Alternative Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Thanksgiving dinner ideas don't go much further than a turkey with all the trimmings for the majority of American families. But some people are beginning to break away from this tradition, and seek out alternative Thanksgiving foods. Whether you are cooking for a smaller crowd, are vegetarian or simply don't care for turkey, there are plenty of wonderful, satisfying dinner options that are still festive enough for a holiday celebration.

Cooking for Two
If you find that you have too small of a guest list to warrant cooking an entire turkey, but you'd still like to enjoy a traditional meal, consider cooking just a turkey breast. Cooking the breast is easier, takes less time and will leave you with a lot less left over. You can still make the traditional trimmings, just in smaller quantities. Cooking less also leaves you with more time to enjoy the day, as you'll spend less time in the kitchen.

If you prefer dark meat, look for fresh turkey legs at the supermarket. One large leg or two smaller legs offer a full meal by themselves for most people. As with breasts, you'll find them much quicker to cook than a whole bird.

Turkey-Free Options
If you're not a big fan of turkey, don't feel obligated to serve it on Thanksgiving. Roast beef with all the trimmings, chicken breasts or even grilled salmon can all be turned into an elegant holiday meal. Even the Pilgrims themselves enjoyed venison and wild fowl at their Thanksgiving dinner. Think outside the turkey box, and you'll find that any of your favorites can be appropriate for your holiday table.

Vegetarian Options
Thanksgiving is often considered to be a tricky holiday for vegetarians, but that doesn't need to be the case! You can omit the turkey and still enjoy a wonderful meal. Main dishes such as baked stuffed squash, a veggie roast or an autumn risotto can easily take center stage. Round out your meal with a variety of traditional side dishes, vegetables and whole-grain breads.

Many people fear that it won't feel like Thanksgiving without the turkey. But a turkey-free meal can still have a warm, Thanksgiving feel if you focus on the flavors of season, and feature an array of autumn foods like squashes, pumpkins, cranberries, grains, wild rice and corn. Chances are that your guests will enjoy the meal so much, they will never miss the turkey.

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