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Everything But the Turkey: Thanksgiving Potluck Ideas

An Image showing text "Thanksgiving Potluck Ideas"

Whether you’re hosting a huge friend-giving or having the whole family over for the big day… having a potluck-style dinner is the way to go if you want to save time, money and effort – but still have an amazing spread. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite classic Thanksgiving dishes… check it out!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce.

Whether you like the canned stuff or not, you can’t deny that cranberry sauce is an absolute MUST on the Thanksgiving table. This fresh, zesty cranberry sauce can be prepared the day before! From the queen Martha Stewart herself, here’s a great recipe for orange-scented cranberry sauce.

  • Two 12 ounce bags of fresh cranberries
  • 1 ½ cups of sugar
  • 4 wide strips of orange zest, plus one cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest, and 1/2 cup water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice.

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole.

Here’s another dish you can easily assemble the day before, and pop in the host’s oven before dinnertime. We’ve all had the classic from-a-can version of green bean casserole, and can agree it’s scrumptious… BUT, sometimes a little extra effort goes a long way… the folks at Midwest Living have a great step-by-step recipe for a delicious, creamy green bean casserole.

  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 4 large shallots, 3 thinly sliced (about 1 cup) and 1 finely chopped (1/3 cup), divided
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Madeira or chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

In an 8-inch skillet, heat oil until shimmering. Separate sliced shallots into rings; toss in a small bowl with cornstarch. Shake off excess in a fine-mesh strainer. Add about a quarter of the shallots to the pan; cook, tossing a bit, until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining shallots.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil; prepare an ice bath. Cook beans in water until just crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to ice bath; drain and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees . In an extra-large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until mushrooms have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add chopped shallots and garlic; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add madeira; cook, stirring, until almost evaporated. Add flour; stir to coat mushrooms; cook 1 minute. Add about half of broth, scraping up bits from bottom of pan. Add remaining broth and cream; bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Season with kosher salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add green beans; stir to coat.

Transfer mixture to a 3-quart baking dish (or you can bake in skillet, if oven-proof). Bake, uncovered, until bubbling around edges, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle shallots over casserole.

Make Ahead Tip: You can fry the shallots 2 days ahead. Store at room temperature, very loosely covered with foil (if desired, re-crisp in oven before using). The green beans can be cooked 1 day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. The casserole can be assembled (minus the topping) 1 day ahead, and kept refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Apple, Sausage and Herb Stuffing

Sausage and Herb Stuffing.

Stuffing, dressing, whatever you call it… it’s amazing in every form! Whether you cook it IN the turkey or not, put sausage in it or not, we can all agree that this versatile dish is a MUST. This recipe comes from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. Her apple, sausage and herb stuffing is to die for. Make ahead, and bake the day of.

  • 16 cups 1-inch bread cubes, white or sourdough (1 1/2 pound loaf)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 onions)
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 7 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the bread cubes to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the onions, celery, apples, parsley, salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add to the bread cubes.

In the same saute pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a fork while cooking. Add to the bread cubes and vegetables.

Add the chicken stock and cranberries to the mixture, mix well, and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes.

Oh man, there really is nothing better than a big steaming bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes… and while it seems like a simple dish, there are endless possibilities when it comes to the preparation. Regardless, I want to eat them all! If you need some inspiration, the folks over at Buzzfeed just tested 6 amazing recipes and reviewed each in detail. Definitely worth a read!

Slow Cooker Cider

Slow Cooker Cider.

We had to include a drink on this list! No Thanksgiving is complete without a spicy, aromatic glass of classic apple cider… and once you try this recipe, the store bought stuff just isn’t gonna cut it. Also, this is by far the easiest recipe of the bunch, but you’ll still look like a rock star chef when you waltz in with a jug of this stuff. Best of all, Taste of Home has a recipe you can make in your crock pot the day before! Want some more cocktail/mocktail ideas? Check out Your Holiday Lights‘ blog for some ideas.

  • 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 orange, sliced

Place cinnamon, cloves and allspice on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with a string to form a bag. Place cider and brown sugar in a 3-qt. slow cooker; stir until sugar dissolves. Add spice bag. Place orange slices on top. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours or until heated through. Discard spice bag.

Note from the editor: add rum

Now share with us some of YOUR favorite Thanksgiving treats!

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