Light Thanksgiving Menu

fruit crisp with maple, apples and dates
You'd never guess that these tasty Thanksgiving recipes are low in fat and calories. Main dishes with fewer than 400 calories mean these healthy recipes won't weigh you down, so you can indulge in that extra slice of dessert without the guilt.

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

At only 82 calories per serving, this is one fall appetizer you can feel good about ladling up. The smooth texture of pureed butternut squash, leeks, and carrots will have you reaching for a second bowl of this healthy soup recipe. Garnish with crème fraîche, toasted pumpkin seeds, and tarragon for a warming Thanksgiving side dish or appetizer.

Roasted Sweets and Greens

Trade candied sweet potatoes for more nutritious roasted spuds this Thanksgiving. For a potatoes-meets-salad side dish, roast spears of sweet potatoes with garlic and hazelnuts, then top with arugula and vinegar. You can enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving side dish without giving up fan-favorite Thanksgiving sweet potatoes. It's a win-win!

Harvest Fruit and Cheese Stuffing

Yep, healthy Thanksgiving stuffing exists, and it can be as tasty as richer versions. Of course this stuffing has the usual crispy bread cubes, but we kept this recipe light by including celery, pears, cherries, and apricots. Don't worry, this lower-calorie stuffing still has a few cups of white cheddar cheese to make it ooey, gooey, and craveable.

Double-Cranberry Sauce

It's no surprise that the secret to a healthy cranberry sauce is skipping the canned stuff. Fresh and dried cranberries combine for double the flavor in this classic Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Serve warm and top with watercress, if desired. Chill any leftover sauce for up to two days to slather it on your leftover turkey sandwiches.

Citrusy Mashed Squash with Toasted Pecans

Swap traditional mashed potatoes for a low-calorie Thanksgiving recipe made with squash. Once you stir in butter and sour cream, you'll hardly know this dish is made with butternut squash rather than potatoes. Shredded orange and lemon zest give this side its fresh, citrusy flavor.

Roasted-Cauliflower Soup

Just as rich and creamy as potato soup (but a little lower in calories), this light Thanksgiving side dish starts with garlic-roasted cauliflower and onions and ends with your guests scraping the bottoms of their bowls for every drop of this luscious soup. Your guests won't be able to decide if they are eating their veggies or indulging. 

Green Bean Casserole

The holiday favorite green bean casserole gets trimmed to 120 calories but keeps all the creamy texture we love. Breadcrumbs add crunch to this colorful, pimiento-topped light holiday menu addition. After all, your healthy Thanksgiving menu wouldn't be complete without classic green bean casserole.

Homemade Giblet Gravy

Some classics are better left unchanged, and this healthy gravy recipe is one of them. This turkey gravy is so thick and flavorful that no one will believe it's only 75 calories. Like everything else on our light Thanksgiving menu, this recipe is good for you and good-tasting.

Slow-Baked Tomatoes with Garlic and Mint

Simple ingredients star in this easy-to-make appetizer recipe. Roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic, and mint are perfect for slathering onto toasted bread with your favorite cheese. Because the recipe comes in at under 200 calories per serving, you won't feel guilty about loading your dinner plate even after indulging in this healthy Thanksgiving app.

Carrot-Mushroom Stuffing

Despite its name, this dish won’t leave you feeling stuffed. Shredded carrots and fresh shiitake mushrooms combine for a Thanksgiving side dish that's low in fat but high in flavor. Reheat leftovers (if you're lucky enough to have them) and top with an egg for breakfast the next day.

Rosemary Satin Dinner Rolls

Fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, these rolls won't last long at the dinner table. Cottage cheese keeps the bread moist; onion and rosemary provide simple, savory flavor. You definitely go back for seconds on these yummy dinner rolls, one of our best low-calorie Thanksgiving recipes.

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Add some heat to your cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving with jalapeño jelly. Spread onto toasted baguette slices for a quick appetizer, or serve with your Thanksgiving turkey for a nonfat relish. This light Thanksgiving recipe packs in a lot of flavor without packing in calories.

Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled Prosciutto

You might not think prosciutto has a place on your healthy Thanksgiving menu, but it does. Update everyday Brussels sprouts with pan-fried prosciutto and buttery shallots. This Thanksgiving side dish recipe can be made ahead of time, so you spend less time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving and more time with family. 

Wild Rice Dressing

One way to make a healthy Thanksgiving stuffing recipe? Swap out the bread. This easy side dish ditches the bread typically used in Thanksgiving dressing for gluten-free rice. Port-soaked cherries and a mix of celery, leek, and carrot enhance its flavor. Top with toasted almonds for crunch.

Ginger-Orange-Glazed Turkey Breasts

Turkey is always the highlight of the meal, so be sure to choose one of our healthy Thanksgiving turkey recipes this year to complement your light Thanksgiving menu. Forget the turkey legs—guests will be fighting over juicy turkey breasts this holiday. Fresh ginger and chile peppers spice up an orange marmalade glaze for a centerpiece with big flavor.

Beer-Brined Turkey

A healthy Thanksgiving turkey recipe doesn't equal a bland Thanksgiving turkey. You'll have to plan ahead so you have time to brine this turkey in a mix of beer and spices for 24 hours, but the results are so worth it. Before roasting, rub with a bit of melted butter and a mix of spices for a light Thanksgiving turkey that doesn't skimp on spice.

Ham with Five-Spice Cherry Sauce

On the search for alternative Thanksgiving meals? Instead of Thanksgiving turkey, serve up a healthy ham recipe. For a holiday ham that is spicy yet sweet, add a dash of five-spice powder. Peach preserves, dried cherries, and pineapple juice enhance the aromatic blend of spices in the slow cooker.

Pumpkin-Almond Macarons

Wrap up your light Thanksgiving menu with a scrumptious fall treat that's as sweet as pie but way better for your waistline. Pumpkin pie-spiced cookies serve as the "crust," and pumpkin butter makes the creamy filling for these almost-like-pie cookies. This healthy Thanksgiving dessert recipe is impossible to resist. So go ahead, reach for another one.

Baked Pumpkin Pudding

Trade a pastry crust for rolled oats and toasted pumpkin seeds in this pie-flavor treat. Warm and silky baked pudding provides all the comfort of Thanksgiving dessert at half the calories. It's a great way to finish your light Thanksgiving dinner!

Maple, Apple, and Date Fruit Crisp

The seasonal flavors of dates, maple syrup, and crisp apples pack this crunchy crisp with flavor. Pair this healthy dessert recipe with low-fat vanilla yogurt for an extra layer of deliciousness. The warm and cool combo in this healthy Thanksgiving dessert is irresistible!

Pumpkin Icebox Pie with Pistachio-Gingersnap Crust

Icebox pies are an easy alternative to traditional pies. Just pop the smooth pumpkin cream cheese mixture into the refrigerator to create an airy filling, and combine with a crunchy gingersnap and pistachio crust. Top with a spoonful of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nuts, and this easy recipe could give Thanksgiving pumpkin pie a run for its money.

Hot Spiced Cider

Warm up with this simple five-ingredient apple cider recipe that is ready in just 10 minutes. Take the recipe from simple to showstopping by creating apple mugs: Cut off the tops from large apples and scoop out the centers, leaving a 1/2-inch shell. This stunning drink recipe is a great treat to sip on a few hours after Thanksgiving dinner.

Share the gallery

All Topics in Thanksgiving Dinner Menus

Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.