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25 Best Thanksgiving Main Dishes to Try Something Different

Other than turkey, of course!

Headshot of Kara ZaubermanBy Kara Zauberman
thanksgiving main dishespinterest icon
Caitlin Bensel

We love Thanksgiving side dishes, but every Thanksgiving menu needs a main dish to sit front and center on your holiday table. The obvious answer is to make a big, roasted Thanksgiving turkey, but that’s not the only direction you can choose! If you’re looking to switch things up this year (or you just want another alternative on the table), this list of Thanksgiving main dishes is a great place to start! There are vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes, like the pumpkin lasagna, and beef recipes for those who love prime rib. Serving a crowd this year? You might want to consider adding Thanksgiving hams to sit alongside the holiday bird. Plus, if you want to ditch the turkey altogether, you can simply make a whole roast chicken instead!

Don’t get us wrong, Ree Drummond's citrus-brined turkey is a great idea for the holidays if you have the time and oven space. But many of the Thanksgiving main courses on the list have the advantage of being even quicker to make (that means more time for the holiday pies). Just look at the shortcut chicken and stuffing casserole or the herb-roasted pork tenderloin—it's ready in just 20 minutes! Looking for something meatless? Try the butternut squash pasta or the quinoa and mushroom stuffed acorn squash. Of course, any one of these holiday showstoppers will pair perfect with your mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and more!


Butternut Squash Lasagna

thanksgiving main dishes butternut squash lasagna
Caitlin Bensel

Lasagna might just be the easiest way to feed a crowd. And this version made with seasonal squash and sausage is hearty and flavorful. Make it up to two days ahead for easy holiday planning!

Get the Butternut Squash Lasagna recipe.



Braised Short Ribs

thanksgiving main dishes braised short ribs
Danielle Daly

It doesn't get more comforting than a pot of braised short ribs! They'll fall right off the bone so you'll want a pile of mashed potatoes to catch them!

Get Ree's Braised Short Ribs recipe.


One-Pot French Onion Pasta

thanksgiving main dishes one pot french onion pasta
Caitlin Bensel

Impress your TikTok-loving family with this pasta that went viral on the internet. It's like a combination of French onion soup and hearty baked noodles, but you only need one pot to make it!

Get the One-Pot French Onion Pasta recipe.

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Root Beer Glazed Ham

thanksgiving main dishes root beer glazed ham
Con Poulos

Ree often makes this ham for Easter, but that doesn't mean it can't be served on Thanksgiving too! In fact, the root-beer glazed dish should definitely be put on repeat throughout the year.

Get Ree's Root Beer Glazed Ham recipe.


Slow Cooker Brisket

thanksgiving main dishes slow cooker brisket
Will Dickey

Thyme, garlic, bay leaves, and vegetables are placed right on top of the brisket in this slow cooker recipe. It helps to infuse the brisket with flavor without over-cooking.

Get the Slow Cooker Brisket recipe.



Vegetarian Pot Pie

thanksgiving main dishes vegetarian pot pie
Hector Sanchez

This pot pie is loaded with a creamy sauce of white beans, mushrooms, and veggies so you know it'll keep your guests satisfied. Plus, the topping is made from puff pastry so it couldn't be easier!

Get the Vegetarian Pot Pie recipe.

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Instant Pot Chicken Thighs

thanksgiving main dishes instant pot chicken thighs
Will Dickey

Keep things quick and easy this holiday with a main dish that's ready in just 45 minutes! The best part? It won't take up any of your precious oven space.

Get the Instant Pot Chicken Thighs recipe.


Rack of Lamb

thanksgiving main dishes rack of lamb
Will Dickey

Surprise your family and friends with an out-of-the-box main course like rack of lamb. It has a garlic and rosemary crust that will have everyone going back for seconds.

Get the Rack of Lamb recipe.


Slow Cooker Pork Chops

thanksgiving main dishes slow cooker pork chops
Danielle Daly

Not only do these pork chops get perfectly tender thanks to the slow cooker, but they also come with an incredibly creamy, savory gravy. It's perfect for serving with mashed potatoes!

Get the Slow Cooker Pork Chops recipe.

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Pumpkin Risotto

thanksgiving main dishes pumpkin risotto
Caitlin Bensel

A warm, creamy, seasonal risotto is like a bowl of pure comfort food. Top it off with crispy sage leaves, pepitas, and bacon for even more pops of flavor.

Get the Pumpkin Risotto recipe.



Dutch Oven Roast Chicken

dutch oven roast chicken and veggies
Caitlin Bensel

A whole roast chicken is a great alternative for those who don't love turkey. It's just as festive, comforting, and impressive as a table centerpiece.

Get the Dutch Oven Roast Chicken recipe.


Grilled Lobster Tail

thanksgiving main dishes like grilled lobster tail
Caitlin Bensel

No oven space? No problem. This recipe uses a quick, 15-minute marinade to infuse the lobster with flavor and moisture, then it just gets a quick sear out on the grill! One lobster tail for each guest takes the guesswork out of calculating pounds to individual servings.

Get the Grilled Lobster Tail recipe.

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Butternut Squash Pasta

butternut squash pasta
Caitlin Bensel

Everything about this pasta recipe screams fall! From the seasonal butternut squash sauce to the fresh sage and walnut garnish.

Get the Butternut Squash Pasta recipe.


Chicken Fried Chicken

chicken fried chicken with gravy
Caitlin Bensel

Comfort food is the key to a good Thanksgiving meal and this crispy fried chicken is just that! It even has a gravy recipe that you'll want to drizzle over the whole plate.

Get the Chicken Fried Chicken recipe.


Air Fryer Turkey Breast

air fryer turkey breast sliced on plate
Caitlin Bensel

We couldn't have a Thanksgiving round-up without at least one turkey recipe on the list. But hear us out, this air fryer recipe couldn't be easier and all you need is a bone-in turkey breast.

Get the Air Fryer Turkey Breast recipe.


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Honey-Mustard Glazed Ham

honey mustard glazed ham sliced on platter with eggs potatoes and asparagus
Ryan Liebe

Dijon mustard and sweet honey give this ham a ton of flavor and that signature glossy finish. It'll have everyone asking for seconds.

Get Ree's Honey-Mustard Glazed Ham recipe.


Roast Beef

roast beef and herbs on platter
Caitlin Bensel

Special holidays call for special main courses, like this tender roast beef with onions and garlic. Don't forget to serve with that savory beef gravy!

Get the Roast Beef recipe.


Chicken and Stuffing Casserole

chicken and stuffing casserole
Caitlin Bensel

This comforting casserole tastes just like Thanksgiving dinner so it makes sense to serve it for the holiday. Plus, it'll check off both the main course and the stuffing categories of your meal.

Get the Chicken and Stuffing Casserole recipe.

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Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash

quinoa and mushroom stuffed acorn squash
Ralph Smith

This vegetarian recipe is pretty enough to serve as a main course during the holidays, but you'll also want to add it to your dinner rotation throughout the season.

Get Ree's Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe.


Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Preserves

herb roasted pork tenderloin with preserves and mashed potatoes
Danielle Daly

This pork recipe looks impressive but it only takes 20 minutes to make! It's great if time is your concern this holiday.

Get Ree's Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Preserves recipe.


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