What to Serve on Thanksgiving

Preparing a Thanksgiving meal can be a challenge for even the most seasoned chefs. It all starts with figuring out just how much food you need to purchase and cook for your guests. If you are starting to stress about planning your meal, not to worry, this handy guide will help you plan how much food you need to make to ensure your Thanksgiving is a success!


How Much Turkey to Make for Thanksgiving

When it comes to planning your Thanksgiving meal, it all starts with the turkey. Fortunately, choosing the right size turkey to accommodate your guest list is pretty straightforward. If you are expecting five people, you will want 6-7 pounds of turkey breast. That will plenty for seconds and leftovers for the next day. For larger parties of around ten people, you will want to upgrade to a 12- to 14-pound turkey and if you are having a large gathering of twenty people, be sure to hunt down a 24- to 28-pound turkey.


Appetizers for Thanksgiving

When it comes to Thanksgiving appetizers, you want to keep it light. That means at least one “green” or vegetable-based snack. A dip is probably your best bet because it is easy to share and you can provide a variety of chips, crackers and vegetables for guests to dunk. Spinach and artichoke dips are a good go-to, but if you are looking for something a little different and perhaps healthier, consider a hummus flavored with avocado or jalapeno.


What to Serve on Thanksgiving Besides Turkey

When choosing your Thanksgiving sides, balance is key. While Thanksgiving tends to be full of comfort foods, you don’t want to go too heavy on the starches. Ideally, your meal should include a green salad, a starch, a vegetable and a dessert. The more people you are hosting, the more sides you will want to serve, but you should still maintain a good balance of starches and vegetables.


If you are at a loss for exactly what sides to serve, make a trip to your local farmer’s market and take advantage of the seasonal flavors. You should be able to find plenty of fresh brussels sprouts, green beans, sweet potatoes, greens and apples. Simply roasted or sautéing vegetables will bring out their natural flavors and require minimal work on your part. Instead of traditional mashed potatoes, consider cooking up some sweet potato mash. Remember that the side dishes don’t have to be complicated or full of sauces. Fall provides plenty of great flavors for you to work with during Thanksgiving.


Best Wines for Thanksgiving

While certain wines pair better with specific proteins and vegetables, choosing the best wine for Thanksgiving often comes down to personal preference. For dinner, avoid anything too sweet. Red wine lovers will probably enjoy a Malbec, Syrah or Zinfandel. Solid white wine choices include: Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Viognier. Provide a few options and be sure to have enough bottles on hand. As a rule of thumb, you will want around four bottles for every five guests.


Thanksgiving Desserts

Your guests are probably going to be looking forward to some classic pumpkin, apple, pecan and sweet potato pies. There is nothing wrong with going traditional with your dessert choices, especially because these Thanksgiving staples reflect the flavors of the season. If you do want to go the extra mile to try to please everyone, you might want to add a chocolate based treat for those who don’t love pies.


If you are concerned about how many desserts to make for Thanksgiving, one dish per every five people will be enough. You can always make more, but if you want to keep stress to a minimum while still making sure that there is plenty of food, don’t worry about preparing a bakery’s worth of sweets. 


Use this guide to create your shopping list and plan for a delicious Thanksgiving meal that will provide your guests with lots of food and well-balanced choices. You won’t have to worry about not having enough or ending up with a fridge full of leftovers that go bad before you can eat them.



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Published 11.3.19

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