Last Updated on September 5, 2021 by Chef Mireille
There is so much more to turkey for Thanksgiving. If turkey just isn’t your thing, then you have to take a look at these menu’s which offer dozens of Thanksgiving Alternatives to Turkey and the classic sides.
These 7 Holiday Menu’s are packed full of vegetarian and gluten free options, including one menu that is all gluten free.
Each menu from a different part of the world is full of options for everyone from Carnivores to Vegetarians. All the menu’s have dozens of alternatives to Thanksgiving turkey.
Go Global this Thanksgiving with these alternative to Thanksgiving turkey and the standard sides. Add some variety into the Thanksgiving menu this year!
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Table of Contents
How many of you are first generation Americans? Well, I am! Therefore, I did not grow up with traditional Thanksgiving foods. I will wager that many of you did not either.
I did not taste Pumpkin Pie until I was away at college. To this day, I am yet to taste a Green Bean Casserole.
My parents and most of my friends’ parents no matter what part of the world they came from, hated turkey. They thought it was too dry. The closest I came to turkey on Thanksgiving growing up was Turkey Wing Curry.
I did not start making traditional Thanksgiving foods until my best friend and I had our own apartment after college. Our parents were more than happy to let us do all of the cooking and our apartment became the holiday venue for several years.
We started to make all of the foods we had missed growing up. Her family is from the Dominican Republic and she grew up with pernil (roast pork) on Thanksgiving instead of turkey.
However, now that I am older, even though I have perfected the method for juicy turkey (oven bag cooking), I appreciate the cultural foods I grew up with more. As my interest in global cuisines increased, I started slowly adding more and more international dishes to our family Thanksgiving Menu’s.
For me, Thanksgiving is about spending time with the family. As many people no longer even call it Thanksgiving out of respect to the Native American’s who were victimized by the first settler’s, I think we need to change the menu’s!
I don’t know who made these rules that said you had to have Turkey & Green Bean Casserole for Thanksgiving, but they weren’t in my family. I’m guessing they might not be in some of your families either.
To help you have a non traditional Thanksgiving Menu full of international flavors, I have come up with 7 Alternative Thanksgiving Menus for you. All of these Alternative to Thanksgiving Menu’s include several vegetarian options so the veggie people at your table won’t feel neglected. There is also a gluten free menu, not to mention a few gluten free options in all of the other menu’s.
Not just for Thanksgiving, these holiday menu’s can also be used for Christmas or just for weekly menu inspiration!
I come from a large extended family and especially when my friend and I would host both of our families, there were a lot of people over for Thanksgiving. That meant a lot of side dishes.
These menu include 12-14 options for each menu from appetizers to dessert, however if you have a smaller family just pick and choose a few options from the large menu’s.
This menu is comprehensive of the continent from Senegal to Indian influenced Kenyan cuisine.
- Tatale & Sosu Kaani – Plantain Fritters & Hot Sauce
- Kenyan Potato Bhajia – Potato Fritters
- Tankora Black Eyed Pea Salad
- Mealie Cakes – Cornmeal Biscuits
- Joloff Rice
- Moroccan Couscous Salad
- Kuku – Chicken Mung Bean Stew
- Githeri – Vegetarian Stew
- Asa Tibs – Fried Fish
- Harissa Lamb Rolls
- Cassava Cake
- Caakiri – Couscous Pudding
This Caribbean Menu includes recipe from the English, French and Dutch Speaking Caribbean From Haiti to Aruba!
- Fish Cakes – Salted Cod Fritters
- Breadfruit Puffs
- Banane Peze – Green Plantain Fritters
- Tuna Pastechi – Aruba Style Empanadas
- Pan Bati – Antillean Cornmeal Bread
- Rice & Peas or Instant Pot Rice & Beans
- Coo Coo – Caribbean Style Polenta
- Caribbean Spaghetti
- Caribbean Curry Chicken
- Chickpea Okra Ground Provision Soup
- Keshi Yena – Gluten Free Meat Pie
- Black Cake – Caribbean Fruit Cake
- Coconut Sweet Bread
This menu includes recipes from different regional Indian cuisines including Gujarathi, Bengali, Goan, Maharashtrian & more…
- Muthia – Chickpea Dumpling Stir Fry
- Handvo – Savory Lentil Cake
- Chicken Pakora
- Gobi Pakora
- Green Pea Paratha
- Aloo Chorchori – Bengali Panch Phoran Potatoes
- Chole Adraki – Ginger Chickpeas
- Cabbage Foogath
- Mishti Pulao
- Tellicherry Pepper Chicken
- Bengali Shrimp Potato Curry
- Paneer Chaman
- Baath – Coconut Semolina Cake
- Bolinhas – Coconut Cookies
Middle Eastern/North African Menu
Middle Eastern Cuisine with Arabic flavors span from Turkey to Egypt. Here is a great collection of recipes from the region!
- Pumpkin Hummus
- Pita Bread
- Persian Roast Chicken
- Firinda Makarna – Turkish Lamb Mac & Cheese
- Bamia Stew – Okra Goat Stew
- Piyaz – Turkish White Bean Salad
- Koshari – Egyptian Grain & Beans
- Baharat Roast Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Cauliflower Fattoush
- Lentil Pilaf
- Sfoof – Lebanese Turmeric Cake
- Serkerpare – Semolina Cookies
South American Menu
This South American Menu includes recipes from Mexico to Brazil and more. Just one note on the Xuxu. This is an almost Vegetarian recipe, but easily adaptable by simply omitting the dried shrimp.
The Salsa Verde in this menu does double duty. It is both served as a dipping sauce for Papas Rellenas and also used in the Vegetarian Enchiladas Verde recipe.
- Bakabana & Peanut Sauce
- Cunape – Cheese Bread
- Papas Rellenas & Salsa Verde – Stuffed Potatoes & Tomatillo Sauce
- Roasted Potatoes & Salsa Huancaina – Chile Cheese Sauce
- Sopa Paraguaya – Cornbread
- Bolivian Style Cabbage & Potatoes
- Xuxu – Brazilian Style Chayote
- Vegetarian Enchiladas Verde
- Xin Xin de Galinha – Chicken in Peanut Shrimp Sauce
- Mexican Goat Stew
- Xerem con Camarao – Brazilian Polenta with Shrimp
- Green Pozole – Mexican Hominy Soup
- Yuca Cake Hondurena
- Yiyimbre Muffins – Panamanian Gingerbread
Southeast Asian Menu
This menu includes recipes from Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand & the Philippines.
- Malaysian Chicken Curry Puffs
- Bok Choy Wontons
- Laotian Rice Ball Salad
- Sesame Peanut Noodles
- Sticky Rice
- White Pumpkin Stir Fry
- Nyonya Sayur Lemak – almost Vegetarian Malaysian Curry easily adapted to Vegetarian
- Massaman Chicken Curry
- Cibinong Laksa
- Malaysian Pumpkin Curry
- Stewed Pumpkin Dessert
- Che Dua Xanh – Mung Bean Pudding
- Champorada – Chocolate Rice Pudding
Around the World Gluten Free Menu
From Africa to South America, try out this Around the World Gluten Free Menu!
- Fish Pakora
- Spinach Dhokla
- Hungarian Stuffed Peppers
- Patatas Bravas – Spanish Potatoes
- Sesame Coconut Rice
- Brussel Sprout Soba Salad
- Herb Butter Roasted Asparagus
- Fennel & Ginger Cauliflower
- Nhopi – Zimbabwe Style Polenta
- Garlic Shrimp
- Palaver Chicken
- Itakiet Stew
- Majarete – Corn Pudding
- Mazamorra Morada – Peruvian Blue Corn Pudding
I hope I have inspired you to add some global flavors to your Thanksgiving Menu. Even if you don’t follow these menu’s exactly, just add one new international dish to your table this year!
Or use these menu’s for weekly planning inspiration!
Need more culinary inspiration? Check out the Recipe Index with over 1500 Recipes from Around the World with lots of Vegetarian 🥕🍆🍅and Gluten Free Recipes!
Very detailed and interesting menus here Chef Mirelle, indeed something for everyone. Even I find Turkey very staid and would swap it for something else in a heartbeat, having said that I do love a juicy turkey roast done right 🙂 Happy to see such a diverse Indian menu!
glad you like the menus!
The effort that you have put in to come up with these menus considering different food preferences is remarkable. The food looks delicious. I also love learning about different countries and cultures. Thanks for sharing this post about Thanksgiving.
Sure – even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving – I hope you will give some of these recipes a try! I am sure you would find them delicious!
What a collection of Thanksgiving recipes you have shared. I loved flicking through all the Vegetarian recipes some of which brought back memories of my youth in Kenya. You are right- Thanksgiving is all about spending time with families eating food we enjoy.
I have heard Kenya is such a beautiful country. I am hoping to visit soon – maybe as soon as next year. I think it’s time you revisited some of these Kenyan foods 🙂