Tired of Turkey at Thanksgiving? Try One of These Tasty Alternatives

Baked turkey for Christmas or New Year space for text

Have you grown tired of the same ol' Thanksgiving traditions at your annual celebration? Sure, turkey's great, but you can get a club sandwich any day of the year. Sure, the side-dishes are always fun and delicious, but, for many families across the country, turkey remains king - even for people who aren't exactly excited by the idea of a dead bird for dinner.

So, if you're looking to liven up your Thanksgiving meal and try serving something new for your family this year, why not try cooking one of these savory dishes as your main course at Thanksgiving this year?

Glazed duck fillet, with salad on a white plate

Roast Duck

Roast duck is one of those meals that once you learn how to cook, you'll wonder why no one else is serving this as their Thanksgiving entree. The process is a lot simpler than you might think!


  • 2 (5 to 5 1/2 pounds each) ducks, innards and wing tips removed
  • 6 quarts chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Unwrap the ducks and allow them to sit at room temparture for 20 minutes (try not to do this any longer).
  2. Use a fork to make small openings in the skin. Try to avoid piercing the meat. Duck is very fatty and this will allow the fat to drain while the meat cooks.
  3. Using a large stock pot, bring the chicken broth to boil, adding 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.
  4. Add the ducks to the stock pot and bring the broth back to a boil.
  5. Add hot tap water to cover the ducks if there isn't enough stock to cover them properly.
  6. Use a plate to keep the ducks immersed in the solution as the chicken stock reheats to a boil.
  7. After the stock boils, lower the heat and simmer the ducks for 45 minutes.
  8. After the ducks have simmered, use a spoon to collect the duck fat from the top of the stock.
  9. Using the duck fat, pour it all over the bottom of a 14x18 roasting pan to help prevent the meat from sticking to the pan as it roasts in the oven.
  10. Take the ducks out of the stock and pat them dry, using paper towels.
  11. Sprinkle the ducks with salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Set the ducks aside for 30 minutes to allow them to dry at room temperature, to help the skin become crispy.
  13. Preheat the oven to 500° and roast the ducks for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove the ducks from the oven and allow them to rest while covered in aluminum foil for around 20 minutes.
Tender and juicy, a fork pierces grilled beef fillet

Filet Mignon

Sure, you could go to an expensive steakhouse and make them do all the work on Thanksgiving, but, if you haven't made reservations yet, you're probably out of luck. So, you may as well cook a filet mignon at home and spare yourself the expense and hassle of going out on Thanksgiving with a recipe that you're sure to use again, even if it's NOT Thanksgiving!


  • 2 tbsp.extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4(6-oz.) filet mignon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp.butter
  • 1 tbsp.roughly chopped rosemary


  1. Take your steak out of the fridge and leave it out in room temperature for around 20 minutes.
  2. Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste on both sides.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400°
  4. Use a large skillet over medium-high heat and heat the extra-virgin olive oil in your pan.
  5. Just as the oil is about to smoke, use tongs to place the steak into the skillet.
  6. Cook the first side until it has a nice sear to it (around 5 minutes).
  7. Using butter and rosemary, baste the steak
  8. Flip the steak and sear the other side (again, for around 5 minutes).
  9. Once you have a nice sear, transfer your skillet to the oven and cook to taste. Rare is around 3-5 minutes. Medium-rare is around 5-7 minutes, and Medium takes around 10 minutes in the oven.
  10. Remove from the pan and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before you slice.
Whole baked fish with vegetables

Roasted Whole Salmon

Sure, there are plenty of meat eaters who look forward to the turkey at Thanksgiving every year, but what about vegetarians or pescatarians? That's why we're including this recipe for a whole roasted salmon that will wow all the guests who don't eat meat.


  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 whole orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 whole lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons pure ancho chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing and serving
  • One 8- to 9-pound whole wild salmon, scaled and cleaned
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 425°
  2. In one bowl, combine the garlic, chilies, onion, orange, lemon, fennel, 1 tablespoon of chile powder and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Toss the aromatics until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Lay the whole salmon down on a large baking sheet.
  5. Season the cavity of the fish with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stuff the salmon with the aromatics you prepared.
  7. Use kitchen string to tie the salmon back together at around 3-inch intervals.
  8. Rub the salmon using olive oil and season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining chile powder on the salmon.
  10. You may need to wrap the head/tail in foil if they come close to the side of the oven.
  11. Roast the salmon on the bottom rack for about 1 hour. The salmon has finished cooking when a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat registers 135° to 140°.
  12. Remove salmon from the oven and prepare the broiler. Set the rack 6 inches from the heat source.
  13. Broil the fish for about 3 minutes or until it reaches a rich brown.
  14. Use two forks to help carefully take the salmon's skin off both sides of the fish.
  15. Lift the skeletal bone from the salmon and dispose of that.
  16. Pour off the pan juices into a second bowl.
  17. Cut the salmon into sections and remove the aromatics, discarding them in the trash.
Holiday Ham

Baked Ham

Sure, ham gets plenty of love during the Christmas holiday for many families, but why not practice by cooking another ham for your Thanksgiving dinner? It's not like there's a law against it or anything. It's also one of the simpler recipes anyone can whip up in a pinch after they realize the turkey didn't defrost in time.



  • 1 spiral cut bone-in ham
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice (can be substituted with orange juice)

Brown sugar glaze

  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice (can be substituted with orange juice)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


  1. Preheat your oven to 325°
  2. In a small bowl, combine dijon mustard and pineapple/orange juice.
  3. Brush the dijon mustard/pineapple juice generously over the ham.
  4. Place the ham in a roasting pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  5. Roast the ham 12-15 minutes per pound (package directions may vary).
  6. While the ham is roasting, combine the ingredients for the brown sugar glaze in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  7. After it boils, bring the heat down and simmer the mixture for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Allow the mixture time to cool.
  9. About 15 minutes before the ham is finished cooking, remove the ham from the oven and increase the heat to 425°.
  10. Remove the foil and brush the ham with the glaze you created and return the ham to the oven.
  11. Roast until the glaze has carmalized and the ham has reached a safe cooking temperature.
  12. Serve warm!

Photos: Getty Images

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