Our Food Staff’s 21 Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Cooking something new for Thanksgiving is always a risk. An uncle might complain. An aunt might forbid it. The recipe could take longer than expected. Chaos ensues.

Straying from tradition can feel emotionally loaded, but it might be worth it. For many families, Thanksgiving will be different this year. If the usual cook isn’t cooking and the table isn’t full, why stick with exactly the same food? It’s a chance to try something new, especially for first-time holiday cooks.

Here are 21 beloved dishes recommended by members of The New York Times Food department.

1. J. Kenji López-Alt’s Cheesy Hasselback Potato Gratin

Two potato dishes are high priority, and I always make them both: the crispy-topped, cheesy Hasselback potatoes, adapted by Emily Weinstein from J. Kenji López-Alt, and the soft, airy almost Robuchon-style mashed potatoes (passed through a ricer and mixed with as much butter and cream as they can possibly hold) from Kim Severson. TEJAL RAO

Recipe: Cheesy Hasselback Potato Gratin

2. Julia Moskin’s Lemon-Garlic Kale Salad

Some people might give a side eye to salads at Thanksgiving. But Julia Moskin’s lemon-garlic kale salad is always a hit. It’s the perfect tangy-green counterpoint to all of the brown stuff on the plate. Even my 8-year-old loves it. MARGAUX LASKEY

Recipe: Lemon-Garlic Kale Salad

3. Julia Reed’s Bourbon Pecan Pie

I’ll be honest, I’ve never actually made this. I’m not a baker. But my partner does so every year, and it’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving desserts. (Do not fear the corn syrup!) I always look forward to a leftover slice with a cup of coffee the next morning. MARK JOSEPHSON

Recipe: Bourbon Pecan Pie

4. Lara Mui Cowell and Jannie Luke Thom’s Mochi Rice Stuffing

Our family matriarch died before I was old enough to get her recipe for sticky rice stuffing. This version, adapted by Ligaya Mishan, helped me recreate it. GENEVIEVE KO

Recipe: Mochi Rice Stuffing

5. David Tanis’s Cranberry Curd Tart

I made David Tanis’s cranberry curd tart for good luck before my New York Times interview, and it hasn’t failed me since. Manifest your dreams! VAUGHN VREELAND

Recipe: Cranberry Curd Tart

6. Millie Peartree’s Southern Macaroni and Cheese

I choose a different turkey recipe every year; my family said that Melissa Clark’s rosemary and citrus turkey was the best I’ve ever made. And if you haven’t had Millie Peartree’s Southern macaroni and cheese, adapted by Kiera Wright-Ruiz, I’m not sure you’ve really lived. EMILY WEINSTEIN

Recipe: Southern Macaroni and Cheese

7. Melissa Clark’s Hot Crab and Oyster Dip

This year I’m making Melissa Clark’s hot crab dip with chopped fresh Gulf oysters to nourish us while we finish cooking the main meal. BRETT ANDERSON

Recipe: Hot Crab and Oyster Dip

8. Sue Li’s Five-Spice Roasted Carrots With Toasted Almonds

A true 30-minute side that is deeply flavorful, these carrots are equally good straight out of the oven or at room temperature. They have just the right amount of nuance to stand out, but can still mingle with the rest of the Thanksgiving spread. ALEXA WEIBEL

Recipe: Five-Spice Roasted Carrots With Toasted Almonds

9. Angela Dimayuga’s Beef Empanadas

I’ve been tasked with making empanadas for Thanksgiving since I was 12 or 13 years old. These beef empanadas by Angela Dimayuga are perfect for making big batches (and snacking on before dinnertime). GINA FERNANDEZ

Recipe: Beef Empanadas

10. Kim Severson’s Sweet Potatoes With Cranberry Chutney

There are many reasons to love Kim Severson, but high among them is her delicious recipe for roasted sweet potatoes with cranberry chutney. SAM SIFTON

Recipe: Sweet Potatoes With Cranberry Chutney

11. Michael Romano and Danny Meyer’s Hashed Brussels Sprouts With Lemon

Some years ago, Julia Moskin made a convincing case that every Thanksgiving plate needed a snappy respite. I’ve been making her adaptation of this quick and lemony brussels sprouts hash ever since. KIM SEVERSON

Recipe: Hashed Brussels Sprouts With Lemon

12. Meathead Goldwyn’s Pulled Turkey With Jus

Kim Severson adapted this quick and dirty recipe for a smallish turkey, and it’s perfect for Thanksgiving 2020. It makes the best and juiciest leftovers. JULIA MOSKIN

Recipe: Pulled Turkey With Jus

13. Melissa Clark’s Pumpkin Bread With Brown Butter and Bourbon

Pumpkin bread is a requirement on my Thanksgiving dinner plate. I really like when it soaks up some of the gravy. That salty-sweet combo is one of my favorite bites. SCOTT LOITSCH

Recipe: Pumpkin Bread With Brown Butter and Bourbon

14. David Tanis’s Vermont Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

My daughter always requests mashed potatoes, and, after trying many different recipes, we found this recipe from David Tanis to be our favorite. The cheese is great, but the addition of an egg, which I’d never used before, makes the potatoes extra creamy and delicious. KIM GOUGENHEIM

Recipe: Vermont Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

15. Fannie Farmer and Marion Cunningham’s Parker House Rolls

My grandmother made fresh rolls for every holiday meal. In recent years, I’ve turned to this recipe, forming the dough into clovers, as my grandmother did. SARA BONISTEEL

Recipe: Fannie Farmer’s Parker House Rolls

16. David Tanis’s Brussels Sprouts With Chorizo

The Thanksgiving menu can easily turn into a whiteout of bland flavors and mushy textures, but David Tanis’s sprouts always bring mine to life with the zing of smoky chorizo and pimentón. PATRICK FARRELL

Thanksgiving ›

Grocery Checklist

Some items on the Thanksgiving shopping list are obvious, but there are several other ingredients that will prove invaluable to have on hand. See our full guide on How To Cook and Plan Thanksgiving and our list of staples below.

    • Butter, lots of it. Choose European-style high-fat butter for pie crusts, and regular unsalted butter for everything else.
    • Stock. If you haven’t made your own, look for homemade stock at the same butcher shop where you buy your turkey, or in the freezer section of your supermarket. The canned and boxed stuff should be a last resort.
    • Fresh herbs. Not only do they add freshness and flavor across your Thanksgiving table, but they’re also pretty, lending a touch of green to a meal heavy on earth tones.
    • Garlic, onions, leeks, fresh ginger, shallots. An assortment of aromatics keeps your cooking lively and interesting. You’ll need them for the stuffing, for stock and gravy, and for many side dishes.
    • Fresh citrus. Lemon, lime and orange juice and zest contribute brightness to countless Thanksgiving dishes, from the turkey to the gravy to the cranberry sauce to the whipped cream for pie.
    • Nuts. These go a long way to give crunch to otherwise texturally boring dishes. (Ahem, sweet potato casserole.)
    • White wine/vermouth/beer. Even if you’re not drinking any of these spirits before or during the meal, they can be splashed into gravy or vegetable dishes, or used to deglaze the turkey roasting pan. (Bourbon and brandy work well as deglazers, too.)
    • Fresh spices. If you can’t remember when you bought your spices, now is a good time to replace them.
    • Light brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup. These sweeteners are more profoundly flavored than white sugar, and they have an autumnal richness.
    • Heavy cream, sour cream, crème fraîche, ice cream. You’ll need these for topping pies and cakes.
    • Please, wear a mask. It protects both yourself and others from coronavirus, and aim to maintain several feet of distance from other shoppers in stores whenever possible. If you opt for grocery delivery, tip as generously as you can.
    • See all of our Thanksgiving recipes.

    Source: Staff Favorites