5 Fun Alternatives to the Traditional Thanksgiving Meal

By on November 13, 2013

Turkey, turkey, turkey . . . and then some more turkey. That’s often the typical lunch and/or dinner spread for days—and sometimes weeks—after Thanksgiving day. If you’re looking for something a little different this year to break up the turkey monotony, then you might want to consider broadening your horizons in some surprising ways. Here are five fun alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving meal:

Surf and turf. Thanksgiving is a time to go all out. It’s not unusual for Thanksgiving meals to be comprised of a multitude of side dishes (in addition to the turkey, of course), representing several courses (appetizer, main course, dessert, after dinner aperitif, etc.). If you’re going to spend all that money and preparation time on a Thanksgiving meal, then you can probably afford to think of top-of-the-line alternatives. Nothing says “special occasion” like high-end surf and turf fare (think filet and lobster, if you really want something special).

Go vegetarian. These days, there are so many great vegetarian meal options that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to sacrifice meat. Explore vegetarian Thanksgiving main dish options like lentil “meat” loaf, vegetable gratins, or “Tofurkey” (as you might have guessed, this is a tofu-based turkey substitute) for an alternative to the traditional turkey. Turkey says “thank you!”

Order out. How’s this for a great Thanksgiving dinner idea: just not cook at all! That’s right—you can completely forego the hustle and bustle of holiday meal preparation by making a phone call to the restaurant of your choice. Of course, it’s still Thanksgiving so you want it to be extraordinary. Spend some time researching your options before the big day arrives, to ensure the Thanksgiving takeout meal you order is everything you want it to be (and available!).

Have a Thanksgiving siesta. Or, draw from any other culture this Thanksgiving to put a new twist on a traditional holiday meal. One of the best places to look for inspiration when considering alternatives to the turkey and mashed potato routine is in other cultural traditions. For example, you can try turkey tacos for some Mexican flavor, pecan baklava to introduce a German influence, or substitute ratatouille for mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole if you’d like to experience France this Thanksgiving.

Try a native fowl. Turkey is not the only bird worthy of dressing for Thanksgiving. Do some research to find out what other fowl is native to your area, because you just might have a delectable turkey replacement within your reach. For example, goose, duck, quail, and even turducken (a turkey, duck, chicken hybrid) are arguably worthy of Thanksgiving centerpiece status.

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for you to put a new spin on the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Why not consider one of these great ideas this coming turkey day?

About Nicole Keller