13 Great Thanksgiving Meals

Everything you need is here: menus, recipes, carving techniques, and more!

If we were to vote, Thanksgiving would be neck-and-neck with Christmas as our all-time favorite holiday. Think about it: Practically everyone celebrates it, and the stars are family and food. Despite the fact that people from all different backgrounds and circumstances seem to unite around this holiday, though, that doesn't mean we all celebrate the same. Sure, there are some common themes, particularly on the dinner table: turkey, of course, dressing, most likely, pumpkin pie, probably―and an abundance of everything. But there are probably as many variations on the Thanksgiving theme as there are folks who start their holiday shopping the day after (and if you've ever been to the mall post-Thanksgiving, you know that's a lot).

To accommodate our individual tastes, but with the Thanksgiving theme in mind, we've put together 13 menus―a mix of the traditional and the modern. Most are centered around recipes developed for Cooking Light by five of our favorite chefs: Jimmy Bannos, from Chicago's Heaven on Seven; George Bernas, from the Brandywine Inn in Dayton, Ohio; Joe Brown, of the Melange Cafe in Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Jim Coleman, of Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Hotel; and Caprial Pence, of Caprial's Bistro in Portland, Oregon.

But we've also got something for non-turkey-eaters out there: a pork roast menu and a yummy vegetarian meal. Each retains the holiday flavors and feel despite the absence of the bird. And all 13 demonstrate that the year's biggest (in popularity and in size) meal can be healthful and delicious. We give thanks for that.

Farmhouse Menu
Herb-Roasted Turkey With Cheese Grits
Squash-Rice Casserole
Green Beans With Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Sun-Dried Tomato Semolina Biscuits
Butterscotch Bundt Cake

Fall Harvest Menu
Apple-Glazed Pork Loin Roast With Apple-Ham Stuffing
Harvest Stuffed Sweets
Marinated Asparagus Bundles
Fruited Port-Cranberry Salad
Drop Biscuits
Fudgy Souffle Cake With Warm Turtle Sauce

A Twist on Tradition Menu
Spice-Rubbed Smoked Turkey With Roasted-Pear Stuffing and Cranberry Syrup
Mashed Potatoes With Roasted Garlic and Rosemary
Sauteéd Green Beans and Onions With Bacon
Sun-Dried Tomato Semolina Biscuits
Pecan Tassies in Cream Cheese Pastry

Thanksgiving Spice Menu
Jerk Turkey Cutlets With Cranberry-Habañero Salsa
Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad
Holiday Green Beans
Harvest Stuffed Sweets
Jalapeño Corn Bread
Triple-Butterscotch Boston Cream Pie

Vegetable Heroes Menu
Spice-Rubbed Smoked Turkey With Roasted-Pear Stuffing and Cranberry Syrup
Rutabaga-Bacon Puree
Orange-Kissed Brussels Sprouts
Drop Biscuits
Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Pie

Big Flavors Menu
Cajun Turkey With Dirty-Rice Stuffing
Roasted Turnips, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, and Dried Cranberries
Broccoli With Dijon Vinaigrette
Sun-Dried Tomato Semolina Biscuits
Pumpkin-Streusel Cheesecake

Make-Ahead Menu
Make-Ahead Turkey Breast With Herb Stuffing and Vanilla Sweet Potatoes
Braised Celeriac
Marinated Asparagus Bundles
Green Onion Drop Biscuits
Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Pie

Old-Fashioned Pork Roast Menu
Apple-Glazed Pork Loin Roast With Apple-Ham Stuffing
Sauteéd Green Beans and Onions With Bacon
Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Pineapple
Parsley Biscuits
Butterscotch Bundt Cake

Modern Elegance Menu
Make-Ahead Turkey Breast With Herb Stuffing and Vanilla Sweet Potatoes
Belgian Endive and Apple Salad
Sugary Spice Pecans
Squash-Rice Casserole
Lemony Brussels Sprouts
Green Onion Drop Biscuits
Triple-Butterscotch Boston Cream Pie

Modern Turkey, Classic Sides Menu
Jerk Turkey Cutlets With Cranberry-Habañero Salsa
Sauteéd Green Beans and Onions With Bacon
Harvest Stuffed Sweets
Drop Biscuits
Classic Sweet Potato Pie

Southern Classics Menu
Herb-Roasted Turkey With Cheese Grits
Sauteéd Green Beans and Onions With Bacon
Fruited Port-Cranberry Salad
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Pumpkin-Maple Pie

Louisiana Thanksgiving Menu
Cajun Turkey With Dirty-Rice Stuffing
Maple Sweet Potatoes
Sauteéd Green Beans and Onions With Bacon
Jalapeño Corn Bread
Classic Sweet Potato Pie

Vegetarian Flavor Menu
Braised Shallots and Fall Vegetables with Red Wine Sauce 
Belgian Endive and Apple Salad

Lentils with Carrots
Braised Celeriac
Drop Biscuits
Sweet Potato Pie with Hazelnut Streusel