6 Turkey Alternatives for Thanksgiving

When you think of Thanksgiving dinner, there’s a good chance that the image of a turkey comes to mind. And with good reason—approximately 46 million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving! However, maybe you don’t care for the taste of turkey, or the hassle of cooking one. Or, you may have vegetarian guests to feed. Whatever reason you are looking for something to serve other than turkey for thanksgiving, we’ve got some ideas!

Six turkey alternatives for Thanksgiving:


Instead of spending all the time it takes to prep and cook a turkey, use the time to make your favorite special-occasion beef dish instead. Brisket, pot roast, and tri-tip all make hearty main dishes. They also pair perfectly with traditional Thanksgiving sides like mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Mac & Cheese

Who said mac & cheese needs to be a side dish, anyway? When planning alternative Thanksgiving meals, consider elevating the classic dish by adding broccoli or other vegetables, bacon or prosciutto, or top with bread crumbs. Everyone will enjoy a new take on an old classic. If your guests have dietary restrictions, make it with gluten-free noodles or non-dairy cheese, and you’ll please everyone.

Pot Pie or Shepherd’s Pie

There’s nothing like slicing into a savory pie and trying to guess what delicious vegetables or meats you might find! Make either option vegetarian by simply leaving out the meat. While these make great entree replacements for turkey, they are also wonderful options to cook after Thanksgiving to use up any leftover vegetables or meat.


Lasagna is a popular alternate entree thanks to the fact that you can prepare it the day before and just pop it in the oven. The time you save on Thanksgiving day can be spent making sides and dessert—or with your guests. Make it seasonable by adding pumpkin puree or butternut squash for an earthy flavor—it’s not only delicious but it sneaks in an extra serving of vegetables.

Pork Tenderloin

Serve a different white meat. Roast tenderloin with herbs and spices can easily take the place of a traditional turkey meal. Use a recipe that pairs the pork with apples or pears to experience some delicious fall flavors.

Vegan Turkey Substitute

The quality of meat substitutes have really improved over the years, and now there are several companies who produce delicious vegetarian turkey products made from soy or wheat gluten. Some even come as roasts, filled with stuffing and cranberries. Most grocery stores in San Diego stock a version or two; check the frozen aisle in the vegetarian section and give a vegetarian turkey a try!

Cook one of these suggestions this year, and save the list for whenever you need turkey alternatives for Thanksgiving, or any occasion. With alternative Thanksgiving meals like these, your guests will never miss the bird!

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