When you think of Thanksgiving, turkey is probably one of the first things that come to mind. It is, after all, the perennial star of the Thanksgiving dinner show. Even with its holiday clout, turkey can be a bit of a let down—and not for a lack of trying on the cook’s part. Serious effort goes into making the holiday turkey—waking up early, basting at the right time, and missing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, for starters.
If you manage to clear the common hurdles of thawing and cooking your turkey completely, you can still run into issues when it comes to making a turkey people will actually want to eat. Even at its best, turkey can taste flavorless and dry, needing to be propped up with gravy or cranberry sauce—so why keep making it?
Thanksgiving is about good food, good people, and gratitude. While turkey has become a traditional part of the holiday, it doesn’t have to be; there are plenty of alternatives to add to your feast. From rosemary citrus glazed ham to vegan mushroom gravy pie, these alternatives to turkey for Thanksgiving will leave your guests pleasantly satisfied. And who knows? They might forget the turkey was supposed to be there.
The First Mess’s vegan mushroom gravy pie recipe doesn’t beat around the bush. It knows we all love carbs covered in gravy. In the dish, mushroom gravy with herbs, garlic, onions, and French lentils is topped with garlicky kale mashed potatoes for some hearty vegan goodness.
Instead of eating your protein and mashed potatoes separately, why not combine them? In this healthy shepherd’s pie dish from The Modern Proper, a parsnip puree subs in for the potatoes. Another perk? It’s Whole30-compliant.
In this rosemary citrus glazed ham recipe from Creme de la Crumb, juicy oven-roasted ham is slathered in a savory herbal citrus glaze. Earthy rosemary combined with zesty oranges and grapefruit adds complexity that will outshine the blandest turkey. Paired with the traditional Thanksgiving sides, this dish will fit right in.
In this thyme and white bean pot pie recipe from the Minimalist Baker, 10 ingredients come together for some savory plant-based protein. In the dish, white wine and fresh thyme infuse carrots and white beans with extra flavor. This comforting dish will make you thankful for opting out of turkey.
Not only will this braised kale with crispy chicken recipe from The Modern Proper provide a healthy alternative to turkey, but it will also free up your pots and pans for all of the other dishes you need to make. This recipe is a one pot wonder. Serve it over your Thanksgiving mashed potatoes or creamy polenta.
When you think of lasagna, you probably think of a meaty, cheesy marinara dish. This sweet potato lasagna version from Minimalist Baker will inspire you to reframe your thinking. The nine-ingredient dish is entirely plant-based, featuring sweet potatoes, tofu ricotta, and a homemade pesto drizzle.
Salt and Wind offers up another filling alternative to turkey with this acorn squash with apple walnut stuffing recipe. The dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian option takes hollowed-out acorn squash and fills it with an apple walnut and garlic mixture. Roasted together, this dish can be served as a main course or a side.
In this colorful take on shepherd’s pie from Minimalist Baker, a fluffy sweet potato topping subs in for the traditional white potato and cheese layer. The 10-ingredient plant-based meal can be made easily in advance, so you won’t have the last-minute scramble like you do with turkey. Eat it on its own, or pair with other plant-based sides.