My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

posted by Andrea | 11/20/2017

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays — probably because there are no gifts involved, and not nearly as much consumerism as Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas.

Plus, I LOVE making all sorts of delicious fall foods, desserts, and other Thanksgiving favorites this time of year.

Since there are only a few days left until Thanksgiving — and since I’ve gotten several emails asking for my favorite (simple) Thanksgiving recipes, I thought I’d compile them all into one post so you can easily find what you’re looking for!

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes:

Let’s not forget about dessert! 

Oh, and if you’re looking for a few fantastic ways to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers, check out this post.

We are not hosting any parties this year but if you ARE hosting, here are a few tips to (hopefully) help things run smoothly!

Tips for Hosting Simple Holiday Gatherings:

In my experience, traditional holiday foods always seems to go over better for special occasions than something “new” so I recommend making the foods your guests are accustomed to on the special day.

Here are a few more tips if you’re hosting this year.

Plan to make as much of your food in advance as possible (most of the recipes listed above are make-ahead recipes). I would even suggest making your turkey the day before, cutting the meat off the bone, and then putting the juices and meat in the slow-cooker. The meat is SO juicy and it’s much easier than trying to carve the turkey while your guests wait.

Stock up on paper products to make cleanup much easier.

Write down everything you’re going to make, as well as all the ingredients you’ll need. Then shop your pantry and freezer to see what you already have, as well as what you need to buy. This will hopefully prevent the need for any last-minute trips to the store.

Consider serving your guests buffet style to lessen the number of serving dishes you need and to speed up the serving process.

Double or triple line your trash cans so you don’t need to mess with putting a new bag in.

Don’t worry about having your home perfectly clean. Instead, clean the bathrooms well and declutter the main living areas. Then, clean it really well after everyone leaves (maybe this is selfish, but it’s what I always do!)

Skip cutesy decorations, place cards, party favors, etc. Although these are often fun little “extras”, I don’t think many guests care nearly as much about decorations or presentation as they do about the food and fellowship.


A Few Thanksgiving Fun Facts:

The first thanksgiving was in the Fall of 1621 and included roughly 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians. It was said to have lasted 3 full days, and apparently only 5 women were present as many of them were unable to survive the difficult first year.

There was no turkey on the first Thanksgiving — it was most likely venison, ducks, oysters, lobsters, eel, and fish. They most likely DID eat pumpkins — but not as pie 🙂

Thanksgiving became a national US holiday in 1863, thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale (writer of the classic song, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”) who apparently convinced President Lincoln after 17 years of faithfully writing letters campaigning for this to happen.

Thanksgiving is said to be the reason for the introduction of TV dinners in the 1950s. Apparently Swanson had over 260 tons of extra turkey in 1953, and a salesman suggested that they should package it into aluminum trays with other sides like sweet potatoes.

The whole “watch football on Thanksgiving Day” tradition started in the 1920’s when the NFL started their Thanksgiving Classic games. Since then, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys have hosted games on Thanksgiving Day.

NOTE: These “fun facts” are from our local Library — I don’t have an exact source 🙂

recipe for pretzel turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

In case you’re wondering, I won’t be out shopping on Friday 🙂


Filed under: FoodHoliday Foods

Leave a comment


  1. Summer


    Thanks for ideas! I love how simple your recipes are and how common the ingredients, that I literally just go to my pantry.

    Annnnnd you need to update your “Meet the Dekker’s” to a photo with the newest baby! As I am scrolling back and forth in your posts and there is a new baby missing! lol

    Blessings to your and yours this wonderful season! Enjoy!


    Andrea Reply:

    I know — I was just thinking about the fact that I never updated that page after Clara was born — maybe I’ll get to it over the holiday weekend (maybe!)


  2. Luba @ Healthy with Luba


    Andrea, just reading this article made me hungry. I won’t be out shopping Friday either. 🙂


  3. Gabriela


    Those pretzel turkeys are so cute… 🙂


  4. Courtney Barnes


    I already made your Pumpkin Pie Delight Dessert this year! I’ve made it a few times and it always comes out awesome! My husband isn’t a big fan of pumpkin pie, but he certainly loved this! I highly recommend this!

    I’ve also made your Bumbleberry Pie which is fantastic!

    Come to think of it, I haven’t made any of your recipes that I didn’t love! Thanks for all the great recipes!


  5. Mara Beard


    Oh my gosh the pretzel turkeys are ADORABLE!! Thanks so sharing, have a great day!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks — they were trickier to make than I thought, but everyone thought they were SO CUTE (and they taste amazing!) They are the perfect combo of salty and sweet!


  6. Kate


    I’m wondering if anyone reading this has a recipe for a sweet potato side where you don’t have to peel the sweet potatoes first? I absolutely hate that task! I’ve made sweet potatoes in my crockpot with the skin on (they are really good that way, just add a little butter and brown sugar) but I need something fancier for Thanksgiving!


    Andrea Reply:

    Hi kate,
    I’ve honestly never made sweet potatoes without peeling them first — I might have to try your slow cooker method though!
    That said, I posted your question to my Facebook page to see if anyone has an answer 🙂 You can follow along with any answers here.

    Oh, and if your kids are old enough, you could make them peel!!


    Kate Reply:

    Thanks for posting to Facebook! I am following the comments! And yes, the crockpot method is so easy. You just scrub the sweet potatoes and leave them a little wet (they need the moisture to cook). Cook on high for 4 hours. That’s it!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the recipe 🙂


  7. Joy


    These are wonderful tips! I have enjoyed your blog and recipes for years. The idea of roasting the turkey the day before is very helpful. How long do you need to warm it up the next day.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Joy!
    As for warming the turkey up — you’ll want to save the juices from the roasting pan (and maybe add a little more broth/water, depending on how much turkey and juice you have). I cut all the turkey off the bones and put it in the slowcooker with the juices and then put it in the fridge.
    Since everything is very cold, it usually takes at least an hour on high, and then a few hours on low — but again, this just depends on the size of your slow cooker and how much turkey you have to reheat. You’ll need a large slow cooker or a few smaller ones!


  8. Myka


    Yummy! Pumpkin pie dessert! This article was just what I needed, thanks Andrea!