These Non-traditional Thanksgiving Recipes Will Inspire New Creative Traditions

Getting a peek into what others are cooking can relieve the stress of the pre-holiday recipe search, and help spark new traditions in your home.


In many homes, the classic Thanksgiving dishes remain on the menu year after year — the turkey, the stuffing, the gravy. But as beloved as those are, mixing it up by adding a few new recipes can help us form new traditions and holiday memories with our loved ones.

The late Nora Ephron cooked up a great Huffington Post series on this topic with Thrive’s founder and CEO Arianna Huffington, where she invited readers to share new Thanksgiving dishes that they planned to introduce to show “that you’re up for change, that you’re not your mother, that you’re open to new ideas, that you’re flexible and full of surprises.” 

We asked our Thrive community what new recipes they’re cooking this year, and their answers inspired us to make some new additions to our own tables. Which of these will you add to your menu this year?

A lasagna that’s easy to make, and a proven success

“I’m cooking lasagna this year! In my family, my mom always works so hard in the kitchen all day, and ends up exhausted and in pain by the time the meal is served. So this year, I’ve decided to nix the turkey, and instead streamline the holiday meal, making a dish I’ve cooked dozens of times that I know everyone loves. After all, Thanksgiving is just about being together with loved ones and taking a moment for gratitude. We can do that over lasagna just as well as over turkey.”

—Catherine Ryan Gregory, writer, Portland, OR

Brazilian side dishes

“This year, I am cooking classic American cuisine with Latino variations that are close to my heart. In addition to the main dishes of pork shoulder and stuffed turkey breast, I am going to be making arroz con gondules as a side dish, and a Brazilian potato salad — It has more veggies in it, like carrots and green beans! For dessert, I’m making German Pie — Torta Alema in Portuguese — Brazilian flan, and a Sopapilha Cheesecake. It tastes like little cheesy churros!”

—Isabel Souza, executive administrative assistant, Philadelphia, PA

A green bean casserole

“This year is very unconventional after the death of my father, my mom’s decline further into dementia, and living away from my husband for a year to be near my parents. I’m spending Thanksgiving with friends at their farm, and making an Italian green bean recipe called ‘Be Gone Green Bean Casserole.’ The trick is to toast garlic cloves until golden brown, blanch the green beans until they are al dente, put them back in the pan, and pour olive oil on the dish with Parmesano Reggiano, and salt and pepper.”

—Kimberly Bailey, director, Las Vegas, NV

A family-sized charcuterie spread

“Thanksgiving day in our house is typically spent hanging out in our kitchen, so this year, I’m making one giant charcuterie spread across the entire counter that people can nibble on throughout the day. I’m going to make ‘The Dip’ and the ‘Garlicky Beet Dip with Walnuts’ from Alison Roman’s new cookbook, Nothing Fancy. They’re both delicious, beautiful, and easy to refill as the day goes on!”

—Calisa Hildebrand, communications, San Francisco, CA

Salmon for a healthy swap 

“I love the Thanksgiving staples, but this year I am cooking my favorite parmesan lemon pepper salmon with green beans. It’s a healthier, different take on Thanksgiving and food that I love.”

—Charjde Hunter, Writer, Charlotte, NC

A vegan dessert

“This year, I am leaving my baking comfort zone and making vegan gingerbread whoopie pies. My niece embraced a vegan lifestyle recently, and I wanted to support her and ensure that she has a dessert to enjoy.  I found a recipe online and tested it a few weeks ago. This dessert may well become a staple baking item, vegan or not. They are delicious!”

—Cindy Joyce, executive search and HR consultant, Boston, MA

A healthier take on mac and cheese

“I’m making gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free macaroni and cheese with red onions, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s a nice way to change up the traditional holiday fare and gives me an excuse to eat my favorite comfort food in a healthy format.”

—Kristian Strang, writer, author, spiritual guide, Central Oregon Coast, OR

Do you have a new Thanksgiving dish in the works this year? Tell us what it is in the comments!

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