These Thanksgiving meal ideas are both cozy and homemade to ensure you have an inviting and delicious holiday!
It's the combination of the chill in the air and warmth of a home lit by the fire and people gathered round that truly brings the charm of this holiday. The pumpkin patches and candy wrappers have faded away by now as a distant memory. Yet, the planning and worry of Thanksgiving meal ideas crept in weeks ago. The first time I hosted Thanksgiving, the Turkey was dry, the store bought bread cubes for the stuffing were rancid, the brown butter turned to burnt and the veggies were less than exciting. After a few trial and errors, I finally came up with a plan and menu that best worked for me, simple and comforting.
These Thanksgiving meal ideas are both cozy and homemade for the most part, because we all need a little help sometimes. The meal ideas are simple and have a small elevated essential that brings just enough wow to the plate. Holiday meals don't have to be complicated, just mix a few classics and comforts together with a little prep and you are all set! Laid out below are the meal ideas, recipe links, essential tools or ingredients, and elevated essentials to help you plan the most cozy and inviting homemade Thanksgiving meal ever! Plus a free printable!
Cozy Tips for Thanksgiving
- A little planning ahead on the meal and shopping list can really go a long way, check out below for a free printable!
- While it's really nice to have décor, china, and a table setting Pinterest perfect, that is not what makes someone feel cozy and invited. A simple set up with a few thoughtful pieces makes the biggest impact.
- Add a few candles to the table or fairy lights for a warm glow.
- Use china and plates you already have on hand and mix and match, but make it flow with the same color scheme if possible.
- Play low music in the background, Charlie Brown Christmas sound track is always a hit!
- Think of one or two fun and simple activities that you can have your guests do while they wait for dinner or around the table, such as making a paper thankful chain together.
- Have on hand inexpensive Kraft paper or disposable to go containers for family and friends to take home leftovers!
Thanksgiving Meal Ideas
- Roasted Cherry Tomato & Goat Cheese Bruschetta
- Veggie Tray & Cheese Platter
- Roasted or Smoked Turkey with a Cider Brine
- Apple Cider & Sage Gravy
- Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic, Brown Butter, & Cheese
- Sheet Pan Roasted Broccoli & Glazed Carrots
- White Cheddar Rosemary Rolls
- Italian Stuffing
- Whipped Sweet Potato Casserole
- Fresh Cranberry Sauce
- Simple Maple Pumpkin Pie
- Spiced Homemade Whipped Cream
- Warm Apple Cider
- Sparking Water
Cozy Details of Thanksgiving Meal Ideas
For the starters you will want to have two to three bruschetta toasts per person and then a veggie tray and/or cheese platter to make things simple. Have these items done ahead of time and plated out with a few drinks such as warm apple cider and sparkling water for your guests to enjoy.
Turkeys are not overly complicated and can be treated similar to a roast chicken. Just add in a head of garlic with the top chopped off, a whole onion peeled and halved, an orange halved, thyme, and rosemary sprigs. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper and rubbed with butter and/or olive oil.
If you would like brine the turkey 24 hours a head of time that is a great option too. Check out the link to the apple cider brine from The Seasoned Mom above.
Sides can be the more cumbersome process of the whole meal, but they don't have to be. I like to let the slow cooker and oven do the hard work for me. Use the slow cooker for the mashed potatoes and then add in beautiful flavors at the end with brown butter and roasted garlic. Both are not hard or time consuming at all, but add in a warm nutty depth of flavor. Then pick or two vegetables that can be easily prepped and made in one pan if possible such as broccoli and glazed carrots on a sheet pan. Nearly every Thanksgiving meal has a casserole and stuffing, prep the casserole and stuffing a day before or the morning of Thanksgiving.
Rolls, cranberry sauce, whipped cream, and gravy can all be prepped the day before or the morning of Thanksgiving. For the cranberry sauce, nothing compares to a fresh cranberry sauce, that is simple to make and can be done weeks before and frozen.
The gravy base is something that can be prepped easily a day or two ahead of time. This can be done by melting butter and onions in a pan and then adding a tablespoon or so of flour and cooking for a few minutes. As a result, you will have a thick paste that you can add either chicken broth or apple cider to in order to make a thick liquid that can be placed in a jar until it is ready for the Turkey drippings to be incorporated.
Rolls are a great to make the evening before and shape into a pan to finish proofing in the oven. As an alternative, you can make simple biscuits which are quick to make and sprinkle in a few fresh herbs and grated cheese.
Finally, whipped cream can be made a day or two in advance and only takes five minutes to prep. Check out how to make your own fresh whipped cream here and then toss in some cinnamon for a great spiced flavor.
A sweet ending with warm cider or coffee is the always the best way to close out a delicious holiday meal. Typically, one to two pies will be enough for a small crowd of people and then sprinkle in some fun chocolates and/or cookies. Pies are great to make three days in advance and kept refrigerated.
Regardless of your menu, it is the thought that truly counts and enjoying the time with your loved ones that makes it cozy and memorable. Below are a few free pintables to make your homemade Thanksgiving meal prep a little easier.
Savor the little moments and embrace the imperfections of the ordinary! Enjoy friends!