Southern Food Bloggers Share Their Holiday Food Traditions | Thanksgiving Edition
It’s a day when hearts are as full as serving platters and warm as mugs of apple cider. Kitchens echo with sounds of friendship and familiarity, and contents of casserole dishes revive the culinary memories of yesteryear. Aunts, grandfathers, and neighbors join hands around a turkey centerpiece - barefooted little ones giggling when growling stomachs punctuate the mealtime prayer. On Thanksgiving Day, we welcome the holiday season with a comforting cornucopia of food, family, and fellowship.
For Southern food bloggers, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to embrace and share heritage established by generations past. Traditions passed down on yellowing recipe cards are discussed online with eager readers, followers, and fellow foodies. Through their digital platforms, these Southern influencers inspire and encourage holiday hosts to infuse Thanksgiving Day dishes with aromas of autumn and the magic of the South.
Below, read about the menus, the moments, and the memories that shape the spirit of Thanksgiving in the homes of our favorite Southern food bloggers.
“My Thanksgiving menu is standard fare that remains consistent by way of a decree from my family. They anticipate the familiarity of dishes that grace our Thanksgiving table. Turkey is the entree and it's cooked with fresh fruits, herbs, and aromatics upside in a bag to ensure moist and succulent meat. Southern Cornbread Dressing and Giblet Gravy are as much stars of the Thanksgiving table as the turkey. The dressing is made with cornbread and biscuits and lots of onions, garlic, and black pepper - just like my Grandmother made it. I add fresh sage which is a variation from her recipe. My family isn't strict about the dessert menu staying constant. Perhaps that's because they're confident they'll like any dessert put before them!” - Jackie | Syrup & Biscuits
Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Pecan Crumble Jackie | Syrup & Biscuits
“In our family, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without what we have always called Oyster Casserole. It is basically a scalloped oyster recipe. As with many southern foods that have been passed down through generations, there has never been a written recipe for it – but it's a simple recipe that doesn't need much precision. Layers of oysters and coarsely crumbled Saltine crackers are arranged in a casserole dish and seasoned well with black pepper and sometimes white pepper. Then, liquid the oysters mixed with cream and melted butter are poured over the casserole. After it bakes in the oven for about 30 minutes, the crackers and liquid have formed an almost indescribable texture that is fantastically rich.” - Christin | Spicy Southern Kitchen
“My family couldn’t live without hash brown casserole with cornflakes on top. It’s so good - we make two pans! However, as much as my family loves tried-and-true recipes, like this one, there is always a side of me that wants to try something new. I always look forward to getting my Southern Living November issue – where I read about new and creative ways to liven up Thanksgiving favorites. My family trusts that these new additions will be a tasty success.” - Lindsay | Sell Eat Love
“Of all the dishes that find their way onto the Thanksgiving table year-after-year, my mom’s Maple Pecan Tart is the one that we all insist can never be varied. Its heavy dose of maple syrup tastes like pure autumn, and the minimal number of ingredients (just 6!) make it straightforwardly. Simply great.” - Camille | Camille Styles
Maple Pecan Tart Camille | Camile Styles
“My Granny always made every ingredient in cornbread dressing from scratch. I still follow her way of making the dressing today - I have not found anyone’s I like as much as hers! She used a mixture of biscuits, cornbread, rolls and homemade bread. This combination makes the dressing lighter than most. She also made her own chicken stock for the dressing and gravy. Thanksgiving just would not be the same without her dressing on the table.” - Angela | Angie’s Southern Kitchen
“On Thanksgiving, we cook and laugh and eat for days. It all starts with a good cocktail – like stump lifters or a citrus champagne punch. Also, we love our bourbon. For dessert, we always have pie. Our favorite recipe is a bourbon pecan pie. Last year, I decided to experiment with a few new desserts, including bourbon, bacon & eggnog bread pudding and a bourbon vanilla cheesecake. “ - Rhiannon | Baked in the South
“It seems to be a Southern tradition – there’s always at least one oddball casserole on the Thanksgiving table! Ours is an English Pea and Pimento casserole that gets a lot of raised eyebrows but nary a bite is left!” - Christy | The Southern Plate
“There's some serious quality control that goes on with the dressing in my family. I'm the official taste tester. Since we don't have any eggs in our dressing, I give it a taste before it goes in the oven. I actually much prefer it before it's baked! My aunt always turned her nose up when I would taste the dressing pre-oven, but I convinced her to try it one year. Ever since then she tries to beat me to the taste testing!” - Stacey | Southern Bite
“One of my very favorite things about Thanksgiving Day is the busy hustle and bustle in the kitchen. My Mom heads up the cooking and we become her team of sous chefs. We all pitch in and help where we can. The family snacks on light hors d'oeuvres while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. There's always lots of chatter and laughter to be heard. The meal is served in the afternoon, and then we munch on dessert and snacks later in the day while we watch Thanksgiving Day football. It's an all-day eating fest and I wouldn't have it any other way! Celebrate your family's heritage and history and enjoy spending time together. Remember, this year will become next year's memory.” - Melissa | Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen
”Holiday meals are meant to be comforting to the soul. No one does comfort food better than Southerners! Layer upon layer of sharing recipes and stories make our Thanksgiving dinner taste that much more delightful. My favorite part of the holidays is that no matter how much change the rest of the year may bring, I know without a shadow of a doubt there will be recipes I’ve been dreaming of since last year steaming on the table, the same platters that have been handed down from generation to generation will be used for serving, and friends and family will gather together in prayer and Thanksgiving! Those are my favorite traditions!” - Amber | For The Love of the South
Roasted Herb Butter Turkey Amber | For The Love of the South
“For dessert, my family has always been partial to pecan pie. As a child, I typically spent Thanksgiving at my grandparent's farm in Monroe, North Carolina. They had a whole row of pecan trees. We weren't allowed to watch television at their house and we usually got shooed outside by my grandmother. There were six of us grandchildren and we'd each grab a pecan picker (a wooden stick with a metal coil on the end) and go to work gathering the pecans that had fallen to the ground. The race was always on to see who could collect the biggest mound of pecans. The only challenge was the pecan trees were located in a cow pasture so we had to be careful where we stepped lest we get an unpleasant surprise. And someone always did.” - Christin | Spicy Southern Kitchen
“Loved ones who used to prepare part of my family’s Thanksgiving meal have passed on. We have stepped up to fill their shoes by having one person make “that special dish” in their honor each year. These heritage recipes and memories are so very important to us. “ - Christy | The Southern Plate
“Thanksgiving in my family always means traveling to my grandparent's house. They live in a small town in southwest Alabama. When they first moved into that house, my mother and my grandfather found a small cedar tree in the woods behind the house. They transplanted it in the front yard. Every year after that, they decorated the tree for Christmas. The tradition evolved into all of the family gathering for Thanksgiving lunch and then spending the afternoon decorating the now 30 foot tall tree. That tree, draped in light, is the official welcome to the holiday season for that little town and everyone waits in anticipation of it being lit up Thanksgiving night.” - Stacey | Southern Bite
“One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is making Brunswick Stew as a family. We have that cauldron that my great-grandmother, Sybil, used to make her Brunswick Stew. Every year, we spend a few days preparing all the ingredients to make a 40 quart batch of liquid heaven. And while the stew is fantastic, it’s also just wonderful to spend that time with my siblings, my dad, and my husband cooking a recipe that is so important to our hearts and our bellies.” - Elena | Biscuits & Such
“My childhood Thanksgivings revolved around my grandmother’s house. A strong and independent homemaker, she was always in charge in the kitchen around the holidays. She’d begin preparations days ahead by baking an array of desserts - including coconut and caramel cakes and pecan and sweet potato pies. On Thanksgiving morning, she was busy in the kitchen making the perfect roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, and sweet potato casserole. This feast celebrating a day of thanks represented her expression of love for her family. It was truly a day of appreciating each other and giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives. My grandmother passed away many years ago, and I’ve inherited my family’s holiday cooking duties. Those memories of Thanksgiving meals at her house are forever etched in my memory. Each year, with my grandmother in mind, I attempt to put all the distractions away and emulate that special day of food and family that she created year after year.” - Bill | Southern Boy Dishes