Happy Thanksgiving

Best Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

If you’re a diehard turkey/stuffing/sweet potato casserole kind of person, we salute you. But if you’re not? Hey, that’s cool too. Nothing against the classic Turkey Day menu, but there are so many other vegetables, side dishes and desserts that deserve a little holiday love. Might we suggest that you ditch the status quo in favor of alternative Thanksgiving dinner recipes? From bacon-wrapped Brussels sprouts to butternut squash upside-down cake, here are 63 non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner ideas to spice up your spread.

RELATED: 35 EASY THANKSGIVING RECIPES EVEN FIRST-TIME HOSTS CAN HANDLE

APPETIZERS

 

non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas crispy bacon wrapped brussels sprouts recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: HEATH GOLDMAN

1. CRISPY BACON-WRAPPED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

They’re glazed with honey and topped with chives. You might want to make a double batch.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas pimiento cheese stuffed peppers recipe

PHOTO: JON COSPITO/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

2. PIMENTO CHEESE STUFFED SHISHITO PEPPERS

Just think of these cheesy bites as a classed-up, less-spicy version of jalapeño poppers.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas crispy halloumi fries recipe

YUM CREATIVE/I HEART CHEESE

3. CRISPY HALLOUMI ‘FRIES’ WITH ROASTED TOMATO DIP

Hello, adult mozzarella sticks. Pair them with a medium acidity white wine, like a Chenin Blanc, to get really fancy.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas baked brie cranberry pomegranate 921

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

4. BAKED BRIE WITH CRANBERRIES AND POMEGRANATE

Face it: No one’s turning down a plate of melted cheese.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas Carrot Pigs In A Blanket Recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

5. CARROT PIGS IN A BLANKET

Super-traditional relatives might not approve of cocktail wieners wrapped in crescent dough at Thanksgiving…but these are made with carrots, so they’re kinda fancy. Watch how many get devoured.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas roasted winter vegetable platter with miso aioli and romesco sauce recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: ARAN GOYOAGA

6. ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLE PLATTER WITH MISO AIOLI AND ROMESCO SAUCE

The roasted veg are pretty standard; the dipping sauces are anything but. Both the traditional Spanish romesco and savory miso aioli come together quickly in a blender.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas cranberry brussels sprouts nachos 921

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

7. CRANBERRY, BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND BRIE SKILLET NACHOS

Make a second batch on Black Friday topped with shredded leftover turkey.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas goat cheese apple honey tarts recipe

JACQUI MELVILLE/APPLE

8. GOAT CHEESE, APPLE AND HONEY TARTS

Tangy goat cheese is just the thing to pair with tart, crisp, sweet apples. The crusts are made with store-bought puff pastry, so you don’t have to stress.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas spicy pineapple prosciutto tarts recipe

PHOTO: MARK WEINBERG/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

9. SPICY PINEAPPLE PROSCIUTTO TARTS

What does pineapple have to do with Thanksgiving? We’re not sure. All we know is these tartlets are delicious and you should make them every holiday.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas cranberry brie pie crust bites recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: HEATH GOLDMAN

10. CRANBERRY-BRIE PIE CRUST BITES

Nothing against regular cheese and crackers, but we’re upping the ante this year. (Once again, store-bought pie crust saves the day.)

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas pull apart bread caramelized onions goat cheese recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

11. PULL-APART BREAD WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND GOAT CHEESE

Betcha can’t eat just one piece.

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MAIN COURSES

 

non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas skillet roast chicken with shmaltzy potatoes recipe

PHOTO/STYLING: KATHERINE GILLEN

12. SKILLET ROAST CHICKEN WITH SHMALTZY POTATOES

The trick to a gorgeously golden brown chicken is part buttermilk marinade and part knowing your oven’s hot spots. The potatoes are optional, but they’re an easy way to knock out an extra side dish.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas antoni porowski strip steak with harissa butter and parsley salad recipe

PAUL BRISSMAN/ANTONI: LETS DO DINNER

13. ANTONI POROWSKI’S STRIP STEAK WITH HARISSA BUTTER AND PARSLEY SALAD

If you knew how easy it is to cook steak at home, you’d never make turkey for Thanksgiving again.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas Hearty Stuffed Butternut Squash Recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

14. HEARTY STUFFED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

You don’t have to be vegetarian to appreciate the beauty of these gourds. To make them vegan, just skip the Gruyère cheese.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas Spicy Orange Honey Glazed Ham Recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

15. SPICY ORANGE-HONEY GLAZED HAM

It’s just as good for leftovers on sandwiches, plus it’s easier to make and ready in less time than a turkey.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas cranberry balsamic roast chicken recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

16. BALSAMIC CRANBERRY ROAST CHICKEN

It’s almost entirely hands-off, thanks to that trusty cast iron skillet. Use frozen or fresh cranberries, just don’t skimp on the herbs.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas Turkey Roulade with Cherry recipe

LET’S STAY IN

17. TURKEY ROULADE WITH CHERRY AND SAUSAGE STUFFING

Yep, it’s turkey. It’s just presented in a non-traditional format. The inside is stuffed with, well, stuffing, and the outside is slathered in a mix of harissa and Dijon mustard—yum.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas pistachio crusted pork tenderloin recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

18. PISTACHIO-CRUSTED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH APPLE AND ESCAROLE SALAD

The pretty pistachio crust is both festive and tasty, and best of all, the dish cooks from start to finish on a single baking sheet.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas pomegranate maple glazed lamb chops recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

19. POMEGRANATE-MAPLE GLAZED LAMB CHOPS

We promise, lamb chops are as simple to cook as chicken (and way simpler than turkey). Pomegranate molasses is a Middle Eastern ingredient that adds sweetness and tang.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas pomegranate sumac chicken with roasted carrots recipe

PHOTO: MICHAEL MARQUAND/STYLING: JAKE COHEN

20. POMEGRANATE-SUMAC CHICKEN WITH ROASTED CARROTS

The chicken is brined in buttermilk for extra tenderness and a golden-brown crust. Sheet-pan dinner for Thanksgiving? You bet.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

ERIN MCDOWELL

21. SPICY WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

It’s dramatic, delicious and surprisingly effortless to make.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas Butternut Squash Carbonara Recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

22. BUTTERNUT SQUASH CARBONARA

We have a good feeling that no one will complain about pasta instead of turkey.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas greek chicken and rice skillet recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

23. GREEK CHICKEN AND RICE SKILLET

Proof that a one-skillet dinner can be as gorgeous and holiday-ready as it is easy to make.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas ina garten turkey roulade recipe

QUENTIN BACON/MODERN COMFORT FOOD

24. INA GARTEN’S TUSCAN TURKEY ROULADE

According to the contessa herself, this main is actually better if you assemble it in advance, because the filling flavors—prosciutto, fennel seeds, garlic, fresh sage and rosemary—all permeate the meat. Genius, if you ask us.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner pan fried fish fillets

ROBERT S. COOPER/A REAL SOUTHERN COOK

25. BUTTERMILK-BATTERED PAN-FRIED FISH FILLETS

Frying fish at home is daunting, right? Don’t worry. It’s actually really simple to pan-fry fish to crisp, flaky deliciousness.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas bacon wrapped cod recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

26. BACON-WRAPPED BLACK COD WITH SPINACH AND CAPERS

Wrap a piece of fish in bacon and suddenly it’s holiday-ready. (It’s also done in 40 minutes, no big deal.)

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SIDE DISHES AND VEGETABLES

 

non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas pommes anna recipe

PHOTO/STYLING: KATHERINE GILLEN

27. POMMES ANNA

This classic Française recipe requires little more than butter, salt and spuds once you grasp the technique, but is sure to garner all the compliments from your dinner guests.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas balsamic brown sugar carrots recipe

COLIN PRICE/DINNER THEN DESSERT

28. BALSAMIC-BROWN SUGAR CARROTS

Instead of the usual sweet, sticky mush, these carrots are steamed until *just* tender and coated in a balsamic vinegar reduction for tangy flavor.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas green bean galette recipe

PHOTO: MICHAEL MARQUAND/STYLING: JAKE COHEN

29. GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE GALETTE

All the nostalgic flavors, none of the canned cream of mushroom soup.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas cacio e pepe cauliflower recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

30. CACIO E PEPE CAULIFLOWER

It’s like mac and cheese in vegetable form. We’ll take seconds, please and thank you.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas roasted sweet potatoes with sriracha and lime recipe

AMANDA FREDERICKSON/SIMPLE BEAUTIFUL FOOD

31. ROASTED SWEET POTATOES WITH SRIRACHA AND LIME

In our humble opinion, the Turkey Day feast could benefit from something zingy and spicy. Enter these taters.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas delicata squash rings garlic lemon sauce recipe 921

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: HEATH GOLDMAN

32. DELICATA SQUASH RINGS WITH GARLIC-LEMON SAUCE

Onion who? Swap in this stripy gourd for a seasonal twist on a classic.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas cauliflower stuffing recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

33. BAKED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND THYME

It tastes a lot like traditional stuffing, but without the bread. Try it, you’ll like it.

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RELATED: HOW TO HOST A GLUTEN-FREE THANKSGIVING, FROM DRINKS TO DESSERT

 

non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas Brussel Sprouts Latkes Recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

34. BRUSSELS SPROUTS LATKES

We know someone will ask where the Brussels sprouts are. Surprise them with these crispy-crunchy latkes.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas charred sweet potatoes pistachio pesto chile recipe

PHOTO: MICHAEL MARQUAND/STYLING: JAKE COHEN

35. CHARRED SWEET POTATOES WITH PISTACHIO-CHILI PESTO

The typical marshmallow-studded casserole has nothing on these gorgeously complex charred sweet potatoes.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas radicchio lentil apple salad with vegan cashew dressing recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: ARAN GOYOAGA

36. RADICCHIO, LENTIL AND APPLE SALAD WITH VEGAN CASHEW DRESSING

Wait, this creamy dressing is dairy-free? You had us fooled. The bitter greens will be a welcome addition to your mega-rich menu.

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RELATED: 25 FALL SALAD RECIPES THAT YOU’LL ACTUALLY LOOK FORWARD TO EATING

 

non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas pumpkin soup in pumpkin bowls 921

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

37. PUMPKIN SOUP IN MINI PUMPKIN BOWLS

Don’t toss the pumpkin seeds: If you bake them for a few minutes in the oven, they’ll turn into a great crunchy topping.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas crispy smashed potatoes with horseradish and sea salt recipe

EMILY DORIO/THE SALTWATER TABLE

38. CRISPY SMASHED POTATOES WITH HORSERADISH AND SEA SALT

Mashed-potato lovers, consider this your invitation to join team crispy. The horseradish cream is spicy and pungent, so serve it on the side if you’re joining picky eaters.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas Roasted Cabbage Steaks Recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

39. ROASTED CABBAGE STEAKS

Cabbage isn’t just for coleslaw—it happens to make an excellent side dish of its own. Bonus, this recipe requires just five ingredients.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas roasted cauliflower tahini ranch recipe

PHOTO: MICHAEL MARQUAND/STYLING: JAKE COHEN

40. ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH TAHINI RANCH

Want to know a little secret? We’ll take any excuse to serve ranch at a fancy holiday dinner. This version is made with tahini for a twist on the bottled stuff.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas barley risotto in mushroom bowls recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

41. PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH BARLEY RISOTTO

They look like a dish you’d spend all day working on. But would you believe they’re ready in a little over an hour?

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas sweet spicy cornbread recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

42. SWEET AND SPICY CORNBREAD

No feast is complete without a bread product. This one has a little heat from Fresno chiles. (If you can’t find Fresnos, feel free to swap with another hot pepper, like jalapeños.)

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas baked feta recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: SARAH COPELAND

43. BAKED FETA WITH DILL, CAPER BERRIES AND CITRUS

Get ready for the oohs and ahhs when you set a tray of baked cheese on the table. Serve it with toasted pita or any crispy cracker of choice.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas butternut squash risotto crispy leeks recipe

PHOTO: CHRISTINE HAN/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

44. BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO WITH CRISPY LEEKS

It’s dreamy and creamy like macaroni and cheese, but without and cheese. You could even make it dairy-free by skipping the butter and Parmesan.

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RELATED: THE 54 BEST WINTER SQUASH RECIPES OF ALL TIME

 

non traditional thanksgiving dinners Kale Salad

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

45. KALE SALAD WITH CRISPY CHICKPEAS

Perfect for when you’re in need for a simple, quick side that adds a punch of greens.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner roasted broccolini

QUENTIN BACON/MODERN COMFORT FOOD

46. INA GARTEN’S ROASTED BROCCOLINI & CHEDDAR

Best of all, it takes less than 20 minutes to make and calls for just five ingredients. This is—dare we say?—genius.

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DESSERTS

 

non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas three ingredient chocolate truffles recipe

COLIN PRICE/DINNER THEN DESSERT

47. THREE-INGREDIENT CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Whether you forgot to make dessert or save room for dessert, these impossibly simple, just-rich-enough truffles have your back.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas creme caramel recipe

UYEN LUU/VIETNAMESE

48. CRÈME CARAMEL

The ingredient list is short, but the outcome is a silky custard that decorates itself with caramel as it makes its way to the table.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas cardamom creme brulee recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

49. CARDAMOM CRÈME BRÛLÉE

Steeping cardamom in the cream before you begin the process adds a warm, seasonal flavor to the custard.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas sweet potato sugar cookies with marshmallow topping recipe

PHOTO: CHRISTINE HAN/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

50. SWEET POTATO SUGAR COOKIES WITH MARSHMALLOW TOPPING

These are so good, no one will wonder where that aforementioned casserole went. (It’s more of a dessert anyway.)

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas texas sheet cake recipe

MATT ARMENDARIZ/EAT WHAT YOU WANT

51. TEXAS SHEET CAKE

There’s no rule that says you have to love pumpkin or pecans (or apples, for that matter). This chocolate cake, however, is impossible not to love.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas pumpkin angel food cake with cream cheese glaze recipe

PHOTO: MATT DUTILE/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

52. PUMPKIN ANGEL FOOD CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE GLAZE

If you do crave a pumpkin dessert, why not make it in the form of this fluffy, cream-cheese glazed masterpiece?

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas caramelized butternut squash upside down cake recipe

PHOTO: MATT DUTILE/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

53. CARAMELIZED BUTTERNUT SQUASH UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

Yep, those are vegetables on top of this cake. Yep, you’re going to make this one a new Thanksgiving tradition.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas sticky toffee honeycomb cake recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

54. STICKY TOFFEE HONEYCOMB CAKE

The more napkins required, the more satisfying the dessert…right? Serve it slightly warm for maximum effect.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas miniature banoffee cobblers recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

55. MINIATURE BANOFFEE COBBLERS

They’re ridiculously simple (just 20 minutes of prep!) and taste like a toffee-banana dream.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas chocolate semifreddo recipe

MATTHEW SEPTIMUS/ROSE’S ICE CREAM BLISS

56. CHOCOLATE SEMIFREDDO SEDUCTION

It’s rich and silky like chocolate pudding, but as refreshing as a scoop of ice cream. Are you convinced yet?

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas cinnamon sheet cake cider icing recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

57. CINNAMON SHEET CAKE WITH CIDER FROSTING

A sheet-pan cake that’s ready in less than an hour will always beat out a complicated pie recipe. Plus, who can deny that apple cider frosting?

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas sweet potato pots de creme with toasted marshmallow fluff recipe

PHOTO: MATT DUTILE/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

58. SWEET POTATO POTS DE CRÈME WITH TOASTED MARSHMALLOW

It looks and tastes like a fancy restaurant dessert (not to mention the inside of a pumpkin pie) but is secretly foolproof.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas caramel macadamia tart recipe

PHOTO: NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

59. CARAMEL-CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA TART

This tart tastes like a candy bar and features a simple press-in crust. Pecan pie doesn’t know what’s coming.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinner ideas fig tarte tatin recipe

PHOTO: CHRISTINE HAN/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

60. FIG TARTE TATIN

Store-bought puff pastry does it again.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinners Boiler Smores Recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

61. BROILER S’MORES

The ’mallows will be toasty and the chocolate melted just enough—without the need for an entire campfire. (The kids will go wild.)

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non traditional thanksgiving dinners soft pretzel apple tart recipe  1

PHOTO NICO SCHINCO/STYLING: HEATH GOLDMAN

62. APPLE TART WITH SOFT-PRETZEL CRUST

This new take on the classic apple tart is bound to be a crowd-pleaser. It’s definitely a project, but the results are delish.

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non traditional thanksgiving dinners giant cinnamon roll recipe

PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

63. GIANT CINNAMON ROLL

The only thing better than a freshly baked cinnamon roll? A giant freshly baked cinnamon roll. Go ahead, dig in.

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