Beyond Turkey: Delicious Alternatives for Thanksgiving

Posted November 19, 2018 by Alison Conklin

Turkey may be the traditional center of the Thanksgiving table, but that’s just one of so many delicious ways to serve up an impressive holiday dinner.

Whether you’re just not a fan of the big feathered bird, are a rebel of tradition or just want to get a little more creative in the kitchen, here are some of our favorite alternatives from the Brightly creative. team.

Go Meatless with Jonathan

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a lot of reasons. One of which, of course, is the food. But, that changed a lot of me 8 years ago when I decided to eat vegetarian. I think the first years I just ate the vegetables and fruit. I tried the recommended “celebration roll”…once.

In lieu of eating a bird, make Crispy Tofu Carvings and Gravy.

I start with extra firm tofu which I place on a stack of paper towels (4-6 sheets) and sandwiched between two plates with a weigh on top (I use a large rock) to press as much water out of the tofu as possible. I often replace the paper towels to continue to soak up water. I preheat the oven and a baking sheet to 400˚. Then, I randomly, thinly slice the tofu to mimic the turkey carvings. I dip the tofu into a water and corn starch bath and place on the, oil olive covered, preheated baking sheet, for 20 minutes, then rotate and bake until golden brown. *Make sure to use a very thin spatula as the tofu will sometimes stick to the pan. This creates a lightly crispy texture on the outside, like a fried turkey, and by extracting as much water as possible from the tofu, I get a more firm result on the inside, which I dare to say, “turkey-like”.

I make a gravy, like most folks, but use vegetable broth as a substitute. As far as seasoning, in addition to salt and pepper, I play around with honey, rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon and cayenne pepper. For something a bit more adventurous, I also do a boysenberry, thai chili, corriander, and red wine reduction option.

You are what you eat. Don’t be such a turkey this year!

Be a Rebel with Keith

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love to cook and entertain, and this is my Super Bowl. For the most part you’ll find standard fare at the Seiz family thanksgiving dinner, except one notable exception: turkey. It’s impossible to roast a great turkey. The best turkey I’ve ever tasted in my life has been half as good as a whole chicken.

Tradition won out for quite a while, and I begrudgingly roasted a 23-lb. turkey because that’s what everyone thinks they want. Not anymore. This Thanksgiving, we’ll be feasting on an array of poultry, but no whole turkeys.

Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • 7-lb. Chicken: Dry brined, spatchcocked and roasted for 80 minutes.
  • 5-lb. Chicken: Smoked for four hours on the smoker.
  • 6-lb. Duck: Also smoked and covered an a honey-balsamic glaze.
  • Turkey Breast: Ok, I guess I am cooking turkey, but not a whole bird. Just the breast, which I’ll sous-vide to ensure it stays moist.

For the chickens, I’ll go with a super simple preparation. Dry-brine them for 24 hours then coat over/under skin with olive oil that I put in the food processor along with rosemary, thyme and sage.

Get Creative with Alison

I come from a very traditional Midwestern home. So I cannot lie — I look forward to seeing a big slice of turkey next to my drenched-in-gravy mashed potatoes and corn casserole every Thanksgiving. But if I had to pass on my family’s staple dish, I would love to get creative and take dinner in a different direction.

One recipe that especially caught my eye was Roasted Pork Belly with Chile Vinegar from Bon Appetit. With a “set it and forget it” set of directions, this spicy take on pork would be a great twist to make without taking up too much family time (or our competitive annual ping pong tournament).

So whether you celebrate with traditional dishes or want to try something new, everyone at Brightly creative. would like to wish you and your families a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Let us know your pursuits. We’ll find the best way to get you there.