Non-Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
It might be time to consider another protein alternative for your Thanksgiving feast. Especially if you have any turkey naysayers in your guest group, or are just in the mood for something a little less traditional for Thanksgiving.
With these 20 easy and quick non-turkey Thanksgiving dinner ideas—including easy to more elaborate recipes—you’ll be sure to find what you need here: pork recipes fit for entertaining, beef recipes that are as simple as can be and even a simple chicken recipe for those who want to stick with an old reliable.
Related: Best Thanksgiving Desserts
Chef Recommendations for Non-Turkey Thanksgiving Recipes
According to Chef Aaron Cuschieri at The Dearborn in Chicago, a whole roasted duck is a great alternative to turkey. “While smaller than a turkey, a whole duck cooks up much easier, and is much more delicious than a turkey,” he explains. “Especially since you can get very crispy skin on duck, you have the advantage of many different textures and a sweeter and more game-y meat than your traditional turkey.” Another bonus? Since duck has a very high-fat content, you’re less likely to ruin a duck if you overcook it. “Once a turkey is overcooked, it becomes merely a vessel to get gravy and stuffing into your mouth.”
If you still want the theatrics of a large table centerpiece that can be carved (just not a turkey), Chef Andrew Zimmerman of Michelin-starred Sepia + Proxi has a suggestion. “I would likely go with a roast rack of pork,” he says. “Brining the pork rack in an apple cider and sage brine will deliver on the autumnal flavors we crave and help keep the meat moist and juicy, plus the drippings in the pan can be used to create a good jus or gravy.”
Being from the Midwest, Chef John Manion of El Che Steakhouse & Bar prefers duck, quail and pheasant, in addition to turkey. “Grilled quail is a really easy time saver,” he shares. “You can season and sear it, or try grilling it for 7-8 minutes. Quail also lends itself really well to all the flavors that come with Thanksgiving, such as sage and stuffing.”
Are Non-Turkey Thanksgiving Recipes Easier?
Some of these recipes in this roundup take a little more time, like the prime rib or the stuffed pork loin, but don’t be intimidated. Each recipe has detailed step-by-step instructions to make sure you succeed when you cook them yourself.
Other recipes in this list are on the easier side. Like the slow cooker roast beef or the dijon peppercorn steaks. These recipes are super easy or have minimal prep. Even though some of these recipes have longer cook times, they are still very simple with easy prep and lots of downtime while cooking. Perfect for a relaxing holiday!
Cheaper Thanksgiving Recipes
Another great thing about all of these recipes is they will work with a variety of budgets. Some are more affordable and others are more extravagant. Regardless of what your holiday budget is, you’ll find something in this list that will work! Here is a list of some of the more budget-friendly holiday recipes:
Are Non-Turkey Thanksgiving Recipes as Good as Turkey?
One thing all of these recipes have in common is that they taste amazing and are sure to impress your guests! They are all packed with flavor and perfect for a feast.