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Plan your perfect Thanksgiving meal with some of the most popular holiday recipes on Culinary Hill. This Ultimate Guide to a Classic Midwestern Thanksgiving contains a planner to get ahead, a printable shopping list, menu cards, and links to all 12 recipes on the menu.
When I think about my Ideal Thanksgiving Feast, these are the recipes on it.
An amazing, show-stopping turkey with gravy made from the drippings. Creamy, fluffy (and EASY) mashed potatoes. A killer bread stuffing (traditional! no trendy ingredients!). A variety of savory vegetable sides (vegetable casserole with Velveeta and green bean casseroles are both non-negotiable). A sweet and puckery cranberry sauce, and buttery, homemade crescent rolls.
I love to finish up the meal with all the classic pies, enough so everyone can try a slice of each: apple, pecan, pumpkin. Whipped cream or ice cream are optional toppings, and maybe a dusting of cinnamon and sugar too? This is the feast of my childhood in the Midwest and my dreams, and it’s certainly the must-have holiday meal I’m cooking up this year.
I already did all the planning for myself, and I’m sharing it with you! Below you’ll find the menu (with printable menu cards), a printable shopping list, and a printable timetable of events to help you orchestrate your schedule.
Wherever you are, I hope you’ll invite a touch of Midwestern Thanksgiving into your home this November and onto your table.
Table of Contents
- The Menu
- Shopping list
- Thanksgiving planner
- Perfect Roast Turkey with Gravy
- Best Mashed Potatoes
- Classic Bread Stuffing
- Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole
- Vegetable Casserole
- Roasted Asparagus
- Homemade Crescent Rolls
- Cranberry Sauce with Apples
- Best Apple Pie
- Best Pecan Pie
- Best Pumpkin Pie
- Homemade Whipped Cream
- How to Set a Table
This menu feeds at least 12 adults (or fewer with ample leftovers).
Want a copy of the menu for your guests or to help you stay organized? This printable Thanksgiving dinner menu has a complete list of recipes in a printer-friendly format.
This printable Thanksgiving shopping list has EXACTLY what you need to make all 12 recipes in this collection.
Already have some ingredients on hand? Of course you do! Just go through your pantry and spice cabinet, identify what is already in there (ground cinnamon, sugar, etc.), and cross it off the list.
This printable Thanksgiving planner is a road map to your Thanksgiving success. It tells you what to do and when, up to 5 days in advance, so you can get started as soon as possible.
My idea of a perfectly roasted turkey involves juicy meat, butter-crisp skin, and plenty of flavor. Luckily, there’s a way to get all three of those things without a giant bucket of salted water or a vat of boiling oil. Whether you’re a first-time turkey roaster or a seasoned Thanksgiving host, this recipe is easy to follow and always makes people come back for seconds.
Perfect Roast Turkey
No matter what’s on the menu for the holidays, mashed potatoes are a staple and should always make an appearance. There are millions of recipes out there, some with cream cheese or sweet potatoes, but if you’re looking for an old-school, classic mashed potato recipe that really lets the flavor of the potato shine, make this one. It is tried and true and absolutely foolproof.
The Best Mashed Potatoes
This stuffing is rich and savory, soft but with crispy edges. There are some vegetables and herbs, but nothing so strange that it changes the overall texture. There are no walnuts, pears, or gorgonzola. There are no giblets, mushrooms, jalapeños, sausage, or bacon. It’s traditional, like your mom’s or grandma’s maybe, and I hope you love this stuffing recipe as much as I do.
Classic Bread Stuffing
Traditional green bean casseroles can easily get mushy and bland, what with all the canned beans and canned soup and all. The only thing saving the texture is the canned onions! The better, tastier way to make this Thanksgiving favorite is to use frozen green beans and make the cream of mushroom soup from scratch. And yes, let’s keep the canned onions!
Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole
I’m not a food snob, and I don’t shame people who eat Velveeta. I love it! I don’t eat it every day, of course, but if I’m going to eat it, let me eat it like this. Colorful vegetables (but frozen because we’re busy), creamy Velveeta, and that buttery cracker topping. All good things!
With everything else going on, the asparagus needs to be easy! And it is. Simple, flavorful, delicious. Good enough to go up against everything else at the feast, too.
Roasted Asparagus Recipe
Growing up, grandma’s Homemade Crescent Rolls were always a tradition at all the holiday tables. They looked like store-bought crescent rolls but had a sweet, buttery taste that was unmatched by anything you could pop out of a can. Even the fussiest eaters (hello, children!) can’t resist homemade rolls. If they eat nothing else on the table, they’ll eat these!
Homemade Crescent Rolls
In my family, Thanksgiving is all about traditions. So when it comes to cranberry sauce, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room. It must still look and mostly taste like cranberry sauce. But I can get away with adding apples! Apples add an element of surprise without upsetting anyone, and apples mixed with cranberries somehow make a lot of sense.
Cranberry Apple Sauce
Raise your hand if your brother is an apple aficionado who has an orchard and grafts his own apple species! Just me, then? My brother Matt, the aforementioned apple genius (no, not THAT kind), always makes an Apple Pie at Thanksgiving. He uses a variety of apples, more species than the rest of us could name collectively, and that pie puts all other apple pies to shame.
But if you don’t have time to take up an apple orchard hobby, you can get the same fantastic results with just a few good baking apples and this easy recipe.
The Best Apple Pie Recipe
You’ll love this recipe because the homemade crust is easy to make (make it ahead!) and so flaky and buttery. The pecan filling is sweet and soft without being too jelly-like, and you can top it off with a decorative touch or just a pile of chopped pecans. Easy!
The Best Pumpkin Pie is the one that’s easiest to make! You can have a delicious, semi-homemade pumpkin pie without sacrificing an ounce of authenticity.
Pumpkin Pie Recipe
For desserts that are truly over-the-top, you need to make your own whipped cream. What it lacks in convenience, it makes up for in cool, creamy richness that is never properly imitated by the store-bought cans. If you can’t swing it, no worries! FYI: Although it’s best made soon before you need it, you can get away with making it up to 10 hours in advance. Just store it covered in the refrigerator.
How to Make Whipped Cream
Growing up, some Thanksgivings called for heirloom China, while others called for Dixie’s best paper plates (fewer dishes to do, am I right?). Really, it’s just about being together, and sometimes it doesn’t matter what plate you eat off of. And no matter what you choose this year, a casual event or a formal affair, you can find your preferred way to set the table for Thanksgiving.
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.