Classic Thanksgiving Feasts: 4 Traditional Menus for First-Time Hosts

Hosting Thanksgiving for the first time may seem like an overwhelming task. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, with proper planning and perfect recipes, you can create a feast filled with traditional dishes that are unbelievably delicious. The key to preparing a perfect holiday meal is to make an elegant roasted turkey that will pair perfectly with classic sides. When considering dessert, focus on sweets that highlight fall’s favorite flavors — like pumpkin, apples, and pecans — along with its warmest spices. To help you host your first Thanksgiving like a pro, we’ve compiled 4 classic and easy-to-prepare menus, which are filled with timeless recipes that you can mix and match.

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Menu 1

Your Thanksgiving meal won’t be complete without a Classic Roasted Turkey. Food & Wine’s foolproof recipe teaches you how to correctly cook it and prepare a rich gravy to serve alongside it. A 16-pound turkey — preferably an antibiotic-free one — a few vegetables, broth, and fresh seasonings and sprigs are all you need to create a lovely main dish.

Mashed Potatoes are a classic comfort food that will work wonderfully with your roasted turkey. Food Network makes it superbly simple to whip up this side; it takes 15 minutes to prepare, 25 minutes to cook, and only requires 6 ingredients.

Tart cranberries, fresh ginger and rosemary, and orange liqueur create an invigorating Rosemary-Port Cranberry Sauce. Country Living’s recipe must be covered and chilled for 8 hours or up to 2 days, so be sure to make this dish ahead of time.

Everyone loves having a warm and fluffy roll to enjoy with their dinner. Cooking Channel’s Rapid Rolls can be made in an hour using minimal ingredients. This is another dish that can be made the day before Thanksgiving; just make sure to warm them up right before your meal.

The idea of baking a dessert in addition to dinner may seem like a massive feat, but Betty Crocker makes it a breeze with this crustless Impossibly Easy Pumpkin Pie. The dish is filled with rich and creamy flavors and only requires you to blend a few ingredients before baking it.

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Menu 2

Trying to follow a confusing recipe on Thanksgiving can quickly cause frustration. Rather than trying to understand complicated directions, make Chow’s Basic Roasted Turkey, which uses minimal ingredients and includes easy-to-follow instructions.

Serving stuffing will certainly bring smiles to your guests’ faces. The Kitchn’s Classic Sage and Onion Stuffing is a savory side that can be assembled the day before and quickly cooked on Thanksgiving.

Show your guests the sweeter side of mashed potatoes by whipping up Martha Stewarts’ satisfying recipe. These Mashed Sweet Potatoes have a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth flavor and can easily be made in less than 45 minutes.

Thanks to the pancetta and walnuts, Eating Well’s elegant side can be sauteed to perfection in 25 minutes. Chard with Shallots, Pancetta and Walnuts creates a light and healthy recipe that will contrast nicely with your heavier dishes.

Pecan Pie is a heavenly indulgence that many of us look forward to on Thanksgiving. offers a crustless option, ensuring that you don’t spend more than 15 minutes preparing this palate-pleasing pie.

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Menu 3

Stuffing your turkey doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy. You can create a stunning centerpiece using Taste of Home’s Stuffed Turkey recipe. The stuffing consists of bread, eggs, and caramelized vegetables, and the gratifyingly good gravy uses zesty seasonings to add fresh flavor.

By serving a turkey recipe that includes stuffing and gravy, you can focus your attention on some vegetable-focused sides, like Sunset’s Glazed Carrots and Pecans. Crunchy pecans and tender carrots taste terrific after they’ve been drizzled in a sweet brown sugar and ginger glaze.

Filled with sweet corn and basic kitchen staples — like flour, eggs, and milk —’s Creamed Corn Casserole is a Thanksgiving must. All you need to do is mix your ingredients together and bake. It doesn’t get any easier than this!

To tie your marvelous meal together, we suggest making Southern Living’s Icebox Dinner Rolls to serve with your other divine dishes. Plan accordingly with this one; your dough must be chilled and covered for up to 24 hours.

If you’d like to serve pumpkin in a non-pie form, we recommend making Good Housekeeping’s Pumpkin Mousse with Sugared Pecans. Your guests will appreciate this light and fluffy sweet after indulging in a hearty holiday feast.

When it comes to dessert, it’s our belief you can never have too many to offer your guests. Consider serving your friends and family an additional toothsome treat by making The Pioneer Woman’s Nantucket Cranberry Pie. Subtly sweet and a touch tart, this perfectly textured dish is filled with autumn’s very best flavors.

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Menu 4

Epicurious delivers a Classic Roast Turkey with Herbed Stuffing and Old-Fashioned Gravy, ensuring you have a tender and tasty dish to serve your guests. The trick to perfecting this recipe is to slow down the cooking of the breast area, which may otherwise get overcooked and dried, by covering it with aluminium foil.

Simply Recipes suggests serving this tasteful Cranberry Sauce. You’ll make it using only cranberries, sugar, and water, which you can then dress up by including extra ingredients such as pecans, orange zest, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans creates a caramelized dish that is sure to enhance your Thanksgiving spread. If you’d like to add another element to Real Simple’s recipe, feel free to toss with cooked, crumbled bacon.

End your magnificent meal on a great note, by preparing Pillsbury’s Perfect Apple Pie. A refrigerated crust ensures you can easily whip up a dish that’s filled with fresh apple flavors and a flaky, buttery crust.