Quick & Easy Thanksgiving Menu & Planning Guide

If you find yourself more worried than excited about Thanksgiving dinner, it's time to take back control of this holiday meal. These easy Thanksgiving recipes can help you make simple, fast dishes that are just as tasty as the classics.

Yes, you can serve a delicious Thanksgiving dinner without spending all week (or even all day) in the kitchen. This quick and easy Thanksgiving menu allows you to enjoy simple yet flavorful fare and enjoy time with your guests as well. So go ahead: Sleep in, watch the Thanksgiving parade, and take your time getting ready. With this set of easy recipes, planning your Thanksgiving meal is a snap whether you’re planning a meal for two or for a crowd.

Editor’s Tip: Cut down on Thanksgiving day stress by starting early. Follow our Thanksgiving Countdown Planner for a totally no-sweat holiday. 

Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

Make quick work of preparing your holiday meal with these easy Thanksgiving recipes:

See photos and learn more about each dish below.

Picky eaters will be a lot less likely to pass on the "green stuff" the next time it comes around when it's in this colorful blend.

Easy Thanksgiving Starter – Salad: Toasted Couscous and Chard Salad

Start to Finish: 20 minutes

This Toasted Couscous and Chard Salad is the perfect starter for your quick and easy Thanksgiving menu. The layers of flavor from chard, beets, parsley, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, mint leaves, and more make it taste like it came from a gourmet restaurant!

Prep Tip: Stack similar-size leaves of chard in a neat pile so you can trim the stems at the same time.

Get the recipe: Toasted Couscous and Chard Salad

 

With an orange hue and dollop of sour cream-chive topping, this soup will be a pretty addition to your Thanksgiving table. 

Easy Thanksgiving Starter – Soup: Gluten-Free Gingered Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup

Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Whip up this gluten-free Gingered Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup with Chive Cream for a quick-fix starter. Instead of fussing with a vegetable masher, this low-fat creamy soup reaches its velvety consistency after just a few spins in the blender. 

Ingredient Info: Either sour cream or crème fraîche work well as a topper. Opt for sour cream if you're aiming for a tangy, low-fat addition. Choose crème fraîche for a rich, smooth stir-in.

Get the recipe: Gingered Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup with Chive Cream

 

Dress up your bone-in breasts with a hazelnut crust and plate with oranges, kumquats, and bay leaves. Your whole table will think that absolutely nothing is missing.

Easy Thanksgiving Main Dish: Hazelnut-Crusted Turkey Breast

Start to Finish: 2 hours 5 minutes

If you're on board for a quick and easy Thanksgiving menu, but are unconvinced that you can short-cut turkey, you haven't seen this Hazelnut-Crusted Turkey Breast recipe. It roasts for an hour and a half, but only 20 minutes of prep are needed to get this turkey ready to go! Select a bone-in turkey breast for all of the traditional flavor of the whole bird without the roasting time.

Moist Turkey Trick: Allow the roasted meat to rest for 15 minutes before carving so the juices can redistribute (rather than flow out onto the serving platter).

Get the recipe: Hazelnut-Crusted Turkey Breast

 

If you think a cranberry recipe can't be that quick AND delicious, think again. With cranberries, figs, fresh mint leaves, and orange marmalade, this relish is both a classic and one-of-a-kind.

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish – Fruit: Cranberry-Fig Relish

Start to Finish: 10 minutes

This Cranberry-Fig Relish can be made in less time than it takes to listen to three of your favorite dinner party songs. Chill for a few hours until your guests arrive, and your relish is ready to serve.

Time-Saving Tip: Don't want to make your relish on Thanksgiving Day? No problem! This relish can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge in an airtight container. Want to prep even earlier? Freeze for up to 6 months, then thaw overnight in the fridge.

Get the recipe: Cranberry-Fig Relish

Don't forget to melt a pat of butter on top of these tasty garlic and herb mashed potatoes.

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish – Potatoes: Garlic and Herb Mashed Potatoes

Start to Finish: 10 minutes

Start with some instant or refrigerated mashed potatoes, then add cheese with garlic and herbs, some fresh parsley, and french-fried onions (if you wish). No one will guess you didn't start by boiling a batch of potatoes and mashing from scratch. You get all the goodness of mashed potatoes without all the work.

Get the recipe: Garlic and Herb Mashed Potatoes

 

Start a new Thanksgiving tradition with these petite sweet treats that pack all the classic flavor of pumpkin pie into a bit-size cake.

Easy Thanksgiving Dessert: Easy Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Star to Finish: 60 minutes

Combine two of your favorite desserts—cupcakes and pie—and serve these Easy Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes instead of fussing over pie. With plenty of pumpkin and cinnamon flavor, fall dessert cravings will be cured. There's even graham crackers on top so you get a crunch, just like with a piecrust! Orange frosting topped with a dollop of white frosting mimics the look of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

Get the recipe: Easy Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

 

Bonus: Thanksgiving Menu Planning Tips

Don't spend all November sweating about your Thanksgiving meal. Sit back and relax this holiday season with our successful shortcuts.

  • Plan your menu in early November: Choose your dishes and make your shopping list. Pick up nonperishable items over regular trips to the store between early November and Thanksgiving Day to lessen the strain of that pre-Turkey Day shopping trip.
  • Don’t be shy about assigning tasks: With your guest list finalized, get specific about what you want attendees to do or bring and keep track of who’s doing what.
  • Review your recipes and determine which prep tasks can happen ahead of time: Defrosting a turkey, peeling potatoes, and other kitchen tasks can be done days or even weeks ahead.

Get more Thanksgiving planning tips in our Thanksgiving Countdown Checklist

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