Zeko enjoys writing about gift ideas and creative ways to celebrate holidays and special occasions.
Thanksgiving menus are often the same—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce and, of course, pumpkin pie. But as delicious as these traditional dishes may be, it is also fun to mix them or switch them up with new ones and try something different.
Here is a list of tasty and beautifully presented Thanksgiving appetizers, side dishes and desserts worth trying out.
Thanksgiving Appetizer Ideas
These creative appetizers will definitely be a memorable part of any Thanksgiving get-together.
Pumpkin-Pie-Shaped Cheese and Crackers
They may look like mini pumpkin pie slices, but are wedges of cheddar cheese, sitting on triangular crackers and topped with a swirl of cream cheese. And what looks like golden-brown crust is actually a wavy stick cracker. The SheKnows.com website has all the instructions on how to assemble these little showstoppers.
Pumpkin Patch Appetizer
Here is another easy appetizer for Thanksgiving—pumpkin-shaped bites, made from roasted butternut squash and herbal pesto spread, and served on thin slices of German-style rye bread. Easy to make, yet elegant in presentation, these appetizers will keep your friends and family happy while the Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared. For the instructions on how to make them, head out to HuffingtonPost.com.
Cheesy Mini Pumpkins
Cheese Balls are the perfect finger food for any fall gathering and don’t take a lot of time to prepare. These cheese balls from Kitchen Simplicity don’t contain any pumpkin—they are only shaped like pumpkins—making them a great addition to your Thanksgiving spread. And they look so pretty served over crackers!
Pastry-Wrapped Cranberry Brie
It's hard not to love soft brie cheese, topped with jam, dried cranberries and toasted almonds, and wrapped up in a buttery pastry. This elegant appetizer is sure to impress your guests at the Thanksgiving dinner. The nice thing about it is that you can prep it the day before and keep it, unbaked, in the fridge until just before your guests arrive. For a recipe, go to Mlive.com or watch the video.
Read More From Holidappy
Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas
Don't let the creativity stop with the appetizers. There are plenty of cute ideas for Thanksgiving-themed side dishes for your holiday table.
Pumpkin-Shaped Dinner Rolls
On Thanksgiving, almost nothing can beat the taste of freshly-baked dinner rolls, right out of the oven. You can make your dinner rolls even more irresistible if you shape them like mini pumpkins. You can find a recipe and instructions on Beyond Kimchee website or in the video on the right.
The nice thing is that these festive pumpkin-shaped rolls can be made with almost any bread roll recipe. And if you need to take a big shortcut, even frozen dough. In any case, they will look like rolls form an artisan bakery and will be perfect to pass around the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Thanksgiving Vegetable Art
Thanksgiving menus are all about highlighting autumn's ingredients in diverse dishes and this next idea does just that. This beautifully-presented vegetable dish from Stasty is made with red beets, butternut squash and potatoes and would be delicious alongside roasted turkey. All you need to make the veggies look amazing is some cookie cutters.
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
The traditional Thanksgiving mashed potatoes could be easily replaced with this delicious recipe for Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes from SpoonForkBacon.com. This recipe has a fantastic collection of flavors: sweet potato, garlic, feta, thyme and pecans. In addition to that, the great presentation makes the potato side dish feel much more special at the table with very little extra work.
Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes
Another awesome alternative to the mashed potatoes is this Mashed Purple Potatoes recipe. This fun dish also comes from SpoonForkBacon.com and will definitely add more color to the holiday table. Purple mashed potatoes are not only a great way to impresses your guests, but they are also loaded with antioxidants that will nourish your body.
Roasted Squash “Blossom”
If your choice for a Thanksgiving side is roasted squash, but you are kind of tired of doing the same old thing, try this Roasted Delicata Squash Blossom dish from MyMansBelly.com. This is an attractive and fun way to jazz up your otherwise basic roasted squash. An added bonus of using Delicata squash is that you don’t have to peel it, which will definitely minimize your workload.
Vegetable Stew in Mini Pumpkins
Do you have any vegetarians or vegans sitting down at your Thanksgiving table? For those who are struggling to find tasty recipes suitable for vegan or vegetarian guests, give this Vegetable Stew, served in mini pumpkins, a try. The great flavor and beautiful presentation of the dish will definitely keep your guests full and happy. You can get the recipe at 86Lemons.com.
Roasted Stuffed Red Onions
Roasted Stuffed Red Onions are an amazing side dish for holiday meals or any cozy fall dinner. They pair well with traditional Thanksgiving turkey and retain their vibrant color for a very appealing presentation. Check out Fotoefornelli.com for a recipe for Couscous Stuffed Onions.
Bacon-Wrapped Roasted Vegetables
ASpicyPerspective.com has a wonderful idea for dressing up your veggies for Thanksgiving—just wrap them in bacon and take them to the next level, because, as they say, bacon makes everything taste better. This delicious recipe is quick to make and even kids who don't normally eat asparagus and veggies will enjoy it.
Butternut Potato Puffs
Another side dish that can be prepared in advance and warmed up a few minutes before your gathering starts is this Butternut Potato Puff side from BitterSweetBlog.com. These lovely potato puffs are a different take on the classic Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, but still retain that yummy “comfort food” factor.
Butternut Squash Risotto
Butternut squash is one of those versatile veggies that can be roasted, pureed for soups, and used in breads and risotto to give them an autumnal twist. This Butternut Squash Risotto recipe from LoveAndOliveOil.com would make a great substitute for the casserole sides that typically make an appearance at Thanksgiving tables. The recipe can also be adapted for vegetarians by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable.
Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas
These creative dessert recipes will help you end your Thanksgiving meal with a chorus of oohs and ahs.
Apple Rose Tart
This incredible dessert recipe for Apple Rose Tart will ensure your Thanksgiving ends on a high note. Don’t get intimidated by the tart’s amazing looks, because it is not that difficult to make it. You can find a step-by-step tutorial at HipFoodieMom.com.
Saffron-Poached Pears With Chocolate
Poached pears are one of those desserts that are elegant enough to serve at the holidays and simple enough to get you out of the kitchen faster. This recipe for Saffron Poached Pears with Chocolate from SprinkleBakes.com blends perfectly with the colors of fall, and will fit right in on any Thanksgiving table.
'Pumpkin Pie' Ice Cream With Pecan Praline
When it comes to Thanksgiving desserts, pumpkin pie is the king, nobody can argue with that. But don't be afraid to step outside the box and switch things up a little. Try, for example, a 'Pumpkin Pie' Ice Cream with pecan praline. It still has the pumpkin taste but in a new, different form. Check out the recipe at TheTiffInbox.ca.
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Another pumpkin-flavored dessert that you may enjoy is a pumpkin cheesecake. Here is a great, no-bake recipe from CookingClassy.com. An easy, no-bake dessert is always a win during holiday celebrations, considering all the cooking that comes with them.
Pumpkin Rice Pudding
You may not think of rice pudding as Thanksgiving dessert, but if you add some pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg to it, it can be perfect for the holidays. At MeaningfulEats.com you will find a recipe for Pumpkin Rice Pudding that is simply delectable.
You can cook the pudding the day ahead to save some time. And if there is some left after the celebration, eat it as a delicious oatmeal alternative in the morning.
Pumpkin Kiss Brownies
And finally, for an impressive, stress-free dessert that can be prepared days in advance, try these pretty-looking Pumpkin Kiss Brownies from ButterCreamBlondie.com. They are perfect not only for the holiday table, but also for those upcoming potluck parties.
© 2014 iZeko