Bread isn't the flashiest part of Thanksgiving dinner—when I'm trying to fit turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and a thousand other dishes into my stomach, extra carbs just feel like wasted space. But bread is a vital part of the meal—how else will you soak up every drop of gravy or make leftover sandwiches on Friday? We've pulled together a bunch of recipes to help you fill up your bread basket with buttery dinner rolls, nutty brown butter cornbread, pillowy angel biscuits, or one of our other favorite breads.
Yeasted Breads and Rolls
Simple Crusty White Bread
A simple white loaf isn't a showstopper, but it is absolutely a crowd-pleaser—everyone will love its light crumb and robust crust. You may want to bake an extra loaf for Friday, because this bread is practically begging to be turned into sandwiches made with leftovers.
The Best Dinner Rolls (Fluffy, Crusty, and Chewy)
These rolls are fluffy on the inside but have a crackly crust sturdy enough to stand up to all of the mashed potatoes and gravy you throw at them. We get that crust using a technique that will be familiar to anyone who has made bagels: boiling the dough to gelatinize its starch before baking.
Parker House Rolls
While I respect the utility of hard roll, I can't help but be partial to sweet, buttery, pillowy-soft Parker House rolls. Ours have an especially cloud-like texture because we add instant mashed potatoes to the dough—make sure to get a brand that's 100% potato with no salt, spices, or other ingredients.
Pull-Apart Stuffing Rolls
Rolls are often thought of as more of a secondary player in a meal, but these have enough flavor to be a star in their own right thanks to classic stuffing ingredients like sausage, celery, and sage. They are also super easy—with so many intense ingredients, we have no problem using slightly bland store-bought pizza dough instead of making the dough from scratch.
These buns have the stuffing flavor baked right in—we mix poultry seasoning, dried celery flakes, dried parsley, and even dried cranberries directly into the dough. The poultry seasoning gives the buns the savoriness of stuffing (despite the name, it is 100% vegetarian).
I understand that making bread dough on Thanksgiving is a little ambitious for most people, and fortunately there is a more practical solution. Almost all the work involved in these fluffy buns—mixing, kneading, rising, and shaping—can be done on Wednesday, so on Thursday all you have to do is move them from the fridge to the oven.
Easy No-Knead Olive-Rosemary Focaccia With Pistachios
Kneading dough the night before Thanksgiving is convenient, but even more convenient is not having to knead it at all. Because of the high level of hydration in this focaccia dough, it rises and stretches overnight all by itself. This recipe flavors the dough with olives, rosemary, and pistachios, but also check out our garlic-studded version.
Gluten-Free Potato Bread
You don't need gluten to make a good loaf of bread—this one has a beautifully structured, springy crumb thanks to a gluten-free flour blend and starchy cooked potato. The flour mix is a little involved, but you can make a big batch and keep it around to use in pretty much any recipe that calls for all-purpose flour.
Sweet and Moist Northern-Style Cornbread
I'm a Yankee born and raised, so I like my cornbread sweet and cake-like. This recipe suits my tastes thanks to its 50/50 mix of yellow cornmeal and all-purpose flour and generous amount of sugar (sour cream and buttermilk keep it from being too sweet). Browned butter makes the recipe even better.
Southern-Style Unsweetened Cornbread
Prefer unsweetened Southern-style cornbread to the Northern variety? To make it right you're going to need to pick up high-quality stone-ground cornmeal—the flavor and texture of mass-market cornmeal just can't compete. Beyond that the recipe is pretty straightforward: salt, baking soda, baking powder, buttermilk, eggs, and butter (or bacon fat).
Orange and Cranberry Cornbread
We return to the North here, giving cornbread a Thanksgiving twist with the berries and orange that you'd find in a classic cranberry sauce. We use light brown sugar instead of white for a slight molasses note and add more of it than we would for our regular Northern-style cornbread to account for the tartness of the cranberries.
Super-Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
Our version of a laminated biscuit stays true to tradition—it's hard to improve on a fluffy, flaky biscuit with the perfect amount of buttermilk tang. We do stray from some other recipes by using butter instead of shortening, which we think produces a more tender, flavorful result.
2-Ingredient Never-Fail Cream Biscuits
Our flaky biscuits might be a little more work than you're looking for Thanksgiving morning. This recipe is way easier—it starts with our already simple cream biscuits, but uses self-rising flour to cut the ingredient list down to just two items. They can be laminated if you'd like, but make them drop-biscuit style and you can have them ready in just 20 minutes.
Pillowy (and Pretty) Yeasted Angel Biscuits
These biscuits get their name from being "light as angel's wings"—because they're leavened with both baking powder and yeast they have some of the softness of a dinner roll. These are a good bit sturdier than typical biscuits, so they are wonderful for leftover sandwiches.
Mildly Sweet Sweet-Potato Biscuits
Originally created as a way to cut down on the amount of expensive refined flour used in biscuit recipes, we like sweet potato biscuits for their Thanksgiving-appropriate flavor. We mash the potatoes by hand to have more control over their texture—leaving them on the chunky side means delicious pockets of sweet potato throughout the finished biscuits.
Real Irish Soda Bread
I rarely eat Irish soda bread outside of St. Patrick's Day, but there is no reason that this fast, easy bread shouldn't be a year-round staple. We make our version with lots of buttermilk to give it a chewy-but-tender texture—a healthy amount of baking soda neutralizes the buttermilk's acidity and keeps the bread from being too sour.