Thanksgiving Southern Family Feast Recipes - Holidappy - Celebrations
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Thanksgiving Southern Family Feast Recipes

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Rose Mary's mother and all of her aunts are great Southern cooks. She likes to think she's not so bad herself.

Thanksgiving Dinner Tables

Thanksgiving Dinner Tables

Thanksgiving Dinner was always a big deal growing up. We always had a feast with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins from my mom’s side of the family. This meant dozens of relatives and tons of great food. The women did all of the cooking, and let me tell you—my mom and all of my aunts are great cooks. I’m going to share with you the traditional Southern Thanksgiving feast that we always had at my house. Beware, it is a meat-and-carb fest!

Our Menu

Meats:

  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Roast beef

Side Dishes:

  • Macaroni Cheese Pie
  • Dressing and Giblet Gravy
  • Noodles
  • Lima Beans
  • Green Beans
  • Potato Salad
  • Dinner Rolls

Desserts:

  • Fruit Salad
  • Banana Pudding
  • German Chocolate Cake
  • Sweet Potato Pies
  • Pecan Pies

My mom does not really care for turkey. We always have turkey, but we also have ham, my mom’s favorite, and roast beef, my sister’s favorite. It is beyond the scope of this article to tell you how to cook the meats, but I leave you in the good hands of some famous cooks, through YouTube.

Roasted Turkey

Roasted Turkey

Turkey

I like to use the oven roasting bags to cook turkeys. I also prefer the turkey breast roast. If you want to cook a whole turkey and don’t have a lot of experience, I would suggest a turkey with a pop-up indicator, like a Butterball turkey. Many turkeys come with gravy pouches that make a gravy that is really pretty good. The turkey packaging and the oven bags give cooking information for oven temperature and cook time. In general, you will bake a 20-pound turkey about 3 hours at 350 degrees.

Martha Stewart Talks Turkey on YouTube

How to Prepare a Thanksgiving Turkey for Roasting

Stuffing 101

How to Stuff and Truss

Thanksgiving Stuffing

How to Cider Brine Turkey

How to Carve a Turkey

Baked Spiral Ham

Baked Spiral Ham

Baked Ham

There are cured hams and green hams. The cured ham is like the spiral hams. They are essentially cooked, but you will want to heat in the oven on low for several hours, usually about 15 minutes per pound, at 325 degrees. A green ham is raw. Mom always cooked green hams overnight in the oven.

Use the juice for the ham to make gravy, cook noodles, or flavor vegetables. Just know that the juice will be extremely salty, so use sparingly. Mom made gravy with the drippings that is to die for, but you do need to water down the juice because of the saltiness. I make milk gravy with about 1 part ham drippings to 2 parts milk.

If you’d like a good sauce for your ham, mix brown sugar and mustard. De-bone and de-fat your ham. Tear into chunks and pour sauce over the ham. Heat in the oven until thoroughly heated. This works well for cooking the ham ahead of time and reheating with the sauce before serving.

Check out this video from Better Homes and Gardens for tips on baking your ham.

Beef Roast

Mom usually cooks something like a beef bottom round roast in the crockpot. Leave the lid on and do not peek for the best tenderness. This juice is the best of all the meats for cooking the noodles. Check out this video from Jamie Olive on how to cook perfect roast beef.

Real mac & cheese has milk & eggs, and is baked in the oven.  Fresh out of the oven, it has a souffle-like texture.

Real mac & cheese has milk & eggs, and is baked in the oven. Fresh out of the oven, it has a souffle-like texture.

Homemade Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Down South we call this Cheese Pie. At our dinners, this was my Aunt Pat’s baby. My mom and aunts don’t use a recipe. I always made baked macaroni and cheese for my clinic holiday dinners in the Air Force. A couple years ago I decided to measure everything and tweak until I actually had a recipe.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cans evaporated milk
  • 12 oz sharp cheese, shredded
  • 12 oz extra sharp cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Cook noodles and drain. Pour into greased casserole dish. Cut the butter into chunks, and stir in with noodles to melt.
  2. Mix shredded cheese through macaroni. My mom prefers Cracker Barrel cheese.
  3. Beat eggs and pour over macaroni.
  4. Pour milk over macaroni mixture.
  5. Stir to combine.
  6. Start out in preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 40 min, remove from oven, stir and return to oven. Increase oven temp to 400 degrees and bake for another 40 min. Top and sides will be brown and will get slightly crispy when removed from the oven. Center will be soft with cheese, egg and milk forming a soufflé-like texture.
Cornbread dressing with sweet onion, topped with gibblet gravy

Cornbread dressing with sweet onion, topped with gibblet gravy

Cornbread Dressing

Cornbread Dressing

Cornbread Dressing and Giblet Gravy

When we make cornbread dressing down South, we actually make and use day old cornbread. The dressing was my Aunt Blanche’s baby. In my family we like dressing a little on the soupy side, really moist. Traditionally it is firm, like cake squares and served with giblet gravy to moisten. I have included the gravy recipe also. Mom usually cooked a whole chicken on the stove or in a crockpot, in 6 to 8 cups of water. Use the broth for the dressing and gravy. Use the chicken later to make chicken salad, chicken pot pie, or some other yummy treat.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cornbread, homemade or Jiffy mix
  • 3 c chicken broth
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 5 crumbled biscuits, homemade or frozen
  • 1 medium minced onion
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3 eggs

Instructions

  1. Crumble cornbread and biscuits.
  2. Add hot broth.
  3. Cover and let sit 5 minutes.
  4. Add remaining ingredients.
  5. Pour in greased dish. Bake 1 hour at 400 degrees.

Giblet Gravy

Ingredients

  • ¼ flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 c chicken broth
  • Chicken gizzards and livers

Instructions

  1. Whisk flour into chicken stock. Add salt.
  2. Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Add finely chopped gizzards and liver.
  4. Cook until thick.
My homemade potato salad.

My homemade potato salad.

Potato Salad

Mom and I differ on potato salad. My potato salad was influenced by the mother of one of my high school friends. I’ll provide both and you can decide.

Mom sold me on red potatoes. They are moister and have a slight sweetness. Mom uses sweet pickle relish or a mayo relish. I use Claussen’s pickles and Duke’s mayonnaise. Claussen’s pickles have the best pickle texture for my money, and Duke’s is the only mayonnaise for me. Unlike Mom, I mash my eggs very thoroughly, especially the whites. Big chunks of egg white is an unpleasant texture for me. Dice onions and pickles by hand. If you use a chopper, the texture gets lost.

Be warned that neither of us have a recipe for potato salad, so ingredient amounts are my best guess. You’ll want to make this ahead and refrigerate so that the onions are crispy.

Mom's Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 to 5 lbs of red potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 to 4 boiled eggs, peeled and mashed
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced medium
  • Mayonnaise-based sandwich relish with sweet pickle

Instructions

  1. Cook potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain. Mash with potato masher.
  2. Add mashed eggs, onions, and pickles.
  3. Add mayonnaise and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add mayo until sufficiently moistened.
  4. Add salt if needed, to taste.

My Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 to 5 lbs of red potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 to 4 boiled eggs, peeled and finely mashed
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced medium
  • 4-8 Claussen’s pickles, diced
  • ½ to 1 c green olives, chopped
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dijonnaise mustard

Instructions

  1. Cook potatoes in salty water until soft. Drain. Mash up to half of the potatoes with a potato masher. Stir the remaining potatoes to break up, but also leave some chunks. I cook my potatoes fairly soft, and they break up enough to suit me just through stirring.
  2. Add mashed eggs, onions, olives, and pickles.
  3. Add mayonnaise and about ¼ cup of mustard, and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add more mayo, pickle juice, and/or olive juice until sufficiently moistened. I also frequently add some plain Greek yogurt.
  4. Add salt if needed, to taste.

Brown & Serve Rolls

Although at least one of my aunts, Aunt Totsie, made homemade biscuits and cornbread regularly, we usually have Brown and Serve rolls at Thanksgiving.

Pot of noodles, cooked in chicken broth

Pot of noodles, cooked in chicken broth

Noodles

We like medium width, thin egg noodles. Heat broth to boil. I like beef broth best. Add noodles. Cook, stirring occasionally, per time on package directions. Go for the lesser time when a range is given. You want to remove from the heat when the noodles are still firm as they will continue to “cook.” Texture is very important! I always tend the noodles for this reason!

Green lima beans, cooked until very tender

Green lima beans, cooked until very tender

Lima Beans

We like baby limas. Cook with ample water, and flavor with meat juice or bacon drippings. I like to cook with a medium peeled onion for flavor. Simmer covered until tender. We Southerners like our vegetables soft, so cook time could be an hour. Remove onion before serving.

Green beans, cooked until very tender, with potatoes

Green beans, cooked until very tender, with potatoes

Green Beans With Potatoes

We like to cook the green beans until soft too. We like to cook large cubes of potatoes with our green beans. Season with meat juice or bacon drippings. If you want to use canned green beans, Hannover beans with the white liner are good. They are tender and don’t require a lot of cooking time. Old Glory green beans are already seasoned and come with or without potatoes.

Apples, bananas, and oranges are the key ingredients of this family favorite fruit salad

Apples, bananas, and oranges are the key ingredients of this family favorite fruit salad

Fruit Salad

Ingredients

  • 6 bananas
  • 6 apples
  • 6 oranges
  • 1 ½ c evaporated milk, add sugar until the milk and sugar mixture reach the 2 c level
  • 1 ½ c chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Ingredients

  1. Peel and chop all fruit.
  2. Mix milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Pour onto fruit. Mix to coat fruit.
  3. Add nuts if desired.
Homemade Banana Pudding is made with cooked custard, not instant pudding mix!

Homemade Banana Pudding is made with cooked custard, not instant pudding mix!

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

Homemade Banana Pudding

This is the real deal. You might as well go ahead and double the recipe. Don’t even talk to me about that Jello pudding steak house buffet stuff. The key to great banana pudding is the cooked custard, which makes the wafers gooey, and that's a good thing.

Ingredients

  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 heaping T flour
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can water
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 1 bunch of ripe bananas, peeled and cut into rounds

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar and flour together.
  2. Transfer sugar and flour, egg yolks, milk and water to pan, preferably the top of a double boiler.
  3. Heat stirring constantly until mixture starts to bubble.
  4. Layer vanilla wafers, bananas, and cooked custard in a casserole dish.
  5. Optional: Top with meringue and bake 15 to 20 minutes for 325 degrees. (I don’t care for the meringue, another texture thing.)

Meringue

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cream of tarter
  • ¼ c sugar

Instructions

  1. Mix with electric mixer until frothy.
  2. Pour over banana pudding.
  3. Bake 15-20 minutes at 325.
German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

Mom uses the recipe on the Baker’s German Chocolate. It’s maybe my favorite cake ever, though Mom has a great repertoire of cake recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 4-oz package Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate
  • ½ c boiling water
  • 1 c butter
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • 2 ½ c sifted Swan’s Down Cake flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolate in boiling water. Cool.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add egg yolks one at a time, and beat well after each.
  4. Add melted chocolate and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Sift together flour, salt, and soda. Add dry mix alternately with buttermilk to chocolate mixture, beating after each addition until smooth.
  6. Fold in beaten egg whites.
  7. Pour into 3 greased and floured 9-inch layer pans. Bake 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
  8. Cool layers. Frost tops only.

German Chocolate Cake Coconut and Nut Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 c evaporated milk
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/3 c Baker's Angel Flake coconut
  • 1 c chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Combine evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla.
  2. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring, about 12 minutes.
  3. Add coconut and chopped pecans.
  4. Beat until thick enough to spread. Apply to tops of cooled layers.
Slice of Mom's Sweet Potato Pie, served on Granny's dish

Slice of Mom's Sweet Potato Pie, served on Granny's dish

Sweet Potato Pie made by my mom

Sweet Potato Pie made by my mom

Mom's Sweet Potato Pie

Mom’s Sweet Potato pies are the best of all the family in my opinion. She does not use a recipe. She looked through some of her recipe books and thought this one was close, but emphasized she sweetens to taste.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, about 3 ½ to 4 c
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ c evaporated milk
  • 2 shallow (not deep dish) unbaked pie crusts

Instructions

  1. Peel sweet potatoes. Cut in chunks. Boil until tender.
  2. Beat potatoes with mixer until smooth.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Beat until creamy.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, until crust is brown. Mom cautions the cook time on these is tricky. The bottom is often doughy, so maybe not a bad idea to precook the crust for 10-15 minutes.
Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Mom is adamant that brown sugar is the way to go, and would never make a corn syrup version of pecan pie.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ c milk
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 2 c chopped pecans
  • 2 shallow (not deep dish) unbaked pie crusts

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and sugar
  2. Add flour
  3. Beat eggs together and add to mixture
  4. Add milk, nuts and flavoring
  5. Pour into 2 shallow unbaked pie shells
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until set

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Maple glazed ham, roasted turkey, green bean casserole, rice with ham milk gravy, and cornbread dressing with gibblet gravy

Maple glazed ham, roasted turkey, green bean casserole, rice with ham milk gravy, and cornbread dressing with gibblet gravy

© 2009 rmcrayne

Comments

John Dove on November 21, 2017:

My mouth waters as I read through your article. I particularly like pecan pie. Sometime I will have to write about our family Thanksgiving meal in Maryland.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on November 25, 2015:

Thanks for visiting KK Girl. The Mac & Cheese will not disappoint, I promise. I have another hub with the Baked Macaroni & Cheese recipe, including a smaller portion. We like to make the big one and have leftovers, to make Dunbar Macaroni. That recipe is in the Mac & Cheese hub too.

https://delishably.com/grains/Baked-Macaroni-and-C...

KonaGirl from New York on November 25, 2015:

Your southern Thanksgiving feast sounds like a wonderful time with lots of good food. Yum! I have to pick your style of potato salad (sorry Mom) just because I am more particle to dill pickles than sweet pickle relish.

I really want to try your mac & cheese pie. It sounds heavenly - like my new comfort food. Pinning to my "Pasta" board on Pinterest so I can try the recipe after Thanksgiving. I already have everything planned for tomorrow's big day.

kafsoa on May 16, 2011:

Wow! tasty recipes, Must try some. I like pies and fruit salad.

tricia35549 on March 21, 2011:

Thanks for the recipes

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on November 23, 2010:

Thanks Die'Dre'. We just made the mac & cheese this morning for my brother's work dinner. We'll do another Thursday for our usual T'giving at our friend Josie's.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on November 23, 2010:

Thanks WordPlay! Your 'how to' hub was one of my very first bookmarks.

Die'Dre' from The Great Pacific Northwest on November 19, 2010:

Wow, mouthwatering! Definitely going to try the mac & cheese recipe. Item-packed Hub. Thanks

Carla Chadwick from Georgia on November 15, 2010:

Wonderful hub. I bookmarked it and voted it up!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on August 29, 2010:

Thanks xres55. I had a lot of cool milestones to cap off my 1 year anniversary!

xres55rummerxr on August 28, 2010:

Dangit, made me hungry and its still a couple hours until dinner. Really nice hub. Congrats on hitting the 200 mark!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on July 11, 2010:

Thanks for reading webclubs.

websclubs on July 10, 2010:

Hi Rmcrayne,

Nice Hub. Thanks for sharing.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on February 15, 2010:

Thanks for reading and commenting fits!

Cherri Brown-Jett from Richmond on February 15, 2010:

I enjoyed reading this hub although it made me very hungry. Great job. I loved it.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on February 04, 2010:

Thanks Angel for joining in on my traditional family feast!

Its Angel from Charleston, SC on February 03, 2010:

This is a great hub!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on October 13, 2009:

THanks for reading and commenting Tony. Yes I grew up surrounded by great cooks. Let me know how it goes with the recipes!

Tony McGregor from South Africa on October 11, 2009:

Wow! What a feast that must be. I would love to be able to share in something like that. The recipes also look fabulous. Will try some in due course.

Thanks for sharing.

Love and peace

Tony

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on October 11, 2009:

Thanks Beth. Let me know if you try the recipe!

Beth100 from Canada on October 11, 2009:

This is perfect for me, especially the sweet potato pie as it is Thanksgiving for us in Canada tomorrow! Thank you for sharing your recipes and your family fesitivities!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on October 09, 2009:

Thanks lyrics, judy and HT for reading and commenting!

lyrics, Unfortunately I'm in San Antonio and the family and feast are in S.C. I used to prepare the full feast for my Turkish friends. It is a huge amount of work.

judy, my mom doesn't like (turkey or) pumpkin, so we always had sweet potato pies. My dad's mother used to make homemade chicken and dumplings. Also homemade liver nips. Are you familiar with them?

BC you have a good weekend too. Only get into as much trouble as you think you can get by with!

judydianne from Palm Harbor, FL on October 09, 2009:

Your Thanksgiving meal is very similar to our Midwest Thanksgiving meal. It makes me hungry to read your hub! My mom used to make the noodles from scratch. We had pumpkin pie instead of sweet potato pie, but I like both! This was a great hub.

lyricsingray on October 09, 2009:

I wish I could come to your place this Thanksgiving. I like the variety your family provides for everyone and this looks like a huge amount of work to Hub,so thanks. PS wish our Thanksgiving was as big as yours in the US,especially Southern Style, Thanks, K.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on October 08, 2009:

Thanks for reading and commenting febriedethan, Money Glitch and Storytellersrus. What time do we eat, right!?

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on October 08, 2009:

I really need to eat breakfast. This hub tortures me, lol. Great recipes. I might be back a week before the big event.

Money Glitch from Texas on October 08, 2009:

OMG that picture of German Chocolate Cake has made me hungry... Another great hub, rmcrayne!

febriedethan from Indonesia on October 07, 2009:

Nice pictures! American's dishes look so delicious. Thank you for sharing.