A Modernist Thanksgiving Menu to Shake Things Up

Traditional Thanksgiving dishes have you feeling lukewarm? Here's a modern menu to upgrade your holiday meal and give those classic dishes a little flair.


For many people, Thanksgiving dinner is a meal defined by traditions, with the same dishes and guests making an appearance at the table year after year. But as with most everything in 2020, this Thanksgiving is probably going to be different. In a year that has been defined by uncertainty, there's a case to be made for embracing the familiar, and taking comfort in making tried and true Turkey Day classics. On the other hand, if you've been waiting for the right opportunity to switch things up and try your hand at a new recipe or technique, this is definitely the year to do it!

With that spirit of experimentation in mind, we've put together a Thanksgiving menu that's all about putting a twist on the traditional. So ditch the roasting pan and bust out your sous vide circulator and waffle iron for a modern take on the holiday meal. If you're looking for more recipes and Thanksgiving cooking tips, check out our whole guide to Thanksgiving here.

  • Sous Vide Turkey With Crispy Skin

    Liz Clayman.

    What better way to free up your oven for other tasks than to cook your turkey sous vide? This method involves tying the two breast halves into a cylinder for even cooking and a gorgeous presentation. The skin is cooked separately in order to maximize its roasted flavor and crispness. Minimal supervision required, optimal flavor guaranteed.

  • Red Wine–Braised Turkey Legs

    Red-Wine Braised Turkey Legs
    Rather save space in your oven for Brussels sprouts gratin or an addictive mashed potato casserole? These red-wine braised turkey legs make a worthy main dish, the sweet, slightly bitter wine-infused braising liquid complementing the savory dark meat. Thicken the leftover braising liquid with roux for a rich salty, sweet gravy. Get the recipe » [Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]. J. Kenji López-Alt

    While your turkey breasts are living their best sous vide life, you can give your turkey legs the braised treatment. It's a foolproof method that transforms the generous amount of connective tissue in the turkey's legs into gelatin, which in turn lubricates the meat, making it extra moist. And when cooked in a mixture of red wine, stock, and vegetables, you’re left with a ready-made foundation for gravy. The best part? The mouth-watering aroma that’ll float through the house.

  • Sous Vide Glazed Carrots

    J. Kenji López-Alt

    We have to admit that sous vide cooking is not meant for everything, and that includes most vegetables. Carrots, however, are one of the few exceptions. Their sweet, natural flavor intensifies when cooked in a sealed bag with a little bit of butter, sugar, and salt. The glaze makes them shine like the stars they are, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley is the perfect finishing touch.

  • Hasselback Potato Gratin

    J. Kenji López-Alt

    We’ve never met a potato dish we didn’t love, but this one has definitely earned "greatest of all time" status. The creamy, tender interior of a potato gratin combined with the crispy ridges of a Hasselback potato makes for one glorious dish. The key to getting it right is to toss the potato slices with the cream and cheeses first, guaranteeing an even distribution in the baking dish. This roughly translates to one perfect bite after another.

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  • Stuffing Waffles

    J. Kenji López-Alt

    Every Thanksgiving, stuffing debates are known to break out across homes in America. With only four corners to a baking dish, how do you decide who gets the crispiest—and overall best—part of the stuffing? Our simple solution is to cook the same sage-and-sausage stuffing we know and love in a waffle iron. It’s best served with a drizzling of gravy, and maybe even some maple syrup if you're still in a breakfast mindset.

  • Apple-Pecan Bourbon-Caramel Pie

    Apple-Bourbon-Caramel-Pecan Pie
    Apple pie and pecan pie: two world-famous classics. But let's be honest, one's a little wholesome and the other's a little too sweet. You know which is which. But what if we combine them into a single pie with an apple filling and pecan bourbon-caramel top "crust"? And what if we told you it's easier to make and assemble than either of the originals? This may be the greatest pie mashup ever. Get the recipe » [Photograph: Jennifer Latham]. Jennifer Latham

    Don't worry about choosing pecan or apple pie—here, we've mashed up these two American classics. The filling is best made with crisp and tart apples, like Golden Delicious or Jonathans, and a mixture of butter and flour. In place of a top crust, we fold toasted pecans into a bourbon caramel sauce and spoon them over the entire pie. Together, they make the sweet and nutty pie of which autumnal dreams are made.