10 Unconventional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Photo by Milleflore Images/Shutterstock

There is absolutely no reason for you to feel bored with your holiday meal. It’s 2016 for goodness sakes! While it might be hard to move away from the traditions of turkey, potatoes and stuffing, eating something a little more unconventional just might give you a good reason to be thankful. And don’t worry; there are tons of amazing recipes that still incorporate your need for gravy. Think festive, get creative, and try some of these deliciously unusual Thanksgiving dinner options.

Turkey Dinner Sushi Roll

Turkey sushi roll.

Photo courtesy of the daily meal

This quirky recipe takes all your turkey-day essentials and rolls them into one delicious bite-sized feast. Mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and turkey swirled together and dipped in soy gravy. It’s hands-on, it’s original, and it’s delicious. If you want to keep things a little more classic, you could even add some stuffing inside the roll, substitute real gravy, and throw in some festive seasoning, such as rosemary, sage, and thyme to make things taste that much more traditional. Bonus: This is a great way to eat up your leftovers, too!

Turkey Dinner on a Stick

Turkey on a stick.

Photo courtesy of Dining With Alice

This is the easiest possible way to serve Thanksgiving dinner. All the food goes together on one stick, and then each guest can choose either gravy or cranberries as their dipping sauce. The stuffing balls include your green beans, so you won’t even have to make any side dishes if you don’t want to. To really maximize your dinner-on-a-stick, roast some cubed potatoes and squash (lightly oiled with rosemary, sage, and thyme) and add then to the skewer. Bonus: Everything can be prepared ahead, so there is very little cleanup on the big day.

Thanksgiving Pizza

Thanksgiving pizza

Photo courtesy of www.landolakes.com

Although this recipe might be labeled as a great leftovers idea (which it is), who says it can’t also be your holiday meal on the big day? First of all, everybody loves pizza (even the kids). Secondly, it’s seriously good. With a layer of cheesy potato sauce on the bottom, followed by your turkey, cranberries and stuffing, and finished off with a drizzle of gravy, you won’t have any leftovers to use the next day. Also, feel free to add festive herbs, and toss on a few more veggies. Bonus: If the weather is nice, this is the perfect recipe to take on a hike, or even to the park for a family picnic.

Stuffing Muffins

Stuffing muffins.

Photo courtesy of www.popsugar.com

Maybe you’re having ham this year, or maybe you just don’t like the idea of sticking your hand inside a turkey; either way, this is the recipe for you. These stuffing muffins are just as delicious as they are adorable, so everyone will want one. And with the fresh herbs, chopped leek, and grated nutmeg, you’ll need to make enough for everyone to have seconds. They are tradition adjacent, so even your strictest turkey-day guest will let this recipe slide. Bonus: Not only can these little treats be made in advance, they are crispy enough to be microwave friendly—because we all know the oven will be full—when you want to heat them up for serving.

Mini Turkey Sliders

Mini turkey sliders

Photo courtesy of www.willcookforsmiles.com

This is another recipe that is usually whipped up with leftovers, but like the Thanksgiving Pizza, there’s no reason why this can’t be your main event. You’ve got all the traditional ingredients, but instead of spreading them all out across your plate, they are stacked for maximum bite-to-taste ratio. You could even concoct alternative fillings, like spinach, cheese sauce, mashed potatoes, and fried onions. Bonus: You don’t have to prepare all the ingredients yourself! Each guest can contribute a different ingredient, and then prepare a DIY station so everyone can build their own slider.

Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf


Lentil loaf.

Photo courtesy of ohsheglows.com

Being vegan or vegetarian can be rough around the holidays, and often results in a plate of potatoes and stuffing. Thanks to the creativity of food bloggers, there are plenty of ways to still enjoy a delicious meal this Thanksgiving. This recipe has lentils and walnuts where the meat should be, but then the remaining ingredients are pretty traditional: shredded apple, diced sweet onion, breadcrumbs, raisins and fresh thyme. The glaze incorporates maple syrup and apple butter, making it almost as sweet as dessert will be. Make sure you prepare extra sauce because it’s so good, everyone will pile it on! Bonus: This can be made ahead and frozen until the big day; saving you some much needed time to actually enjoy the long weekend.

Turkey Cranberry Meatballs

Cranberry Turkey Meatballs

Photo courtesy of www.wellplated.com

This is a really fun way to eat your holiday turkey, and slow cooking it in cranberry sauce is a great way to ensure you won’t be choking down dry meat. The recipe includes shredded apple, lean ground turkey, and fresh sage—which already sounds amazing—then adds a cranberry glaze made from applesauce, cranberries, orange zest and maple syrup. Another method would be to throw some cranberries into the meatball mixture and then cook them in slow-cooker gravy sauce along with some cubed potatoes. Bonus: You can save time by purchasing ready-made turkey meatballs so all you have to do is prepare the cranberry glaze and throw them in the slow-cooker to heat them up.

Pesto Mashed Potatoes

Pesto mashed potatoes

Photo courtesy of paleoleap.com

First of all, making mashed potatoes couldn’t be easier, and it’s the side dish that everyone expects—and craves—at Thanksgiving. Give your guests what they want, but with an added kick. This recipe includes a link to homemade basil pesto, and walks you through the steps of cooking, mashing, and making the potatoes creamy and flavourful. This is also a great way to liven things up for your vegetarian guests. Bonus: Grab yourself a jar of pesto from the supermarket and stir some into mashed potatoes any day of the year.

Bourbon Pumpkin Shakes

Pumpkin milkshake

Photo courtesy of minimalistbaker.com

The only correct response to this recipe is: Yes, please! Pumpkin ice cream, pie spices, bourbon and vanilla, with some whipped cream to top it all off. While this particular recipe uses vegan ice cream, almond milk and coconut whipped cream, feel free to add any dairy you desire. And don’t worry if you can’t find pumpkin ice cream, there is another delicious pumpkin shake recipe that calls for vanilla ice cream and canned pumpkin instead. Bonus: This recipe is so good, you won’t even need to make any dessert in advance, saving hours of time normally devoted to making pie crusts.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin whoopie pies

Photo courtesy of www.epicurious.com

Imagine a moist pumpkin cookie stuffed with bourbon-flavoured cream cheese and topped with candied pecans. Now imagine biting into it and realizing it’s just as good as you imagined. These whoopie pies are a great alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie because they are just as delicious—if not more so—and are a heck of a lot more fun. Instead of cream cheese, you could also use vanilla ice cream and make some tasty sammies. Bonus: Everything can be prepared separately at least a day in advance, and then pressed together when it’s time to devour.

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