Thanksgiving is a classic American holiday. From turkey to mashed potatoes to cranberry sauce, every person or family seems to have their own cherished recipes and dishes to help celebrate and gather loved ones around the table. This year, think outside the box with your Thanksgiving meal. Whether focusing on spending more time with family and friends or refreshing your annual menu with a new approach, here are the best non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner ideas to assemble in 2021.
Skip the Turkey
If you find yourself tired of the same main course each year or dreading the actual cooking process, skip the hassle of preparing a turkey and go for something new this year. This rosemary salmon with orange zest only takes 15 minutes to make and is packed with flavor. If you need to feed a large group of people, a honey-glazed ham is typically a crowd-pleaser and just like turkey, brings a festive holiday spirit to your dinner. Roasted pork loin adds a sophisticated touch to any meal, and this recipe includes apples for a perfect fall flavor.
Who says that eating healthy has to be boring? Whether you’re cooking for gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian guests or just want to switch up your diet, creating a plant-based Thanksgiving meal can be just as tasty as a traditional one. Start out with an appetizer of butternut hummus with feta and pomegranates. Alongside a main course of lentil and sweet potato shepherd’s pie, serve up gluten-free and vegan green bean casserole. Pair a mushroom gravy with a dairy-free version of classic mashed potatoes. Don’t forget dessert! Try out this vegan pumpkin pie that is even richer and creamier than the traditional pumpkin pie.
Put the Focus on Brunch
Instead of spending the majority of the day in the kitchen preparing for a big meal, focus your time on family and friends instead. Preparing brunch as your main Thanksgiving meal can be a great way to re-center family and the people you love as the most important part of the day. Go for a decadent fall-themed brunch with pumpkin waffles and praline glazed apple bread. Balance out these sweet treats by adding more traditional breakfast foods such as bacon, sausage, and fruit. Bring it all together with a cinnamon and sage Thanksgiving mimosa.
Set Out a Grazing Board
For a more casual and lighter Thanksgiving, consider gathering ingredients and setting out a grazing board. Similar to a charcuterie board, a grazing board allows you and your guests to eat at your own pace throughout the day. Grazing boards usually include a combination of meat, cheese, fruit, bread, crackers, spreads, nuts, and pickled vegetables. With all of these choices, you and your guests can easily mix and match foods with a wide variety of sweet and salty flavors. Make your grazing board Thanksgiving themed with slices of roasted turkey, dried cranberries, dried pomegranates, cranberry sauce, and apple butter.
Make Homemade Pizzas
Homemade pizzas may be the most untraditional Thanksgiving meal on this list, but they have the potential to be the meal that brings everyone together the most. Creating homemade pizzas presents a fun activity for all your guests. Everyone has the opportunity to customize their pizzas to their own liking while using a little creativity in the process. Plus, this is a fun way to include younger kids, as they can help to craft their own pizzas. Follow this homemade pizza guide for plenty of inspiration or experiment with a Thanksgiving pizza topped with roasted turkey, feta, and cranberries.
Take It Easy
A major piece to Thanksgiving, spending hours assembling a meal can be a time-consuming tradition. Taking a step back and focusing on what matters most may be the Thanksgiving refresh you need. Instead of preparing every course from scratch, pick up a few frozen appetizers and salad kits from Trader Joe’s. Has anyone ever said no to Trader Joe’s mac and cheese bites? Pre-made drink mixes and sides are other good options for a lowkey day. Restaurants in your area may even be serving up grab-and-go dishes on Thanksgiving day to add to your laid-back holiday meal.