Thanksgiving, for a lot of us, means a glistening table practically buckling under the weight of the food: a burnished bird, overflowing side dishes, every kind of pie and several bottles of wine. But with food costs soaring and continued supply chain issues, this year’s feast might look a little different. How do you create a feeling of plenty when the dollars in your bank account are anything but?
The truth is, it doesn’t take a lot of money or a long list of fancy ingredients to cook a memorable Thanksgiving meal. These 27 budget-friendly Thanksgiving recipes are not only easy, they also come together with ingredients you can find at any standard grocery store. Oh, and many are adaptable, so if you can’t find one ingredient, you can always substitute.
For the most velvety potatoes, do as Kay Chun does: Roast your potatoes instead of boiling them, then add just enough milk and butter, and plenty of salt. And no need to splurge on fancy potatoes. Good old russets work very, very well.
This recipe from Kim Severson is one of our most popular Thanksgiving turkey recipes, in part because it calls for just a handful of affordable ingredients and yields flavorful, juicy meat. It borrows a technique perfected by Judy Rodgers, the former chef of Zuni Café in San Francisco, in which you generously salt the bird two days before roasting.
Recipe: Dry-Brined Turkey
These sweet, salty and spicy brussels sprouts from Genevieve Ko are the ideal counterpoint to the otherwise very brown, sometimes bland foods on the Thanksgiving table. Letting one side of the sprouts sear in the pan, then adding a splash of water to soften the inside results in a vegetable that is delightfully crisp-tender.
Thanks to Eric Kim, we have the cheeriest, and easiest, cranberry relish for your holiday meal. He takes an entire lemon — pith and all — and blitzes it with cranberries, sugar and salt for a ruby red, palate-delighting condiment.
Recipe: Lemony Cranberry Relish
A lovingly arranged platter of deviled eggs deserves a place at every celebration, and this classic version, which is adapted by Alex Witchel from “U.S.A. Cookbook,” written by Sheila Lukins, is foolproof.
Recipe: Classic Deviled Eggs
Pie enthusiasts may have convinced you that you must spend hours making a homemade apple pie for Thanksgiving, but it is not so. Enjoy the same textures and flavors of the classic with this far simpler, far less time-consuming crisp from Genevieve Ko. The most exciting part? You don’t even have to peel the apples.
There is much debate about how best to prepare stuffing. (Or is it dressing?) Melissa Clark calls this recipe “the peacemaker, because it’s adaptable enough to make everyone happy.” Nix the bacon, use white bread or cornbread (or even gluten-free) and sub onions for the leeks. It’s your meal after all.
If you have an air fryer, then Thanksgiving Day — when the oven and stovetop are prime real estate, and you’re short on time — is a smart occasion to use it. This simple five-ingredient recipe from Eleanore Park will give you beautifully blistered green beans in about 10 minutes.
Recipe: Air-Fryer Green Beans
Most holiday sweet potato side dishes verge on dessert, but this one is lighter and brighter. It came to The Times in 1992, accompanying an article by Molly O’Neill, about Edna Lewis, who wrote the groundbreaking cookbook “The Taste of Country Cooking.”
Recipe: Sweet Potatoes Baked With Lemon
Yewande Komolafe’s version of the classic Southern buttermilk pie shimmers with lemon flavor. A surprising pop of lemon zest and black pepper in the crust balances the bold sweetness of the filling.
Recipe: Chess Pie
One surefire way to save money this year is to skip the turkey and host a vegetarian Thanksgiving. Samantha Seneviratne’s vegetarian shepherd’s pie is full of French green lentils and mushrooms, and look at that — the requisite holiday mashed potatoes are built right in.
Recipe: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
This special occasion macaroni and cheese from Millie Peartree calls for two types of cheese: extra-sharp Cheddar for a little bite and Colby Jack for a superb gooeyness. We promise you’ll get recipe requests.
Recipe: Southern Macaroni and Cheese
Julia Moskin brought this four-ingredient recipe to The Times in 2006, and it’s been a perennial Thanksgiving favorite since. Using sautéed and fresh garlic and ginger makes these beans extra snappy.
You can’t go wrong with this super adaptable classic. Use fresh or canned pumpkin (or butternut squash) purée, homemade or store-bought pie crust and fresh or ground ginger.
Recipe: Pumpkin Pie
If you’re serving a small crowd this year, consider skipping the turkey and roast a chicken (or two) instead. (And let’s be honest: Turkey meat is “pretty good” at best.) This recipe from Mark Bittman is as easy as they come, and it calls for just chicken, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Recipe: Roast Chicken
Dodo, or fried sweet plantains, elegantly complement the savory foods usually found on the Thanksgiving menu. Yewande Komolafe tosses the plantains with pickled red onion for a little tangy bite. Make sure you use ripe plantains; the skin should be deep yellow and speckled with large black dots.
Recipe: Dodo (Fried Plantains)
Don’t overdo the appetizers — you’ve worked too hard and too long to watch your guests spoil their appetite — but these two-bite mushrooms filled with buttery bread crumbs, garlic, shallots and parsley from Kay Chun will keep your guests from veering into hangry territory.
Recipe: Stuffed Mushrooms
The hardest part of this recipe from Ali Slagle is prepping the butternut squash (no need to peel), but once that’s done, roast the slices until tender, then toss with brown butter that’s been spiked with a little apple cider vinegar and red-pepper flakes.
You can make the gravy ahead of time to avoid last-minute worries about lumps and fat separation, but if you want to make gravy the old-fashioned way, by using the turkey drippings, Sam Sifton’s version is a classic, and it won’t steer you wrong.
Simmer cranberries, sugar, orange juice and orange zest until the berries start to burst. And … that’s it for this classic cranberry sauce from Sam Sifton.
Recipe: Cranberry Sauce
Priya Krishna loves this recipe for kaddu, a traditional Indian dish in which butternut squash is gently stewed with ginger, onion, turmeric, tomatoes and brown sugar for a salty, tangy and sweet side.
An extreme comfort food, corn casserole is a very moist cornbread laden with egg, cheese, butter, sour cream, and fresh or frozen corn kernels. It is typically made with store-bought Jiffy cornbread mix (which we fully support), but Ali Slagle created a from-scratch version that is equally nap-inducing.
Recipe: Corn Casserole
Readers love these fuss-free biscuits from Samantha Seneviratne because there’s no chilling, rolling or cutting. (They are also more forgiving for beginners because you’re less likely to overwork the dough.)
Recipe: Drop Biscuits
For a vibrant, inexpensive side dish, try this one from Martha Rose Shulman: Toss carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano, roast, then toss with fresh parsley.
Recipe: Roasted Carrots
A full slice of pecan pie can be a little heavy after a big meal, but these little pies from Samantha Seneviratne deliver just the right amount of gooey sweetness and pecan nuttiness in a tender cream cheese crust. (And you need much less of those pricey pecans.)