Fall cooking and Thanksgiving menu ideas

Temperatures have dropped around here, sending us scampering to dig out warm sweaters, matching socks and windbreakers. Fall is indeed in the air; invigorating me in a way the warm summer winds never can.

I’ve taken refuge from the cooler weather in the kitchen, which is no surprise, I am sure. A quick trip to market on the first day of October was all I needed to get in the spirit of fall cooking and baking. I filled my basket with pears, leeks, winter squash, fresh cranberries, beets and sweet potatoes  – all locally grown – and rounded out the haul with herbs from my garden.

Then, I fell to menu planning: weeknight meals, recipe development, and the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. We’re hosting a small gathering for eleven people this weekend, with turkey and all the usual trimmings.

Today I’ve rounded up my favourite recipes for Thanksgiving — and fall cooking in general. Whether you are setting a holiday table for for family, or serving up Sunday dinner to friends, you’ll want these recipes within reach.


This holiday, guests in my home will have a choice between red or white wine. No really, I’m keeping things very simple. I’m not mixing cocktails or even stirring together a punch this time.

But should you wish to liven things up in the drink department, consider serving my Winter Sangria with Citrus and Pomegranate with a splash of cranberry juice. Or visit my Drinks Pinterest board for loads of seasonal cocktails.

Roasted Apple Rosemary Tisane on www.simplebites.net #apples #tea

I will be offering a post-dinner tisane, however, for an all-natural, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated finish to the big meal. Every fall, I’m obsessed with a slow roasted apple infusion, and I change up the flavours by adding herbs, vanilla bean or spices. For Thanksgiving I’m going to use Cortland apples and fresh ginger root for a tummy-soothing sip.

Roasted Apple & Rosemary Tisane


At Thanksgiving, I like to keep the focus on the main meal, so I don’t serve much in the way of appetizers.  I do set out a few light pre-dinner nibbles to whet the appetite, though.

Holiday pickles

An assortment of homemade pickles, a wedge of cheese, and a few crackers are all you really need.

Homemade Cheese Crackers

Quick Pickled Carrots

Pickled Green Beans

Soups & Salads

A thrifty Thanksgiving tablescape | Simple Bites #decorating #thanksgving #holiday #harvest

A velvety squash soup feels like the perfect start to an autumn feast, especially when it is served in a real squash tureen.

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Apple-Fennel Salad with Pecans & Pomegranate

Harvest Corn Chowder recipe on www.simplebites.net

Harvest Corn Chowder

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Vegetable Sides

My favourite part of Thanksgiving dinner, by far. Roasted squash. Brussels Sprouts. Sweet potatoes. Everything is right out of the earth and at its peak of flavour.

Sauteed Cabbage & Leeks with Apples

Butternut Squash Gratin

Roasted Sweet Potato Puree | Simple Bites #recipe

Roasted Sweet Potato Puree

Honey Pomegranate Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Starchy Sides

Secrets to the best mashed potatoes | Simple Bites #eatseasonalholiday

These dishes are the comfort food of the menu. They are as essential as the turkey – just ask the kids around the table.

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Bread Stuffing with Seasonal Fruits & Herbs

dinner rolls in a jar | Simple Bites

Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

Butternut Squash Wild Rice

amaranth corn bread-8866

Skillet Amaranth Cornbread

Main Dish

I’ve got the only turkey tutorial you’ll need. It’s a no-fuss, utterly simple method that is fool proof to boot. Just read a few of the testaments in the comments that have come in over the years. It’s a go-to method for many of my readers – because it’s the best!

Perfect Roast Turkey

The Best Way to Roast a Turkey (simply) || Simple Bites #tutorial

If you’re cooking for a smaller crowd, consider preparing just the turkey breast. How about stuffing it with dried cranberries, wrapping it in bacon and roasting it in half a spaghetti squash. It’s almost a meal-in-one – just add cider gravy.

Squash-Roasted Turkey Roulade

Cider Gravy

Bacon & Cranberry Stuffed Turkey Roulade with Cider Gravy on www.simplebites.net #recipe #dinner #thanksgiving #turkey

Apple Cider Braised Brisket

Slow Cooker Cider Ham

Sheet Pan Turkey Dinner | Simple Bites #dinner #onepan #holiday #turkey

Cooking for two or a few. You’ve got all the flavours of Thanksgiving dinner in this oven roasted sheet pan supper: chestnuts, cranberries, sweet potato, stuffing and turkey.

Sheet Pan Turkey Dinner


Of course there must be pie, and no, we’re not sick of it after our recent pie social. In fact, we’re just warming up!

How to host an outdoor pie social || Simple Bites #gatherings #entertaining #pie

Rustic Maple Pecan Pie

All-natural Apple Pie

Maple Pumpkin Spice Pie

Simple Chilled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Cranberry Vanilla Pavlova

pumpkin cake

Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel

Extra-Crispy Pear Lavender Crisp


Friends of ours are due to have a baby on Thanksgiving Monday, so I’ll be bringing my leftover to them. It’s really my best suggestion for Thanksgiving leftovers.

The BEST idea for Thanksgiving leftovers EVER | Simple Bites #thanksgiving

How to reheat turkey leftovers and keep them moist

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Lemon Pepper Turkey Sandwiches

As always, visit my Thanksgiving Pinterest board for many more dinner ideas. And here’s a board just for leftovers ideas.

Whew! I’m stuffed just writing this! Good thing this is my absolute favourite weather for long walks in the woods. Time to hit the trails and decide what I’m cooking on Saturday.

What’s on your Thanksgiving menu?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. My Mum is doing a ham, and my belle-mere is doing a lovely big turkey. I’m on deck for sides and pies, so I’ll be bringing a tomato and caramelized onion cobbler (to go with the gobbler) and a certain familiar potato-rosemary strudel for the ham. Pies… we’ve had a lovely couple of bushels from the farm of heritage apples that are unlike any others (my husband’s grandfather was an experimental grafter of things), and they make the very nicest of pies. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy the colours on your rambles : )

  2. Love the idea of using homemade pickles as a starter!

  3. Your butternut squash and apple soup is one of our fall favorites! I agree that the sides are one of the best parts of the meal, but the pies are a very close contender! Our Thanksgiving is still several weeks away, but I love the anticipation of planning the food and the guests!

  4. So many ideas I better get my shopping done soon! I was lucky to find a turkey which is so rare outside of the Christmas season in England. I am going to try and make that pecan pie, it looks amazing! Have a lovely Thanksgiving, Aimee!

  5. This post comes at the perfect time, because I’m frankly overwhelmed by the prospect of planning a Thanksgiving dinner! I needed someone to narrow the choices down for me. So thank you! And I’m going to try your turkey method. I’ve tried many and most have been underwhelming :-).

    Happy Thanksgiving to your family!

    • Planning can be half the fun, Sarah. Just don’t attempt too much and you’ll be fine. Most sides (stuffing, potatoes, etc) can be done in advance and reheated. Pies, too.
      Happy Cooking and Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. Many thanks for the great writeup.. mad hatter The idea in truth once were a entertainment bank account the idea. Glance elaborate in order to much additional reasonable of your stuff! Incidentally, exactly how could possibly all of us keep in touch?

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