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
A simple white loaf isn't a showstopper, but it'll please just about anyone with 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.
Pumpkin purée takes the place of water in this otherwise-classic white sandwich loaf. The pumpkin gives the bread a beautiful orange glow, without making it too sweet. It's a versatile loaf that will add seasonal flair to your Thanksgiving table.
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.
While I respect the utility of a 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.
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.
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 we also have a garlic-studded recipe and a simple olive oil version.
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.
If you spent the last eight months working on your sourdough skills, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to put them to use. This recipe and technique produces a deeply flavorful loaf with an ever-so-slight tang. If you're new to the world of sourdough, our sourdough starter recipe will help get you going.
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, plus a generous amount of sugar (sour cream and buttermilk keep it from being too sweet). Browned butter makes the recipe even better.
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).
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.
Plain yogurt replaces buttermilk in this flakey, golden brown biscuit. They've got just enough baking soda to add a little omph to their browning and rise, while the yogurt ensures they stay moist as they bake.
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 produces a more tender, flavorful result.
As good as they are, 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.
Thick and mellow sweet potato purée makes these colorful biscuits tender, moist, and light. Despite their vibrant color, sweet potato biscuits have a buttery flavor that's as classic as they come.
These biscuits need to proof overnight in the fridge, making them a perfect Thanksgiving side. Combine all the ingredients the night before, and all you need to do is pop them in the oven on Thanksgiving morning.
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.
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