Thanksgiving Recipes and Shortcuts

My favorite holiday is right around the corner – Thanksgiving! There is nothing I enjoy more than gathering around the table to enjoy food, drink, and the company of those I love.

We always host my side of the family’s Thanksgiving, and unquestionably we take on the responsibility of the turkey.  For many years we deep fried our turkey; creating a bird that was juicy, with crispy skin, and unbelievable flavor. However, more recently we have tried slow roasted and smoked. 

Here are a few of my favorite recipes that I make year after year, along with some new recipes that I’m trying out this year. And, if there is a shortcut to the recipe, I’ve added notes at the end. Enjoy! 

Dry Brine

Whether you use a traditional wet brine (like the two recipes below) or a dry brine, brining your turkey improves a turkey’s ability to retain moisture. It also helps to deeply season the bird which enhances the flavor.  

My preferred brining method is using a dry brine because I find that the wet brine tends to make the turkey taste watered down from all the liquid that is used.  

Regardless of what method you use, save your aromatics until you cook the bird. You can stuff them into the cavity or underneath the skin. 

Here’s what you’ll need to make the dry brine:

  •  6 tablespoons La Baleine Kosher Sea Salt 
  •  2 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill Baking Powder 

Combine the salt and baking powder in a bowl. Carefully pat your turkey dry with paper towels. Generously sprinkle the salt mixture on all surfaces. Turkey should be well coated with salt. You may not use all the salt mixture – depends on the size of your bird. So, make sure it is well coated not encrusted with salt. 

Transfer the bird to a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 12 to 24 hours. Without rinsing, prepare your turkey, omitting any additional salting steps called for in the recipe.  

You can dry brine for over 24 hours – just loosely cover turkey with plastic wrap or cheesecloth before refrigerating. This helps prevent excess moisture loss through evaporation. 

Slow Roasted Turkey

This is my absolute favorite way to prepare and eat turkey! I found this recipe a couple years ago when we decided to have Thanksgiving in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We brined our turkey in a cooler that we duct taped shut and transported in our trunk down to Asheville. We then slow roasted it all night and had an incredibly tender, delicious bird for Thanksgiving the next day. It is an absolutely wonderful recipe by Jenny McGruther from Nourished Kitchen and provides all information you need to slow roast a perfect bird. 

Smoked Brined Turkey

Last year during the COVID shut down, we went on a more-than-normal Big Green Egg kick. So, last year for Thanksgiving my husband wanted to brine and smoke our turkey. The recipe we followed came from Big Green Egg’s website and has everything you need to know regarding brining and smoking your bird. It was tender, smoky, and delicious! And, it made the best leftover Turkey and Noodles and Turkey and Vegetable Soup.  

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Turkey Neck and Giblet Gravy

My husband’s late grandmother was responsible for the gravy. She would make it with the turkey neck and giblets, let it simmer for what seemed like hours, meticulously pick all the meat off the neck, and then thicken it with flour.  

Watching her year after year is what inspired my version of turkey neck and giblet gravy. I make it gluten free by thickening it with arrowroot instead of flour. This gravy is nourishing, flavorful, and it just might turn you into a gravy-all-over-everything type of person.

Stock Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 turkey neck
  • 1 set of giblets
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 medium carrot, quartered
  • 1 celery stalk, quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Gravy Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter

In a stock pot, add the ingredients for the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 1 ½ hours. 

Remove from heat and pour stock through a fine mesh strainer into a sauce pot. Allow the turkey neck and giblets to cool enough so they can be handled. Finely chop the giblets and add them to strained stock. Pull the meat from the neck bone and add it to the strained stock as well.  

Add the sage, thyme, salt, and a couple dashes of pepper to the strained stock then bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, mix, using a fork, the arrowroot and butter. It should form a paste. Stir the paste into the simmering sauce and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Keep warm using a thermos until ready to use. Yields 3 cups of gravy.

Shortcut: Try out Simply Organic Roasted Turkey Gravy Mix – simply mix with water and heat on the stove top. The packet makes 1 cup of gravy, so if you want more then make sure you buy multiple packets. 

Easy Roasted Cipollini Onions

Recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt via Serious Eats

I fell in love with cipollini onions when we lived in Seattle and my husband worked on an organic farm. They grew tons of cipollinis and sold them to restaurants in the city. Cipollinis are sweeter than regular onions, so they are perfect for caramelizing. I think these are going to be an excellent side dish to our Thanksgiving dinner, and I can’t wait to top them atop mashed potatoes and cover them in our Turkey Neck Gravy! 

Make-Ahead Roasted Squash and Kale Salad with Spiced Nuts, Cranberries, and Maple Vinaigrette

Recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt via Serious Eats

I made this recipe last year for Christmas Eve dinner. It has everything that I love when it comes to veggies and flavors – kale, butternut squash, pecans, and maple syrup! It is absolutely incredible, and I can’t wait to make it again this year but for Thanksgiving!  

It is super helpful that this salad can be made ahead of time (and tastes even better the next day)! It is nice to have one item crossed off the list on the big day of cooking. If you are making it ahead of time, wait to add the spiced nuts until just before serving – this helps to keep them crunchy. 

Cranberry Sauce

I’ve found you are either a lover of cranberry sauce or a hater. There’s no in-between! However, my homemade cranberry sauce has brought some haters over to the cranberry sauce lovers’ side. I make this sauce often throughout the fall and winter. I buy cranberries by the bag and toss them into my freezer and make it when I need a bright, bold pick-me-up during the gloomy winter months.  

It is a perfect topping for pumpkin pie and a great spread for leftover turkey sandwiches and pumpkin bread. 

Shortcut: Try Woodstock Farms Organic Jellied Cranberry Sauce – just wiggle the cranberry sauce out on its side and slice with a butter knife.

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

This recipe combines the best of both pie worlds when it comes to Thanksgiving – pumpkin pie and pecan pie. The crust is a recipe that I found from Elana’s Pantry and the pumpkin pie is from Cook’s Illustrated. It does call for a couple tablespoons of bourbon which can be omitted. 

Pecan Pie Crust Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw pecans
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour (or any other flour you use)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Pumpkin Pie Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

Pecan Pie Crust Instructions

Place pecans in food processor and pulse until the texture is coarse gravel.  Pulse in egg, flour, and salt until mixture forms a ball.  Grease a 9-inch pie plate.  Using your hands, press crust onto bottom and up sides of tart pan.  Pie crust can be covered with plastic and refrigerated overnight or until ready to use.  Bring to room temperature before filling and baking. 

Pumpkin Pie Instructions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees.  Whisk together eggs, yolks, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; stir in bourbon, maple syrup, and vanilla, then whisk in cream.  Gradually add egg mixture to pumpkin puree, whisking gently to combine. 

Heat pecan pie crust in oven until warm, 5 minutes.  Sprinkle bottom of pie shell with brown sugar.  Pour pumpkin pie mixture into pie shell over brown sugar layer.  Bake until filling is set around edges but center jiggles slightly when shaken, about 45 minutes.  Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, and serve.

Shortcut: Make the pumpkin pie and pour it into a Wholly Wholesome pie shell. We have regular and gluten free! Or, use the organic pumpkin pie mix (in a can) from Farmer’s Market. Simple pour into a Wholly Wholesome pie shell and bake.

Green Bean Kitchen

If you are looking for pre-made Thanksgiving sides, we’ve got you covered with some classics from Green Bean Kitchen! All you do is reheat and eat. They serve 4+ and include reheating instructions. It couldn’t be any easier to get a delicious side dish on your Thanksgiving table!  Available for purchase in this coming week’s store and delivery the week of Thanksgiving!

Green Bean Casserole
Sage Stuffing
Sage Stuffing
Gratin Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Roasted Root Vegetables
Velvet Turkey Gravy

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About Organic Beth

Beth Blessing (Organic Beth) has a Masters in Nutrition and is the co-founder of Green Bean Delivery. She is a mother of three who loves supporting family farms and searching for unique, artisanal products. Her goal is to help others eat better and live a more natural, holistic life through healthy recipes and practical tips.