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Easy Thanksgiving Dishes to Make in the Golden State

Easy Thanksgiving Dishes to Make in the Golden State

It's easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy. But these simple Thanksgiving dishes by California bloggers can make your life easier.


6 min read

November 09, 2021

“The turkey. The sweet potatoes. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. Is there anything else we all can agree so vehemently about? I don’t think so.” —Nora Ephron

It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy. Between organizing a small family gathering or planning Thanksgiving getaways and looking for cabins to rent, it’s easy to forget about the most important parts of the holiday. Thanksgiving is about bonding with your loved ones and being grateful for all the good things that have happened in your life. Whether you’re feasting with your close family or enjoying Friendsgiving with your roommates, this is the time of year to indulge in mouthwatering dishes.

Simple Thanksgiving Recipes

This Thanksgiving, you don't need to go all out to impress your guests; simple and delicious will do the trick.

When preparing a Thanksgiving spread, you often end up spending more than an entire day in the kitchen, only to have everything consumed in the span of 30 minutes; seems a little unfair doesn’t it? That’s why this year, we’re going to help you solve that problem so you don’t miss out on the fun. Whether you’re preparing everything yourself or organizing an intimate potluck dinner, these simple Thanksgiving recipes will make you feel grateful for all the time you saved cooking. 

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The Best Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipes

1. Cherry Salad

Salads are the ideal healthy Thanksgiving appetizer. Between all of the hearty and fatty dishes you’ll be eating later, your body demands a bit of greens. Level up your game this year and use the best Thanksgiving appetizer recipe from Food Between Friends. We promise you, no one’s had a salad like this before. 

For the salad
1 ½ pounds pitted cherries
⅓ cup toasted pistachios
½ cup roughly chopped parsley
¼ cup roughly chopped mint

For the dressing
2–3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sorghum syrup
A pinch of salt

2. Butter Lettuce Salad With Anchovy Cream 

If you’re still looking for the best recipes for Thanksgiving, Turntable Kitchen has the perfect and easy solution. Wow your guests at the dinner table with this tasty and delectable healthy Thanksgiving appetizer—they’ll be asking for the recipe right after the feast.

⅔ cup heavy cream
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, plus more for salad topping
A handful of fresh basil leaves
3 crushed garlic cloves
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
Few handfuls of walnuts
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon roughly chopped basil
3 cups roughly torn butter lettuce leaves (or any kind of super fresh baby lettuces)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Maldon salt for serving

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Take advantage of California's seasonal produce by making this broccoli-studded casserole.

1. Loaded Cauliflower Broccoli Casserole

Is anyone bringing California-grown Thanksgiving roasted vegetables this year or is it on you? Either way, you’ve got a duty to impress. Ditch the regular side dish and go with Ev’s Eats’s easy Thanksgiving casserole

8 slices of bacon, fried crispy
½ large head cauliflower, cut into florets
½ large head broccoli, cut into florets
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon heavy cream
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2. Green Beans With Thyme, Shallots, And Pistachios

Normally, we don’t associate healthy food with Thanksgiving—we’re looking to stuff our faces with delicious homemade meals we’ve been craving all year. But this quick and healthy Thanksgiving side dish by Eat the Love will change your life; we promise.

2 pounds green beans
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup shallots diced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
½ cup chopped or crushed pistachios
Salt and pepper to taste

3. Rice Stuffing

End your search for easy stuffing recipes and add a twist to the dish this year. Culinary Hill showed us a new way to prepare stuffing that’ll blow everyone’s minds at the dinner table. And the best part? Out of all the easy Thanksgiving dishes, this is the simplest and certainly the most creative. 

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 cup minced onion 
1 cup white rice long-grain, jasmine, or basmati
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon curry powder
1 minced garlic clove 
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped pecans
3 sliced green onions for garnish

Is there anything more fitting than creamy mashed potatoes as a Thanksgiving side dish? We think not, so you best you make some.

4. Creamy Mashed Potatoes

No Thanksgiving is complete without a side of mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect Friendsgiving meal idea—the dish is easy to prepare and loved by many. Make ultra-fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes using A Cozy Kitchen’s recipe, and let your closest friends feel like they’re back home with their families

3 pounds russet potatoes
Kosher salt
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for garnish (optional)
3–4 peeled garlic cloves
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Minced fresh chives for garnish

Thanksgiving Main Dish Ideas

1. Blackened Spiced Roasted Chicken

Are you having trouble coming up with Thanksgiving main dish ideas? Indian Simmer, an S.F.-based food blog, is here to help you spice up your feast. Turkey is the most important dish of the day, but it doesn’t hurt to change things up and roast a chicken instead—especially when chicken satisfies everyone’s taste buds. 

For the chicken thighs
6 chicken thighs with bones and skin
2 lemons, divided
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons sumac
2 teaspoons garam masala powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large red onion cut into thick circles
1 potato, cut into thick circles
1 carrot, cut into thick strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons spicy red pepper sauce (recipe and ingredients below)

For the spicy red pepper sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large seeded and roughly chopped red bell pepper
2 crushed garlic cloves 
2 teaspoons red chili powder
½ cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt to taste

Make your next meal vegan and enjoy caramelized tofu. We promise you won't regret it. Photo courtesy of 101 Cookbooks.

2. Caramelized Tofu

As delicious and heavenly as Thanksgiving meals are, some people don’t get to enjoy every dish on the table. This is why it’s important to prepare food for vegans and vegetarians—we don’t want anyone to feel left out. 101 Cookbooks makes it possible for everyone to enjoy easy Thanksgiving dishes that are vegan and cruelty-free. Who knows? They just might become your new favorites. 

7–8 ounces extra-firm tofu cut into thin one-inch pieces
Fine-grain sea salt to taste
A few splashes of olive oil
2 minced medium cloves garlic
⅓ cup toasted and chopped pecans
3 tablespoons fine-grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ pound brussels sprouts, washed and cut into ⅛-inch wide ribbons

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