The Detroit Moms Blog Ultimate Thanksgiving Recipe Guide


Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday since I was a kid. It’s the official start of the holiday season, yet there’s no pressure over buying and giving gifts. The weather (usually) hasn’t turned wintry yet, and there’s football, family, and friends aplenty. And most of all, there’s the food. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes…there’s so much to love.

This year, the Detroit Moms Blog Contributors have come together to give you some of our favorite tried and tested recipes to make for a delicious holiday. Maybe you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year for the first time, or maybe you just need a new recipe for a spectacular side dish. Whatever you are looking for, we’re here to help! Read on to find our favorite dishes, and may your holidays be filled with good food, warm hearts, and friendly faces.


That’s right, we’re talking turkey. The star of the show may also be the most intimidating part of the Thanksgiving meal to prepare, but it doesn’t have to be.

While some people might prefer their bird fried, smoked, or grilled, I’m a traditionalist. For me, it’s oven-roasted or bust. I just follow a few tips to help make sure everything turns out juicy and flavorful:

  • Make sure you give the turkey plenty of time to thaw completely– if you’re pressed for time, buy fresh instead of frozen. Trader Joes and Meijer are great places to get a good deal on a fresh turkey.
  • Brining (soaking the raw turkey in a cooler or bucket of seasoned liquid) makes a huge difference in flavor and is well worth the extra step. I’ve tried several different homemade brines, but my favorite is actually a kit that’s available at Costco or on Amazon: the Urban Accents Gourmet Gobbler Turkey Brine & Rub Kit. The flavor this kit gives our turkey is incredible.
  • A large, deep roasting pan and an instant-read thermometer are your friends in this game. The thermometer is especially important because it allows you to determine when the meat is done without cooking your bird into dry leather.

I like to start out with a high temperature to sear the flavor in, and then roast the turkey low and slow. If you want to try this method, check out the aptly-named website,

Along with stuffing, the mashed potatoes are arguably the most coveted Thanksgiving side dish. It’s a dish best simply prepared, so as serve as a base for all of the other goodies piled on your plate. And Thanksgiving is not the time for replacing butter with broth or heavy cream with skim milk. Save that for January. This is a holiday, so bring out your best!

Courtney Eastman has a great recipe for make-ahead mashed potatoes that will save you some time on the big day:

Easy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

  • 8-9 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg, fresh grated is best
  • 1 stick of butter, unsalted or salted…all up to you!
  • tablespoon paprika
Boil peeled, cubed potatoes until just fork tender. Drain and mash, mixing in pats of butter and paprika first. Add all other ingredients. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.
Bake for 20-30 minutes in oven from room temperature. Or, place on low in a CrockPot for an hour {depending on your CrockPot’s strength, just keep a casual eye on them!}. 
Put a couple of pats of butter on top and sprinkle with a dash of Paprika before serving.
May be made up to two days ahead.
Can be doubled, tripled, and beyond.

Whether you like it in the bird or not, almost nothing screams “Thanksgiving” like this savory bread concoction. DMB Contributor Aubrey Moon has you covered here with her Zimmerman Family-Favorite Stuffing. Head on over to her post and check it out: (While you’re there, take a look at her other recipes, too!).

My mom has been making this sweet potato casserole for holidays since I was a kid. When it comes out of the oven, it looks like a dessert due to the substantial layer of crunchy, sweet topping. It’s my number one most requested recipe every holiday, and I’m excited to share it here with our readers.

You’ll want to stock up on these to make this delicious side dish!

As an added bonus, this is a dish that travels very well and can also be made ahead of time. Just assemble all the ingredients including the topping and refrigerate the unbaked casserole overnight. Take it out of the fridge about a half hour before baking to get the chill off of it, and add about 10 minutes to cooking time.

Ultimate Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 3 cups baked sweet potatoes (cooked, peeled, and mashed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • For the topping:
    • 1/3 cup melted butter
    • 1/3 cup flour
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Mix potatoes, sugar, 1 stick butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Pour potato mixture into a greased 2 qt baking dish. 

Make the topping: Mix remaining butter, flour, brown sugar, and pecans together with your hands in a bowl. Mixture will be sticky/crumbly. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes in the dish.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Katie Jones family has a unique spin on green bean casserole. A topping made of Cheez-its? Yes please!

Green Bean Casserole

  • 2 cans cut green beans (not French cut)
  • 1 can white corn
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 3 ¾ cups crushed Cheez-Its
  • 1 ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 ½ cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together except Cheez-Its, butter, and almonds. Pour into a 9×13 pan.

Top with crushed Cheez-Its, almonds, and melted butter. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, then remove cover and cook for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

For many people, cranberry sauce can be a bit of an afterthought. But a homemade cranberry sauce is so worth it. With minimal effort, you’ll have a tangy side dish for the big day and a delectable sandwich topping for all those leftovers. Shannon Phillips shares her favorite recipe here.

Shannon’s Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12 oz. container frozen cranberry juice cocktail, thawed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 6 oz. package Craisins (or similar dried cherries)
  • 1 12 oz. bag cranberries

Bring first five ingredients to a boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add Craisins, cook two minutes. Add cranberries, cook until berries begin to pop/crack, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes. I “mash” approx. 1/3 of the cranberries to give the sauce a thicker texture as it cools.

Transfer to bowl. Cover and chill at least a couple hours, but overnight is best. Can be made one week ahead. Keep chilled. Discard cinnamon stick before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Every family seems to have its own traditional holiday dish whether it’s a Jell-O mold or a fancy layered dip. For Nikki Mattison’s family, no holiday is complete without their Kidney Bean Salad. Nikki has eaten this dish at every holiday for as long as she can remember. And, if kidney beans aren’t your jam, Jesi Foltz-Goike is here to save the day with her jazzed up coleslaw recipe. It’s super easy and super tasty.

Nikki’s Kidney Bean Salad

  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 head of lettuce, chopped
  • 1 large scoop of mayo

Mix all ingredients, and add black pepper to taste.

Jesi’s Coleslaw

  • 16 oz bag of slaw shreds 
  • One bunch of green onions, chopped 
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper 
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tbsp celery salt
  • Slaw dressing (Jesi prefers the original Marzetti’s)

Jesi says: Combine slaw, green onions, and seasoning in a bowl with half a jar of slaw dressing. I prefer mine crunchy, but if you like it softer, add a little more dressing…just know that a little goes a long way!

Tina Sreniawski makes a batch of these golden yeast rolls for Thanksgiving each year. She suggests letting the dough rise in a greased, covered bowl on top of the stove while the turkey cooks. If you’re looking for something on the sweeter side, Candice Byrne has your back with a recipe for easy, tasty pumpkin muffins.

Dinner Rolls

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup warm water with 1 packet of yeast dissolved in it
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. In a small bowl, mix the warm water and yeast.
  2. In a large bowl or with a mixer, mix the eggs, butter, sugar, flour, water, and salt until dough forms. Pour the dough onto a floured surface. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Place dough in a well-greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Keep the dough in a warm place to rise, such as the top of the stove while the turkey is cooking. Let it rise for 2.5 hours or until the dough ball has doubled in size.
  4. Generously grease a muffin tin. Pull the dough into marble-sized balls, roughly one inch in diameter. Do not roll the dough in your hands; instead, pull the dough using your fingertips, so that the “seam” is on the bottom of the dough ball. (Try YouTube-ing a video of the “Stretch and Fold” dough method). Three dough balls should fit evenly in each muffin cup on your pan, and not be higher than the depth of the cup. Try to make the balls equal in size.
  5. Cover the rolls with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise again for about 1.5 hours.
  6. Brush the rolls with melted butter, or place a small amount of butter on the rolls to melt during cooking. Bake 15-20 mins or until golden brown. Then, of course, enjoy the compliments on your homemade rolls!

Candice’s Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1 box Trader Joes Pumpkin Bread Mix
  • 1 can Trader Joes Organic Pumpkin Puree
  • Trader Joes Dark Chocolate Chunks (use a lot or a little– it’s up to you!)

Preheat oven to 400. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Divide into a greased or paper-lined muffin tin. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Ah, the grand finale. Far from your traditional pumpkin pie, we’ve got some suggestions that a couple of our contributors swear by. Michelle Nelson recommends Joy the Baker’s Bourbon Pecan Pie with Dark Chocolate. You can find the recipe here: It’s a big hit every time!

And for a dessert full of seasonal fruity flavor, Lea Mitchell recommends a Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake by Oh Sweet Basil:

Whether you try one of these recipes or several, we hope that we’ve made your Thanksgiving cooking a little easier and a little more delicious. And, if you have any favorite recipes of your own, we’d love if you’d share with us! 

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Born and raised in Ohio, Sarah now lives in Bloomfield Hills with her husband Michael and their three children. Although she’ll always be an Ohio girl at heart, she’s adopted Michigan as her home, and fell in love with Detroit from the start. Sarah and Michael are both attorneys, which makes keeping up with their 5-year old son and 2-year old twin daughters a challenge, but never boring! In her free time, Sarah loves to cook, read, knit and craft. She is addicted to online shopping & Netflix, and she firmly believes that there’s a good one-liner out there for just about any situation.


  1. Great post! I smoke turkeys for Thanksgiving. Most birds from grocery stores are already brined when you buy them. I’m guessing the flavor from your recommended kit is coming from the rub but I reserve the right to be wrong 🙂 Your other recipes are so familiar! as they are our favorites too That pie! OMG 😀

    Our kids love those sweet potatoes. My wife and I are fans of Anthony Bourdain’s Candied Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon.

    • Funny you should mention smoking the turkey Jym, we’re actually going to try that this year! Usually, I try to plan ahead and get a fresh bird that’s not pre-brined, but you’re right, most grocery store turkeys have some sort of flavoring. I’m so glad you liked the post, and Happy (early) Thanksgiving to you and your family!


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