Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
Opt for simply roasted veggies in place of rich and creamy casseroles and loaded potato dishes brimming with fat and calories. This mix of colorful root vegetables may be your star side. Peeled, prechopped butternut squash saves time, but pieces tend to be irregular and small—we prefer peeling and cubing it yourself. A simple mixture of olive oil, whole-grain mustard, apple cider vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper dresses these vegetables up for the occasion.
Warm Spiced (and Spiked) Cabernet
Warm guests up with this sweet spiced wine punch. Whole cloves, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and orange juice infuse the wine with citrusy flavor with a hint of spice, while two bottles of cabernet sauvignon and brandy make it especially boozy. Press cloves into the peel of quartered orange. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat (do not boil). Reduce heat to low, and cook 30 minutes. Garnish this punch with a cinnamon stick or orange slices. See our Apple Cider Recipes for more boozy winter drinks.
Smoky Spatchcocked Turkey
Grill a spatchcocked turkey for a smoky, robust bird that's ready in half the time. We remove the backbone and roast the turkey flat so that every part has access to the heat at the same time. The turkey won't have grill marks (it cooks flesh side up over indirect heat) but will absorb that chargrilled flavor. A smoky spice rub of paprika and ancho chile powder seems fitting for the grill, but you could use any spice combo or minced fresh herbs combined with a couple of tablespoons oil.
Brown Sugar-Spiced Nut Mix
This recipe comes from the kitchen of Cooking Light Senior Food Editor Cheryl Slocum who said a bowl of nuts in their shells was a coffee table staple for Thanksgiving snacks when she was young. "Operating the nutcracker was a real draw for us little kids," she says, "but our tastes have evolved to this sweet-hot crispy mix." Achieve a bronzelike patina on these candied nuts by keeping a close watch near the end of their roasting time. Too long and they'll overdarken and take on a bitter flavor.
Roasted Broccoli with Pistachios and Pickled Golden Raisins
This dish came to us from kitchen of longtime Cooking Light friend Rich Landau. Landau, chef and owner of Vedge in Philadelphia, offered us this lovely autumn salad, in which bright bursts of sweet-tart raisins accompany each bite of toasted broccoli. Some version of broccoli, usually laden with cream and cheese, lands on many a Thanksgiving table. But this dairy-free dish, with its beautifully balanced flavors, is much lighter—and vegan.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate and Pine Nuts
This staff favorite adds color and texture to your buffet and makes a splash on the Thanksgiving table. For a bit of showmanship, bring the whole cauliflower to the table, and then "carve" and dress with the vinaigrette, pomegranate arils, pine nuts, and parsley. While most holiday dishes are designed to be delicious warm or at room temperature, this is one dish that's worth saving until the end of your prep and serving straight out of the oven.
Orange-Tarragon Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
You'll wow friends and family with this simple side that will be a guaranteed hit. A vibrant citrus dressing brightens fresh-cut vegetables for a Thanksgiving side you'll come back to again and again. Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine butternut squash, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes from master recipe, then follow remaining steps.
Balsamic Onion and Thyme Tarte Tatin
This jam is an excellent, refined sugar-free alternative to the traditional, often too-sweet sauce, and tastes even better a day or two after it’s made. Because fresh cranberries are so tart on their own, be sure to use a sweet onion such as Vidalia in the jam. Pair this condiment with your Thanksgiving plate, then use as a sandwich spread for holiday leftovers. Make this recipe vegan by opting for vegan pie dough.
Ginger-Chile Roasted Acorn Squash
Fresh ginger, red Fresno chile, and pomegranate don’t usually appear on the Thanksgiving table, but we love how they transform simply roasted squash into a dish with tingly heat and pops of color. Leave the sheet pan in the oven as it preheats to jump-start browning, saving roasting time in the oven.
Bacon and Brussels Sprout Slaw
Slaws aren’t just for summer; their crunch and creamy, tangy dressing is a welcome contrast to the heartier dishes of fall. You can make it ahead or at the last minute, and it won’t take up valuable oven space. If using a mandoline to shred the Brussels sprouts, hold each by the stem end and slice whole, being careful not to get your fingers too close to the blade (you can also use a sharp knife). Try shredded Brussels sprouts as your salad base all season long, dressing at least 10 minutes before you plan to serve to soften the leaves.
Chickpea Cookie Dough
Who doesn't love scraping cookie dough out of the bowl? Dairy-free, egg-free, and no-bake, this recipe can be enjoyed straight from the mixing bowl or frozen into cookie dough balls or bars. Even better, using blended chickpeas mixed with almond butter and sweetened with honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and dark chocolate chips keeps calories, fat, sodium, and sugar low while boosting protein and fiber. For an extra indulgent treat, drizzle them with melted chocolate and sprinkle flaked sea salt on top.
A simple side of perfectly roasted carrots is the breather a crowded Thanksgiving table needs—a bit of palate relief (and ease for the cook) that still looks elegant. Sweet, slightly firm, and tossed with fresh parsley and cilantro, these carrots would fit here and all season long.
Paprika-Rubbed Sheet-Tray Chicken
Roman also uses this paprika rub to smear on pork roasts or to marinate chicken. It’s her go-to seasoning that makes everything taste like really great sausage. The low and slow oven heat ensures none of the spices or bits of garlic burns, while giving the chicken fat plenty of time to render out slowly and evenly.
For a twist on cranberry sauce this year, try this sweet, tart, and earthy beet-and-cranberry condiment. Toasted whole coriander and brown mustard seeds add warmth and take the chutney into savory territory. The chunky texture is part of the charm here, a great contrast to the mashes and casseroles on the table.
Acorn Squash With Wild Rice Stuffing
This two-for-one dish of wild rice stuffing and roasted acorn squash is a sure crowd-pleaser. You can cut the stuffed halves into quarters so they don’t take up as much room on the plate. Wild rice takes about as much time to cook as long-grain brown rice, which you can use as a substitute. You can also make the rice ahead and refrigerate. Reheat with a splash of water before adding to the sausage mixture.
Crunchy Greens with Radish
Letting the raw shallot stand with the salt and vinegar pickles it slightly and mellows the harshness. Long spears of romaine make for a dramatic presentation. Once it’s brought to the table, you can coarsely chop the lettuce for easier serving.
Smoked Potato Salad
This is the recipe you need for those potluck gatherings where you really want to impress but then find you’re supposed to bring … potato salad. This version will wow, from its beautiful indigo color to its rich, smoky flavor. A nice hit of cumin and chipotle chile powder amplifies the smokiness and makes for a deeply savory salad. If the purple potatoes (or other small, waxy potatoes if you can’t find purple ones) are larger than we specify, cut them in half so they’ll cook evenly and get tender.
Fennel and Blood Orange Salad
This salad is a feast for the eyes, and a welcome relief from the brown and gold tones on the Thanksgiving table. Sweet-tart blood oranges and a honey vinaigrette offset the bitter edge of the endive and radicchio (you can also use milder romaine lettuce hearts). If you can’t find blood oranges, try ruby red grapefruit or pretty pink Cara Cara oranges.
Dessert Bonus: No-Bake Vegan Brownies
Finally, a brownie with benefits that you can feel good about eating. Our no-bake treats taste ultra decadent, yet are free of added sugar thanks to naturally sweet dates. Each vegan, gluten-free brownie also boasts 6g fiber (about 25% of your daily recommended goal) and 6g of plant-powered protein. Blend together the ingredients, mash them into the pan, and let them chill while you cook dinner. When you've cleaned your plates, these will be ready to slice and enjoy.