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In this post I will share the typical Thanksgiving menu template that I work with most Thanksgivings. I will share some recipes and tips and tricks I have learned along the way as I truly enjoy the many traditions associated with the holiday and with the actual meal preparation.

Here is my menu for the Big Day:

a cute decorative turkey for helping me to plan my thanksgiving menu template

1.Appetizers (for the Thanksgiving Menu Template)

Cape Cod Kettle cooked potato chips with sea salt and vinegar, and raw veggies with red pepper 🌶 dip (from Foodstuffs). I love easy appetizers especially on Thanksgiving. Foodstuffs is a gourmet food shop and their red pepper dip is mild but tasty.

-Trader Joe’s spanakopita 

a trader joe's box for my favorite appetizer: spanakopita

(These Trader Joe’s items are delicious.  I always keep these on hand for easy entertaining.) Below is another delicious Trader Joe’s appetizer to consider. They both need oven space, but they’re worth it. Yum!

another delicious Trader Joe's appetizer with feta cheese and caramelized onions

2.Special Drinks for the Day:

Julie’s Apple 🍎 🍋 🍊🍍 Cider (I did a recent blog on this HUGE crowd pleaser.)

-Pomegranate Prosecco (This festive cocktail is pretty, festive and delicious.  Just take a few pomegranate seeds and put them in the bottom of a champagne 🥂 flute.  Add a teaspoon of pomegranate juice, and then fill with really cold Prosecco 🍾 ! Delicious!!!

3.Pioneer Woman Make Ahead Turkey

I don’t make this the day ahead.  I just make the recipe all the way through Thanksgiving Day.  This really has reduced the stress of the day because the cooking time is much more predictable and there’s no crazy carving at the last minute other than to slice up the turkey breast. Click here for a link to the recipe.

This recipe is SUCH a game changer! You actually take a cut up turkey and put the pieces on a LARGE rimmed baking sheet. I even put some of the stuffing under the thighs so that Mr. G.Q. can have that “inside the bird” taste for his stuffing, CHECK OUT THIS RECIPE!!! Tag me (@drjuliemarshall on Instagram) or let me know in the comments below how it goes.

4. Stuffing

I make this recipe using the classic Pepperidge Farm stuffing. I make it the night before Thanksgiving but don’t cook it until Thanksgiving Day.

5. Mashed Potatoes

I make these potatoes the day before. Then I reheat them in the oven (covered in foil) or in the microwave, depending on what’s available. The cream cheese makes them so creamy!

6.Turkey Stock

You can use store bought turkey 🦃 or chicken 🐔 stock.  I make my own because I have all the ingredients for the other sides so it’s part of my routine.  I use this in my gravy and stuffing.

7.Canned cranberries

I buy these at the grocery store and keep them in the refrigerator until fifteen minutes before dinner.  Open the can and pass a butter knife around the inside of the can to loosen the contents.  Then slide it into a bowl.  I usually slice it in the bowl to make it easier to serve.  (I think it looks prettiest in a clear bowl because of the great color.)

8.Cranberry applesauce

This is from my friend Gail and it’s a showstopper!  And you can make it several days in advance!) Here’s the recipe.


Click here to see the basic gravy recipe that I love. But if making gravy freaks you out, my cousin Mary Patt swears by William Sonoma turkey gravy base that you get at their stores.

10.Williams Sonoma Salad

This is so crisp and refreshing. Here’s the recipe.

11.Brussels Sprouts

These are so colorful and filled with texture! Here is the recipe.

12.Our Secret Family Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe has been in a family favorite year after year! Here’s how we do it:

  • 1 package of Pepperidge Farm Party Rolls
  • Break them into separate rolls.
  • Melt 1 stick of butter. Dip each roll into butter.
  • Roll it in a bowl containing 1 cup of sugar combined with 1 tsp. cinnamon.
  • Put the rolls into a baking dish. Wrap well in foil and put in freezer.
  • Party day – thaw for one hour. Bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees right before sitting down to dinner. These are my favorites!!!

13.Pecan Bars (last item in my Thanksgiving Menu Template)

These taste like little pecan pie bites! Here is the recipe.

So there you have it! This is my Thanksgiving Menu Template. Please let me know if you make any of these recipes. Also if you have any Thanksgiving questions for me please ask them below in the comments section or email them to me at

How to Plan for Thanksgiving


Dr. Julie

PS Here are a few holiday posts for you to enjoy:

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