30 Easy Thanksgiving Recipes for Beginner Cooks
Making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time can be intimidating, but we’ve got you covered. Turn to these easy, manageable recipes that are perfect for beginner cooks. These recipes all have three steps or less and require no more than 25 minutes of active cooking time. Recipes like Melting Sweet Potatoes with Mini Marshmallows and Simple Herb Stuffing are healthy and so delicious you’ll volunteer to cook Thanksgiving again next year!
Roasted Turkey Legs
Roasted turkey legs are a great alternative to a full turkey when your holiday gathering is small. Here, we stick with all the traditional Thanksgiving flavors using only dark meat that stays moist when it's cooked. A simple pan gravy pulled together while the turkey legs rest completes the dish. (This recipe serves 8 but is easily halved to serve 4—or 2 with plenty of leftovers.)
Melting Sweet Potatoes with Mini Marshmallows
If you like sweet potato casserole, you'll love these tender, creamy melted sweet potatoes. Slices of sweet potatoes "melt" into a savory broth with spices and are topped with mini marshmallows for a hint of sweetness at the end. They're perfect for Thanksgiving or anytime in fall or winter when cooler weather settles in.
Apple, Fig & Brussels Sprouts Salad
Salad dressing made from sweet and mellow white balsamic vinegar balances out the assertive greens and Brussels sprouts in this healthy winter salad. If you have one handy, a small mandoline makes it easy to slice the Brussels and apple. To make it a dinner salad, top with shrimp or chicken.
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Now everyone can enjoy classic Thanksgiving favorites, like this dairy-free green bean casserole. We make a homemade vegan cream of mushroom soup using almond milk for the creamy base that's combined with fresh green beans. Top it off with classic french-fried onions (we have a vegan recipe for that, too!) for a side dish everyone will devour.
Pecan Pie Bars
These delectable bar cookies are great for holiday cookie trays, to bring out at casual gatherings, or just to enjoy with a cup of coffee.
Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
These mashed potatoes can be served right away or made up to two days in advance, making your Thanksgiving or any other meal as easy as can be!
Pumpkin Pie Cocktail
Pumpkin pie in a cocktail glass? Yes, please! This fun and festive drink captures the essence of pumpkin pie in a cocktail with pumpkin-flavored vodka, sweet Kahlúa and a touch of cream to smooth it all out. Garnished with spices like cinnamon and a dollop of whipped cream, it's a fun, new way to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Simple Herb Stuffing
This easy Thanksgiving favorite comes together in a snap. Poultry seasoning, which includes sage and other classic holiday herbs, adds plenty of flavor to this stuffing but if you'd like even more herb flavor you can add 1 teaspoon of dried sage and 1 teaspoon of minced fresh rosemary.
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
This raw Brussels sprouts salad featuring shaved Brussels sprouts, toasted pecans, sweet-tart cranberries and nutty Parmesan cheese is tossed with a light and lemony vinaigrette. You can shave the Brussels sprouts using a chef's knife--or use the slicing attachment of your food processor to make it even easier. This quick and easy recipe is perfect for fall or anytime you have crisp, fresh Brussels sprouts on hand.
Citrus-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce
This easy cranberry sauce recipe calls for simply jazzing up canned cranberry sauce with orange zest and juice and fresh herbs. Serve it with your Thanksgiving turkey, on leftover turkey sandwiches or along with any holiday meal.
Maple Roasted Carrots
Roasting brings out the inherent sweetness in carrots--but add a little maple syrup and butter and you have a caramelized vegetable your kids (and you!) will actually want to eat seconds of.
Easy Apple Galette
This simple apple-cinnamon galette is easy to make thanks to premade pie crust—no need to make your own dough! Serve it for Thanksgiving dessert or after any fall meal.
Skillet Green Bean Casserole
Juggling space in the oven on Thanksgiving is always a challenge. This stovetop version of a classic favorite casserole made with fresh green beans has all the traditional flavors, but doesn't take up any precious oven space.
Slow-Cooker Maple-Mustard Turkey Breast
Depart from the expected roasted whole turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, and serve this succulent, slow-cooker turkey breast instead. You'll delight guests with a new dish and also save yourself hands-on time and effort. As a bonus on Turkey Day, this recipe leaves your oven free for stuffing and casseroles. If whole turkey breast isn't available, ask your butcher to cut up a whole turkey and give you the whole turkey breast. To make this recipe gluten free, use gluten-free Dijon. For a pretty presentation, serve with fresh thyme and cilantro sprigs.
Pecan Pie Cocktail
If you like pecan pie, you're sure to love this sweet and nutty cocktail for two. Maple syrup and crushed pecans line the rim of the glass, while bourbon and maple-pecan-flavored liqueur sweeten things up. Try this fun and festive drink on Thanksgiving as a before- or after-dinner treat.
Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake
This easy slow-cooker pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap-and-walnut crust is full of all your favorite fall flavors. Cooking dessert in the slow cooker frees up oven space, making this healthy dessert perfect for entertaining. It might just bump your regular old pumpkin pie off the Thanksgiving menu. To make this recipe gluten-free, swap out the regular gingersnap cookies for gluten-free gingersnaps.
Air-Fryer Brussels Sprouts
These super-crispy and browned air-fryer Brussels sprouts with sweet onions and salty bacon--all amped up with bright lemon juice--are sure to be a hit, whether you serve them for a weeknight side dish or as part of your holiday spread for Thanksgiving. This recipe makes enough to serve eight but is easily halved, though once you taste it you may well want a double serving. And if you prefer a vegetarian side, simply omit the bacon.
Cranberry Cucumber Salad
With a lot of low-calorie veggies, a slimmed-down dressing, and just a sprinkling of dried cranberries and olives, this colorful tossed salad comes up a nutrition winner.
Roasted Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash looks just like mini butternut squash, but on the inside you'll find an even sweeter, deeper orange flesh. This winter squash has only been available at farmers' markets and in select grocery stores for a few years. If you see it, grab a few to try! This simple roasting method enhances the natural flavor of the squash with butter and spices.
Apple Pie Mimosa
This three-ingredient mimosa combines bubbly Champagne with sweet apple cider. Cinnamon sticks add extra spice.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes
It's easy to get creative with these roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. For a quick side dish that complements just about everything, follow the main recipe. If you want to spice things up a little, try one of the variations. Swapping a few spices and adding fresh stir-ins to coat the roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes transforms the flavor of the dish to something new, yet equally delicious.
Easy Corn Pudding
This easy Southern-style corn pudding is a great way to use up fresh corn if you've got it! But to speed up the prep time, frozen corn kernels work just as well. This simple casserole is light and savory-sweet. It's the perfect companion for grilled or roasted chicken, pork or steak or can stand on its own as a vegetarian main dish.
There's nothing like this old-fashioned apple dessert recipe to top off a good dinner. It's low in calories and can be made even lower if prepared with sugar substitute.
Crispy Roast Chicken
Classic and delicious, this roast chicken recipe will shine on the table fresh from the oven, served with any side. And this oven-roasted chicken is basic enough to play well in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken.
Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Carrots
Roasting carrots in the oven brings out their inherent sweetness, while Parmesan and garlic give this easy side dish a flavorful savory accent.
Sautéed Green Beans & Onions
Sautéed onions, garlic powder and red pepper add plenty of flavor to canned green beans to make an easy and economical side for your Thanksgiving table or any other dinner.
Classic Slow-Cooker Stuffing
Save space in your oven and use your slow cooker to whip up this easy, classic stuffing. Hearty whole-grain bread gets toasted in the oven for only 10 minutes (and you can toast the cubes ahead of time!) while your slow cooker does the rest.
Solstice Holiday Sangria
Kombucha gives a nice fizz to this holiday sangria. Bonus: It's full of probiotic bacteria that may help maintain a healthy gut.
Kale Salad with Cranberries
This easy holiday salad gets its flavor from a sweet citrus dressing that's infused into the kale by massaging the greens and the dressing together with your hands. We like a mix of kale for this recipe, but any type of kale will work.
Roasted Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts
Roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts make a great quick and easy side dish for dinner, or you can twist it into a breakfast hash served with an egg on top. Either way, with its super-easy prep, you'll come back to these roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts again and again.