Pecan pie dippers, anyone?
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Thanksgiving is known for its delicious, festive classics like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie. And while there's certainly nothing wrong with these dishes (after all, they're Turkey Day classics for a reason, right?), they're not exactly new or different. And when it comes to your Friendsgiving celebration, you may want to switch things up a little—especially if Friendsgiving falls during the workweek when time and energy may be limited.

"Friendsgiving is such a fun and festive way to share the holidays with friends, yet it's definitely a challenge to create an amazing meal when you don't have time to spend a week in the kitchen prepping," explains Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., RDN, founder of and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.

Think of it as your chance to get creative in the kitchen while still maintaining the holiday feel. "It's a great opportunity to experiment with modern twists on classic recipes" she says.

Ready to swap out your classic recipes for easy, trendier ones? Here are some ways you can put creative, crowd-pleasing twists on holiday recipes this Friendsgiving.

6 Fun Friendsgiving Food Ideas

Swap Cranberry Sauce for Cranberry Meringue Pie

cranberry meringue pie

Cranberry sauce tastes great with turkey, but it also works nicely in a pie for dessert. Harris-Pincus says, "What an inspired twist to incorporate fresh cranberries into a dessert that's sure to impress your friends and infuse some holiday spirit." She adds, "I love that it has whole-wheat flour and antioxidants from the cranberries, which bring all sorts of health benefits."

Get the Recipe: Cranberry Meringue Pie

Swap Pumpkin Pie for a Pumpkin Spice Cheese Ball

Pumpkin Spice Cheese Ball

Instead of that tired old ball of Cheddar, highlight your appetizer spread with this Pumpkin Spice Cheese Ball that brings sweet, spicy and savory flavors and a creamy, rich texture. "The tang of the goat cheese and sweetness from the pumpkin and dried cranberries pair so well with crispy veggies or whole-grain crackers," Harris-Pincus says.

Swap Bread Rolls or Stuffing for Bread Pudding

cranberry coconut bread pudding

Rolls taste great, but don't add a whole lot of pizazz to the table. And stuffing can be tricky to make and get right. "Swap in this Cranberry-Coconut Bread Pudding, which is made with whole-grain bread and a little bit of boozy rum and candied ginger, making it a dessert to remember," she says. Bake the bread pudding in individual serving dishes for an extra-fun presentation. (Buy them: $16 for a set of four ramekins at Williams Sonoma.)

Swap Pie for a Thick Stack of Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes

Stick with us, here. Harris-Pincus says, "Go for a breakfast-for-dinner-themed Friendsgiving with these whole-grain pumpkin pancakes that come topped with warm, delicious roasted pecans. Instead of pecan or pumpkin pie, these pancakes feature both flavors and can be sweet or savory. For dessert, top with a glaze or sweet sauce, cream cheese frosting or a scoop of ice cream. For dinner, "Instead of putting sausage in your stuffing, cook up turkey sausage to serve alongside the pancakes for extra protein."

Get the Recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes

Swap Roasted Turkey for a Turkey Chili

Turkey Pumpkin Chili
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Cooking that big bird can be a feat. Ditch roasted turkey and serve this high-fiber, protein-packed chili recipe instead. "It's super easy to make in bulk and awesome to save for leftovers so you don't have to cook for a couple of days," she says. Plus, it's a complete meal and super filling, so you won't feel the need to make as many sides on Friendsgiving. (Just serve with some cornbread!)

Get the Recipe: Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Swap Pecan Pie for Pie-Crust Dippers

Pecan Pie Dip with Crunchy Pie-Crust Dippers

Instead of a serving a slice of pecan pie, enjoy this modern twist on pecan pie's flavors with these pie-crust dippers, which are sweet in taste and have a nice crunch. "Try dipping apple or pear slices to add some extra fiber," she says. "Or use leftovers to drizzle on oatmeal or protein pancakes for breakfast the next morning," she adds.