11 Turkey Alternatives to Try This Thanksgiving
Turkey is a classic main dish at most Thanksgiving tables, but that doesn't mean you have to eat (or serve) it. We've gathered our best alternatives to turkey for thanksgiving — everything from hearty vegetable lasagna and roasted duck with duck fat fries (yes, please!) to vegan shepherd's pie and succulent Cuban pork. If you need even more ideas, check out our treasure trove of Thanksgiving recipes.
Don't let the vegetarian at your table leave hungry. Make this Hearty Vegetable Lasagna with mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, and your veggie friend will be satisfied (and hugely grateful) by meal's end. Of course, if your guests are all meat eaters, you can always opt for the World's Best Lasagna, featuring both sweet Italian sausage and ground beef.
Roasted Duck (with Duck Fat Fries)
There's a reason why Duck Fat Fries became a thing — ducks are fatty and delicious. Yes, they're fattier than turkeys, but they make fantastic roasts. Try this Roasted Duck that truly requires very little prep — though the recipe states a prep time of 10 minutes, we're confident it won't take you that long to season it with salt, pepper, and paprika. From then on, it's just 2 hours in the oven, basting with butter, and roasting the bird. If you can't get enough duck, check out our 14 Favorite Duck Recipes for Special Dinners.
Chicken — Roasted, Under a Brick, or On a Beer Can
You may not think roasted chicken is exciting enough for Thanksgiving, but that's where you're wrong. Even if you've made it a hundred times, our Juicy Roasted Chicken Recipe delights every time. From one German grandma's kitchen straight to yours, the secret's in the celery (and the margarine). You can even make two, adding different spices to each. If roasting isn't in your bag of tricks, try time-honored recipes like Chef John's Chicken Under a Brick and our Beer Can Chicken recipes — all are guaranteed to come out moist and be gobbled up faster than you can say, "Turkey!"
Quiche, Both Vegetarian and Not
Let's talk about quiche, a main dish that so often gets relegated to brunch. Not only is it hearty and fulfilling, but it makes a great main presentation. It's also easy to make one vegetarian and one meaty with this Clark's Quiche recipe that yields two 9-inch pies. You can substitute bacon and ham with vegan meats, more cheese, or even veggies — or opt for a Loaded Vegetarian Quiche, Spinach Quiche, or Asparagus and Mushroom Quiche. Check out our full Quiche section to get all the recipes, then bring on the fancy with some microgreens, edible flowers, or neatly-arranged sauteed mushrooms centered on top of your pie.
This Traditional Style Vegan Shepherd's Pie is the ideal vegetarian counterpart, made with soy milk, vegetarian cream cheese, and vegan ground meat to achieve a hearty helping at Thanksgiving dinner. Peas, celery, carrots, and onions are all the veggies you need, and mashed potato with all the fixings fills you up. If meaty shepherd's pie is more your speed, check out our wealth of Shepherd's pie recipes.
Squash is the perfect vehicle for stuffing as a main dish, whether it's Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash or Squasage (Sausage-Stuffed Squash). The key is to roast the squash until fork-tender and cook the filling until toasty, crispy, and golden-brown. You can also treat squash like a Thanksgiving bird, and add one of our fantastic stuffing recipes to the cavity.
Why not make it an Italian-themed Thanksgiving with a delicious ravioli bake? This Alfredo Ravioli Bake is versatile — you can experiment with different sauces and different flavors of ravioli, but it's all store-bought, so it's super easy. Just cook some chicken and layer it with cheese, store-bought ravioli, and your favorite sauce, then bake. If you prefer to make ravioli from scratch, try this vegetarian Mushroom and Spinach Ravioli with Chive Butter Sauce.
There's nothing like a ham for Christmas or Easter, so why not for Thanksgiving? This Tangy Honey Glazed Ham is a hit on our site, with over 700 ratings giving it 5 stars. With its sweet, flavorful glaze made with pineapple juice, honey, sugar, orange juice and zest, cloves, and Dijon mustard, it's no surprise. But if you're looking for something truly simple, go for this two-ingredient Slow Cooker Ham, which heaps on the brown sugar for a luscious, mouthwatering main course that'll leave the turkey sulking in the corner.
Made with store-bought pie crust, this Veggie Pot Pie is a quick and easy option for Thanksgiving. Fill it with mushrooms, garlic, onions, carrot, celery, cauliflower, and green beans, as well as a gravy-like sauce made of cornstarch, soy sauce, and water, and you're all ready to bake. This is a simple and delicious vegetarian Thanksgiving option, but if it's a meaty pot pie you crave, check out our much-loved Chicken Pot Pie IX.
If you've never had porchetta, it's an experience to be thankful for. Beautiful, easy to serve, and incredibly flavorful, this pork dish is the center of many feasts. The key to making this specialty meat dish is seasoning the surface with herbs and spices, rolling it up, and letting it rest overnight so the flavors can permeate the meat. The next day, roast the pork at high heat in the oven so that the skin becomes crackly. Two simplified recipes are a must-try: Chef John's Porchetta (2.5 pounds) or Chef John's Baby Porchetta (1.5 pounds). Though porchetta is usually made with a special butcher's cut of the belly attached to the loin, you can also make it with more readily available cuts like pork shoulder.
Cuban Pork Roast
Here's another pork roast to try this Thanksgiving: succulent Cuban Pork Roast. The citrus juices and sherry do an incredible job of marinating the pork, but for an extra flavor boost, try slathering Guava Barbecue Sauce on the meat or mixing it with the citrus juice marinade before roasting — the result is magical. Serve with black beans and rice, plus a salad of orange slices, red onion, and arugula dressed with a tangy cilantro vinaigrette. The author suggests making Medianoche sandwiches, the middle-of-the-night snack made with ham, pork, cheese, and pickles.