15 Italian Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Italians, of course, do not celebrate Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday, and many of my Italian friends seemed a bit perplexed by the holiday, referring to it as "La Festa del Tacchino" ("The Turkey Party") as though that were its only purpose. I mean, to some extent it is, however, we Americans all know that there's much more to it than just that, both in foods and significance.

But even though they don't celebrate it, there are many Italian fall dishes that would...MORE work very well as part of a Thanksgiving feast, or can even be used to substitute elements of it (turkey meatloaf or turkey breast roulades instead of a whole roast bird, for example). 

Explore this collection of recipes--you may find a new favorite dish!

  • 01 of 15
    Arancini, Sicilian Rice Balls Stuffed with Meat Sauce and Peas
    Foodcollection/Getty Images

    A classic from Sicily, these balls of saffron-scented rice, stuffed with meat sauce and peas, then breaded and fried, would make a fantastic starter for any holiday meal.

  • 02 of 15
    Olive all'ascolana
    Olive all'ascolana. Fabio Bianchini/Getty Images

    A delicious finger food, great to nibble on before a festive holiday meal.

  • 03 of 15
    Melanzane fritte (fried eggplant and tomato spread)
    Melanzane fritte (fried eggplant and tomato spread). Danette St. Onge

    This tasty eggplant-and-tomato spread would be great spread on toasted bread for some pre-Thanksgiving crostini!

  • 04 of 15

    Homemade pickles would be a great antipasto or side dish to lighten a heavy holiday meal. They also make a great hostess gift!

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15
    Pumpkin Gnocchi alla Romana with Gorgonzola
    Pumpkin Gnocchi alla Romana with Gorgonzola. Fabio Bianchini

    Roman-style gnocchi, made with semolina flour and pumpkin, with a piquant gorgonzola topping, sprinkled with toasted walnuts.

  • 06 of 15
    Turkey Breast Rolls Stuffed with Ham and Mushrooms
    Turkey Breast Rolls Stuffed with Ham and Mushrooms.

    A quick-and-easy Northern Italian recipe for rolled-up turkey breast filled with mushrooms, slices of ham, and Parmigiano cheese.

    A perfect solution for a smaller gathering, for those hampered by a very small kitchen and/or oven.

  • 07 of 15
    Sliced turkey meatloaf
    Sliced turkey meatloaf. Tara Donne/Getty Images

    An impressive Italian-Jewish dish traditionally served for Passover, but which would be right at home on a Thanksgiving table.

  • 08 of 15
    Garlic bread
    James Carrier/Getty Images

    Dinner rolls are kind of boring -- how about garlic bread instead? Garlic bread made with butter and French bread is an Italian-American invention, which makes it perfect for an Italian-style American feast!

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15
    Lasagne alla Bolognese
    Lasagne alla Bolognese. Danette St. Onge

    On your Thanksgiving table, this Italian classic could become a fantastic side dish.

  • 10 of 15
    Tuscan Ribollita soup (Florentine soup) made with lacinato kale, cannellini beans, Tuscan bread, and olive oil.
    Tuscan Ribollita soup (Florentine soup) made with lacinato kale, cannellini beans, Tuscan bread, and olive oil. Nico Tondini/Getty Images

    A hearty stew made with white beans, vegetables, and day-old Tuscan bread.

  • 11 of 15
    Italian Wedding Soup (Minestra Maritata)
    Sarah Bossert/Getty Images

    This popular soup with greens and tiny meatballs is actually not for weddings! But it would be a great addition to any holiday meal.

  • 12 of 15
    Risotto With Porcini Mushrooms
    Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    An earthy fall risotto that would make a perfect Thanksgiving first course or side dish.

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15
    Roasted Chestnuts

    The Spruce

    These are a great before- or after-dinner snack, or you can use them in your turkey stuffing, or toss them with roasted Brussels sprouts for a toothsome side dish!

  • 14 of 15
    Cherry Crostata
    Lili Basic Capaccetti/Getty Images

    A simple, rustic Tuscan tart which you can fill with sliced apples, pumpkin pie filling, Nutella or any fresh fruit or jam.

  • 15 of 15
    Ingredients for making nocino
    Ingredients for making nocino. Tania Mattiello

    This homemade liqueur, made with green walnuts, spices, and coffee beans, would make a fantastic after-dinner accompaniment to pumpkin, apple, or pecan pie.