15 Dishes for a Classic Southern Thanksgiving Dinner

Don't Forget the Cornbread Dressing


​The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

A typical Southern Thanksgiving dinner usually includes ham or turkey—sometimes both—along with cornbread dressing, sides, and spectacular desserts. You're likely to find a big layered salad, the quintessential green bean casserole, mashed or scalloped potatoes, and soft dinner rolls or hot buttered biscuits. Construct a traditional holiday meal for your family with the following menu inspired by the South.

  • 01 of 15

    Herb Roasted Turkey

    Herb roasted turkey recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Katarina Zunic

    If you plan to roast a turkey, this herb roasted bird is an excellent choice. The whole turkey cooks in the oven to golden perfection with olive oil and a combination of fresh aromatics, including chives, rosemary, and dill. For a smaller family gathering, try a glazed turkey breast as an alternative.

  • 02 of 15

    Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes With Cheese

    crock pot scalloped potatoes
    The Spruce

    The slow cooker makes these scalloped potatoes a breeze to fix up, freeing the oven and stovetop up for other dishes. If you're looking for a conventional version, this recipe for baked scalloped potatoes is an excellent option.

  • 03 of 15

    Classic Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

    Sweet potato casserole recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Sweet potatoes are another Southern favorite. This rich, pecan-topped casserole is one of the more popular preparations. If you prefer a lighter dish—or if you simply have no oven space left—these skillet candied sweet potatoes are an equally tasty alternative.

  • 04 of 15

    Baked Macaroni and Cheese

    Classic baked mac and cheese

    The Spruce 

    Macaroni and cheese is a popular side dish that is often found on Southern Thanksgiving tables. Bacon and green onions make this macaroni and cheese deserving of a place on your holiday menu. Sliced green onions add color and flavor, but feel free to omit them.

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  • 05 of 15

    Classic Southern Cornbread Dressing

    Cornbread Dressing
    Cornbread Dressing. Jonelle Weaver/Photolibrary/Getty

    Freshly baked cornbread and soft breadcrumbs team up in this homemade dressing. A variety of herbs, onions, celery, and chicken stock add flavor to the traditional Thanksgiving side. Many Southern cooks stew a chicken to make the broth and they often add in some of the diced chicken.

  • 06 of 15

    Seven Layer Salad

    Seven Layer Salad
    James Baigrie/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    This spectacular vegetable salad should be served in a big glass bowl to show off all of the fresh, beautiful layers. Assemble the salad at least a few hours in advance or the day before so it will be thoroughly chilled when you serve it. A sweetened mayonnaise dressing flavors it perfectly.

  • 07 of 15

    Mashed Potatoes

    homemade mashed potatoes
    The Spruce

    What's a holiday meal without mashed potatoes? These fluffy spuds need no embellishments, but feel free to jazz them up with some herbs, garlic, or nutmeg. The recipe includes some variations and helpful tips for making the perfect bowl.

    If you don't have an empty burner, consider these Instant Pot mashed potatoes, or make the stovetop one an hour or so in advance and keep them warm in a buttered slow cooker.

  • 08 of 15

    Cranberry Gelatin Salad

    Cranberry gelatin salad recipe

    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

    A gelatin salad is an essential part of a full Southern spread. Even if you're not normally a fan, you're sure to enjoy this cranberry gelatin version.

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  • 09 of 15

    Honey Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

    Honey Buttermilk Dinner Rolls
    Diana Rattray

    Bake these yeasty, airy honey buttermilk dinner rolls in any shape you like. The buttermilk and honey give the rolls soft texture and subtle sweetness.

    Dinner rolls can be prepared, shaped, and refrigerated overnight or frozen for longer storage. Either way, plan to give the rolls enough time to come to room temperature and rise before baking.

  • 10 of 15

    Cheddar Cheese Green Bean Casserole

    Southern green bean casserole

    ​The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    This cheddar green bean casserole is a tasty homemade departure from the classic. Instead of condensed soup, it comes together with a cheese sauce made from scratch. If you prefer all natural ingredients, it's definitely the recipe for you.

  • 11 of 15

    Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

    Cranberry upside down cake recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska

    This cranberry upside-down cake will be the star of the dessert table. It's inverted onto a cake plate to reveal a rich, moist cake with a sweetened cranberry topping and a brilliant choice for Thanksgiving or Christmas. If you have more than enough cranberry dishes on the menu, you might like this caramel pear upside-down cake.

  • 12 of 15

    Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

    southern buttermilk biscuits
    Diana Rattray

    These classic buttermilk biscuits go with just about any meal. Bake the biscuits just before it's time to eat and make sure there is plenty of softened butter to go around. If you grew up eating Southern biscuits, you know how important it is to butter them while they're hot!

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  • 13 of 15

    Scalloped Vegetable Casserole

    Scalloped Vegetable Casserole

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

    A colorful vegetable casserole is always a crowd-pleaser. A simple creamy white sauce brings the fresh and frozen vegetables together in a buttery breadcrumb-topped bake.

  • 14 of 15

    Classic Pumpkin Pecan Pie

    Classic pumpkin pecan pie recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    If you can't decide whether to bake a pumpkin pie or pecan pie, problem solved! This pumpkin pecan pie is truly the best of both worlds, featuring a layer of each classic Thanksgiving dessert. Make a homemade pie crust or use ready-made pie pastry sheets.

  • 15 of 15

    Baked Ham with Sweet Bourbon-Mustard Glaze

    Glazed Ham

    Georgia Glynn Smith/Getty Images

    With its fabulous sweet honey, molasses, and bourbon glaze, this baked ham is sure to become a yearly tradition. Dijon mustard gives the sugary coating just the right amount of warmth and tanginess. Insert whole cloves into the surface of the ham if you like.