Saturday, November 21, 2020

Reviewing Regional Thanksgiving Dinners

Thanksgiving turkey

Thanksgiving dinners in America, and the dishes we serve, may seem to be the traditional dinner everyone eats on this most thankful day of the year. Not so.  What each family considers to be the perfect dishes on this 'turkey day' may be completely different to someone living in a different part of the country. What is traditional for you depends on where you live and also the culture you grew up in.  Let's explore a few different regions and see what is commonly served for Thanksgiving dinner. 

*A few recipe links are sprinkled throughout the following food descriptions if you want to try adding them to your Thanksgiving menu. 

Turkey or Other Main Meats

  • Baked turkey with stuffing is the traditional Thanksgiving Day main dish.
  • Fried turkey is popular in the South, especially in Texas.
  • Ham is often served in addition to turkey, especially for large gatherings.


A bowl of stuffing
Image Source: Pixabay

  • The South prefers cornbread stuffing with their turkey
  • In the New England states you will find clams or oysters mixed with the breadcrumbs in the stuffing.
  • In the Northeast, the stuffing is made with sausage.
  • The Southwest is known for their Tex-Mex style stuffing due to their large Latino population. A favorite one is Blue Cornmeal Chorizo Stuffing, which includes Chorizo sausage and serrano peppers in the blue corn bread crumbs.

Side Dishes

A display of regional Thanksgiving side dishes
Image Sources: Pixabay & AllRecipes

  • Creamed onions made with pearl onions and heavy cream is a tradition in New England.  
  • Saurkraut is a staple for Thanksgiving dinner in Maryland, particularly in Baltimore due to their large German-American population. And Maryland crab cakes and corn-on-the-cob is often served.
  • Italian-Americans in New Jersey & parts of New York State traditionally serve Manicotti (ricotta-stuffed crepe pasta topped with marinara sauce) before the turkey is served. Or lasagna and baked ziti with meatballs are known to grace the table as well. 
  • The Northeastern quadrant of the country insists on homemade cranberry relish or sauce with this holiday dinner. 
  • The West and Southwest states serve a sweetened, fruity pasta salad which is made with pasta, pineapples, mandarin oranges, Cool Whip, and marshmallow topping. It's called Frog Eye Salad.
  • In Utah, Jell-O salad is an important side dish for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • The most traditional side dish in the Midwest is Green Bean Casserole.
  • In the upper Midwest, German Potato Salad is a favorite side dish. 
  • In Minnesota and Wisconsin, wild rice casserole is a tradition. Ingredients include mushrooms, pecans, and onions, and other variations. 


A selection of pies
Image Source: Pixabay

  • Pumpkin pie always seems to be the traditional Thanksgiving dessert, but this is actually a mainly Northeastern states dessert. 
  • The South is famous for their Sweet Potato Pie. 
  • New England is known for it's Hasty Pudding (originally known as Indian Pudding), a delicious and simple dessert made with cornmeal, molasses, brown sugar, and spices. It's usually topped with whipped cream or scoop of ice cream.  
  • The Midwest Region favors Cherry Pie over Pumpkin.

Other Regional T-Day Dinner Traditions

A selection of spices
Source: Pixabay

  • In New Mexico and other Southwestern states, the food word is 'spicy'.  It's popular to add chile to everything, gravy, stuffing, and even a chile-rub for the turkey. 
  • Southern traditions include a large variety of foods for the Thanksgiving table, including several types of macaroni and cheese, okra pickles, cornbread, and sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping. And, of course, lots of collard greens. 

Happy Thanksgiving

What is your favorite dish or combination of dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Whatever your Thanksgiving menu includes, the contributors of ReviewThisReviews wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

More Thanksgiving Holiday Recipes and Reviews on ReviewThisReviews

*Regional Thanksgiving Dinners written by (c) Wednesday Elf (11/21/2020)

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Wow, I did not realize that there were so many choices. In Canada, where we have already had our Thanksgiving celebrations, we tend to have the Turkey with bread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, with another side vegetable. It's wonderful to see how the "melting pot" of cultures embraces this wonderful holiday. Thanks for all those choices.

    1. Glad you enjoyed seeing what Thanksgiving meal and menu choices are popular in various places, Olivia. Having lived on both the East and the West Coasts of America, as well as the Midwest and the South, I have had some 50 years of eating experiences over this holiday. So thought it would be fun to list a few dishes different regions like to eat for Thanksgiving dinner. I would have gone on to include other 'countries', but not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving or does so at different times (like yours in Canada being in October). :) Thanks for your visit.

  2. Thanks for an interesting review on Thanksgiving foods. Our meal will include turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean cassorole, cranberry relish, and pumpkin pie. Very typical midwest.

    1. Yes, indeed. I have had many a Midwest Thanksgiving meal myself - and will do so again this week! Thanks for sharing, Mary Beth.

  3. Very interesting information! I found it very interesting that Manicotti is served as a side dish. I make Manicotti at least once a month, but it is our main dish. I also realized we pull from a lot of different areas for our Thanksgiving meal which consists of baked turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, pasta shells (but not manicotti), jelled cranberry sauce & pumpkin pie. And, now I am hungry! lol

    1. Everything on your Thanksgiving table sounds delicious, Mouse. Reading everyone's menus, I'd like to stop in and sample EVERYTHING each person serves! :) Now I'M getting hungry.

  4. Our traditional Thanksgiving feast centers on baked turkey, standard stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes baked with a marshmallow topping, a green bean casserole, a fruit salad, baked dinner rolls, and pumpkin or pecan pie. My favorite is the candied sweet potato dish (with the stuffing and green bean dishes a close second and third). I love Thanksgiving so much for its noncommercial nature and focus on gratitude. The best thing, when we were kids, was being the one to come up with the wishbone (and to win the wish).

    1. Diana, when I lived in Florida and was invited out for Thanksgiving, I remember eating baked squash with marshmallow topping. It was never part of our Thanksgiving dinner growing up in New York State, but it was fun to try. Sweet potatoes are also a southern dish.

  5. I do know that Thanksgiving Dinner in the USA is a big deal! Of course here in Canada too, but honestly I think in the USA since it's the opening to Christmas, it gets even bigger billing. A friend of the family has relatives in the USA and she usually goes there for Thanksgiving. She says she loves Thanksgiving there. Unfortunately she won't be going this year. Thank you for a wonderful review.

    1. I had not thought about Thanksgiving being an opening to the Christmas season, Barbara. But it has become that for sure. To me, Thanksgiving was always just a special family & friends gathering and sharing time, current circumstances now changing that.

  6. Growing up we always had a large family Thanksgiving dinner. My grandmother and mother would always have manicotti or ravioli before the traditional turkey. Today we just have the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and traditional sides.

    1. It is interesting how often Northeastern areas, particularly New York and New Jersey, serve manicotti or ravioli at Thanksgiving dinner, Sam. I grew up in NY State in an area with a large Italian population, and actually didn't know that fact until I learned it from my research for this article.

  7. It was really interesting reading about all the different Thanksgiving foods from all the different areas.So many different food traditions. Thank you for a great review!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Jasmine. Thanks for your visit.

  8. This was absolutely fascinating, Elf! I had no idea that cherry pie was traditional for Thanksgiving in the Midwest, or that sauerkraut was a staple in German-American households in Maryland, and had never even heard of anything similar to a Frog Eye salad (much less knew it was a Turkey Day tradition in some parts of the U.S.). In our family, the traditional dressing (which we bake separately, rather than stuffed inside the bird) is made with heavily seasoned, oven-dried bread cubes, equal parts chicken broth and melted butter, diced celery and onions, and lots of coarsely chopped walnuts. This year, I'm trying a "keto-fied" version that I'm making with low-carb bread. Thanks for sharing your extensive knowledge of the regional differences in Thanksgiving menu traditions!

    1. Your 'stuffing' with walnuts sounds great, Margaret. I LOVE anything with nuts in it. Congrats on finding a low-carb bread you can use to keep within your Keto guidelines. You should share the recipe here on Review This with us. :)

  9. It's very interesting to see what other parts of the country consider to be traditional dishes. Here in New York, my family of Italian descent hasn't served lasagna before the turkey for decades. Too much food. But we have our traditional desserts and sides. Mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, sausage stuffing, and of course, pumpkin chiffon pie. The recipe is on my website


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