Thanksgiving Food & Cocktail Ideas

Sometimes it’s tough finding new and exciting recipes for Thanksgiving since it’s tradition to serve the usual suspects, but I have round up a whole bunch of amazing recipes to add some excitement to your holiday this year! I’ll share some ideas for cocktails, appetizers, turkeys, side dishes and desserts as well as link to some of my own recipes. If you have a favorite or have posted a good one to your own blog, please link to it in the comments and I’ll add it to the post so that there will be no end to the inspiration! If you’re somewhere in the world that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, these are all fantastic autumn recipes that are sure to please. All the recipes can be found in the links in each image’s credit!

If you need some inspiration for your Thanksgiving Decor make sure you check out my post for outdoor, indoor and table decor too!

Let’s start with some extraordinary cocktails:

Thanksgiving Cocktails

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1. Sometimes mixing up one giant batch of a cocktail is an easy way to keep your guests happy without having to spend your whole evening away from them mixing drinks. This punch combines a sage simple syrup with vodka, cranberry& orange juice and triple sec making it refreshing and tart. The kumquat and cranberry garnishes make them look super elegant!

2. The addition of whipped egg whites makes this a real conversation starter! When shook with gin, lemon juice and grand mariner this cocktail takes on a light, airy texture that will be sure to be the talk of your guests!

3. This cocktail will warm you from the inside out! Apple cider spiked with rum and cinnamon schnapps, this is fall in a glass!

4. By simply adding a little bit of cranberry and fresh lime juice to the bottom of a glass of champagne and floating some cranberries in it, you turn a simple glass of champagne into this delicious and beautiful cocktail.

5. Another punch recipe that allows you to enjoy your guests, this is a mix of sparkling and late-harvest wine mixed with lots of fruit and pomegranate seeds.

6. By simply adding some sprite, fresh lime juice and cranberries to a shot of vodka you have a super easy-to-make and festive looking cocktail.

If you still need more inspiration, try my Apple Bourbon Mojitos:

Apple Bourbon Mojito

Next, here’s some exciting appetizers to try:

Thanksgiving Appetizers

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1. This recipe isn’t on the Martha Stewart Website yet so I’ll include it here. Thaw and roll out store bought puff pastry according to package instructions. Place dough on parchment lined baking sheet and cut into 4″ squares, brush with olive oil and add toppings. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Some suggested flavor combos for toppings are {Ground marinated peppers, baked and topped with white anchovy} {Thinly sliced fingerling potatoes and thyme baked and dotted with caviar} {Thinly sliced orange, sage leaves & salt baked and drizzled with honey} {Gorgonzola and sliced scallion}.

2. This is a fun alternative to a typical cheese plate, a pepper glazed goat cheese gratin. The peppery flavor pairs well with the tang of the goat cheese!

3. This is a great article about how to upgrade your holiday cheese trays. It gives suggestions of some great alternatives to the classics and gives your appetizer table a real oomph!

4. Not only does this lighten things up by using a sweet potato pound as a base instead of bread, the cojito cheese and beans are a nice change up and the whole thing is delicious!

5. I don’t even know what to say about these Scallop BLTs, they look phenomenal and your guests will surely be impressed!

6. These remind me a bit of the corn and chorizo fritters we made but by combining the seasonal ingredient of butternut squash and baking them these are much healthier and look SO yummy!

If you need some more appetizer inspiration, try my Cranberry, Walnut & Goat Cheese Canapes:


Now let’s get to the main feature, the turkeys!

Thanksgiving Turkeys

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1. As soon as I saw this Maple Glazed Turkey in Martha Stewart last year I have been dying to try it! The crackle of the skin from the sugar in the maple syrup with the sticky deep molasses taste from brushing it on the turkey sounds like an incredible combination!

2. This is a fantastic option if you’re too intimidated to cook a whole bird or if it’s just a few people eating. These bone-in breasts are butter roasted with lots of herbs and are just an impressive as a whole bird!

3. Another great alternative to roasting a whole turkey, this one is kale and sausage stuffing rolled into a breast!

4. This turkey has fresh herbs tucked right under the skin of the turkey which not only adds incredible flavor but looks awesome!

5. This turkey is rubbed down with a sage butter and includes a cider gravy which combines all the great flavors of fall!

6. This roast turkey breast with a bacon-cranberry chutney looks so amazing and the combination of flavors would be delightful!

If you need some more turkey inspiration try some of my recipes:

My Apple Braised Turkey Thighs, which can also be made with bone-in turkey breast too!

apple braised turkey thighs

My Cheesecloth Roasted Turkey combines wine and butter for the turkey and also includes recipes for my mom’s stuffing and homemade turkey stock & gravy:


My Infused Olive Oil Roasted Turkey is super-crisp skinned but moist and delicious on the inside!

Thanksgiving Turkey

Next let’s take a look at some sides:

Thanksgiving Sides

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1. I recently discovered my love for stilton cheese (particularly with cranberries mixed in) and I think that mixed with the sweet potatoes in this recipe it would be really yummy!

2. I love the deep flavor of caramelized onions and when you combine that with cornbread and apples I am so sold!

3. This autumnal salad is a great way to use grains (wheatberry) in an exciting way. Packed with kale and squash this looks every bit as delicious as it does pretty!

4. I love the idea here of replacing heavy cream with almond milk for this creamed spinach. The breadcrumb topping adds a nice crunch and it’s nice for anyone for an intolerance to milk!

5. This sounds so amazing! Macaroni and cheese made even better by adding butternut squash (they have a lot of wonderful squash recipes on this site!) and I love the idea of using whole wheat bread crumbs.

6. I really love the way new baby carrots look and this recipe with garlic and onions looks delicious and beautiful!

If you need some more sides inspiration, try one of my recipes:

My Ham & Fingerling Potato Hash is colorful and super yummy since the potatoes are boiled then cooked in the bacon’s fat!

ham and fingerling potato hash

My Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts & Bacon 

roasted brussel's sprouts with bacon

A favorite of mine, this Apple, Butternut Squash & Gorgonzola Gratin is rich and delicious!


And finally, let’s get to desserts!

Thanksgiving Desserts

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1. This is a maple-bourbon pumpkin pie with a chocolate crust which sounds incredible enough. Add a crackling lyer of sugar on top by brulee-ing it and you’ve got the best Thanksgiving dessert ever. This is what I’ll be making for Thanksgiving and I can’t wait!

2. I love that this recipe replaces the flour with ground oats making this gluten-free. A really simple apple and cherry filling with minimal ingredients topped with a delicious crisp, this would be great with some ice cream!

3. This trifle would look really great lined up in tiny glasses on a tray like I did the parfaits for my cousin’s baby shower. I might swap out the pudding for some yogurt but the combo of pumpkin and granola sounds so delicious to finish up a meal!

4. I love that this woman took what I agree is a too-sweet-for-a-side-dish and turned it into a cupcake. Making a sweet potato cupcake with toasted marshmallow frosting sounds like the perfect idea!

5. Danny over at 1227 Foster has some incredible recipes and I love his photographs of said food! This bread pudding combined a list of fall ingredients via his Facebook followers (pumpkin, apple, cinnamon) and added challah bread and fresh whipped cream, this would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert!

6. Anything with caramel and I’m in, but sandwich it in between six layers of chocolate cake and I’m drooling all over my keyboard!

If you still need more dessert inspiration, check out some of my recipes:

My apple cider cupcakes are sure to be a crowd-pleaser… cider cupcakes with apples folded right into the batter, filled with homemade caramel and topped with salted caramel buttercream plus there’s a step-by-step video making this easy to follow along with the recipe!

Apple Cider Cupcakes

These Mini Cranberry Meringue Pies are nice because sometimes you’re so full that you just want a couple bites of a dessert.

Mini Cranberry Meringue Pies

If you’re a fan of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Lattes, then you’ll love these Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

If you’re looking for a classic, this Apple Pie post takes the guess work out of the process.

finished pie

Lastly, this Homemade Cinnamon Vanilla Ice Cream is delicious on it’s own but served inside hollowed out apples and drizzled with caramel it’s even better!

ice cream