10 Alternatives to Traditional Turkey This Thanksgiving

Posted: November 8, 2022 11:58 am

Other Ideas to Make This Year’s Thanksgiving Feast One to Remember

Just because turkey is the most traditional part of a Thanksgiving feast, it does not mean that you need to always adhere to this classic main entree. There are plenty of great alternatives if you are growing tired of turkey or simply looking to switch up your menu this year. Here are 10 of the best alternative recipes to turkey if you are wanting a change.

Roasted Lamb Chops


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If you are looking for an elegant entree for the center of your holiday table, this rack of lamb with garlic and herbs recipe fits the bill. You will find tender meat under the perfectly browned crust that is packed with flavor. While some people shy away from preparing lamb, it is actually one of the easiest meats to master. This recipe uses a mix of thyme, rosemary, parsley, garlic, and olive oil as a rub. Unlike turkey that can take hours to roast, a rack of lamb cooks up in minutes. It could not be easier to get this beautiful dish ready for your big meal.

Baked Cajun Salmon with Parmesan

Add some color to your table with this baked cajun salmon with parmesan recipe. This dish is also a good option if you want to still serve a turkey but need a choice for the pescatarians at your table. The cajun seasoning rub adds a bit of kick to the flakey salmon. A sauce made with garlic, honey, lemon juice, parmesan, and more seasoning finishes off the salmon fillets. What you are left with is a zippy and flavorful piece of fish that pairs well with a variety of side dishes.

Winter Spiced Holiday Ham

Get a head start on the holiday season by serving this winter spiced holiday ham. This recipe perfectly encapsulates the best flavors of the season with ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger, clove, sugar, and molasses. The crunchy caramelized coating adds an extra layer of flavor and texture to this juicy ham. It is also hard to mess up this recipe, making it a good choice for those who do not feel comfortable preparing a complicated dish. Serve this ham alongside turkey for the quintessential Thanksgiving duo of meats or allow it to shine on its own. Garnish the serving platter with sprigs of fresh herbs, pomegranates, and cinnamon cloves for a beautiful touch.

Prime Rib with Garlic Herb Butter

Red meat lovers will appreciate this mouth-watering prime rib with garlic herb butter recipe. A boneless ribeye roast is slathered with butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper and baked in the oven at a high heat. The hardest part of this recipe is resisting opening the oven as it rests for two hours. The pan drippings are turned into a savory gravy that will taste wonderfully over your mashed potatoes. This recipe looks gourmet, however, it is a snap to bring together as long as you have a few hours to let the roast rest in the oven.

Roasted Braised Duck

This roasted braised duck recipe is fitting for a fancy holiday meal. After searing the whole duck, it will simmer in a sauce made with Shaoxing wine, rice vinegar, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, bay leaves, star anise, cloves, whole peppercorns, dried orange peel, and water. You will then transfer the duck to the oven for a final roasting. The result is a perfectly balanced moist interior hiding underneath the crispy skin. This Asian-inspired dish will ensure that nobody misses the traditional turkey.

Roasted Broccoli Steaks with Tomato Butter and Tapenade

This roasted broccoli steaks with tomato butter and tapenade recipe is a lovely main entree idea for vegetarians. You will prepare the broccoli like you would a steak, roasting it at a high temperature so that it develops a gorgeous charred crust. Cooked along in the same pan is a mix of red tomatoes and onions. The tomatoes are turned into a creamy sauce for the broccoli to rest on prior to serving. A homemade bread crumb mixture and an olive tapenade complete the dish. This hearty vegetarian dish is full of flavor while being light in calories.

Porchetta Style Pork Chops

Elevate your Thanksgiving with these unique porchetta style pork chops. You will create a pocket inside each chop and stuff it with the porchetta filling consisting of chopped fennel leaves, rosemary, fennel seeds, dried red chili flakes, lemon zest, garlic, and olive oil. The pork chops will bake in the oven after they are fried to perfection. Garnish these chops with fresh lemon slices and chopped dill for a beautiful presentation.

Roasted Cornish Hens

If you are looking for something different than a typical roasted chicken, you should consider these roasted Cornish hens. It is easy to customize these hens with different seasoning blends to fit the preferences of your guests. The recipe as stated yields a lemony and smoky flavor with the addition of fresh herbs. Because these Cornish hens are so similar in taste and texture to turkey, the main dish will go well with all of the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. This makes this recipe an easy swap for turkey if you are wanting something different yet similar.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This festive stuffed acorn squash recipe will thrill the vegetarians at your holiday table. The acorn squash is stuffed with a mix of cooked quinoa and black beans along with avocado, feta, onions, and green chiles. The addition of cumin and coriander boosts the flavor profile while the pepitas contribute a bit of crunch. This dish is hearty enough to serve as a main entree while still being light enough to leave plenty of room for dessert. What could be better? This dish is also vegan and gluten-free, satisfying a variety of diet needs.

Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate-Molasses Glaze

Lean into the best flavors of fall with this pork tenderloin with pomegranate-molasses glaze. This recipe is ideal for a small group, however, you can certainly double or triple it if feeding a crowd. A one-pound pork tenderloin is marinated in pomegranate molasses, olive oil, shallot, and cumin. Although the recipe suggests root vegetables as a side, the pork will also taste great with any of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes.

Additional Ideas

In addition to these 10 main dish ideas, you can also consider making your Thanksgiving dinner a themed feast. For instance, maybe you want to go the route of a Mexican fiesta and prepare a pan of enchiladas or a taco bar. If you are hosting a large group, consider putting out a pasta bar with a variety of pasta shapes and sauces so that guests can customize their own plate. An Asian theme also works well for this occasion.

If your group has multiple commitments on Thanksgiving, you may also want to consider hosting a brunch instead of a classic dinner. This allows you to get creative with your menu while kicking the day off right with family and friends. Or go the other direction and host an after-hours event, inviting loved ones over for dessert, drinks, and a coffee bar to close out the holiday.

As long as you have love around your table this Thanksgiving holiday, it does not matter what food you are serving. Do not be afraid to mix it up this year and move beyond the traditional turkey meal.

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