Winter holidays have become synonymous with big, steaming turkeys on platters, bowls of creamy mashed potatoes and gravy boats filled to the brim. But that doesn’t mean your menu has to adhere to the traditional. Indeed, there are many alternatives to turkey that make an excellent main course.
Years ago, when I was in high school, I was surprised to learn that my best friend’s family served a Thanksgiving chicken instead of turkey. They found the latter to be dry and didn’t enjoy it. At the time, I thought everyone did the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing thing.
But they don’t. And you don’t have to either.
Thanksgiving can come a heavy serving of expectation, especially with regards to the food served. There are dishes everyone loves and looks forward to. Those are the best. But certain dishes have been served by families again and again so many times that no one remembers who started making them in the first place or why they get made each year. Others, begrudgingly made, are the bain of our preparation.
Our traditions for this holiday can become so deeply ingrained that it feels like there’s no hope of breaking out of them. Except there is.
You don’t have to serve the same dishes year in and year out. You don’t have to make Thanksgiving dinner like your mom, dad, grandma or uncle did. You don’t even have to have turkey.
It’s okay to change up the routine and forge new traditions. In fact, I recommend it. It will make the holiday more joyful when the food served reflects the love around the table.
Let this year be the year you do it.
I’m serious. Turkey on Thanksgiving is completely optional.
I’ve pulled together a long list of alternatives to turkey, broken down into meat and poultry, seafood and vegan options. There’s literally something for every taste in this list.