This Thanksgiving, you have received an invitation to dine at a family member or friend’s home, relieving you of the pressure that goes along with hosting.
Typically, the host roasts the turkey and prepares the bulk of the sides. But you still may not want to show up empty-handed.
If you’ve checked with the host and discovered they have all the basics (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, pumpkin pie, rolls and more) covered and you don’t know what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, here are 15 ideas.
What should guests bring to Thanksgiving?
These are some dishes that are a little more unique. You can always bring flowers or a fun autumnal gift for the host, too.
But if you want to contribute to the meal, here are some ideas.
1. Pumpkin cheesecake
Make a savory yet sweet pumpkin cheesecake. You can even make pumpkin whipped cream to top off this cheesecake. Preparing cheesecake may be intimidating — aim for a smooth batter and you’ll have a better chance of seeing good results. Check out Natasha’s Kitchen for a recipe.
2. Cinnamon rolls
You can prepare classic cinnamon rolls or you can make pumpkin cinnamon rolls, like these from Sally’s Baking Recipes. Cinnamon rolls are a versatile dessert or could be served as a sweet appetizer.
3. Spiced apple cider
Say that you only have a few minutes to prepare a dish. Grab some apple cider from the local orchard or the grocery store and doctor it up with some spices. It’s best served warm, like this concoction from Minimalist Baker, so try to transport it in a thermos.
4. Brie toasts
Brie toasts are a simple way to have a yummy appetizer. Slice up a baguette and brie. You can add some sort of jam like tomato jam or strawberry jam on top of the baguette and then add some brie. You can add a sprig of mint for a fresh herbal touch.
5. Crudite cups
Vegetables and dip doesn’t have to be boring. Take clear plastic cups and put a vegetable dip on the bottom: it could be a ranch base or a yogurt base. Slice up some vegetables like bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots and then stick them in a cup.
6. Deviled eggs
Check out this deviled eggs recipe from Downshiftology for an easy appetizer to bring to your Thanksgiving dinner party. You can top with additional herbs to add some freshness to the dish.
7. Charcuterie board
Build the perfect fall charcuterie board. Combine cheeses like brie, cheddar, gouda, feta and pecorino romano with meats such as salami and prosciutto alongside thinly sliced apples, pears and berries. Serve with some nuts, crackers, baguette slices and jams (think marmalade or fig jam).
8. Butternut squash lasagna
It’s a pasta dish with a vegetable twist. Ambitious Kitchen’s butternut squash lasagna recipe combines fresh fall vegetables with cheese and pasta for an easy side dish.
9. Broccoli bacon casserole.
Cheesy broccoli with bacon? Talk about the ultimate comfort food. Simply Recipes combines broccoli, bacon, cream, milk and eggs with lots of cheddar cheese for a stick to your bones kind of casserole that you can bring as a vegetable side dish for the main meal.
10. Vegan pumpkin mac and cheese
Being a vegetarian or vegan on Thanksgiving can be tough. The star of the show is a meat dish: turkey. And side dishes like mashed potatoes or stuffing often incorporate dairy and meat. Using nutritional yeast, cashews, pumpkin and more, you can make this vegan mac and cheese from Rainbow Plant Life.
11. Potato skins
Potato skins are a hearty appetizer that isn’t an everyday kind of thing. They take a while to make and are loaded with a bunch of different ingredients. If you show up with the Serious Potato Skins from The New York Times Cooking, you’ll have an appetizer to munch on while you’re watching Thanksgiving Day football.
12. Hummus plate
A hummus plate is a good appetizer to throw together if you’re running short on time. You can do a sweet and savory combination. Get chocolate hummus along with a typical savory hummus and pick up some fruit, pretzels and vegetables to prepare a platter to bring over.
13. Coconut shrimp
Serious Eats’ coconut shrimp recipe has the perfect ratio of breading to shrimp, so that you get crunch and shrimp in every bite.
14. Bread plate
Do you and your family or friends just love bread? Put together a couple different types of bread (think sourdough slices, baguette pieces, some brown bread, etc.) along with whipped butter and some jams. This can be a fun appetizer or something to serve alongside the main dishes.
15. Butternut squash pizza
Pizza is irresistible. If you slice up a pizza into small enough pieces, you can make bite size appetizers. Consider using this rosemary roasted butternut squash pizza recipe from Half Baked Harvest for a savory appetizer.
Bonus: Breakfast for the next morning
Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner is an ordeal. There are a whole slew of side dishes to whip together as well as a table to set, a house to tidy and a whole bunch of groceries to buy. Making a quiche or breakfast casserole or cinnamon rolls for the host family can be a thoughtful way of expressing gratitude — that way they won’t have to cook the next morning.