Thanksgiving in the United States is a time of gratitude, family gatherings, and of course, a feast to remember. While traditions vary across the nation, the South boasts a unique and mouthwatering spread that's deeply rooted in history and Southern hospitality. In this blog post, we'll explore the dishes that most United States Southerners make for Thanksgiving, celebrating a blend of flavors and a warm, welcoming spirit.
Roast Turkey with Cornbread Dressing:
- A succulent roast turkey takes center stage, often brined or marinated for added flavor. Accompanying it is cornbread dressing, a delightful blend of crumbled cornbread, savory herbs, and spices.
- Some Southern families opt to deep-fry their turkey, resulting in a crispy, flavorful exterior, and tender meat inside.
Sweet Potato Casserole and pie:
- Southern Thanksgiving tables are incomplete without this sweet and creamy delight. Sweet potato casserole, topped with a layer of candied pecans or marshmallows, strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory. Also, move over pumpkin pie because a real southern spread will have a sweet potato pie nestled alongside the other desserts.
- Collard greens, slowly simmered with smoky ham hocks or bacon, offer a burst of rich, earthy flavor. They're a staple that pays homage to Southern soul food traditions. Most Southerners can grow these greens in their gardens all winter long with minimal protection which is one reason this readily available green finds itself on the holiday table.
Creamed Corn or Corn Puddings:
- In the South, no Thanksgiving feast is complete without the comforting presence of creamed corn or corn puddings. These dishes celebrate the natural sweetness of corn, often enriched with butter and cream. Creamed corn offers a silky, spoonable side, while corn puddings bring a custard-like texture, both capturing the essence of Southern comfort food. The delicate balance of sweet and savory in these corn-based delights adds a unique twist to the Thanksgiving spread, earning a special place on Southern tables.
- Warm, flaky buttermilk biscuits are a must, served with a dollop of creamy butter or drizzled with honey. They're the perfect vessel for sopping up gravy.
- This rich, savory gravy, made from turkey giblets and pan drippings, adds depth and flavor to everything it touches, from turkey to biscuits and beyond.
- For dessert, pecan pie reigns supreme. Its sweet, gooey filling and crunchy pecans create a delightful contrast that embodies Southern comfort.
- Tangy cranberry relish or sauce provides a refreshing contrast to the richness of the other dishes, balancing the flavors on the plate.
Macaroni and Cheese:
- Creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese often find their way onto Southern Thanksgiving tables, offering a beloved comfort food side. Make sure not to try and sneak any of that boxed nonsense onto the table. This is the real deal, slow-cooked and with real cheese (no breadcrumbs allowed).
Green Bean Casserole:
- A classic green bean casserole is another Southern favorite that graces Thanksgiving tables with its comforting presence. It's a simple yet irresistible combination of tender green beans, creamy mushroom sauce, and crispy fried onions. This casserole adds a delightful touch of nostalgia and texture to the Southern feast.
- Mashed potatoes are the epitome of comfort food, and in the South, they play a crucial role in the Thanksgiving spread. Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are whipped to perfection, providing a smooth and indulgent side dish that pairs harmoniously with all the other flavors on the plate. They're often a canvas for giblet gravy or a pool for soaking up all the delicious sauces. Mashed potatoes bring warmth and familiarity to the Southern Thanksgiving table.
A Southern Thanksgiving feast is a rich meal full of comforting flavors, traditions, and the warm embrace of Southern charm. From roast turkey to pecan pie, each dish tells a story and reflects the love and care that go into celebrating this cherished holiday in the South. Whether you're a lifelong Southerner or simply want to savor the flavors of the region, a Southern Thanksgiving promises a memorable and delicious experience.