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Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, family gatherings, and a delicious feast. While turkey has long been the traditional centerpiece of Thanksgiving meals, there are plenty of reasons to consider alternatives. But what to serve on Thanksgiving instead of turkey? 

Whether your family has dietary restrictions, preferences, or you simply want to try something new, there are numerous delicious options to serve on Thanksgiving. Let’s begin!

An image of a Thanksgiving Turkey.

What can I serve for Thanksgiving other than turkey?

There are plenty of delicious alternatives that you can serve that will still make your Thanksgiving meal special. From vegetarian options like portobello mushroom wellington or stuffed butternut squash to hearty meat options like honey-glazed ham or roast duck, the possibilities are endless. 

For a unique twist, don’t forget about seafood, such as herb-roasted salmon or garlic butter shrimp scampi. Whatever you choose to serve, make sure it’s a dish that you and your guests will enjoy and be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Why consider alternatives to turkey for Thanksgiving

  • Dietary restrictions: Not everyone eats meat, and some individuals may have dietary restrictions or preferences that make turkey unsuitable. Offering alternative main dishes ensures that everyone can enjoy a satisfying meal.
  • Exploring new flavors: Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to experiment with different flavors and cuisines. Trying alternatives to turkey can broaden your culinary horizons and introduce exciting new dishes to your Thanksgiving repertoire.
  • Health-conscious choices: Turkey may not be the healthiest option for everyone. Opting for alternatives such as roasted vegetables, stuffed squash, or a flavorful grain salad can provide a lighter, nutrient-packed alternative.
  • Environmental considerations: Turkey production can have a significant environmental impact. Choosing plant-based alternatives or sustainable seafood options can help reduce your carbon footprint and promote more eco-friendly dining choices.

What other meat can you serve on Thanksgiving?

With these poultry, beef, and pork alternatives, you can offer your guests a delicious and memorable Thanksgiving meal without the traditional turkey. You can start with these well-loved recipes:

Roast Duck

For those who want a rich and flavorful option, roast duck is a fantastic alternative to turkey. The succulent meat and crispy skin make it an indulgent choice for Thanksgiving. 

Herb-Roasted Chicken

If you prefer a classic and familiar taste, herb-roasted chicken is a great option. It is easy to prepare and offers tender and juicy meat. Season it with a blend of herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage for a flavorful twist. 

Cornish Hens with Cranberry Glaze

If you want individual servings and a touch of holiday flair, Cornish hens with cranberry glaze are the perfect choice. These small and tender birds are packed with flavor. The cranberry glaze adds a sweet and tangy element that complements the richness of the meat. 

Prime Rib Roast

A Prime Rib Roast is a showstopper that will wow your guests. This tender and juicy cut of beef is perfect for a special occasion like Thanksgiving. Seasoned with herbs and slow-roasted to perfection, it’s a flavorful and elegant choice that will leave everyone wanting seconds.

Honey-Glazed Ham

A holiday classic, Honey-Glazed Ham is a crowd-pleaser that never disappoints. The sweet and savory glaze gives the ham a beautiful caramelized crust while keeping the meat moist and tender. Serve it with some pineapple rings for an extra touch of sweetness.

Braised Pork Tenderloin

For a comforting and hearty option, consider Braised Pork Tenderloin. This melt-in-your-mouth dish is cooked low and slow, allowing the flavors to develop and the meat to become incredibly tender. Serve it with roasted veggies and a rich sauce for a complete Thanksgiving feast.

What are alternatives to making a turkey?

If you want to switch up your Thanksgiving menu and try something different from the traditional turkey, consider incorporating seafood, vegetarian, and vegan dishes. They not only add a delicious twist to the meal but also provide a lighter and healthier alternative. 

Herb-Roasted Salmon

This dish features tender and flaky salmon fillets seasoned with a blend of aromatic herbs and spices. Roasting the salmon in the oven brings out its natural flavors and ensures a moist and succulent texture. 

Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi

Indulge in the rich and buttery flavors of shrimp scampi. This classic dish combines succulent shrimp with garlic-infused butter, white wine, and fresh herbs. The result is a luscious and savory dish that pairs well with pasta or crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

Baked Lemon Cod

For a lighter option, baked lemon cod is a fantastic choice. The delicate and mild flavor of cod is enhanced with a tangy lemon marinade and baked to perfection. Serve it with a side of quinoa or roasted vegetables for a nutritious and flavorful meal.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

A roasted butternut squash filled with a flavorful mixture of quinoa, vegetables, and herbs can be a show-stopping centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. This dish is not only visually appealing but also packed with nutrients and delicious flavors.

Portobello Mushroom Wellington

For a savory and satisfying main course, consider a Portobello Mushroom Wellington. These meaty mushrooms are seasoned, coated in puff pastry, and baked to perfection. The result is a hearty and flavorful dish that will satisfy both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Lentil and Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is a classic comfort food, and a vegetarian version made with lentils and a medley of vegetables can be a delightful addition to your Thanksgiving menu. The combination of the rich and savory filling topped with creamy mashed potatoes will leave everyone asking for seconds.

Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash

This dish features roasted acorn squash halves filled with a flavorful mixture of quinoa, cranberries, and herbs. The combination of sweet and savory flavors will make a perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table.

Tofu and Vegetable Skewers

Marinated tofu and colorful vegetables skewered and grilled to perfection, these skewers are a great option for those who prefer a lighter and healthier meal. Serve them with a side of roasted potatoes or a fresh salad for a well-rounded feast.

Lentil Loaf with Mushroom Gravy

Swap the traditional meat-based loaf for a hearty lentil loaf that is packed with protein and flavor. Top it off with a savory mushroom gravy for an extra touch of deliciousness. This dish is guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning taste buds.

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When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, it doesn’t always have to be about turkey. Whether you have dietary restrictions, want to try something different, or simply prefer a change, there are plenty of delicious and satisfying alternatives to choose from. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with flavors and ingredients. Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones and celebrate gratitude, so why not make it extra special by serving a unique and memorable dish? 

Whatever you decide to serve, make sure to plan ahead, gather all the necessary ingredients, and prepare it with love. Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the company and the delicious food shared around the table.

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