Thanksgiving is around the corner. Here's some turkey & side-dish alternatives

Mark-John Clifford
The Star of the Show!The Fresh Market

It's that time already—time to pick out a turkey and possibly a ham to go with it.

After that, it all comes down to how you're going to cook both. Most of us already have a family recipe we've been using for years. But there are some home chefs out there always looking for something new.

Last year we went with Cornish Game Hens instead of a turkey. I know that is considered taboo by many, but it just sounded good, and to be honest, the meal was a massive hit with the family.

This year we're traditional and going with a turkey that Patti already picked out, purchased and it's sitting in the freezer waiting for me to prep it.

I have to admit, though, we did consider alternatives to turkey this year, and I wanted to share with you today the options that you have that may get you thinking.

Maybe it isn't the turkey you dump, but possibly the ham if you also cook a ham on Thanksgiving as we do.

Roasted Pork Loin

Just when you thought there was nothing that could take the place of a deliciously juicy turkey, the roast pork loin step in and give you a great alternative.
Roast Pork LoinThe Kitchen

Just hit the reset button with an easy-yet-stunning juicy roast pork loin. You can't believe how juicy, succulent, and savory a slice of roasted pork can be with just a simple garlic paste and sprinkle of pepper.

You can always add your stuffing you've been making for years to the center of this roast for that extra special treat.

Vegetarian Skillet Pot Pie

If you find yourself trying to please everyone in the family, you may require something definitely out of the ordinary of turkey. How about something vegetarian?
Veggie Pot PieThe kitchen

This pot pie is the perfect fit as an added main course for non-turkey lovers.

This vegetarian pot pie is juicy with just the right amount of gravy to warm your taste buds on a winter day, whether you're a vegetarian or not.


While lamb chops are probably not even on your radar, they are something to consider, maybe not as an alternative to turkey but as an extra to the main course.

Holidays are about teasing the taste buds, and I see this as a definite tease for many.


I know what you're thinking; there is no way I'll substitute squash for my turkey, and neither would I, but it could be a great side dish. It's not on the top of my list or probably yours, but it's just a suggestion for something different.

Duck Breasts with Apricot Chutney

Sort of the same family, but different in taste, prep, and what do I stuff this bird with?

I made Canadian Goose one year, and as much as it was different and a pretty good hit with the family, I found it harder to cook and think about what goes with it than the typical turkey meal.

You'll be challenged with this main course, but it could be fun.

Mustard-Crusted Prime Rib With a Madera Glaze

I never thought of serving prime rib on Thanksgiving. For us, prime rib is usually something we do with our Christmas meal, along with a turkey (again) or something in the pasta family. Last year we had the prime rib and lasagna for Christmas dinner.
Prime RibThe Kitchen

This sounds like a possible alternative to turkey if you're in the mood for a change this year. Let us know how this turns out if you decide to give this a shot.

Crown Pork Roast

I love the look of a crown pork or lamb roast, and it not only dresses a table up a notch, but it just adds a mystique to the main course that most don't expect.

This works best if your guests have no idea what they are eating for Thanksgiving. The surprise on their faces when you bring this to the table is a Kodak moment for years to come.

Cornish Game Hens

I'm a cornish game hen fan for many reasons. I know I can cook these perfectly every time stuffed or not and never have to worry about the outcome.
Cornish Game HensFood and Wine

Cornish game hens are another head-turner when served for the main course during any holiday.

We made these one time for a Sunday dinner with the grandkids, and the look on their faces when they saw these tiny chickens served on the table was priceless. We have a video that we'll keep forever, and it was worth the work that day.

Don't pass these guys up for your holidays.


Lasagna is a fantastic dish. You can make it with meat or veggies, and it's up to you and what you feel your guests will enjoy.

It doesn't have to be your main dish, but it could come close if you're looking for that something different.
LasagnaInsanely Good Recipes

Growing up in Siciliy, my grandmother would almost always serve lasagna on Thanksgiving and Christmas. A few times, if I remember correctly when my grandfather wasn't happy with the turkey choices, he would have my grandmother make lasagna, and he'd cook a roast.

Lasagna can be the perfect companion to a traditional turkey dinner and complete your holidays.


I'm not trying to get you to cancel your turkey, I would never try to do that, especially since we're having turkey this year, but there are options for those that are adventurous and looking for something totally different once.

Remember, the worst case is there is always next year, and you can make up for it by having turkey again or a different side dish. Or you can blame me for putting these ideas of alternatives to side dishes and turkey in your head.

Happy Holidays! Buon Appetito!

Mark & Patti

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Patti, my wife, and I write about life here in Fresno, California, and the Central Valley. We especially enjoy writing reviews about restaurants we've dined at, along with the food that is served. From time to time, we also write about and share recipes that we are fond of and hope you'll try them and let us know your thoughts. We are not traditional food critics. We don't have to worry about restaurants making unique dishes for us. We're just the average customer going in to dine, and then we write reviews.

Fresno, CA

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