A Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving Table


Emma Haag

Families from every part of the United States have their own Thanksgiving traditions, many of which include unique recipes. From something as classic as pumpkin pie, to a variety of cultural foods, Thanksgiving dinner is guaranteed to bring people together.

A typical Thanksgiving dinner consists of roast turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, bread, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Though most prefer to have a Thanksgiving dinner with these traditional dishes, there are still countless ways to spice up the recipes.

It is essential to have at least one or two vibrant vegetable side dishes to add color, texture and balance to an otherwise carb-heavy dinner.

“I really like creamed corn because ever since I was little, my aunt would always bring it [to Thanksgiving dinner],” junior Tiffany Park said. “I think food is definitely a way to unite people together. Creamed corn is that one specific dish that has a certain taste that no one can replicate.”

Food is definitely a way to unite people together”

— Tiffany Park

Now, potatoes. If your grandma is making her traditional family mashed potatoes recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, you probably can’t compete. But, you can create an alternative dairy-free mashed potato recipe using dairy-free milk, coconut cream, almond milk, and water to help make it creamy.

“I normally rely on my family for bringing good food to the table at Thanksgiving, but last year I tried making mashed potatoes using this five-star recipe I found online,” junior Walid Hardan said. “Everyone raved over it, and I ended up making it again with my family for Christmas dinner. I’d say it was a 10 out of 10.”

Cranberry sauce is mandatory for Thanksgiving, even if nobody eats it. But that does not mean you have to serve it straight out of the can. Combine cranberry sauce with other fruits, spices and herbs to make a delicious side dish that will compete for attention on your Thanksgiving table.  

“Pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce or cider have to be my favorite Thanksgiving foods because they are classic holiday flavors and bring the holiday spirit,” senior Rachel Abalos said.

For a similar cranberry sauce recipe to Abalos created by Food Network Magazine, but equally-delicious, combine 12 ounces of frozen cranberries, one cup of raw sugar, one strip of orange or lemon zest and two tablespoons of water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; the mixture will thicken as it cools. For a sweeter cranberry sauce, add an additional amount of sugar.

While Thanksgiving may not be as it has in past years due to COVID-19, eating a delicious Thanksgiving dinner can bring comfort and a feeling of normalcy.

“I celebrate Thanksgiving with my cousins, who we only get to see during the holidays,” Abalos said. “Even though it’ll be over FaceTime this year, I look forward to spending time with my cousins and getting life updates and advice.”