Faced with a Thanksgiving table groaning under turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pie, you could be forgiven for overlooking the bread basket. Your stomach can only stretch so far, after all. At the same time, if you skip the bread, what exactly are you going to use to sop up all that tangy cranberry sauce, huh? The meaty gravy? Plus, what in the world will you use to make leftovers sandwiches the next day? Not a sliced white supermarket loaf, we hope; your sandwich deserves better. To that end, we've collected 15 of our favorite recipes for comforting, hearty, fluffy breads—supremely flaky biscuits, moist and sweet Northern-style cornbread and a buttery unsweetened Southern-style one, homemade Parker House rolls, and more. Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn't be complete without at least one.
Yeasted Breads and Rolls
Simple Crusty White Bread
A basic loaf of white bread may not be showy or innovative, but it can be a thing of beauty nonetheless (and definitely a crowd-pleaser at any big holiday meal). The light crumb and robust, burnished crust on this one make it especially tempting, just begging to be torn into and slathered with butter or topped with layers of mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing. As with most of our baking recipes, we highly recommend using a kitchen scale to measure the dry ingredients—it's much more accurate than measuring by volume.
Parker House Rolls
Another understated Thanksgiving classic, the Parker House roll is by no means flashy, but there's just something about that marshmallow-soft texture and sweet, buttery flavor. To make the rolls extra fluffy, we turn to an unexpected secret ingredient—instant mashed potato flakes.
Pull-Apart Stuffing Rolls
If you want something with flavor that's a bit punchier—and if you're a stuffing fanatic, like we are!—this is the bread recipe to try this year. An unlikely hybrid of garlic knots and Thanksgiving stuffing, these buttery pull-apart rolls are a snap to make—just start with homemade or store-bought pizza dough and add typical stuffing ingredients, like sausage, celery, and sage, before the rising and baking steps. Allowing the dough to rise in the pan leads to tightly squished rolls that are more fun to pull.
Another recipe for those who'd mop up their stuffing with more stuffing if they could, these light rolls have savory stuffing flavor baked right into the dough: poultry seasoning, dried celery flakes, dried parsley, and, if you want to go all out, dried cranberries. Unlike the pull-apart rolls above, they're vegetarian, too.
I don't know about you, but I have zero interest in taking the time to make a bread dough on Thanksgiving Day itself. A more practical solution lies in the dough for these soft, fluffy buns, which can be mixed, kneaded, risen, and shaped the day before. All you'll have to do on the big day is move them from the fridge to the oven and bake until they're well browned.
Easy No-Knead Olive-Rosemary Focaccia With Pistachios
What's even better than a dough that can be kneaded the night before? A dough that you don't have to knead at all. The high level of hydration in this one naturally allows gluten to form as it rests overnight, and stretches to fit the pan in the meantime, leaving it ready to bake in the morning with minimal work. Before baking, we top it with briny olives, fragrant rosemary, and crunchy pistachios, for a focaccia that's as flavorful as it is moist.
Gluten-Free Potato Bread
This gluten-free loaf has the structured, springy crumb of a good wheat-based bread, thanks to a tried-and-true gluten-free flour mixture and extra starch from cooked potato. It ends up pleasantly crusty outside, soft inside, and perfect for making sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving dinner. Since the flour blend takes some effort to put together, we suggest making a big batch—it'll keep in the cupboard for up to six months and can be used in additional gluten-free baking recipes.
Sweet and Moist Northern-Style Cornbread
Made with a 50/50 mix of yellow cornmeal and all-purpose flour, this sweet, tender cornbread is for Yankees like me who like their cornbread cake-like—yet it retains the crisp, deeply browned edges that are the best feature of the Southern-style approach. The tanginess of sour cream and buttermilk balances out the sugar in the batter, while preheating butter in the cast iron skillet gives the bread that dark crust.
Southern-Style Unsweetened Cornbread
If a buttery unsweetened cornbread is more your style, your single most important step is picking up a bag of the best cornmeal you can find—preferably freshly stone-ground from a small mill, such as Anson Mills or Old Mill of Guilford. A high-quality cornmeal will yield far better flavor and texture in your bread than the mass-market stuff that's made from underripe corn. But if you can't find anything else, add a few teaspoons of sugar to help mimic the natural sweetness of quality cornmeal.
Moist and Tender Brown Butter Cornbread
This recipe makes just a small tweak to the basic Northern-style cornbread described above, but it's one that brings major results: Replacing plain butter with skillet-browned butter gives the bread a rich, nutty flavor and aroma and an especially crisp crust. We cut back on the sugar a bit for this recipe, allowing the deep flavor of the browned butter to shine.
Orange and Cranberry Cornbread
Inching further into cakey territory, this Northern-style cornbread is brightened up with the tart berries and aromatic orange of Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. In contrast to the browned-butter variation, here we increase the quantity of sugar and incorporate honey to offset the sourness of the berries. Using light brown sugar instead of white adds a slight molasses note.
Super-Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
The iconic American biscuit is flaky and ethereally light, its outer layers giving way to a fluffy and soft interior of buttermilk-tinged dough. Repeatedly folding the dough over itself—a process called lamination—is the key to creating all those delicate layers, resulting in maximum flakiness. While some biscuit recipes call for shortening, we recommend butter instead, which tenderizes better and offers great flavor besides.
2-Ingredient Never-Fail Cream Biscuits
When you're swamped in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, any shortcuts you can take will be nothing short of a lifesaver, which is a strong argument for incorporating cream biscuits into your menu. Our basic cream biscuit recipe is easy as it is, but, thanks to the magic of self-rising flour, this version produces beautifully light, tender biscuits using just two ingredients. Laminate the biscuits if you like, but making them drop-style will cut your prep time to a mere 20 minutes, start to finish.
Pillowy (and Pretty) Yeasted Angel Biscuits
Leavened with both baking powder and yeast, these biscuits turn out "light as angel's wings," hence the name—though the airy, soft texture they get from the yeast means they're something close to a biscuit/roll mashup. If you double the recipe, you'll have plenty of extras to make leftovers sandwiches—highly encouraged.
Mildly Sweet Sweet-Potato Biscuits
Sweet potato biscuits were originally dreamed up as a way for frugal bakers to cut back on expensive refined flour, and they have the convenient side benefit of being tasty (not to mention perfectly Thanksgiving-appropriate). Mashing the potatoes by hand keeps them a little on the chunky side, leaving pockets of sweet potato here and there throughout the finished biscuits.