30 Vintage Thanksgiving Recipes

These retro recipes could send you back to your childhood or help you create new traditions.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, you've probably begun planning a menu for a huge group of guests. With so many mouths to feed and people to impress, you may be a bit apprehensive about pulling out the same recipes as last year. If you need to spice up your Thanksgiving menu, but don't have the time to experiment with brand new dishes, why not break out some vintage recipes that your parents and grandparents grew up with?

While this idea might be exciting, digging up old recipes from hand-me-down cookbooks can take a huge amount of time. Between juggling getting ready for the holiday and your everyday tasks, it might not seem like it would be worth the effort. Luckily, we've rounded up a collection of 30 vintage recipes that will enliven your holiday spread and make you remember Thanksgiving dinners past.

1

Orange Creamsicle Jello Mold

creamsicle jello mold desserts
Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Despite gelatin molds falling out of popularity decades ago, their visual impact is still stunning. After all, they became synonymous with the holiday season because of how interesting they look. This modern take on a classic gelatin mold will make you rethink their dusty image and bring back a forgotten charm to your Thanksgiving get-together this year.

Get the recipe from Cupcakes and Kale Chips. 

2

Turkey Stuffing, Swedish Style

Stuffing
Shutterstock

You have probably eaten a wide variety of stuffings in your life, but it is unlikely you tried one of the original variants. This classic, bare-bones recipe for stuffing dates back to the early 20th century and stands as the basis of all future stuffings and dressings to come. With a stripped-down ingredient list, you can add a historical touch to your Thanksgiving menu.

Get the Boston Cooking School recipe here

3

Succotash

homemade succotash
Shutterstock

We dare you to find a simpler autumnal side than this classic mix of corn and beans, seasoned to perfection with butter. If you need an extra vegetable dish for your table, this staple will leave your guests wholesomely satisfied.

Get the Boston Cooking School recipe here. 

4

Ambrosia Salad

ambrosia fruit salad in glass cup
The Seasoned Mom

You may remember this dish from when you were growing up, as it used to be a popular salad for seasonal get-togethers. If you have never had ambrosia before, you are in for a treat; the salad mixes together a variety of tropical fruits and citrus with marshmallows, and it's a dish that's perfect for feeding your crowd the moment they step foot through your door. If you want to check out a classic but forgotten Thanksgiving dish, definitely give this recipe a shot.

Get the recipe from The Seasoned Mom. 

5

Cheese Balls

cheese ball appetizer covered in nuts with crackers
Cooking Classy

This blast from the past will be sure to take you straight back into the world of retro Thanksgivings. What was once a classic holiday appetizer, cheese balls have been forgotten as a holiday staple in most of the country. What better way to celebrate a vintage-themed Thanksgiving than by making this recipe?

Get the recipe from Cooking Classy. 

6

German Cabbage

Red cabbage chopped
Shutterstock

Red cabbage is a great addition to any holiday table. This classic recipe mimics German sauerkraut, and its gentle acidity pairs well with roasts and rich food.

Get the Boston Cooking School recipe here. 

7

Strawberry Tapioca Salad

strawberry tapioca salad in white serving dish
Julies Eats and Treats

There's a chance you associate gelatin recipes with stodginess, but that reputation isn't entirely deserved. This take on a dessert salad lets you experience a classic that took America by storm in the '60s, and its flavor profile still holds up in the current culinary climate.

Get the recipe from Julie's Eats and Treats.

8

Candied Yams

cubed candied yams in white serving bowl
My Whole Food Life

What would Thanksgiving be without this classic retro staple? Candied yams have graced holiday spreads for ages, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to show off the vegetable's deep flavor. They pair well with any kind of roast and will make your home smell heavenly as you bake them.

Get the recipe from My Whole Food Life. 

9

Chestnut Stuffing

chestnut stuffing in baking dish
Macheesmo

In the years before bread-based stuffing became the norm, similar casseroles of various grains and nuts could be found on every table. This throwback chestnut and bread stuffing combines two great textures, harkening back to a simpler time. By mixing up your menu with this forgotten standard, you will be sure to leave an impression on your guests.

Get the recipe from Macheesmo.

10

Sweet Potato Pie

whole sweet potato pie with toasted marshmallow topping
Cooking Classy

If you've never had a sweet potato pie before, you are in for a treat with this Southern staple. The recipe makes use of naturally sugary sweet potatoes and a whipped marshmallow topping. It might even replace your previous go-to pumpkin pie recipe—it's that good. Who says pumpkin's the only pie to bring?

Get the recipe from Cooking Classy. 

11

Creamy Roasted Parsnip Puree

pureed parsnip in serving bowl
Inspired Taste

When you think of Thanksgiving, you probably imagine a bowl of mashed potatoes somewhere on the table. But before this popular dish became a national standard, mashed parsnips and various other root vegetables would be served as a mash, and this version is a great alternative, inspired by recipes taken from vintage cookbooks.

Get the recipe from Inspired Taste. 

12

Brown Sugar-Glazed Ham

brown sugar glazed bone in ham with crosscut and rosemary garnish
Recipe Tin Eats

Nothing screams "Thanksgiving" to many like a roasted turkey, but this bird wasn't always the only star centerpiece on the menu. In many parts of the US, a ham could also take center stage on the table, and if you like pork, this is the quintessential holiday ham.

Get the recipe from Recipe Tin Eats. 

13

Quick Collard Greens

plate of cooked collard greens with lemon wedge
Cookie and Kate

As collard greens have grown in popularity, it is easier than ever to find them in grocery stores across the country. Why not take advantage of this sudden fame and make this side dish that has graced Southern tables for centuries? With this recipe, you not only pay homage to Thanksgivings past, but you also load your meal with iron, magnesium, and calcium.

Get the recipe from Cookie and Kate. 

14

Root Beer Glazed Ham

root beer glazed ham slices on plate with peas and potatoes
Taste and Tell

If you are searching for classic retro recipes, why not go all-out with this old-school favorite? The pairing of ham and root beer may seem strange, but the soda's acidity and flavor perfectly pair with the ham. The reaction of the pork skin combines with the soft drink to create a Maillard reaction, resulting in some beautiful caramelization.

Get the recipe from Taste and Tell. 

15

Light and Buttery Dinner Rolls

basket of dinner rolls on tablecloth
Inquiring Chef

Instead of picking up bread rolls at the store, try your hand with the simplest bread recipe you may ever see. If you have never made homemade bread before, these extremely forgiving rolls won't take too much out of you, and they're sure to impress. Plus, you can prep and store them in the refrigerator ahead of time. Bring them out to buy yourself some extra prep time for other Thanksgiving dishes.

Get the recipe from Inquiring Chef. 

16

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

halved roasted brussels sprouts on baking sheet
Well Plated

If you still have nightmares of being forced to eat plain, boiled Brussels sprouts during family get-togethers, have no fear. These Brussels sprouts are roasted in the oven to develop a crispy outside and bold flavor.

Get the recipe from Well Plated. 

17

Boiled Fresh Peas

green peas cooking
Shutterstock

You can't go wrong when serving fresh vegetables during the holidays, and this classic staple will make you wonder why no one has tried to revive its popularity as a standard holiday dish. The peas can be modified and cooked with ham hocks and onions, making them burst with a robust flavor.

Get the Boston Cooking School recipe here. 

18

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

bowl of homemade cranberry sauce
Cooking Classy

If you don't feel like making cranberry gelatin but want to include the fruit into your table spread, nothing beats the homemade sauce. This recipe pares the sauce down to its most essential elements, giving you a tasty final product that you can pour over your turkey.

Get the recipe from Cooking Classy. 

19

Roasted Cauliflower, Mushroom, and Wild Rice Stuffing

roasted cauliflower with mushrooms and wild rice stuffing
Gimme Some Oven

In the olden days when you didn't have enough scrap bread to make the stuffing, you could use whatever grain you had on hand to substitute in. For a tasty, filling take on the original stuffing, look no further than this throwback version.

Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.

20

Greek Wedge Salad

greek wedge salad with romaine lettuce slices tomatoes kalamata olives feta cucumber
Cookie and Kate

When wedge salads first entered the American culinary lexicon, they were a hit; you could find them at restaurants and at home alike. Naturally, they became an established salad during Thanksgiving, too. Serve this romaine lettuce-based starter to kick your Thanksgiving off right.

Get the recipe from Cookie and Kate. 

21

Maple Cinnamon Applesauce

bowl of oatmeal topped with homemade cinnamon applesauce and pecans
Cookie and Kate

Even if you haven't seen it on the table in a good few years, don't discount how delicious homemade applesauce can be. With apples in season this time of year, this applesauce will turn out delicious and could save you a bit of money as well.

Get the recipe from Cookie and Kate. 

22

Mashed Root Vegetables

mashed root vegetables on white plate with cracked pepper
Macheesmo

This recipe satisfies the craving for mashed potatoes by combining celeriac, parsnips, and turnips, giving you a balanced mix of vegetables. With such a deep flavor, this mash might make you forget the potato-based dishes.

Get the recipe from Macheesmo. 

23

Deviled Eggs

numerous deviled egg combinations all on a marble counter
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

You have probably seen these egg hors d'oeuvres at dinner parties, but they also appear in a great deal of vintage Thanksgiving cookbooks. They make a perfect appetizer for the season. These bite-sized treats will please picky and refined eaters alike.

Get our recipes for Deviled Eggs.

24

Apple Snow

ice flake dessert
Shutterstock

Different varieties of "snow" have populated dessert menus for centuries and offer a gentle way to finish a heavy meal. With apple season coming to an end, it is easy to take advantage of the last fruits of the season to impress your holiday guests with this tried and true fruit-based dessert.

Get the Boston Cooking School recipe here. 

25

Mincemeat Pies

mincemeat pies with snowflake shaped dough topping
Bigger Bolder Baking

You might have memories of your grandparents chowing down on these, as it can be hard to find mincemeat pies on menus these days. Despite their stodgy image, the flavors of clove and allspice embedded in them make mincemeat pies perfectly suited to the Thanksgiving season this year.

Get the recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking. 

26

Orange Pineapple Fluff Salad

pineapple orange fluff salad topped with marshmallows in blue bowl
The Seasoned Mom

This light, fluffy, mousse-like treat is a great pairing to ham, turkey, or other rich meats that make their way to your table this holiday season. Imbued with a tropical flavor that was popular decades ago, this fluff will send you back to the '60s. We think it's time for its comeback.

Get the recipe from The Seasoned Mom. 

RELATED: No-sugar-added recipes you'll actually look forward to eating.

27

Creamy Green Bean Casserole

homemade green bean casserole in cast iron pan
Sallys Baking Addiction

There are no signs of canned soup or fried onions here. This predecessor to the standard green bean casserole has the makings of a holiday table classic, thanks to fresh green beans and homemade gravy.

Get the recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction. 

28

Garlic Thyme Turkey Gravy

boat of gravy on top of flatware setting
The Baker Mama

When you get a full turkey, you might be inclined to throw away the innards and drippings. Don't be tempted, as you can make a hearty gravy with these parts that beat a turkey gravy mix any day.

Get the recipe from The Baker Mama. 

29

Chocolate Fruitcake

christmas fruit cake
Shutterstock

The idea of finishing the feast of Thanksgiving with a fruitcake might seem off-putting, but there is a reason why this cake has stood the test of time for so long. A properly made fruitcake will lock in moisture while bringing up memories of holidays past with an enticing cinnamon aroma. To create the best fruitcake, don't rely on a modern take—this turn-of-the-century recipe presents the iconic cake at its best and most simple.

Get the Boston Cooking School recipe here.

30

Spiced Candied Orange Peel

jar of spiced orange peel slices
Savory Simple

You probably end each Thanksgiving meal stuffed, so why not cap off the night with this light after-dinner treat? You can eat the whole fruit, peel and all, and its acidic snap will be the perfect digestif after your meal.

Get the recipe from Savory Simple.

If you're looking to spice things up at the Thanksgiving table this year, these tried-and-true vintage recipes are sure to be crowd-pleasers.

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Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more
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