss celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. But I will be home for Christmas and hopefully just a little bit of snow. I don’t needs lots!

    • Laurie says:

      Ditto on the bacon, Tanya! Glad you’ll be able to come home for Christmas, at least, and I’m with you on the “little bit” of snow. Not much here now – we had 3 inches the other day but it all melted right away – woohoo!

  6. Oh yum! You are making me hungry too! My family always made instant mashed potatoes and I didn’t know any better until I got married. My husband makes real mashed potatoes with all the yummy fattening ingredients like you. I love them! I would be a happy camper just with mashed potatoes and stuffing. Oh, and pie.

  7. Missing anything?!? How is that possible! 🙂 I love thanksgiving too…WAY more than Christmas because its really the holiday done right. No pressure to buy gifts but just good food and people getting together. I don’t have any tradition anymore since I’m single and never go home this time of year. I usually spend it at either a friend’s family’s house, or some kind of orphan thanksgiving. I call it the beige food holiday because all of my favorite food that day is beige. 🙂 I LOVE stuffing and pumpkin pie the most though. And I love Pillsbury crescent rolls. The only time of year I buy them.

    • Laurie says:

      Beige food – funny! It’s a serious carb-overload holiday, but well worth it, IMHO. We are even thinking of adding corn muffins to the list this year – more carbs, and more beige. 🙂

  8. lyle @ the Joy of Simple says:

    Wow!!! What a feast…and I loved that story about Glen…I don’t think I would ever be able to eat a Turkey again if I had a Glen in my life.

    As for your final question: “What do you think – are we missing anything?” YES…ME!!!! 🙂

    Take care and have a wonderful weekend. My best to all.


  9. kelly @stayingonbudget says:

    That sounds great! Ours is pretty similar. I started making America’s Test Kitchen Green Bean Casserole. It’s more work but some delicious!

  10. Micro says:

    I’m a huge fan of eating real butter and actual fat with meals. At least in my experience, I stay full a lot longer which means I eat less. One thing I like about cooking with cast iron pans, it forces me to use a good amount of butter, lard, or oil to ensure nothing burns on the pan. I don’t know about drinking milk with the Thanksgiving meal though. I’ve always found it never meshes well with cranberries. I would probably opt simply for water. Although some cold brewed unsweetened tea would be delicous.

    • Laurie says:

      Interesting about the cast iron – I would love to start cooking on it some day. You’re right about the milk and cranberries – there’s something odd about the combo, but I never thought about it in terms of the Thanksgiving meal. One of my fave holiday beverages? The lemon-flavored mineral water – YUM!

  11. Green Money Stream says:

    The stuffing recipe sounds delicious. I will be planning my own Thanksgiving menu this weekend. My favorite dish? Homemade cranberry sauce with a little orange zest! I just can’t get enough of that!

  12. Brit says:

    After reading this I am so hungry! haha. Love the menu Laurie. I will be keeping it simple this year. The Corn and Bacon Casserole caught my eyes. I’m such a bacon lover. Thanks!

  13. Brian says:

    I don’t know how you could ever hate stuffing! We still have a turkey in the freezer that we bought for Canadian Thanksgiving and some leftovers frozen. Thanksgiving is a great time of year!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, I was young and stupid. 🙂 Yes, we’ve got an extra turkey in the fridge too, for sometime after Thanksgiving. Can’t wait to cook it up. 🙂

  14. Great food and no gifts sounds like the perfect setting. I think we’ll have our turkey for Christmas, last year he disappeared on the 23rd and reappeared on the 26th, I think he knew something was off… Now that he has been around for a year, I have to say that I may have a hard time eating it… may be another turkey-less Christmas!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, funny, Pauline!!!! Is your turkey as nice as “Glen The Turkey” was? If so, I’d really have a hard time making him for dinner. 🙂

  15. Since I am a Romanian, I never had the chance of enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner ever, but always drooled when I saw it on TV. Your menu made me drool even more, especially because I never tasted any of the things you’re preparing. Ah, I gotta time my visit to the US (whenever that happens) during Thanksgiving :))

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