Although we applaud anyone who can take on the demands of a Thanksgiving feast alone, the truth is that most of us can’t handle that kind of pressure. Not only are you cooking for a crowd, but you’re also serving a meal with some serious emotional strings. Everyone expects this dinner, above all of the other dinners they will eat this year, to be nothing short of perfect. Stress is all but inevitable.
Instead of waking up at 5 a.m. to cook, and then preparing yourself for a range of Chopped-like judgments later, spare your nerves and make this Thanksgiving a potluck. Divide all of the classic dishes among the guests—the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie—and then set the table. Doesn’t that sound much easier?
Well, we don’t want to stop at simply making a potluck plan. We also want to provide recipe ideas so that your Thanksgiving potluck goes off without a hitch. Use these nine examples to get the quality dishes you expect on this holiday, but do so without the time and effort needed when doing everything yourself. While you might get not get all of the accolades, it’ll be worth it to share the responsibility.
As a kid, you probably wouldn’t have been all that excited to scoop this dish on to your plate—but as an adult? You don’t mind eating seconds as well as serving it to your just-as-excited friends. Abbey Rodriguez of The Butter Half serves up roasted brussels sprouts with chopped garlic, bacon, and pomegranate, giving the dish a crunchy, savory taste with a hint of sweetness. “If prepping early, omit the pomegranate seeds until ready to serve,” Rodriguez recommends.
Make sure everyone at your Thanksgiving feast can enjoy Caroline Phelps's stuffing recipe from Pickled Plum, which includes all of the classic flavors in one irresistible vegan dish. The recipe calls for diced onion and celery alongside chopped pecans, sage, rosemary, and parsley. Everything is combined with white bread, vegetable broth, and a flaxseed egg for a rich and healthy serving. “Of course, the texture is best when it’s fresh. So making this easy homemade stuffing on the same day as your big holiday feast is recommended,” Phelps says.
Cranberry is a classic flavor for Thanksgiving, of course, but if you’re in charge of bringing this to a potluck feast, don’t settle for the flavor from a can. This recipe from Pickled Plum mixes frozen cranberries with sugar, cinnamon, and orange and lemon juice for a side that’s layered and quick—it all comes together in 20 minutes. “The cinnamon especially added a beautifully sweet and aromatic flavor to the relish,” Phelps says.
This scalloped sweet potato casserole recipe from Food Faith Fitness is bound to make you look like a seasoned chef when you place it on the buffet line, but we promise that it’s easier to assemble than it looks. Recipe creator Taylor Kiser mixes thinly sliced white and orange sweet potatoes with garlic, onion, coconut milk, and thyme, and adds in roughly chopped pecans for a crunch, too. She also makes sure the top is golden before serving. “If you want to serve this in a casserole dish, just layer half the potatoes in a lightly greased casserole dish, pour half the thickened sauce over and then repeat,” she notes.
Those who decide to bring a salad to a Thanksgiving potluck shouldn’t show up with bare leaves and bottled dressing—truly, this is your time to shine. If you stick to this recipe from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest, which layers baby kale, walnuts, persimmons, dried cranberries, and clementines together with burrata and pepitas, then you’re sure to make this starter dish stand out. “It’s a salad you can throw together in literally minutes and has very minimal ingredients, but yet is still full of flavor and so healthy, too,” Gerard says.
This recipe from Half Baked Harvest answers another important need: The one for appetizers. Bring along this pull-apart bread, which is made with its namesake ingredients on sourdough plus brown sugar and chopped pecans, and you’ll guarantee that no one is completely starving before the feast—in fact, they may even say you’ve rescued them from becoming moody. “When I presented it to my family it was gone in minutes. There’s really nothing not to love,” Gerard says.
Bringing mashed potatoes to a potluck dinner has a bit of pressure attached since you know that everyone is looking forward to this side on their plates, but don’t be discouraged. Thanks to this foolproof recipe from Half Baked Harvest, you’ll make a dish that’s easy to love. Gerard recommends adding five pounds of potatoes into a slow cooker alongside garlic, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Once they’re ready and mashed, add parmesan, gruyere, and cheddar cheese. “In all seriousness, these mashed potatoes are life-changing in the way that they are cooked, and in the way that they taste,” Gerard says.
Oh, so you’re in charge of the main dish, huh? How do you feel? Well, if you have this recipe from Half Baked Harvest at the ready, you should feel confident. It’s made with fresh herbs, lemon, and garlic for the turkey, and then a pan sauce of white wine, butter, fresh sage, and broth. Sure, you might need to put some effort into this one, but it will be worth it. “The secret to my turkey is a butter-soaked cheesecloth,” she says. “It’s genius!”
Pumpkin pie is a de facto Thanksgiving dessert, so you should be prepared. Half Baked Harvest comes to the rescue yet again with this recipe, which will ensure that the pan will be empty once everyone is finished. Pumpkin purée, whipping cream, maple syrup, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger make up the filling, which is then topped with maple whipped cream and chia sugar. “In a lot of ways, this pie is very similar to your favorite chai latte, but with plenty of pumpkin and a generous dollop of whipped cream,” Gerard notes.