13 Irresistible Thanksgiving Mains That Aren’t Turkey: New Traditions Start Here

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Thanksgiving: a time of gratitude, family, and, let’s be honest, the same turkey-centered menu year after year. Ready to give Tom Turkey the boot and spice up your holiday spread? These 13 main dish ideas will help you shake things up!

plate full of ham with asparagus.
Crock Pot Spiral Ham. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

From a sous vide beef tenderloin that practically cooks itself to a cranberry pot roast that’ll make you wonder why you ever settled for poultry, we’re about to turn your Thanksgiving into a feast of the unconventional. Whether you’re dodging dietary dilemmas or just sick of waking up at dawn to baste a bird, these recipes are your ticket to a fuss-free, flavor-packed holiday.

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Crock Pot Spiral Ham

Crock Pot Spiral Ham is a sweet and spicy twist on traditional Thanksgiving fare. The combination of peach preserves, honey, and red pepper flakes offers a unique flavor profile. This easy-to-make ham is perfect for those looking to simplify their holiday cooking while still making a big impression.
Get the Recipe: Crock Pot Spiral Ham

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork

A plate with roasted pork, brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce.
Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Swap out turkey for Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork for a twist on Thanksgiving dinner. The cranberry adds a festive touch, and slow cooking ensures tender, flavorful meat. It’s an easy, set-and-forget dish that brings a sweet and savory flair to your holiday table.
Get the Recipe: Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork

Air Fryer Stuffed Chicken Breast with Apples and Cheese

Air fryer stuffed chicken breast on a white plate.
Air Fryer Stuffed Chicken Breast with Apples and Cheese. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

This Air Fryer Stuffed Chicken Breast brings a gourmet twist to Thanksgiving. Stuffed with apples and cheese, it’s a delightful combination of juicy, sweet, and savory. It’s a great option for a smaller gathering, offering a sophisticated yet comforting main course.
Get the Recipe: Air Fryer Stuffed Chicken Breast with Apples and Cheese

Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Cabbage and Potatoes

Oven roasted pork loin with potatoes, carrots and cabbage on a plate.
Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Cabbage and Potatoes. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Oven Roasted Pork Loin is a fuss-free alternative to traditional turkey. Cooking it with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots in one pan makes for an impressive and easy holiday meal. This dish is perfect for those seeking a hearty, rustic main course with minimal effort.
Get the Recipe: Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Cabbage and Potatoes

Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing

A plate with chicken, carrots and gravy.
Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing is a cozy, comforting alternative to turkey. Juicy chicken paired with flavorful stuffing makes for a delicious and simple meal. It’s a great choice for a low-key Thanksgiving, combining classic flavors with the convenience of a slow cooker.
Get the Recipe: Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing

Instant Pot Leg of Lamb

Instant Pot Leg of Lamb with potatoes and carrots.
Instant Pot Leg of Lamb. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Instant Pot Leg of Lamb offers an elegant and flavorful main course. Cooking with rosemary, garlic, carrots, and potatoes infuses the lamb with classic flavors in a fraction of the time. It’s a sophisticated option for those wanting to add a touch of luxury to their Thanksgiving table.
Get the Recipe: Instant Pot Leg of Lamb

Air Fryer Prime Rib

Air fryer prime rib after cooking.
Air Fryer Prime Rib. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Air Fryer Prime Rib is a show-stopping alternative for your Thanksgiving feast. This almost effortless recipe results in juicy and tender meat that’s sure to impress. It’s a luxurious option for those seeking to elevate their holiday meal with minimal fuss.
Get the Recipe: Air Fryer Prime Rib

Easy Baked Manicotti

Baked manicotti in a cast iron skillet.
Easy Baked Manicotti. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Baked Manicotti brings an Italian twist to your Thanksgiving table. Pasta shells stuffed with cheese and topped with beef and marinara sauce offer a hearty, cheesy, and comforting meal. It’s a perfect dish for those looking to serve something warm and satisfying, yet different from the norm.
Get the Recipe: Easy Baked Manicotti

Sous Vide Rack of Lamb

Side view of lamb ribs on a white plate with thyme.
Sous Vide Rack of Lamb. Photo credit: .

Bring a touch of sophistication with Sous Vide Rack of Lamb. This cooking method guarantees perfectly cooked lamb every time. It’s an ideal choice for an upscale, yet stress-free Thanksgiving main course that’s sure to wow your guests.
Get the Recipe: Sous Vide Rack of Lamb

Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin

Air fryer pork tenderloin on a plate with potatoes on a cutting board.
Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Choose Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin for a quick and delicious Thanksgiving meal. The air fryer ensures a crispy exterior and a tender, juicy interior. It’s an excellent option for those seeking a simple yet elegant main course that deviates from the usual turkey.
Get the Recipe: Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin

Crock Pot Baked Ziti

A bowl of pasta with meat and tomatoes.
Crock Pot Baked Ziti. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

For a comforting and crowd-pleasing main, try Crock Pot Baked Ziti. It’s a cheesy, satisfying alternative to turkey, with layers of pasta, marinara sauce, and sausage. The slow cooker does all the work, making it a stress-free choice for a family-friendly Thanksgiving meal.
Get the Recipe: Crock Pot Baked Ziti

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pot Roast

A slow cooker filled with beef and cranberries.
Slow Cooker Cranberry Pot Roast. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pot Roast offers a cozy and hearty alternative to turkey. The cranberries add a hint of sweetness, making it a festive and flavorful main dish. This easy slow cooker recipe is perfect for a comforting and low-maintenance Thanksgiving meal.
Get the Recipe: Slow Cooker Cranberry Pot Roast

Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin

closeup of rare sous vide beef tenderloin.
Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Opt for Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin for a perfectly cooked, luxurious Thanksgiving main. The sous vide method ensures a tender, juicy roast that’s impressive and foolproof. It’s a great centerpiece for those seeking a gourmet alternative to traditional turkey.
Get the Recipe: Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin

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13 irresistible thanksgiving mains that aren't turkey.

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

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