Letter from the Editor
When the editors at Simply Recipes gathered this past July to start planning out Thanksgiving, we spent the first several minutes blinking at each other through our Zoom screens and stumbling for how to begin. After more than a year of not knowing what to expect two weeks from now, much less five months from now, we all felt a certain amount of commitment-phobia. What would the world look like in November? Would we be gathering in small groups? Large groups? Would you, our readers, want a full Thanksgiving buffet with all the bells and whistles, or a simpler spread best enjoyed in comfy sweatpants? Who could say?
In the end, we decided to go with what we ourselves were craving the most: a chance to put on the fancy outfits we hadn’t worn for over a year, pour a glass of something sparkly, and sit down to a meal with people we care about. We wanted to give some TLC to the traditional Thanksgiving dishes we love the most, take a hall pass on the ones we don't, and maybe use the opportunity of an extra-festive Thanksgiving to try out a new recipe or two.
We wanted less stress and more joy, as our Simply Recipes tagline is always reminding us. We wanted a Thanksgiving that was both simple and fabulous.
This year, we encourage you to make your own Thanksgiving “simply fabulous” in whatever way feels best for you. Below you’ll find our ideas for each of the usual Thanksgiving courses with a classic option for those who crave the comfort of tradition, a fabulous idea if you’re in the mood to pull out all the stops, a simple recipe if that’s how simply fabulous feels translates for you, and a new favorite if you’re looking for something fresh to adorn your table. Mix and match to your heart’s content. (Have questions about bringing it all together? We have answers!)
Also, be sure to read the essays from three of our writers. Irvin Lin shares the stir fry recipe that makes his Taiwanese American Thanksgiving complete. Marisel Salazar talks about mixing Cuban traditions with American traditions at her Thanksgiving table. And if you’re celebrating with just a few family members this year, follow the lead of Karishma Pradhan: focus on the time together rather than following tradition.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! From all of us here at Simply Recipes, may your holiday be full of laughter and your bellies be full of good food. Cheers!
Three Food Writers Share Their Thanksgiving Traditions
What are the traditions that make Thanksgiving special for you and your family? What are the dishes that always put in an appearance, no matter what? These three food writers share their own stories.
- Why You’ll Always Find Napa Cabbage on Irvin Lin’s Taiwanese American Thanksgiving Table
- Karishma Pradhan’s Thanksgiving Is All About Trying New Things (Like This Basque-Style Pumpkin Cheesecake)
- Marisel Salazar's Cuban Thanksgiving Isn’t Complete Without Pulpeta
Whether we're talking about a simple cheese and cracker platter or fancy glazed meatballs on toothpicks, a round of appetizers are a must at Thanksgiving while you wait for the main course to be served.
- Simple: Slow Cooker Sausage Balls
- Fabulous: Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Cranberries, and Brie
- Classic: Cheese Ball
- New Favorite: Whipped Goat Cheese 7-Layer Dip
Roast turkey is much maligned for being fussy to thaw and prepare, taking forever to cook while our stomach growl, and ending up dry as a bone. None of these things needs to be true! We stand by any of these four recipes. (P.S. Here's our expert guide from Mike Lang on how to carve a turkey. Tip: make sure your knives are sharp!)
- Simple: Instant Pot Turkey Breast and Gravy
- Fabulous: Pecan Wood Smoked Turkey
- Classic: Mom's Roast Turkey
- New Favorite: Stuffed Turkey Breast with Bacon, Cranberry, Breadcrumb Stuffing
Veggies are moving increasingly to the center of the plate in our everyday meals, so why not at Thanksgiving, too? Add any one (or all!) of these colorful, decadent recipes to your holiday meal.
- Simple: Brussels Sprouts, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Casserole
- Fabulous: Cheesy Artichoke Pie
- Classic: Eggplant Parmesan
- New Favorite: Vegan Stuffed Squash with Brown Rice and Mushrooms
Stuffing, Starchy Sides, and Dinner Rolls
Stuffing and other starchy sides are at least 85% of the reason we make sure to wear elastic-waist pants to Thanksgiving dinner. Also, here's how to make the dreamiest mashed potatoes in no time at all.
- Simple: Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
- Fabulous: Brioche Stuffing with Mushrooms and Bacon
- Classic: Mom's Stovetop Turkey Stuffing
- New Favorite: Lion House Rolls
Let's be honest: we'd probably be happy with a Thanksgiving dinner comprised entirely of side dishes. Pile our plates high with roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole, and glazed carrots, please!
- Simple: Slow Cooker Glazed Carrots
- Fabulous: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate-Balsamic Glaze
- Classic: Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows (or Pecans!)
- New Favorite: Three Sisters Casserole
Cranberry Sauce and Gravy
Cranberry sauce and gravy are the mortar that holds Thanksgiving dinner together. There's no bite that couldn't use a burst of sweet-sour cranberry or a slick of gravy over top.
- Simple: Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
- Fabulous: Champagne Mushroom Sauce
- Classic: Cranberry Sauce
- New Favorite: Cranberry Relish
There is literally no way to go wrong when it comes to the Thanksgiving dessert table. From bite-sized "pie bars" to mile-high pies with gorgeous lattice crusts, we want nibbles of it all, please!
- Simple: Pecan Pie Bars
- Fabulous: Chiffon Pumpkin Pie
- Classic: Homemade Apple Pie
- New Favorite: Chocolate Cream Pie
Cheers to a fabulous Thanksgiving! Cheers to the cook! Cheers all around the table! Not imbibing? Try making a batch of this Pear-Ginger Shrub and serve with sparkling water, or cozy up with some Hot Mulled Cider.