5 Must-Have Dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner

Every year, on the fourth Thursday of November, families in the United States come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is the season that signals the beginning of the holidays. Football, Black Friday shopping, and parades are all part of this long-standing American tradition, but if there is one thing that most Americans look forward to, it is the traditional Thanksgiving meal. The assortment of food depends on the individual household, especially since every person seems to have their preference for a side, but these are my top 5 dishes for thanksgiving dinner that must and should remain constant on the dinner table no matter how large or eclectic your family becomes.

Top 5 Dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner


Let’s face it…it is not Thanksgiving dinner without the bird. Turkey is the centerpiece of the dinner table and the single, most important item on everyone’s dinner menu. According to historians, the custom of eating turkey on Thanksgiving might have started as early as the 17th century when a letter sent by one Edward Winslow to a friend in England indicated that the governor of Plymouth Colony sent men out to hunt wildfowl (turkey was common on the fields of New England during those times). Traditional roast remains to be the preferred choice for many but the popularity of fried and smoked turkeys have added a unique twist to some family’s Thanksgiving meal.

Top 5 Dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner: Roast Turkey
Roast Turkey


It is true that the highlight of any Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey, but it’s not quite complete without gravy. Real cooks will insist on making their own using the giblets of the bird and the juices from the roasting pan. Its preparation and cook time alone is almost just as long as the time it takes to cook the turkey itself, but the resulting dish makes for the perfect accompaniment. Some people also add gravy to their sides, particularly on the stuffing/dressing.


Ask any American to tell you what their favorite dish on Thanksgiving is and most of them will tell you that it is the stuffing or dressing. Whether you make it with wheat, rye, corn, or traditional Italian white, this starchy dish made up of day-old bread and cut up vegetables is always a hit with families. Northerners refer to it as stuffing while most people in the South call it dressing. The variation of recipes goes from simple to extravagant, making it a meal in itself at times, but I can assure you that this dish is certainly one that will not go amiss because someone in your family will definitely notice.

Top 5 Dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner: Turkey Stuffing
Turkey Stuffing

Cranberry Sauce

Another staple accompaniment of turkey is cranberry sauce. Whether you prefer yours straight out of the can or prepared from scratch with a mixture of honey, walnuts, and mandarin oranges, this colorful side is an undeniable must-have with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner meal. Cranberries, just like blueberries and Concord grapes, are fruits native to North America. Its peak harvest period coinciding with the season of Thanksgiving makes it a seamless choice for an accompaniment. In addition, cranberry sauce compliments the flavor of turkey and it provides a festive and colorful addition to the dinner table.

Top 5 Dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner: Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Sauce

Pumpkin Pie

You always have to save room for dessert, especially for pumpkin pie. Pumpkin is a fruit native to North America and is often associated with fall harvest and the autumn season. Early records have shown that pilgrims have traditionally served pumpkin pie for dessert on Thanksgiving since the 1800s. Add a touch of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Celebrating Thanksgiving is undoubtedly an integral part of American culture and the traditions that are associated with it are things that we as Americans often look forward to every year, so whether you are a first time host or a seasoned one at that, ensure that you have all five of these delicious traditional dishes for your Thanksgiving dinner .

If you’re travelling to the US this Thanksgiving season, you might want to book your accommodation early!

Bon appetit!

About Iris A

Website: http://www.travelingwithiris.com

Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

Other posts by the Author

Leave a Reply