13 Dinner Alternatives to Turkey This Thanksgiving

Cyd Converse

If cooking a turkey sounds like a form of torture to you or you just don't love turkey in general, consider this your permission to skip it this Thanksgiving.

While there are shortcuts such as making turkey breast in the Instant Pot or turkey tenderloin in the Instant Pot, turkey might just not be for you.

These dinner recipes are just the ticket if you're looking for alternatives to turkey this Thanksgiving and they're every bit as festive and delicious! 

1. Skillet Beef Tips and Gravy Recipe

When you think about a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, chances are you think of rich, savory flavors - the definition of comfort food. Our skillet beef tips and gravy recipe will give you all of hearty, delicious flavor with none of the turkey and takes just about an hour to come together. Tender, juicy beef tips are paired with baby potatoes, mushrooms, carrots and onions along with a thick, gravy you'll absolutely love. You'll want to bookmark this one for sure!

2. Maple Apple Pork Chops Recipe

Filled with the flavors of fall and winter, our recipe for maple apple pork chops makes a one skillet entrée that’s as easy to make as it is delicious to eat. If you're looking for a Thanksgiving dinner that requires a lot less time and prep, this one is the ticket while still packing loads of warm, comfort food flavors that are perfect for a holiday dinner. The boneless pork paired with apples, thinly sliced onions and flavorful maple sauce can't be beat.

3. Honey Mustard Chicken with Bacon Recipe

A delicious dinner, this honey mustard chicken with bacon recipe is impressive enough for dinner guests, making it a perfect alternative to cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving or for any other holiday dinner. Serve it with a starch like creamy mashed potatoes and steamed greens for a wonderful meal that will cook up in a fraction of the time involved in roasting a turkey for your family and friends.

4. Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce Recipe

Savory with a tiny touch of sweetness, our creamy pumpkin pasta recipe features a thick, flavorful sauce that channels the flavors of Thanksgiving all packaged up in a simple, vegetarian entrée everyone will love. The base of the sauce is made with pumpkin puree and cream cheese with the addition of fresh sage for a twist on the traditional that won't leave anyone missing the turkey.

5. Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin Recipe

To make Thanksgiving feel like a feast without a scrap of turkey in sight, give our Instant Pot pork tenderloin recipe a whirl! A sesame oil, ginger and honey sauce is paired with a sprinkle of cilantro and tender pork, cooking up in under a half hour. For Thanksgiving, pair this Instant Pot winner with crisp garlic green beans and mashed potatoes or a loaf of crusty sourdough bread.

6. Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Winter Vegetable Sheet Pan Dinner Recipe

We hype this balsamic glazed chicken and vegetables sheet pan dinner recipe up all the time, but for good reason! The one pan prep makes cooking and clean-up a breeze while the sauce of balsamic vinegar, mustard and maple syrup lends incredible flavor and texture to the chicken thighs. Roasted alongside sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, apples, onions and herbs, you have a complete dinner that is ready in a flash.

7. Miso Glazed Salmon Recipe

While we don't often think of fish and Thanksgiving going hand in hand, if you want to give Thanksgiving dinner a whole new twist, make this miso glazed salmon recipe! The savory sauce is made with white miso, sriracha, honey and fresh ginger, giving the perfectly cooked salmon incredible flavor. Pair your salmon with rice and tender bok choy or asparagus and you can't go wrong.

8. Sheet Pan Honey Garlic Lemon Chicken Recipe

Because everyone understands the beauty of a great sheet pan dinner, this sheet pan honey garlic lemon chicken recipe should be a contender for your non-turkey Thanksgiving dinner. So quick and easy to prep, the clean up is a cinch making it a great weeknight dinner while the honey mustard lemon sauce makes it special enough for a holiday celebration any time of year.

9. Chipotle Flank Steak with Avocado Salsa Recipe

While most of us don't typically cook with chipotle and avocado for Thanksgiving, this chipotle flank steak with avocado salsa is a a truly special dish, giving a fresh new twist to holiday dinner. It's a spicy, bright, and tangy take on flank steak, serving up a unique, non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner that won't have anyone complaining about skipping the turkey this year.

10. Easy Chili Marmalade Chicken Recipe

Our easy chili marmalade chicken is a zesty chicken recipe that does most of its cooking in the oven making it super simple to make. It's great served with rice or quinoa, but can easily be paired with mashed potatoes or roasted sweet potatoes instead. Chicken thighs roasted in a sauce of soy sauce, chili garlic paste, orange juice and ginger paste are about to become your new favorite.

11. Barefoot Contessa Meatloaf Recipe

This take on the famed Barefoot Contessa meatloaf recipe is a crowd favorite, especially in the colder months. Juicy and flavorful, this is not your grandmother's dried out meatloaf while still delivering all the flavor and nostalgia you remember from your favorite childhood comfort food. Tuck the meatloaf into the oven to bake while you prepare your favorite mashed potatoes recipe and you've got a truly delicious dinner ready to serve!

12. Traditional Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Call me crazy, but I can't think of a single reason this traditional shepherd's pie recipe shouldn't take center stage on your Thanksgiving table this year if you're looking for alternatives to cooking a turkey. It makes an amazing comfort meal you can make ahead and then pop in the oven when you're ready to eat! Our recipe uses the traditional ground lamb (or you can use ground beef) along with vegetables all under a thick blanket of whipped potatoes.

13. Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms Recipe

If you're on the hunt for dinner options other than cooking a turkey this year for your Thanksgiving dinner, might I suggest this chicken marsala with mushrooms recipe? Tender chicken breasts are simmered in marsala wine in a cast iron skillet with the addition of mushrooms and butter, creating a savory dish you'll find yourself making time and again long after Thanksgiving has come and gone.

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