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Thanksgiving Dinner Menu


Choose your Thanksgiving Dinner Menu - Here are Sample Menus

Thanksgiving Menu


There is controversy as to what was included on the earliest Thanksgiving Dinner Menu, but turkey has become the main dish - to the extent that Thanksgiving is often referred to as Turkey Day.

Many of the other dishes that have become traditions on Thanksgiving dinner menus are from fall harvests associated with the east coast of the United States and Canada. Pumpkins, cranberries, squash, root vegetables, brussels sprouts sprouts, cabbage, grapes, apples, pears, seeds and nuts have become important ingredients for Thanksgiving day menus.

We will look at how menus were set up for Thanksgiving over the years. The menus below are just a sampling of items served and enjoyed on Thanksgiving. And, if you have a Thanksgiving dinner menu from a certain year please share it with us so that we can expand this section. Also, If you have a long-standing historical dish, one that makes your Thanksgiving very special, please let us know so that we may share it with others.

White House Thanksgiving Menu 1887

We will start with the menu of Hugo ZIiemann, Steward of the White house, and Mrs. F.L. Gillette in their 1887 book The White House Cook Book. This is the Thanksgiving dinner menu enjoyed by President Grover Cleveland. Although it is a bit daunting and calls for more courses than we might put together for a typical family Thanksgiving, it does show that many of our celebratory dishes have been around for a long time.

The original menu with links to .


  • Grapes.
  • Oat Flakes
  • Broiled Porterhouse Steak
  • Codfish Balls
  • Browned Potatoes
  • Buckwheat Cakes - Maple Syrup
  • Wheat Bread
  • Coffee 458


  • Cold Roast Turkey
  • Scalloped Oysters
  • Potato Salad
  • Cream Short-cake
  • Eclairs
  • Preserved Egg Plums
  • Tea


  • Oysters on Half Shell.
  • Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Fried Smelts - Sauce Tartare
  • Roast Turkey - Cranberry Sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Baked Squash
  • Boiled Onions
  • Parsnip Fritters
  • Olives.
  • Chicken Salad
  • Venison Pastry
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Mince Pie 338
  • Charlotte Russe
  • Almond Ice-cream
  • Lemon Jelly
  • Hickory Nut Cake
  • Cheese
  • Fruits
  • Coffee

James Beard Thanksgiving Menu 1944 - take 1 (his preference)

James Beard was the first TV cooking school host in 1946, he was a prolific author and teacher, and he truly understood food. In his 1944 book Fowl and Game Cookery he wrote about his non traditional preference for a turkey dinner which included only a turkey, dressing, and gravy followed by vegetables or a green salad. He wrote that eating this way: "gives one the opportunity to really enjoy the turkey and not have a stuffed feeling afterwards." This still seems like a wonderful approach.

James Beard 1944 - take 2 (the traditional)

Although his preference was for the simple approach above he listed the traditional accompaniments that made up the menu. These included: "cranberry sauce, mashed white or candied sweet potatoes, boiled onions, mashed squash and so on without end."

Thomas Keller 2005 Menu

Thomas Keller, the renowned chef of Ad Hoc and Per Se restaurants, shared this Thanksgiving menu with New York Magazine in 2005. Here is his menu and links to the recipes.

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu for 8

Sunchoke soup with Virginia ham croquettes
Breast of Four Corners Farm’s turkey “cuit sous vide” and roasted leg “en ballotine” with giblet gravy
Green-bean casserole—oven-baked haricots verts with cream of California cèpe mushrooms and crispy shallots
Garnet sweet-potato mille-feuille with white-truffle royale and shaved truffles from Alba
Waldorf-salad stuffing
Pecan pie with whipped cream
Gift bag: Caramel popcorn

Thanksgiving for U.S. Troops

1967 - 1968 Vietnam Menu

This menu is very similar to that currently offered to US troops. Shrimp Cocktail, Crackers, Roast Turkey, Turkey Gravy, Cornbread Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Buttered Mixed Vegetables or Buttered Peas, Assorted Crisp Relishes, Hot Rolls, Butter, Fruit Cake, Mincemeat Pie, Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Topping, Assorted Fresh Fruits, Tea with Lemon, Milk, Assorted Nuts and Candy

Starting in 2007

More recently, even frontline U.S. troops have used Unitized Group Ration-Express UGR-E which are self contained self heating packages providing the following Thanksgiving dinner for 18: turkey slices with gravy, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, and corn bread–and–sausage stuffing, raisin-nut mix with chocolate candies, beverage powder, and cranberry jelly.

Space Shuttle Astronauts Thanksgiving 2008

The astronauts enjoyed smoked turkey, cornbread stuffing, green beans and mushrooms, candied yams, and cranapple dessert. Although this dinner was irradiated and freeze dried this Thanksgiving menu was traditional and familiar.

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