What is served at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner? A traditional Thanksgiving dinner consists of roast turkey, turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Traditional Thanksgiving foods are sometimes specific to the day, and although some of the dishes might be seen at any semi-formal meal in the United States, the Thanksgiving dinner often has something of a ritual or traditional quality to it. Many Americans would regard it as “incomplete” without stuffing or dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and cranberry sauce. Other commonly served dishes include winter squash and sweet potatoes, the latter often prepared with sweeteners such as brown sugar, molasses, or marshmallows.
Roasted vegetables are often served, such as carrots or parsnips, celery , beets , turnips , radishes , asparagus , Brussels sprouts or cauliflower. A fresh salad may be included, especially on the West Coast. A relish tray, with various pickles, olives, onions or peppers, is often included either with the meal itself or as a pre-meal appetizer. Bread rolls, biscuits, or cornbread, the latter particularly in the South and parts of New England, may also be served. For dessert, various pies are usually served; pumpkin pie is widely regarded as traditional, although apple pie, mincemeat pie, sweet potato pie, cherry pie, chocolate cream pie and pecan pie are often served as well.
The beverages at Thanksgiving can vary as much as the side dishes, often depending on who is present at the table and their tastes. Spirits or cocktails sometimes may be served before the main meal. On the dinner table, unfermented apple cider (still or sparkling) or wine are often served. Pitchers of sweet tea can often be found on Southern tables. Beaujolais nouveau is sometimes served; the beverage has been marketed as a Thanksgiving drink since the producers of the wine set the annual release date to be one week before Thanksgiving beginning in 1985, and it is said to pair well with the wide variety of food served for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of eggnog season.