43 Thanksgiving Dishes For People Who Hate Turkey

Thanksgiving is almost here, and though most of us are used to having a big turkey as the centerpiece of our feast, let's face it: not everyone loves turkey. Sometimes it's because the bird comes out dry, but sometimes it's because, no matter how you brine it, smoke it, deep-fry it, or roast it, someone at the table just doesn't like turkey. Okay, they hate it.

Luckily, there are tons of decadent, celebratory recipes you can make instead of turkey on Thanksgiving. You can go for classic comfort foods, like lasagna, or swap out turkey for chicken in your usual recipes. You can also go in a totally different direction — we don't know many people who would complain about being served prime rib at a regular dinner party, so why not on Thanksgiving?

Whatever your reason, going without turkey doesn't have to spell doom for your Thanksgiving meal. These turkey-free recipes, paired with your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, will still leave your dinner guests satisfied and full.

Nigella Lawson's Buttermilk Chicken With a Twist

Marinating chicken overnight in buttermilk makes it tender and succulent, while aromatics like rosemary and garlic infuse the meat with flavor. Then, the bird is butterflied, so it cooks through more quickly and evenly, and the skin gets caramelized and crispy. The chicken sits atop a bed of potatoes as it cooks, and the juices from the marinated chicken drip down as they render out of the meat, flavoring the potatoes. Add olives to the potatoes for an extra flavor boost if you're feeling fancy.

Recipe: Nigella Lawson's Buttermilk Chicken With a Twist

5-Ingredient Lasagna

Sometimes you don't feel like dealing with making a turkey, and sometimes you don't want to cook anything complicated at all. This five-ingredient lasagna recipe, which cleverly swaps dried lasagna noodles for cheese-filled ravioli, is here to save the day. Layer the ravioli with jarred marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella, spinach, and browned ground beef, and you've got a delicious pasta bake for much less work than the traditional recipe. To make the lasagna feel even more celebratory, you can make your marinara sauce from scratch, swap the ground beef for ground sausage, or even try adding some truffle-infused cheese on top.

Recipe: 5-Ingredient Lasagna

Tuna Steak

A big roast turkey is something most people only eat once a year, which is part of its appeal. This year, if you're skipping the bird, why not make something equally special, like some thick, juicy tuna steaks? These tuna steaks are marinated in a flavorful blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and lemon juice before they're seared in a skillet. The outside gets caramelized and brown, while the inside stays pink and rare. Sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning (or some chopped fresh herbs), and serve alongside your favorite veggies for a nutritious, delicious, and unexpected Thanksgiving meal.

Recipe: Easy Tuna Steak

Butternut Squash Pasta

We're used to seeing butternut squash as a Thanksgiving side, but if you hate turkey, why not make squash the star of your meal? You can cut up a fresh butternut from the farmer's market, buy it pre-cut at the grocery store, or even use a can of pumpkin puree in a pinch. The starchy squash becomes a sweet and earthy sauce for your favorite noodles, and pairs perfectly with grated Parmesan and a glass of wine. The recipe takes just 30 minutes, making it an easy and quick addition to your Thanksgiving meal. The original recipe is vegetarian, but you could add some crumbled Italian sausage for extra protein.

Recipe: Butternut Squash Pasta

Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

There's something inherently comforting about the combination of carbs, poultry, and gravy, so if your family doesn't like turkey, try this old fashioned chicken pot pie. It's just as comforting, with the added bonus of being easier, quicker, and more veggie-packed than a whole turkey. You can use storebought pie crust or try your hand at homemade, and you can cook the chicken yourself or use a rotisserie chicken for added convenience. Just don't forget the egg wash on top of the crust — it gives your pie a lovely golden-brown color when it comes out of the oven.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Lasagna With Red Sauce

If you're skipping the turkey this year, then lasagna might also sound like a chore. But this chicken lasagna only calls for five ingredients, six minutes of prep time, and 30 minutes of cooking, so you can have a relaxing holiday. Using no-boil lasagna noodles saves you a step, and ground chicken is used as a healthier substitute for ground beef. Feel free to use jarred marinara sauce for added ease, and don't be shy with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, which give this a dish a luscious creaminess.

Recipe: Chicken Lasagna With Red Sauce

Bobby Flay's Prime Rib

The usual star of Thanksgiving is a big hunk of meat, so if you don't like turkey, consider swapping it for a different big hunk of meat, like prime rib. With its roasted exterior and tender, juicy, pink interior, prime rib always steals the show, and Bobby Flay's recipe is pretty much perfect. However, adding extra aromatics like shallots, onions, and rosemary makes it even more worthy of celebration. The thyme au jus, made with the pan drippings from the roasted prime rib, is so good you might want to drink it straight.

Recipe: Bobby Flay's Prime Rib

Vegan Mushroom Risotto

Being vegan on Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a downer. In fact, this vegan mushroom risotto recipe is so good, you can serve it as a side dish for your meat-eating guests and as an entrée for the vegetarians in the group, and everyone will be happy. You might be wondering what you can use as a vegan substitute for Parmesan cheese, and this dish calls for two: nutritional yeast and miso paste add a big boost of umami to the risotto, so you won't even miss the cheese.

Recipe: Vegan Mushroom Risotto

Oven-Roasted Spatchcocked Chicken

If you hate turkey but love chicken, then the easiest way to modify your Thanksgiving menu is to simply use the latter. A spatchcocked chicken, which is a butterflied whole chicken with the spine removed, cooks up quickly in the oven and gets crispy skin all over. It also looks quite impressive on a serving platter, just like a turkey. Rub the chicken with a lively sauce made from olive oil and your favorite herbs before it goes into the oven with a slew of baby potatoes, and you'll be greeted with a complete Thanksgiving meal when it comes out of the oven.

Recipe: Oven-Roasted Spatchcocked Chicken

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

Panzanella is an Italian salad usually made with stale bread, tomatoes, and other summer vegetables, but it can work wonders in autumn, too. Lidia Bastianich adds butternut squash and Brussels sprouts to her fall panzanella, but you can also choose whatever looks best at the farmer's market or grocery store. This vegetarian recipe pairs roasted eggplant, squash, zucchini, and tomatoes with olive oil-toasted bread, corn, basil, and a dressing of balsamic vinegar and more olive oil, but feel free to experiment with your favorite flavors.

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

Stuffed Shells

Comforting pockets of pasta stuffed with cheese and sauce — how can you go wrong? This easy stuffed shells recipe may look fancy, but it's simple to put together and provides plenty of Italian-American comfort food flavor. Just stuff your cooked pasta shells with a blend of ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella, top them with sauce and more shredded cheese, and bake. For an autumnal spin, try adding some pureed pumpkin and chopped fresh sage to the filling of the shells, which will add an earthy sweetness to the dish.

Recipe: Stuffed Shells

Instant Pot Creamy Garlic Chicken

It might be Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean you can't use your trusty Instant Pot to make dinner. In fact, it makes easy work of this creamy garlic chicken recipe, leaving your stovetop and oven free for cooking your favorite side dishes and desserts. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are the star of the recipe, with mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning, and parsley adding big flavor to the sauce made from sour cream, chicken stock, and grated Parmesan. Serve it with mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, and some green veggies to balance out the meal.

Recipe: Instant Pot Creamy Garlic Chicken

Pistachio-Crusted Salmon

Succulent salmon is a weeknight staple for many, but it can totally steal the spotlight on your Thanksgiving table when given the proper treatment. A pistachio crust not only makes your salmon look great, but it also adds lots of texture and color to the recipe. First, brush your salmon with a honey Dijon glaze full of chopped herbs, which flavors your fish and also creates a sticky surface for your nuts to adhere to. Then, press the pistachios onto the salmon, and bake for about 15 minutes. That's a lot less time than it takes to cook a turkey.

Recipe: Pistachio-Crusted Salmon

30-Minute Pasta Bolognese

Traditional bolognese sauce can take hours to cook on the stove, as the blend of meat and vegetables simmers and breaks down to create an incredibly silky, rich, meaty sauce. Well, don't tell your Nonna, but you can make a similar dish in just thirty minutes, thanks to some clever tricks. Beef and pancetta make a savory base for the sauce, while tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, and some red wine imbue everything with a layered, long-cooked flavor. Toss with fettuccini, top with Parmesan, and serve.

Recipe: 30-Minute Pasta Bolognese

Steak And Kidney Pie

If you're looking for a fun Thanksgiving turkey alternative, maybe it's time to look across the pond. Steak and kidney pie is not just a traditional British comfort food, it's a tasty way to start exploring the world of nose-to-tail cooking. Look for lamb's kidneys for this recipe, which cook more quickly than beef kidneys. First, you'll make a savory stew out of kidneys and beef, simmering until the meat is tender and the sauce thickened. Then, put it in a pie plate and cover with a sheet of puff pastry. The result? Meaty stew, golden puff pastry, and smiles all around the table.

Recipe: Steak And Kidney Pie

Chicken Risotto

If you're looking for a fun non-turkey cooking project on Thanksgiving, turn to this chicken risotto. It's made with porcini mushrooms, chicken, Parmesan cheese, arborio rice, garlic, and more. You make the dish by slowly pouring hot broth into your arborio rice, stirring regularly, for about 20-25 minutes. The rice slowly soaks up the broth (and all of the flavor), while becoming creamy and tender. You'll feel like a star chef with all that stirring, but don't worry — the whole recipe takes under an hour.

Recipe: Chicken Risotto

Ina Garten's Lasagna

When we're looking for a flawless recipe, we often turn to Ina Garten, star of the show "Barefoot Contessa" and author of several cookbooks. Her lasagna recipe feeds eight, and the leftovers are delicious, too. The twist? This take on Garten's lasagna is made with cheese ravioli instead of lasagna noodles, which adds even more decadence to the recipe, especially after the ravioli is layered with ricotta, goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella, and a sausage-filled meat sauce.

Recipe: Ina Garten's Lasagna

BBQ Half Chicken

Barbecue sauce doesn't have to disappear from your life once summer comes to an end. It adds big flavor to chicken all year round, especially when cooked over a gas or charcoal grill. This cooking method helps the sauce slowly permeate the meat, caramelizing and concentrating the flavor. Try preparing several half chickens on the grill for a festive, indulgent presentation on Thanksgiving that will make your guests feel like BBQ royalty.

Recipe: BBQ Half Chicken

Cheesy Spinach Cannelloni

If you've mastered stuffed shells and lasagna, there's another impressive pasta dish you should add to your repertoire: cannelloni. These large pasta tubes are filled with a blend of Italian cheeses and spinach, seasoned with nutmeg and basil, and are baked in a dish with marinara sauce and a topping of fresh mozzarella. When you take the dish out of the oven, you'll see bubbling sauce, ooey-gooey mozzarella, and plenty of cheese-filled pasta just waiting to be devoured.

Recipe: Cheesy Spinach Cannelloni

Ina Garten's Roast Chicken

There's regular roast chicken, and then there's Ina Garten's roast chicken. Her foolproof recipe is delicious when prepared just as the instructions dictate, but it's also a great jumping-off point for cooks who like to experiment. The rest of the year, you might stuff your bird with lemons and coat it with butter, but it's Thanksgiving, so why not jazz things up by swapping the lemons for oranges, and the butter for mayonnaise? It might sound strange, but mayonnaise adds richness to your bird and helps the skin get flavorful and golden-brown as it roasts. Plus, the pan drippings, flavored with oranges, onions, and rosemary, are to die for.

Recipe: Ina Garten's Roast Chicken

One-Pot Creamy French Pasta Bake

French food has a reputation for being overly complicated and excessively rich, but this recipe is neither. Take out your trusty Dutch oven and whip up this vegetarian dish. Mushrooms, onions, and pasta get bathed in a luscious sauce made from cream, Gruyère, and Parmesan cheese. It's decadent enough to feel celebratory, but not so indulgent that you won't want to enjoy a slice of pie after dinner. And you can't complain about a Thanksgiving meal that results in just one dirty pan!

Recipe: One-Pot Creamy French Pasta Bake

Gordon Ramsay's Steak

Gordon Ramsay's steak recipe with a twist is all about technique, and it's the perfect chance to finally use that sous vide immersion circulator you got for Christmas last year but never got around to using. For the best texture and flavor, the recipe calls for first cooking a beef sirloin steak sous vide until it's rare or medium rare, then searing it in a screaming hot skillet to get a savory brown exterior. While the steak is cooking, baste it with garlic herb butter, which adds even more flavor to each bite. After all, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a little butter, right?

Recipe: Gordon Ramsay's Steak

Copycat KFC Chicken Pot Pie

In some parts of the world, a bucket of KFC chicken is a Christmas tradition, so why not make it a part of your Thanksgiving dinner, too? Don't worry, we're not going to tell you to make fried chicken for Thanksgiving — deep-frying takes too much work and requires too much cleanup when you have company. Instead, try this copycat KFC chicken pot pie recipe, which you can even make ahead of time. You can even use storebought rotisserie chicken and puff pastry, too, which saves a ton of time.

Recipe: Copycat KFC Chicken Pot Pie

Easy Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna is always a crowd-pleaser, and you can add pretty much anything you want to it. This easy spinach lasagna pairs greens with the classic filling of cheese and marinara, but you can branch out if you'd like. Swap the spinach for sauteed kale, add some browned Italian sausage, stir Calabrian chile paste into the marinara... Just follow your heart! Or, keep things simple and just make a deliciously easy spinach lasagna — the world is your oyster.

Recipe: Easy Spinach Lasagna

Easy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

There are a lot of reasons to break out your air fryer on Thanksgiving. Maybe you don't have a traditional oven, don't want to heat up the house, or are just air fryer obsessed — all of those reasons are valid. Make this air fryer BBQ chicken for dinner, and you can proudly say "I made Thanksgiving dinner in my air fryer." The chicken's thick and sticky barbecue glaze will leave you licking your fingers, so make sure that you still set the table with good cloth napkins. Even though there's no turkey, your guests will definitely need them.

Recipe: Easy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

Gordon Ramsay's Salmon

A side of salmon can look just as impressive as a roasted turkey, especially when you're making Gordon Ramsay's pan-fried salmon. The bright color of the fish livens up everyone's plates, the crispy skin is impossible to stop eating, and the decadent lemon butter sauce that finishes the dish is totally celebration worthy. This salmon recipe is delicious served with traditional Thanksgiving sides like mashed potatoes and green beans, but it would also be divine with a simple green salad and some rice pilaf or couscous, too.

Recipe: Gordon Ramsay's Salmon

Spicy Sausage And Ricotta Pasta

The star of this pasta bake, and what sets it apart from other dishes like baked ziti, is the use of 'nduja. 'Nduja is a soft, spicy prosciutto spread from Calabria in Italy, and it adds big, bold flavor to this pasta recipe. The spice of the 'nduja is tempered with creamy ricotta cheese, and hearty rigatoni noodles soak up every bit of sauce, cheese, and sausage. You can even make this dish a day ahead of time: assemble everything up the point before you put it in the oven, then cover your dish with foil and refrigerate. The next day, pop it in the oven about 45 minutes before you're ready to eat. It's so much easier than dealing with a turkey.

Recipe: Spicy Sausage And Ricotta Pasta

Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Unlike turkey breast, which always seems to be bone-dry, chicken thighs are perpectually succulent and moist. That makes them the perfect meat to stuff, because they can handle a little extra cooking time without drying out. These boneless, skinless chicken thighs are stuffed with spinach, sundried tomatoes, and tangy goat cheese. It's savory, sweet, salty, and the perfect centerpiece to your turkey-free Thanksgiving meal. Serve with roasted potatoes or rice along with your favorite vegetables.

Recipe: Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Homemade Prime Rib

Prime rib might be something you're used to only ordering from a restaurant, but it's Thanksgiving, so why not try making a decadent prime rib roast at home? You'll need to purchase a standing rib roast for this recipe, which, while pricey, is so delicious that it's totally worth it for a celebratory meal. Don't forget the sauces — a bracing horseradish sauce helps cut through the richness of the meat, and blue cheese is a steakhouse classic.

Recipe: Homemade Prime Rib

5-Ingredient Meatball Pasta Bake

Whether you're looking for a fuss-free recipe to make for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, you can't go wrong with this 5-ingredient meatball pasta bake. It relies on frozen meatballs to cut way back on the prep time, and since they're such a key component to the meal, make sure you buy the best ones available at your grocery store. 10 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of cook time later, and you have an affordable meal for eight people, no turkey needed.

Recipe: 5-Ingredient Meatball Pasta Bake

Jerk Chicken

One of the complaints you might hear about Thanksgiving food is that it can taste bland, but that's not something you'll ever hear about spicy jerk chicken. A rub made from spices like allspice, thyme, black pepper, and ginger infuses the chicken with flavor, while a sauce made of browning sauce, scotch bonnet pepper, and liquid smoke coats the meat, making it even more tasty. You can roast, grill, or stew your chicken, but we like the way it gets extra caramelized bits when it's roasted or grilled. If it doesn't brown to your liking, you can pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Serve with traditional sides like rice and peas or fried plantains, or with your Thanksgiving favorites.

Recipe: Jerk Chicken

Slow Cooker Mushroom Risotto

We always love slow cooker recipes, but we especially love them during the busy holiday season. Usually you have to constantly stir a pot of risotto, but this hands-off slow cooker recipe gives you back nearly 3 hours of your time while it simmers. The recipe does call for you to start your ingredients on the stovetop, so for even more ease, try making this dish in an Instant Pot or other multi-cooker that allows you to sauté and then slow cook ingredients in the same pot, to save on dishes.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Mushroom Risotto

Baked Chicken With Cinnamon

We're used to seeing cinnamon used in our favorite foods this time of year, but paired with poultry? Not usually. That's why we love this recipe. It combines two familiar ingredients in a way that might be a little unexpected to those who thought they'd be getting sage, rosemary, and thyme with their bird. Instead, this chicken is flavored with plenty of cinnamon, and a marinade made from apple juice, honey, and lemon that gets stickily delicious in the oven. Serve with potatoes, rice, or bread so you have something to soak up all that extra sauce.

Recipe: Baked Chicken With Cinnamon

Giada's Lasagna

Giada De Laurentiis' classic lasagna recipe is nearly perfect, but there are two tweaks you can make so it's more Thanksgiving appropriate. For one, swap the homemade marinara for store-bought, because who has time to for that on Thanksgiving? Then, add some Italian sausage to the ground beef mixture De Laurentiis calls for. The extra seasonings in the sausage give the lasagna a big flavor boost, and helps cut through the richness of the cheese and bechamel sauce.

Recipe: Giada's Lasagna With A Twist

Tomahawk Steak

Chef Rasheed Philips was the runner-up on Netflix's "American Barbecue Showdown," so it's safe to say he knows a thing or two about cooking meat on the grill. Aside from a sizzling platter of fajitas, we can't think of any restaurant dish that turns more heads than a tomahawk steak, and thanks to Chef Philips, you can now enjoy this steakhouse delicacy at home. Fire up the grill and get ready for a Thanksgiving meal none of your guests will ever forget.

Recipe: Chef Rasheed Philips' Tomahawk Steak

Instant Pot Pumpkin Pasta

Pumpkin pie is great and everything, but this year, why not make an apple pie instead and save the pumpkin for your entrée? This creamy pumpkin pasta is bursting with fall flavor, and it can be quickly made in your Instant Pot. Even better? It's totally vegan, which is rare for a Thanksgiving dish. Serve it up as a side dish to your turkey or as a stand-alone main dish for vegetarians, and get ready for the compliments to the chef to roll in.

Recipe: Instant Pot Pumpkin Pasta

Air Fryer Chicken Breast

If your number one priority on Thanksgiving is making a fast and easy meal, then this is the recipe for you. If your number two priority is for it to taste delicious and be chock-full of turkey-less protein, then this is still the recipe for you. Chicken breasts cook up quickly in the air fryer, getting a crispy exterior while staying juicy inside. The key to flavoring the chicken is a homemade spice rub made from paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and more. No bland poultry to be seen here!

Recipe: Air Fryer Chicken Breast

Gordon Ramsay's Risotto

We live in fear of Gordon Ramsay hearing us say this, but his risotto recipe is even better with a twist. First, the amount of butter and cheese in the dish is reduced, which is honestly necessary on a day like Thanksgiving, when we want to be able to eat all of our favorite dishes without passing out at the table. The second change is to add a splash of red wine to the risotto, which is a Piedmontese tradition. The wine adds so much flavor, you won't even miss the cheese (though you still might pass out at the table). 

Recipe: Gordon Ramsay's Risotto

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is beloved for a reason. It has a rich, tangy sauce, flavored with tomatoes, butter, and cream, and the chicken is always seasoned and juicy. This recipe can be made in a slow cooker, which lets the ingredients meld together as they simmer away. In the meantime, the chicken becomes meltingly tender as it cooks in the sauce. Serve with naan and rice, or mix things up and spoon the butter chicken over your favorite Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Ina Garten's Salmon

Ina Garten's panko-crusted salmon recipe is delightful as-is, but we like to put a spin on it, especially for Thanksgiving. Instead of parsley, this recipe calls for cilantro (the one ingredient Garten hates), and the lemony panko crust sticks to the salmon thanks to a zesty sriracha mayo. You can buy pre-made sriracha mayo, or make some yourself by combining one part sriracha to two parts mayonnaise. The result is a moist salmon dish that's bursting with flavor and has a satisfying crunch. Just don't tell Ina about the cilantro. 

Recipe: Ina Garten's Salmon

One-Pot Pasta With Spinach And Tomatoes

If you dread Thanksgiving every year because of the mountain of dishes you're inevitably left to wash at the end of your feast, then this is the turkey-free recipe for you. Skip the pomp and circumstance of tradition, and whip up this delicious one-pot pasta with spinach and tomatoes. The pasta cooks in chicken broth and tomatoes, and as it cooks, the pasta starch from your spaghetti thickens everything right up. The noodles are so much more flavorful than when cooked in plain water, and you only have one pot to clean when everyone's done.

Recipe: One-Pot Pasta With Spinach And Tomatoes

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

Even if you hate turkey, there's something to be said about the showy appearance of serving a whole bird for dinner. One solution? Just swap the turkey for chicken, which is easier to cook anyway. You can even fit a whole chicken in your slow cooker, and while it cooks, you can work on making your favorite side dishes and desserts, or sit on the couch with a bottle of wine and a queue of Christmas movies lined up. The cooked chicken will keep for five days in the fridge, so you'll still get to enjoy plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells are always fun to eat, because who doesn't like what are essentially pasta boats filled with ooey-gooey cheese? They're versatile, too, as you can see with this autumnal take on the classic recipe. A blend of sweet butternut squash, spinach, and two types of cheese are used to fill the stuffed shells, and everything is blanketed in marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella before it heads to the oven. When it comes out of the oven, browned and bubbling and smelling like heaven, no one will miss the turkey.

Recipe: Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells