My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes


Although Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I don’t have a hard and fast menu for what I think makes the perfect celebration. I mean, there was the year we ate Elvis sandwiches, and the year we just got take-out from a local restaurant, and the year we marked the occasion by having my thyroid removed.

And even though I love to try new recipes, when I cook Thanksgiving at home, I almost always make my old favorites — dishes that I’ve been eating since I realized that I love Thanksgiving. They’re mostly recipes that I learned from my mom and have revised to be compliant with my new eating habits.

This year, we’re eating at home, and it’s just Dave, Smudge, and me. Our menu features roast duck instead of turkey, and the day’s activities include a viewing of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in our pajamas, followed by the National Dog Show, then a walk around the lake. (Fingers crossed that we get lucky with fall weather. I think I will cry if the temps are in the 80s.) We’re eating dinner mid-afternoon so we can catch a movie: The Book Thief! And after that, we’re heading back home for Thanksgiving Dinner, Part 2 (leftovers are always the best part!) and the Steelers vs. the Ravens. (Go, Ravens!)

Here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, pulled from my cookbooks and blog archives.

They’re all paleo-friendly, and I’ve indicated which ones are Whole30 approved. I hope they help make your holiday a little tastier! You might also want to re-visit my list of 10 Paleo Pumpkin Recipes.

Astute readers will notice that I didn’t cover turkey in this list. The sides are really my strong suit, so if you want ideas for roasting a gobbler, you might try these recipes for turkey and gravy from Nom Nom Paleo.


Pumpkin-Spiced Pepitas | meljoulwan.comPumpkin-Spiced Pepitas – omit sugar for Whole30

Marinated Olives | meljoulwan.comSpiced Olives – Whole30 compliant

Chopped Chicken Livers | meljoulwan.comChopped Chicken Livers – Whole30 compliant

Spiced Nuts | meljoulwan.comSpiced Nuts – omit sugar for Whole30

Savory Paleo Granola | meljoulwan.comSavory Paleo Granola – Whole30 compliant

Pear and Bacon Bites | meljoulwan.comPear and Bacon Bites – Whole30 compliant


Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon | meljoulwan.comSweet Potato Soup with Bacon – Whole30 compliant

Golden Cauliflower Soup | meljoulwan.comGolden Cauliflower Soup – Whole30 compliant


Cumin-Roasted Carrots | meljoulwan.comCumin Roasted Carrots – Whole30 compliant

Balsamic-Grilled Butternut SquashBalsamic-Grilled Butternut – Whole30 compliant

Coconut Almond Green Beans | meljoulwan.comCoconut Almond Green Beans – Whole30 compliant

Mashed Cauliflower | meljoulwan.comMashed Cauliflower – Whole30 compliant

Mustard Garlic Brussels Sprouts | meljoulwan.comMustard-Garlic Brussels Sprouts – Whole30 compliant

Kickin' Cranberry Sauce | meljoulwan.comKickin’ Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Waldorf Salad | meljoulwan.comCranberry Waldorf Salad

Velvety Butternut Squash | meljoulwan.comVelvety Butternut Squash – Whole30 compliant



Grain-Free Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Maple-Vanilla Frosting | meljoulwan.comGrain-Free Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Maple-Vanilla Frosting

Sweet and Salty Fudge Bombs | meljoulwan.comSweet and Salty Fudge Bombs

Grain-Free Apple CakeOld-Fashioned (Grain-Free) Apple Cake

Spiced-Nut Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream | meljoulwan.comSpiced-Nut Vanilla Coconut Cream Ice Cream

macaroons_overMaple-Pumpkin Coconut Macaroons


Turkey and Cranberry Meatballs | meljoulwan.comTurkey and Cranberry Meatballs – Whole30 compliant

Taj Mahal Turkey Curry | meljoulwan.comTaj Mahal Turkey Curry – Whole30 compliant

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  • Lydia says:

    Holy crap STARVING NOW.

  • Julie says:

    Thank you for posting these. I am starting my first Whole30 on Monday and need ideas for Thanksgiving.

    • Mel says:

      Happy Whole30-ing! Thanksgiving is REALLY easy to Whole30. Have fun!

      I revised this post to indicate which recipes are Whole30 approved. Enjoy!

  • Grace says:

    These all look great! WF2 came a couple weeks ago but I went on vacation and now have company so I haven’t been able to dive into it yet – I am chomping at the bit! My question is, do you have a good “stuffing” recipe? Not super crazy about the Wheat Belly one… Can’t wait to try the soup, pear and bacon bites and gingerbread in particular. <3

  • Tom R says:

    Thanks, Mel! I’ve made something of yours every Tgiving for the last 3(?). Still undecided on this year’s recipe but I know whatever it is will be good. Hope you guys have a great holiday.

  • De23 says:

    Is there anyway do to the Blasamic-grilled Butternut on the oven/stove? Firing up the grill on top of everything else is a little more than I can tackle Thanksgiving Day.

    Also, I love, love, love your cranberry waldorf salad! I’ve made it the past 2 (3?) years. I don’t dare make it any other time since I tend to eat the whole batch in one day.

    • Mel says:

      Can I just tell you: I am SO EXCITED to make Cranberry Waldorf Salad for Thanksgiving. I only make it for TGiving,and I’m ready for that first tangy bite!

      You can roast the butternut in the oven. It won’t get the grilled taste/texture, but it will still be awesome. I think it will work better in cubes in the oven. Roast at 400F for 25-30 minutes — follow the rest of the instructions above. Enjoy!

      • De23 says:

        Thanks! I will give the cubes in the oven a try. And stick the cranberry salad in the very back of the fridge so I’m not so tempted before dinner.