Thanksgiving dinner table

A Thanksgiving List of Foods

Sometimes we forget to feel thankful for all the people in our lives and the things that we have.

That’s why Thanksgiving exists: The Thanksgiving holiday is a day when we remember all the things we’re thankful for.

But that’s not all. It’s also a day when we eat a lot of food with family and/or friends!

In this post, you’ll discover the most popular (and delicious) foods to eat on Thanksgiving.

Let’s dig in!


Most Traditional Thanksgiving Foods

A traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of roast turkey and many sides including stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans and cranberry sauce, with pumpkin pie as dessert.

1. Turkey

Roast turkey

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without the turkey. The turkey is usually prepared whole, filled with fruit, vegetables or other stuffing (more on stuffing in #2!). It’s also usually seasoned, which means covered in herbs for flavor and smell.

The turkey is then roasted, meaning cooked in an oven or over an open fire. The best roasted turkeys are juicy and delicious, but roasting a turkey takes skill. The turkey is notorious (well known for something negative) for being dry.

Curated authentic video library for all levels
  • Thousands of learner friendly videos (especially beginners)
  • Handpicked, organized, and annotated by FluentU's experts
  • Integrated into courses for beginners
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

2. Stuffing/Dressing

thanksgiving list of foods

“Stuff” is another way to say “things.” But the verb to stuff means that you fill something until it’s full. Thanksgiving stuffing (also called dressing) is the food that goes inside the roasted turkey.

But it’s also become a side dish, a dish of food that’s served next to the main course. Traditionally, Thanksgiving stuffing is made of bread and herbs, and sometimes sausage (a kind of hot dog) or other additional ingredients.

Check out this easy stuffing recipe, or look for a recipe video so you can easily follow along. This will also allow you to practice your English listening skills. Need extra help? Use FluentU’s English videos (which include some recipes).

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

  FluentU Ad

3. Mashed Potatoes

thanksgiving list of foods

Mashed potatoes are potatoes that have been boiled and peeled, and then crushed (mashed) into a soft and creamy dish. Add butter, milk and some garlic, and you have a perfect dish!

4. Gravy

thanksgiving list of foods

While you’re cooking the turkey (or many other meats), it will create juices. These juices can be turned into gravy, a thick sauce. This sauce is usually poured onto the mashed potatoes to give them more flavor.

5. Cranberry Sauce

thanksgiving list of foods

There is something about the sweet but tangy (slightly sour) flavor of cranberry sauce that makes it the perfect side dish for turkey. There are plenty of places that sell cranberry sauce, but it’s very easy to make on your own as well.

Video player for learners like you
  • Interactive subtitles: click any word to see detailed examples and explanations
  • Slow down or loop the tricky parts
  • Show or hide subtitles
  • Review words with our powerful learning engine
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

To make cranberry sauce, boil cranberries, sugar, lemon zest (grated lemon peel) and water, and then simmer it (cook on a small flame). That’s all you need to do!

6. Corn

Corn on the cob

You might eat buttered corn on the cob, which is grilled whole corn, or creamed corn, which is mashed corn soup or sauce.

7. Green Bean Casserole

thanksgiving list of foods

A casserole is a stew that’s cooked slowly in the oven. Green bean casserole has cream of mushroom soup, fried onions and— of course—green beans!

8. Candied Yams

thanksgiving list of foods

Sweet potatoes are yellow, creamy types of potatoes that are also called yams. The sweet flavor and soft texture of these potatoes make them a versatile (easy to use in many situations) side dish for the main course.

You can bake them, make a casserole with them or mash them like regular potatoes. Or you can add spices, brown sugar and butter, place marshmallows on top and bake them into candied yams—a deliciously sweet dish which might remind you of (make you think of) candy, like the name suggests.

9. Pumpkin Pie

thanksgiving list of foods

The pumpkin spice flavor in America now means that autumn is here. Almost everything has a pumpkin spice version! There’s pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin spice cookies… there are even pumpkin spice sausages and bagels!

Surprisingly, the flavor doesn’t even have actual pumpkin in it. But pumpkin pie does have pumpkin. A delicious warm spice and pumpkin filling inside a flaky crust will always warm you up. No wonder we love pumpkin spice so much in fall!

Master words through quizzes with context
  • Learn words in the context of sentences
  • Swipe left or right to see more examples from other videos
  • Go beyond just a superficial understanding
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

10. Pecan Pie

Pecan pie

Complete the meal with a delectable (delicious) pecan pie, a pie that uses pecans (a type of nut) with spices and maple syrup. Pecan pie is irresistible (hard to say no to). Even if guests are too full to eat any more, they’ll make room for pecan pie!

More Popular Foods at Thanksgiving

Although the foods listed above are the most traditional, the United States is a diverse land with many different cultures and cuisines from around the world. Because of this, there are other popular Thanksgiving foods that many families and groups of friends enjoy each November.

11. Dinner Rolls

Dinner rolls

Dinner rolls are the perfect Thanksgiving accompaniment because they can be used as a way to eat up all that gravy and cranberry sauce that was left on your plate after eating. They can also be part of the tradition of making a turkey sandwich the next day from leftovers (food that doesn’t get eaten at dinner).

12. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a healthy vegetable side dish that people seem to love or hate. Named after the Belgian city of Brussels because that’s where they’re said to originate from, today they’re roasted or steamed and often served with a squeeze of lemon.

13. Cornbread


Since the United States grows so much corn, people often prefer cornbread over regular dinner rolls. It’s often baked with a touch of sweetness, either from sugar or honey or even maple syrup.

14. Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs

What does the devil have to do with eggs, you may ask. The funny name deviled eggs simply refers to the fiery (hot) spices that some people add to the egg yolk mixture before they squeeze it back into the cooked egg white. 

15. Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese

Who doesn’t like cheese and pasta? They just seem to bring out the best in one another. Macaroni and cheese is a popular side dish, especially in the South of the United States. It’s the ultimate comfort food (food that makes you feel good) and compliments turkey very well.

Stop memorizing words.
Start building sentences.
  • FluentU builds you up, so you can build sentences on your own
  • Start with multiple-choice questions and advance through sentence building to producing your own output
  • Go from understanding to speaking in a natural progression.
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

16. Roast Ham

Roast ham

Even though turkey is usually the star of the show, some people give their guests other main dish options. One popular one is roasted ham, often prepared with honey or molasses so that it glistens (shines) on the dinner table.

17. Roast Beef

Roast beef

Another main dish option for carnivore guests is roast beef. Juicy and succulent (tender and tasty), this is one of the best ways to eat beef and it goes well with all of the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes, so why not?

18. Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup

Warm and filling, a soup made of whizzed-up (blended) butternut squash goes well on the Thanksgiving table. It’s perfect for those with smaller appetites or vegetarians, too.

19. Waldorf Salad

Waldorf Salad

Waldorf salad is a mix of fruits like grapes and apples and something a bit sweeter like raisins (dried grapes). It’s usually served with a mayonnaise or yogurt based dressing. It provides a nice contrasting sweetness on the dinner plate.

20. Green Salad

Green salad

Nothing freshens up the Thanksgiving dinner table like a fresh green salad, often with an olive oil based dressing. It’s the perfect taste break between all those other rich and savory (salty) foods.

21. Baked Beans

Baked beans

Baked beans are another side dish that straddles the world of sweet and savory, because many people add bacon or honey or both to make them rich and creamy (like cream). They go incredibly well with turkey and macaroni and cheese.

Accurate, detailed word explanations made for you
  • Images, examples, video examples, and tips
  • Covering all the tricky edge cases, eg.: phrases, idioms, collocations, and separable verbs
  • No reliance on volunteers or open source dictionaries
  • 100,000+ hours spent by FluentU's team to create and maintain
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

22. Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes

Scalloped potatoes is a casserole (stew slowly cooked in the oven) consisting of thinly sliced potatoes, roasted in a pan with cheese, milk and other seasonings. They are a great alternative to mashed potatoes because they’re often even richer.

23. Maple Glazed Carrots

Maple roasted carrots

Thanksgiving isn’t a dinner where you eat light. Even roasted carrots get a glazing (shiny coating) of maple syrup to make them richer and more special for this holiday meal.

24. Sweet Potato Casserole 

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is another sweet take on a vegetable casserole. To make the sweet potato casserole even more festive, sweet marshmallows (soft chewy sugar) are often added on top before roasting.

25. Apple Cider

Apple cider

This drink made from apples is often served at the Thanksgiving table. You can drink it cold or heated up. Some people even make mulled cider, which means that it is boiled with autumnal (the fall season) spices.

26. Wine

Red wine

For those who drink alcohol, red or white wine is usually offered to guests. It pairs well (goes good with) with the turkey and side dishes and it compliments each course, from starters to dessert. Red or white wine both work well with turkey.

27. Apple Pie

Apple pie

There’s a popular saying that goes “as American as apple pie,” so it’s not surprising that this rich and healthy pie is served on many Thanksgiving tables for dessert.

Hi, I'm Alan! I became obsessed with learning Chinese, Japanese, and Korean in 2001, and managed to get good enough to work professionally in those languages as a management consultant.

I started FluentU to build a new kind of language app.
Want to learn more about how FluentU got started?

28. Cherry Pie

Cherry pie

In many families, there’s an ongoing argument on which is the best Thanksgiving pie: pumpkin, apple or cherry. For those who side with the rich red berry, there’s often a cherry pie served with ice cream for dessert.

29. Pumpkin Cheesecake


Cheesecake might be the richest dessert of all. Add some pumpkin puree to the mixture and you’ve got what might be the perfect Thanksgiving dessert of all. Talk about creamy and rich (containing fat)!

30. Coffee and Tea


After all that eating and drinking, a cup or coffee or tea is usually a good idea. Over coffee is the perfect time to finish conversations, maybe watch some television and most importantly, to digest (the body’s way of processing food) all the rich Thanksgiving foods you’ve eaten on this wonderful day.

What Is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November every year. When the holiday was first created many years ago, it was meant to celebrate the last harvest, the time when grown food was collected from the fields.

Many Americans know the holiday better for an old story though: In 1621, the pilgrims from England and the Native Americans had a three-day celebration where they ate together in peace. The two groups of people had worked together, and the feast (big celebratory meal) was a way to share and enjoy the harvest together.

Today, Thanksgiving has a slightly different meaning for people. For many, it’s a holiday for spending time with their family and friends, and to remember to be thankful for what they have.

Of course, Thanksgiving is also a time to eat… a lot! 


You don’t have to live in America to enjoy Thanksgiving. All you need is a lot of food, an empty stomach and some family and/or friends. Remember to give thanks for all that you have!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.


FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe