Our Top 10 Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes


With Thanksgiving just a few days away, The Ellen Clark Team thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite holiday recipes. Some are healthy, some are fun, and some are simply delicious.


  1. 1. Pineapple Casserole

This is a tried and true Southern favorite. Although its ingredients sound like a weird mix, Pineapple Casserole is too good to be true and pairs perfectly with ham or turkey.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 (20 oz) cans pineapple chunks, drained, and 6 tablespoons pineapple juice reserved
  • 1 cup buttery crackers, made into crumbs
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan


  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Grease a medium-size casserole dish with butter.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Gradually stir in the cheese. Add the drained pineapple chunks, and stir until ingredients are well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  • In another medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, melted butter, and reserved pineapple juice, stirring with a rubber spatula until evenly blended. Spread crumb mixture on top of pineapple mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.


  1. 2. Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

This sweet and savory dish is a creative spin on a traditional sweet potato casserole and is sure to please.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon optional
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour use gluten free if needed
  • 1 1/2 cups raw pecans roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup salted butter melted
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary chopped (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes and bake for 1 hour or until soft and tender. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, slice them in half and allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile, make the topping. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Next, add the brown sugar, flour, pecans, butter, cayenne, sage, and rosemary (if using) to a bowl and mix to combine. Stir in the fried bacon.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  • Peel the skins away from the flesh of the sweet potato and add the sweet potato to a mixing bowl. Mash well. Mix in the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, milk, butter, eggs and bourbon until fully combined.
  • Pour the sweet potatoes into a greased casserole dish (I used an oval). Spread the pecan topping over top of the sweet potatoes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pecans are golden. Remove from the oven and serve warm.


  1. 3. Poole’s Diner Mac and Cheese

This recipe is the most popular dish served at Poole’s Downtown Diner in Raleigh, NC. The restaurant typically serves 15,000 orders of this a year, so you know they are doing something right. Although it is great any time of year, it is certainly the perfect side for your holiday turkey.

What you’ll need:

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 ounces dry elbow macaroni (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon neutral vegetable oil
  • 2 ounces grana padano, shredded
  • 2 ounces Jarlsberg, shredded
  • 6 ounces white cheddar, shredded
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Sea salt


  • In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts water and 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt to a boil. Add the macaroni and return to a boil; once boiling, cook until barely al dente (about 5 minutes), then drain the pasta well. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and mix in the oil to keep the noodles from sticking. Let cool completely. You should have about 3 cups.
  • Set a rack in the oven about 4 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Combine the grana padano, Jarlsberg, and white cheddar in a large bowl; reserve 60 percent of the cheese for the top.
  • In a large deep saucepan, bring the cream and 1 teaspoon sea salt to a boil. Let simmer for about 2 minutes. The cream will foam up and then subside to a simmer. Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, about 90 seconds. The cream will start to thicken just slightly and coat the noodles. Start adding 40 percent of the cheese in small handfuls, stirring and waiting for each addition to melt and incorporate into the sauce before adding more. Transfer the contents of the pan to a 2 ½-quart skillet or baking dish, mound the reserved cheese over the top, and place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, rotating throughout, until the cheese melts and caramelizes into a golden-brown crust.
  • Watch it carefully, as every broiler is different. Remove the gratin from the oven and let it rest 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


  1. 4. Sausage Crescent Cheese Balls

These are an idea from Pillsbury that are perfect for grab and go appetizers and a staple in the home of our office assistant during the holidays. We bet you can’t have just one.

What you’ll need:

  • 1lb bulk spicy sausage
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


  • Heat oven to 375°F. Line 15x10x1-inch pan with foil; spray with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix sausage, cheese, and rosemary; mix well using hands or spoon.
  • Unroll crescent dough on work surface; coat each side of dough with 1 tablespoon flour. Using pizza cutter or knife, cut dough into about 1/4-inch pieces. Mix crescent dough pieces into the bowl of sausage mixture in small amounts until well blended.
  • Shape mixture into 42 (1 1/4-inch) balls. Place in pan. Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown.


  1. 5. Roasted Carrots with Pistachios 

Take ordinary carrots and give them a WOW FACTOR. This simple dish is made to impress!

What you’ll need:

  • 6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch long pieces
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves only
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons roughly chopped pistachios


  • Preheat your oven to 450°F. In a casserole dish, combine the cut carrots, cubed butter, maple syrup, cider, and vinegar. Toss to combine, then sprinkle with the fresh thyme and salt. Roast until tender and golden, for about 30 minutes.
  • When ready, spoon dollops of ricotta over the carrots, then sprinkle with chopped pistachios.


  1. 6. Grandma’s Corn Pudding

This dish is the definition of comfort food. Corn pudding is a staple in the south for Thanksgiving.

What you’ll need:

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter melted
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn
  • 2 (14.75 ounce) cans cream-style corn


  • Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.
  • In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add melted butter, sugar, and milk. Whisk in cornstarch. Stir in corn and creamed corn. Blend well. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.
  • Bake for 1 hour.


  1. 7. Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is another great appetizer for everyone to enjoy while waiting for the turkey to be ready.

What you’ll need:

  • One 2- to 3-pound butternut squash, peeled and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Cut squash into 1-inch chunks.
  • In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender and puree. Return blended squash to pot.
  • Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve.


  1. 8. Martha Stewart’s Perfect Turkey

Martha Stewart’s recipe for turkey has been voted the best over and over again, so it definitely is worth trying out.  Note that with this recipe the turkey is brined for 24 hours, so leave plenty of time for preparation.  If you don’t brine yours, skip the first two steps.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), rinsed and patted dry, giblets and neck reserved for gravy
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chestnut Stuffing
  • Crab apples, fresh rosemary sprigs, and fresh sage, for garnish (optional)


  • Put salt, sugar, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and 10 cups water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat; let brine cool completely.
  • Add turkey, breast first, to the brine. Cover; refrigerate 24 hours. Remove from brine; pat dry with paper towels. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Stir together melted butter and wine in a medium bowl. Fold a very large piece of cheesecloth into quarters so that it is large enough to cover breast and halfway down sides of turkey. Immerse cloth in butter mixture; let soak.
  • Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Loosely fill body and neck cavities with stuffing. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Fold neck flap under; secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey all over with softened butter; season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove cheesecloth from butter mixture, squeezing gently into a bowl. Reserve butter mixture for brushing. Lay cheesecloth over turkey. Place turkey, legs first, in the oven. Roast 30 minutes. Brush cheesecloth and exposed turkey with butter mixture. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Roast, brushing every 30 minutes, 2 1/2 hours more; cover with foil if browning too quickly. If making gravy, add giblets and neck to pan 1 1/2 hours after reducing temperature; roast 30 minutes, and reserve.
  • Discard cheesecloth; rotate pan. Baste turkey with pan juices. Roast, rotating the pan halfway through, until skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees and stuffing reaches 165 degrees, about 1 hour. Transfer to a platter. Set pan with drippings aside for gravy. Let turkey stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes. Garnish, if desired.

pumpkin pie

  1. 9. Vegan and Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Squares

If you or your relatives have dietary restrictions sometimes finding a dessert to meet everyone’s needs feels impossible. No worries though, this recipe has you covered. These pie squares are the perfect portion and delish!

What you’ll need:

For the crust-

  • 2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (see note)
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coconut nectar syrup (or brown rice syrup)

For the pumpkin filling:

  • 1 (14-ounce/400 mL) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (use only the white cream portion, see note)
  • 5 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch fine grain sea salt


  • Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8-inch square pan. Line the pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one going each way. Spray the first piece of parchment paper with non-stick oil so the second piece sticks nicely and doesn’t fall over.
  • Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the graham crumbs, melted coconut oil, and sweetener until the crumbs are thoroughly coated in the mixture. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Starting from the middle, press the crumbs into the pan firmly and evenly. You really want to press hard so the crust sticks together nicely. Use a pastry roller to roll the crust and compact it even more. Using your fingers, press the edges until even.
  • Pre-bake the crust, uncovered, for 10 minutes at 350F.
  • Prepare the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder and maple syrup until no clumps remain. Add this and all of the other filling ingredients into a food processor and process until completely smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. When the crust has come out of the oven, immediately pour this filling on top of the baked crust and smooth out as evenly as possible with a spatula.
  • Bake, uncovered, for around 41-43 minutes at 350F until the filling has darkened slightly and it’s semi-firm to the touch (although the filling will still be very soft and sticky!). Place on a cooling rack for about 60 minutes and then into the fridge to set overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Freezer lover’s note: The freezer will expedite this process.
  • Slice into squares and serve with a dollop of coconut whipped cream on top and a dusting of cinnamon and chopped pecans.
  • Store leftovers in the fridge or freeze for later.


  1. 10. Chocolate Chess Pie

This rich, dark, and delicious chocolate chess pie is a true Southern classic. This version is made with a small amount of flour, along with unsweetened chocolate and eggs.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 (9-inch) pie shell
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Heat the oven to 375 F
  • Line the unbaked pie shell with foil or parchment paper and add pie weights or dried beans to about two-thirds full. Place the pie shell in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and the foil or parchment paper. Return the pie shell to the oven for about 5 minutes, or just until it begins to show a little color. Remove the pie shell to a rack and set aside.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.
  • Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the butter and chocolate; stir until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan.
  • To the melted chocolate and butter mixture add the sugar, flour, salt, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Beat for about 5 minutes with an electric mixer. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula a few times.
  • Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell.
  • Bake at 350 F for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set. If the pie appears to be browning too much, place a pie shield or foil ring over the edge of the pie crust.
  • The filling will be puffed up, but it will flatten as it cools.
  • Remove the pie to a rack to cool completely.
  • Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Please try these recipes out and share your opinions. Also feel free to share pictures and dishes that make your Thanksgiving such a special day. We are extremely thankful for all of our readers and the clients that we have had the pleasure of working with over the years. Happy Thanksgiving from the entire Ellen Clark Team to you and yours!