9 Inventive Twists on Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes

We love traditions! They are an important part of family memories, and most people look forward to a few traditional dishes each Thanksgiving. But after having the same meal for years – maybe even decades – in a row, you may be looking for a way to switch it up.

Here are a few Thanksgiving recipe ideas for swapping a traditional family dish for a more inventive (and dare we say, better?) option. If you have hardcore traditionalists in your group, you may only want to pick one or two. And don’t worry; we didn’t touch the turkey!

Cranberry Thanksgiving Recipes

Instead of cranberry sauce, make spicy cranberry and cream cheese dip.

For a new twist on a traditional Thanksgiving appetizer, try this unique dip from blogger My Sister’s Kitchen that blends salty, sweet and spicy into one delicious bite. Although if we’re being honest, no one can have just one bite of this dip. If you can’t imagine turkey without the cranberry sauce, you can have both since this is an appetizer course!

Thanksgiving Potatoes Recipes

Instead of mashed potatoes, make potato and caramelized onion au gratin.

One look at this beautiful potato and caramelized onion au gratin dish from The Candid Appetite and your guests will be saying, “Mashed potatoes, who?” This rich, creamy, cheesy goodness screams Thanksgiving with more than a touch of class thrown in. Plus, it’s a dish that can be made the day before to cut down on Thanksgiving Day craziness.

Sweet Potato Thanksgiving Recipes

Instead of sweet potato casserole, make sweet potato wedges with figs.

Famed chef Yotam Ottelenghi came up with this recipe, which features roasted sweet potatoes, green onions, a red chile, ripe figs and goat cheese, finished with a balsamic glaze. This is a dish that impresses without actually being much work or involving a laundry list of ingredients. (Hint: since ripe figs are hard to come by in November, you can substitute dried dates chopped into bite-sized pieces for a similar play on sweetness.) You won’t miss the marshmallows, we swear!

Green Bean Thanksgiving Recipes

Instead of green bean casserole, make oven-baked green bean fries.

Make the green bean dish a bit fresher but equally delicious this Thanksgiving season by coating the beans in cheese and breadcrumbs and baking them into crispy goodness. This recipe will be a hit and requires no canned soup or tinned fried onions.

Thanksgiving Sides Recipes

Instead of steamed carrots, make these lemon thyme butter slow cooker carrots.

Carrots don’t have to be a sad requisite side dish that gets left behind each Thanksgiving. These lemon thyme butter carrots have such lovely flavors that the dish feels far more decadent than it is. Plus, you can make them in the slow cooker, so you can set the ingredients up in the morning and just leave them until you’re ready to serve.

Best Thanksgiving Recipes

Instead of traditional mac and cheese, make butternut squash mac and cheese.

Here’s a way to sneak extra veggies into your pasta: replace some of the cheese and cream with puréed butternut squash. Follow this recipe from Live Simply, which still includes sharp cheddar for the cheesy flavor, but relies on the puréed squash to lend body and creaminess. It doesn’t hurt that the color of the squash makes this extra appealing!

Bread Pudding Thanksgiving Recipes

Instead of apple pie, make apple pie bread pudding.

Traditional apple pie is always a crowd pleaser, but if you’re feeling like you have one too many pies for the table, how about an apple pie bread pudding? It’s a filling dessert that people will love, and it still has those homey, cinnamon apple flavors.

Cheesecake Thanksgiving Recipes

Instead of plain cheesecake, make banana pudding cheesecake.

Banana pudding and cheesecake are always fan favorites – why not put them together? This recipe from The Candid Appetite took the internet by storm a few years back, and there’s good reason why. This will be a dessert that family members will be asking you to make every year.

Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Instead of pumpkin pie, make pumpkin cupcakes.

Pumpkin pie is a classic, but it’s sometimes overshadowed by the cornucopia of amazing desserts on the Thanksgiving table. To (pumpkin) spice it up, try the pumpkin flavors in adorable cupcake form. No regrets on this twist on a traditional Thanksgiving favorite.

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