Thanksgiving celebrations are going to look a little different this year. From mini meals to lots of hot cocktails and outdoor festivities, here’s how we see the holiday unfolding.

Megan O. Steintrager
November 02, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement
Credit: Getty

There’s no doubt that Thanksgiving will look  a little—or a lot—different for most of us this year. But that doesn’t mean the holiday is canceled. Based on chatting with fellow editors and combing through recipe searches and other data, here are the top trends we’re predicting for Thanksgiving 2020. 

Smaller Gatherings with Smaller Meals: As fewer people are planning to travel or get together with large groups, we are seeing increasing interest in smaller—but still special—meals, including Thanksgiving recipes and menus for two. Pageviews for our recipes and articles that center on cooking for two were up nearly 200% in October compared to last October, with views of Turkey & Stuffing for Two up almost 600%. We have seen a surge in interest in searches for turkey breast recipes (as opposed to the whole bird), in particular, with views of turkey breast up more than 50% from last year. And while oven-roasted turkey breasts are still the most popular, other cooking methods like Instant Pot, grilled, slow-cooker turkey breast  and air-fryer turkey are gaining in popularity. 

Taking It Outside: We only have to look as far as our own backyards to see that people are moving all sorts of celebrations outdoors. For Thanksgiving, we expect to see families creating cozy outdoor spaces and gathering around the barbecue or fire pit. Grilled turkey and smoked turkey are sure to be on many menus. 

Special Cocktails and Drinks Get HOT: Since March, we have seen a huge increase in traffic to cocktail recipes on our site. Lately we have particularly seen a spike in interest in hot cocktails, punches and other warm, boozy drinks. On the heels of whipped drinks, hot cocoa bombs have taken off too—Costco’s hot cocoa bombs are flying off shelves, and people are snatching them up from online sellers. Stay tuned for our recipes for three takes on hot cocoa bombs. 

Budget Matters: With the current economic downturn and many people dealing with job losses, the bottom line is on many people’s minds this holiday season. Views of budget-friendly cooking articles and recipes were up more than 85% on EatingWell.com this October compared to last. Along with smaller gatherings, we predict slightly less indulgent Thanksgiving celebrations this year. We also predict an increased reliance on canned goods, which are both economical and convenient. To help you celebrate Thanksgiving on a budget, we developed a $50 Thanksgiving dinner for six people—stay tuned for that tomorrow. 

Creating New Traditions While Honoring Old Ones: Since fewer people are expected to travel to visit family this year, we expect to see a rise in cooks making their first Thanksgiving meals. We have seen a 108% increase in views of articles about beginner cooking over the past month compared to last year. While some of these new cooks will be open to experimentation and new traditions, others will be looking to make Grandma and Grandpa’s classic dishes. And quite a few of them will be Googling How to Roast a Turkey. When it comes to troubleshooting Thanksgiving mistakes, we’ve got your back. 

Homemade Breads: While convenience foods are super popular, there’s also been a huge baking trend since March that shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. We saw about a  350% increase in interest in homemade bread recipes during Easter this year, which gives us a good sense of what to expect for Thanksgiving. Our researchers expect to see plenty of homemade bread and rolls this year, with views of yeast roll recipes up close to 90% compared to this time last year (even if I’m too lazy to make my own rolls). 

Turkey Alternatives: With smaller gatherings, we also expect many cooks to look to mains other than a whole roast turkey. This past Easter, we saw a rise in searches for non-ham mains like chicken and we expect that trend to hold up for Thanksgiving too. In addition to turkey parts like breasts and drumsticks, we think some cooks will choose to roast a chicken or Cornish hens. Duck, goose and fish will also be on some menus, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. 

Ordering It All In: Many meal kit services were struggling before the pandemic, but as people began avoiding grocery stores, meal kits shot up in popularity. We expect many people to take advantage of Thanksgiving meal kits from grocery stores and services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, both of which are offering special Thanksgiving meals this year. 

Got cooking questions? Email them to us at testkitchen@eatingwell.com.