Seven turkey alternatives to make this Thanksgiving

From vegan offerings to hearty meats, here are several great alternatives to serving the big bird for your holiday meal.

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When it comes to Thanksgiving Day, the main attraction is always going to be the food.

The perfect holiday meal should be a delicious blend of sweet and savory selections. The main course and sides have to work together in perfect harmony to craft the most enjoyable meal. 

Although turkey is both a universal symbol for the holiday and the most popular main dish for the Thanksgiving Day meal, it’s also likely the least exciting because there are only a few different ways to prepare it. So why not switch it up? If you are looking for some alternatives to turkey as the centerpiece of your holiday meal, look no further. Here’s a list of seven options that are just as filling and delicious as the big bird. 

King oyster mushrooms can mimic savory scallops. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

King Oyster Mushroom 

Almost any meat protein can be substituted with hearty mushrooms. The vegetable is not only good for you but can be transformed to resemble most types of meat. For example, if cooked in a certain way, the king oyster mushroom can mimic a tender seared steak, a flavorful fried shrimp, or a savory scallop (as seen above). This turkey substitute is healthy, flexible, and easy to manipulate, making it the perfect plant-based replacement. 

Ham

Ham is another popular Thanksgiving meat but tends to sit on the sidelines as a hearty addition to the meal. This year, let ham be the star of the show. A baked ham can be glazed with a variety of sauces and even topped with different fruits to fit the season or your tastes. It also pairs nicely with macaroni and cheese, collard greens and cornbread, making it the perfect holiday main dish.

Pumpkin

Both the sight and taste of the winter squash — which is, in fact, a fruit — automatically evoke feelings of warmth. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

With fall comes the return of pumpkin-flavored everything to the shelves. Both the sight and taste of the winter squash — which is, in fact, a fruit — automatically evoke feelings of warmth in the colder seasons. Similar to a turkey, a pumpkin provides the perfect shell to be filled with stuffing. After completely clearing the inside, it can be stuffed with greens, peppers, and cheese, and roasted to create a meal that resembles a stuffed turkey. You can even use small pumpkins to serve individual portions. The possibilities are endless for this turkey substitute. 

Roast Chicken

A roast chicken is probably the closest turkey substitute, and an ideal option for more intimate celebrations as its smaller size makes it easier to clean, season, and cook. A roast chicken can be easily paired with other traditional Thanksgiving sides, including stuffing, to make a tasty dinner that will keep you coming back for more. 

Beef Pot Roast

At its core, beef pot roast is a large chunk of beef basted in its own juices, surrounded by various fruits and vegetables. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Another hearty and savory turkey substitute is beef pot roast. It’s simple to make and leaves room for you to add your own ingredients. At its core, beef pot roast is a large chunk of beef surrounded by various fruits and vegetables such as onions, bell peppers, potatoes, and carrots. As it roasts, the whole concoction is basted in its own juices to create a flavorful sauce that is a delicious blend of savory and sweet.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is another flavorful fruit that can be chopped, roasted, and used to supplement any meal. When mixed with onions, bell peppers, garlic, greens, and spices, butternut squash could outshine a turkey dinner. It is easy to season and manipulate into a meal that pairs perfectly with any Thanksgiving side. 

Salmon

Salmon can be roasted, seared or baked with fresh fruits and vegetables to make a flavorful and filling meal that simply melts in your mouth. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

For another meat-free alternative, salmon is an easy and hearty fish to prepare for a Thanksgiving dinner. Salmon can be roasted, seared or baked with fresh fruits and vegetables to make a flavorful and filling meal that simply melts in your mouth. A frequent crowd-pleaser, it could fit perfectly into any huge holiday spread.


Kayla Grant theGrio.com

Kayla Grant is a multimedia journalist with bylines in Business Insider, Shondaland, Oz Magazine, Prism, Rolling Out and more. She writes about culture, books and entertainment news. Follow her on Twitter: @TheKaylaGrant.


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