41 Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas (Because Not Everyone Loves Turkey)

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)
·9 mins read

If you’re a diehard turkey/stuffing/sweet potato casserole kind of person, we salute you. But if you’re not? Hey, that’s cool too. Nothing against the classic Turkey Day menu, but there are so many other vegetables, side dishes and desserts that deserve a little holiday love. Might we suggest that you ditch the status quo in favor of something new? From bacon-wrapped Brussels sprouts to butternut squash upside-down cake, here are 41 non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner ideas to spice up your spread.

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1. Crispy Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts

They’re glazed with honey and topped with chives. You might want to make a double batch.

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2. Carrot Pigs in a Blanket

Super-traditional relatives might not approve of cocktail wieners wrapped in crescent dough at Thanksgiving…but these are made with carrots, so they’re kinda fancy. Watch how many get devoured.

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3. Roasted Winter Vegetable Platter with Miso Aioli and Romesco Sauce

The roasted veg are pretty standard; the dipping sauces are anything but. Both the traditional Spanish romesco and savory miso aioli come together quickly in a blender.

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4. Goat Cheese, Apple and Honey Tarts

Tangy goat cheese is just the thing to pair with tart, crisp, sweet apples. The crusts are made with store-bought puff pastry, so you don’t have to stress.

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5. Spicy Pineapple Prosciutto Tarts

What does pineapple have to do with Thanksgiving? We’re not sure. All we know is these tartlets are delicious and you should make them every holiday.

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6. Cranberry-Brie Pie Crust Bites

Nothing against regular cheese and crackers, but we’re upping the ante this year. (Once again, store-bought pie crust saves the day.)

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7. Pull-Apart Bread with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

Betcha can’t eat just one piece.

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Main Courses

8. Hearty Stuffed Butternut Squash

You don’t have to be vegetarian to appreciate the beauty of these gourds. To make them vegan, just skip the Gruyère cheese.

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9. Spicy Orange-Honey Glazed Ham

It’s just as good for leftovers on sandwiches, plus it’s easier to make and ready in less time than a turkey.

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10. Balsamic Cranberry Roast Chicken

It’s almost entirely hands-off, thanks to that trusty cast-iron skillet. Use frozen or fresh cranberries, just don’t skimp on the herbs.

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11. Turkey Roulade with Cherry and Sausage Stuffing

Yep, it’s turkey. It’s just presented in a non-traditional format. The inside is stuffed with, well, stuffing, and the outside is slathered in a mix of harissa and Dijon mustard—yum.

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12. Pistachio-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Escarole Salad

The pretty pistachio crust is both festive and tasty, and best of all, the dish cooks from start to finish on a single baking sheet.

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13. Pomegranate-Maple Glazed Lamb Chops

We promise, lamb chops are as simple to cook as chicken (and way simpler than turkey). Pomegranate molasses is a Middle Eastern ingredient that adds sweetness and tang.

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14. Pomegranate-Sumac Chicken with Roasted Carrots

The chicken is brined in buttermilk for extra tenderness and a golden-brown crust. Sheet-pan dinner for Thanksgiving? You bet.

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15. Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower

It’s dramatic, delicious and surprisingly effortless to make.

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16. Butternut Squash Carbonara

We have a good feeling that no one will complain about pasta instead of turkey.

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RELATED: 19 Fall Pasta Recipes That Take an Hour or Less

17. Bacon-Wrapped Black Cod with Spinach and Capers

Wrap a piece of fish in bacon and suddenly it’s holiday-ready. (It’s also done in 40 minutes, no big deal.)

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Side Dishes and Vegetables

18. Green Bean Casserole Galette

All the nostalgic flavors, none of the canned cream of mushroom soup.

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19. Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower

It’s like mac and cheese in vegetable form. We’ll take seconds, please and thank you.

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20. Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sriracha and Lime

In our humble opinion, the Turkey Day feast could benefit from something zingy and spicy. Enter these taters.

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21. Baked Cauliflower with Pomegranate Seeds and Thyme

It tastes a lot like traditional stuffing, but without the bread. Try it, you’ll like it.

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RELATED: How to Host a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving, from Drinks to Dessert

22. Brussels Sprouts Latkes

We know someone will ask where the Brussels sprouts are. Surprise them with these crispy-crunchy latkes.

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RELATED: 27 Brussels Sprouts Thanksgiving Recipes That Are Pretty Much Foolproof

23. Charred Sweet Potatoes with Pistachio-Chili Pesto

The typical marshmallow-studded casserole has nothing on these gorgeously complex charred sweet potatoes.

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24. Radicchio, Lentil and Apple Salad with Vegan Cashew Dressing

Wait, this creamy dressing is dairy-free? You had us fooled. The bitter greens will be a welcome addition to your mega-rich menu.

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RELATED: 25 Fall Salad Recipes That You’ll Actually Look Forward to Eating

25. Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Horseradish and Sea Salt

Mashed-potato lovers, consider this your invitation to join team crispy. The horseradish cream is spicy and pungent, so serve it on the side if you’re joining picky eaters.

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26. Roasted Cabbage Steaks

Cabbage isn’t just for coleslaw—it happens to make an excellent side dish of its own. Bonus, this recipe requires just five ingredients.

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27. Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Ranch

Want to know a little secret? We’ll take any excuse to serve ranch at a fancy holiday dinner. This version is made with tahini for a twist on the bottled stuff.

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28. Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Barley Risotto

They look like a dish you’d spend all day working on. But would you believe they’re ready in a little over an hour?

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29. Sweet and Spicy Cornbread

No feast is complete without a bread product. This one has a little heat from Fresno chiles. (If you can’t find Fresnos, feel free to swap with another hot pepper, like jalapeños.)

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30. Baked Feta with Dill, Caper Berries and Citrus

Get ready for the oohs and ahhs when you set a tray of baked cheese on the table. Serve it with toasted pita or any crispy cracker of choice.

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31. Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Leeks

It’s dreamy and creamy like macaroni and cheese, but without and cheese. You could even make it dairy-free by skipping the butter and Parmesan.

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RELATED: The 54 Best Winter Squash Recipes of All Time


32. Sweet Potato Sugar Cookies with Marshmallow Topping

These are so good, no one will wonder where that aforementioned casserole went. (It’s more of a dessert anyway.)

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33. Texas Sheet Cake

There’s no rule that says you have to love pumpkin or pecans (or apples, for that matter). This chocolate cake, however, is impossible not to love.

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34. Pumpkin Angel Food Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

If you do crave a pumpkin dessert, why not make it in the form of this fluffy, cream-cheese glazed masterpiece?

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35. Caramelized Butternut Squash Upside-Down Cake

Yep, those are vegetables on top of this cake. Yep, you’re going to make this one a new Thanksgiving tradition.

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36. Sticky Toffee Honeycomb Cake

The more napkins required, the more satisfying the dessert…right? Serve it slightly warm for maximum effect.

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37. Miniature Banoffee Cobblers

They’re ridiculously simple (just 20 minutes of prep!) and taste like a toffee-banana dream.

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38. Chocolate Semifreddo Seduction

It’s rich and silky like chocolate pudding, but as refreshing as a scoop of ice cream. Are you convinced yet?

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39. Cinnamon Sheet Cake with Cider Frosting

A sheet-pan cake that’s ready in less than an hour will always beat out a complicated pie recipe. Plus, who can deny that apple cider frosting?

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40. Sweet Potato Pots de Crème with Toasted Marshmallow

It looks and tastes like a fancy restaurant dessert (not to mention the inside of a pumpkin pie) but is secretly foolproof.

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41. Caramel-Chocolate Macadamia Tart

This tart tastes like a candy bar and features a simple press-in crust. Pecan pie doesn’t know what’s coming.

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