From Turkey to Ham, the Entire Family Will Love These Festive Thanksgiving Mains
Preparing to host the Thanksgiving feast can be a daunting task no matter if it's your first time or you're a seasoned pro. The key to getting it right? Planning ahead. Setting a menu and a game plan for cooking is essential to the success of your holiday feast. If you're looking for some inspiration for the main dish on your Thanksgiving spread, look no further. While everyone has a favorite side dish to add to the spread, choosing how to prepare your turkey or main meat can prove to be just as tricky. While we usually stick with traditional turkey on this holiday, it's not uncommon to branch out. Some prefer deep-fried, others a roasted herb rub, and even some like to add a little kick to their rub with Cajun seasoning. Better yet, some chefs are looking to ditch the turkey and find another festive recipe to serve as their main dish. Why not add a Thanksgiving ham or roasted chicken to your menu if you've got a big crowd? We've rounded up a list of main dish recipes that features any type of meat you'd like anchor your holiday meal, and if you prefer to skip the meat altogether we've included plenty of vegetarian options as well. Whatever inspiration you are seeking, you'll find it here in our collection of best Thanksgiving turkey recipes and main dish ideas.
Roasted Herb Turkey and Gravy
Recipe: Roasted Herb Turkey and Gravy
Basted in butter, made with sage, thyme, and fennel seeds, this turkey comes out juicy and moist.
Smoked Turkey Breast
Recipe: Smoked Turkey Breast
The brine does all the hard work for this delicious and moist smoked turkey breast. The tender white meat is infused with apple cider, herbs, and hickory flavor.
Apple Butter-Glazed Turkey
Recipe: Apple Butter-Glazed Turkey
Pile on this sweet glaze and let your slow cooker do the work.
Roasted Chicken with Apples and Herbs
Recipe: Roasted Chicken with Apples and Herbs
In addition to adding flavor to the bird, apples and shallots serve as a colorful garnish for your main dish.
Classic Roasted Duck with Orange-Bourbon-Molasses Glaze
The secret to crispy skin is a dry duck. Pat ducks with a paper towel before, during, and after refrigerating. Store uncovered in the back, coldest part of your fridge for up to two days ahead.
Deep Fried Turkey with Creole Spices
Add a pop of spices to this year's deep-fried meat. Fry your turkey for extra moist, flavorful meat that will taste perfect with your spread of sides and desserts.
Baked Ham with Brown Sugar-Citrus Glaze
The saltiness of ham and sweetness of a brown-sugar-citrus glaze work together perfectly in this main dish recipe.
Recipe: Spice-Rubbed Turkey
Smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, and black pepper make the rub for this roasted bird.
Spatchcocked Smoked Turkey
Recipe: Spatchcocked Smoked Turkey
While this method is most commonly used for chicken, it makes the turkey cook even faster without sacrificing any moisture or flavor.
Cajun Smoked Turkey
Recipe: Cajun Smoked Turkey
This dry rub adds a kick to the Thanksgiving bird.
Turkey Breast and Herb-Cornbread Stuffing
Place this turkey atop herb-cornbread stuffing before roasting for rich flavor.
Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe: Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese
Anchor your spread with a hearty vegetable main that will satisfy everyone from the vegetarians to the toddlers.
Recipe: Herb-Roasted Turkey
Turn up the flavor on classic Thanksgiving fare with this show-stopping bird.
Turkey with Shallot-Mustard Sauce and Roasted Potatoes
Start this turkey in the slow cooker for a deep flavor.
Skillet Pork Chops with Apples and Onions
Apples and onions pair perfectly with pork chops for a twist on your typical Thanksgiving meat.
Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Apples
This recipe can be made with one large 5- to 6-pound bird or two smaller ones.
Dinde Au Vin
Recipe: Dinde Au Vin
You slow cooker can even lend a helping hand for Thanksgiving dinner, not just weeknights. Bone-in turkey thighs come together with cremini mushrooms, garlic, carrots, pearl onions, thyme, and more to create a company-worthy dish.
Simple Roasted Turkey
Recipe: Simple Roasted Turkey
If you're looking for a delicious yet simple main, this fool-proof recipe is easy as can be.
Pork and Sauerkraut Recipe with Apples and Bacon
This delightful fall recipe uses pork as the main meat.
Recipe: Herb-Brined Turkey
Before roasting, rest the turkey in this herb-brine for delicious flavor.
Sweet-and-Spicy Roast Turkey
Recipe: Sweet-and-Spicy Roast Turkey
This turkey packs the heat with a spice rub. Dry brine the bird in this recipe and then roast in a honey-hot sauce glaze while its roasting.
Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
This made-from-scratch classic deserves to be upgraded from a side to a main. It's a vegetarian-friendly dish that's sure to disappear fast.
Citrus-Marinated Turkey Breast
Recipe: Citrus-Marinated Turkey Breast
A bright citrus marinade will add a welcome fresh flavor to this year's main dish.
Smoked Turkey Recipe with Herb Rub
Thyme, rosemary, and sage are balanced out with sweetness from light brown sugar and salt in this herb rub recipe.
Fresh Vegetable Lasagna
Recipe: Fresh Vegetable Lasagna
Layer in a lasagna for the vegetarians at your table. We bet the meat-lovers won't mind a slice either.
Recipe: Cornish Hens
Impress your guests by serving roasted Cornish Hens as the main this year. This vintage recipe call for 6 smaller birds, but you can adjust the recipe based on how many you'll need.
Crown Pork Roast with Cranberry Pecan Stuffing
This impressive main dish has all the flavors of the holiday season.
Garlic-Herb Roasted Chicken
Recipe: Garlic-Herb Roasted Chicken
Tuck in a few sprigs of fresh herbs, some unpeeled whole shallots, and apple slices to enhance the flavor of the chicken.
Sweet-Hot Plum-Glazed Ham
Recipe: Sweet-Hot Plum-Glazed Ham
Your guests will love the sweet-hot glaze on this ham. Garnish with wintry herbs for a holiday presentation.
Sheet Pan Vegetable Lasagna
Recipe: Sheet Pan Vegetable Lasagna
Surely you can spare a spot for one more sheet pan in your oven this holiday. This vegetarian-friendly recipe is worth working into your cooking schedule.