Thanksgiving, we love you, but your food can be a bit predictable. The same old menu of plain turkey, sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows, and canned-soup green bean casserole can wear on our taste buds year after year. Some of us would like to spice things up, mmkay?
Thankfully, even the most traditional Turkey Day dinner has all the building blocks of a mind-blowing foodie feast. Autumnal ingredients like brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and cranberries are totally trending — so there’s no shortage of unconventional recipes that kick things up from boring to revolutionary.
Ready to get a little rebellious this Thanksgiving? We’re right there with you— which is why we’ve rounded up 19 out-of-the-box ideas for appetizers, sides, desserts, and (of course) the bird itself.
1. Festive pomegranate guacamole
Let’s get this party started! You may think of guacamole as best suited for Taco Tuesday or Super Bowl Sunday, but is there really ever a bad time for guac? The addition of juicy, crunchy pomegranate arils brings a seasonal flair to this unique Thanksgiving app.
2. Sriracha and white cheddar cheese ball
We’ll go on record as saying nothing brings people together like a good cheese ball. Add a hefty dose of sriracha and roll the whole thing in poppy seeds and you’ve got a starter that’ll have your relatives arguing over the last cracker. (Hey, it’s better than arguing about politics!)
3. Toasted pumpkin seed dip with fresh herbs
Of all the things you can do with pumpkin seeds, who knew you could grind them into a delicious dip? This vegan app proves that’s totally a thing. Fresh herbs, tahini, lemon juice, and a little bit of EVOO round out a zippy Mediterranean flavor profile.
4. Tortilla chip chorizo stuffing
Don’t put that guacamole away just yet — you may want to save some to go with your stuffing. Buck the boxed variety with a homemade Mexican-themed mix of chorizo, tortilla chips, green chiles, and cilantro.
5. Balsamic roasted brussels sprouts with grapes
Challenge the brussels sprouts haters in your family to give this fruit-and-veggie mash-up just one taste. The sweetness of red grapes balances out brussels sprouts’ tendency toward bitterness. Roasting the whole thing in a balsamic reduction only enhances the combo.
6. Harvest butternut squash farro salad
If your annual feast is a celebration of butter and refined carbs, try introducing the fam to this veggie-and-whole-grain salad. It’s packed with nutrients, fiber, and complex carbs and dressed with a tangy maple-cinnamon vinaigrette.
7. Mashed potato swirls with Parmesan
Mashed potatoes may be a comfort food favorite for their rich flavor, but they’re not exactly winning any beauty contests — until now. To make these pretty mashed potato swirls, use a piping bag to create individual bites that look just like the top of a cupcake. Twenty minutes in the oven allows them to hold their shape.
8. Crispy smashed potato salad with garlicky yogurt vinaigrette
Have you started smashing your potatoes yet? Get started on the trend with this garlic-herb smashed potato salad, complete with pickled red onions and a probiotic-rich yogurt dressing.
9. Bourbon mashed sweet potatoes
We don’t know about you, but we like to get carded before we eat our sweet potatoes. Simple mashed sweet potatoes get a little tipsy here with the addition of bourbon and brown sugar. This beats mini marshmallows any day.
10. Avocado-cheddar corn cakes
Move over, cornbread. Avocado-cheddar corn cakes are here to add pizzazz to the ho-hum corn side dish category. These fritters aren’t just delicious and full of healthy fats — they’re super easy, too, cooking for just 2 to 4 minutes per side.
11. Cabernet cranberry and blueberry sauce
Wait, you can add blueberries to cranberry sauce? Game. Changer. A full cup of full-bodied red wine adds depth to this double-berry version of the classic Thanksgiving jam. We’re calling it a side, but you may want to eat it as dessert.
12. Crispy sautéed green beans with pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and lemon
Believe it or not, there’s more than one way to serve green beans at Thanksgiving. Try them lightly sautéed and sprinkled with pumpkin and hemp seeds. (Just be prepared to explain to your grandma that eating hemp isn’t the same thing as eating weed.)
13. Winter fruit salad with maple-lime dressing
If there’s one food group that needs a little love at Thanksgiving dinner, it’s fruit. Get your vitamin C on with this side dish of six different winter fruits. Chop them extra-fine and you’ll have a quasi-salsa to top off any too-dry turkey.
14. Asian-spiced Thanksgiving turkey
Thanksgiving may be an American holiday, but that doesn’t mean your turkey can’t have an Asian flair. In this recipe, lemongrass, Thai basil, and fresh ginger mingle inside the bird for a flavor that’s worthy of celebration.
15. Slow-cooker honey Buffalo turkey breast
Not everyone wants to make an entire turkey that serves 25. For an intimate Friendsgiving, try popping just the breast in the slow cooker with hot sauce and honey. Any leftovers of this spicy smaller feast can top your salads and sandwiches with a kick over the next few days.
16. Vegan turkey
The real Thanksgiving rebels are the ones who go off book even when it comes to turkey. For those who don’t eat meat (and aren’t fans of Tofurky), this plant-based alternative made with chickpeas and vital wheat gluten is a winner.
17. Apple cider doughnuts with tahini-maple glaze
On dessert duty this year? In a sea of pies and pumpkin rolls, be a doughnut. These apple cider-flavored treats are an unexpected alternative to the usual Thanksgiving sweet fare. Bonus: They’re surprisingly healthy.
18. Upside-down rhubarb cake with orange and cardamom
Holy gorgeousness! For unforgettable presentation, this patchwork-patterned dessert takes the cake (literally). We’re predicting an uptick in rhubarb hashtags.
19. Pumpkin-coconut pie
Keto dieters will dig the macro breakdown of this tropical flavored pumpkin pie — and everyone else will love it for its unique taste. Choose this distinctive dessert to end your feast on a rich, rebellious note.