What's for dinner this Thanksgiving? If this is your first year preparing the Thankgiving dinner menu it can be a bit overwhelming trying to find the perfect foods to fit into this holiday meal. Here are some simple and traditional items to consider having at your table on Turkey Day!

Cooking a Turkey DinnerCredit: TheKohser wikimedia commons

What's on the Thanksgiving Dinner Menu: Main Course Ideas

Let's Talk Turkey 

Turkey, for most, is a staple food on the Thankgiving dinner menu. Dating back to the time of the Pilgrims and the first thanksgiving it is no surprise that many will expect to see this on the dinner table. 

If you've never made a turkey before there are recipes, handling and cooking instructions that can be found all over the web -- if you don't have access to mom or Grandma's family recipes. 

Ham it Up

Turkey is not for everyone. Some households prefer to serve up a deliciously baked ham (spiral hams being one of the most popular of choices)  as a part of their main course menu. These can be dressed up in a number of ways to add unique flavors including: pineapples, cloves, honey and flavored rubs. 

Fowl Alternatives 

For some the bird of choice is not turkey. In some homes what replaces Turkey as the main course is another type of fowl. These fowl alternatives can include: duck, quail and goose. 

Prime Rib Idea

Prime rib may not be a very traditional main course when it comes to the Thanksgiving Menu, but it has become more and more popular through the years.  Some choose to serve this up as the main meat on the table while others will have this or ham as an additional option for dinner guests. 

Vegan Value Menu 

If meat is a no-no on your Thanksgiving dinner menu there are meat-free alternatives. Tofurky is one of those options which incorporates vegetarian ingredients to create a loaf or casserole style meal. If you are creative you can make it yourself and form it in the shape of a traditional turkey dinner. 

Dinner Table at ThanksgivingCredit: Ben Franske Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

What's on the Thanksgiving Dinner Menu: Side Dish Ideas


Dressing, otherwise known as stuffing, has been a traditional staple on many thanksgiving dinner menus. There are many recipes that can be tweaked and fine-tuned to fit preferences or time requirements.  This can be prepared in the bird or on the stovetop and can be made using fresh ingredients or made straight from a box - your choice. 


What holiday meal is complete without some good old fashioned creamy mashed potatoes? Simple to cook and only takes a few minutes of prep time. Don't forget the Gravy!

Not a fan of mashed potatoes put some baby potato's on the menu - steamed or boiled and served with butter, gravy or your choice of topping. 

For a potato side that incorporates the best of the two options above add potato salad to your Thanksgiving dinner menu. 

Cranberry Sauce 

Cranberry sauce or cranberries are seen, by many, as a traditional food to have available, as a side dish, during the main course at Thanksgiving time. These aren't for everyone, but even for those who don't fancy this brightly colored side dish they often find room to fit it on the table anyway. 


Served alone or combined with other ingredients to make casseroles (such as green bean casserole), cooked or raw,  and other yummy vegetable recipes - veggies are a must have at the table. Any type of vegetable can be used: corn (on or off the cob), green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery... Choose what works best with your tastes and the rest of your thanksgiving menu or plan on having several options on the table. 


Salads are another choice becoming more traditional as the years pass. Some salad options that can be added to your thanksgiving dinner menu are: cold green salad dressed up with your favorite veggie toppings or served plain, macaroni salad, potato salad or a sweeter alternative would be a creamy fruit salad. 


What feast would be complete without some type of bread? The most traditional selection is hot rolls, steamy and fresh from the oven. Others prefer to have sliced specialty breads or regular everyday sliced sandwich bread as a part of the menu. 

Thanksgiving meal(66567)

The thanksgiving dinner menu can seem quite overwhelming but it doesn't have to be. Plan ahead and familiarize yourself with cooking times for the different dishes and things will just flow into place from there. Don't be afraid to ask guests to bring their own favorite side dish, dessert or appetizer. You may be surprised how many of those joining you for dinner would be happy to share and show off their favorite thanksgiving recipes. Better yet ask them to bring their favorite after dinner desert to add to the extravagant meal you've prepared for them.