Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes: Appetizers, Sides, and More!

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

healthy thanksgiving recipes

Forgo boring, bland, and unhealthy dishes this holiday by choosing healthy Thanksgiving recipes instead!

Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean you have to sideline your health journey.

Healthy Thanksgiving recipes are loaded with flavor and contain whole-food ingredients like lean meats, eggs, dairy foods, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds, etc.).

Steer clear of highly processed meats, high-fat cuts of meat, fried foods, added sugar, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and other artificial ingredients in favor of non-processed alternatives.

Choose healthy Thanksgiving recipes as your main dishes, appetizers, sides, soups, desserts, and more.

If you're struggling to find nutritious recipes this Thanksgiving, try the ideas below!

Planning on some cocktails before or after Thanksgiving? Here's what you need to know about alcohol and weight loss.

8 Delicious and Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Brussels Sprouts With Uncured Turkey Bacon

You can't go wrong when choosing this Brussel Sprouts and bacon recipe as one of your healthy Thanksgiving recipes, as it's loaded with flavor and heart-healthy nutrients!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 8 thick slices of uncured turkey bacon
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, plus extra if needed
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous amount of salt.
  • Trim the bottom end of each Brussels sprout, leaving the core intact. Pull off the outer dark leaves and halve them through the core.
  • Add the Brussels sprouts to your pot and cook them, uncovered, until tender (about 6 minutes).
  • Drain and rinse the Brussels sprouts under cold running water.
  • Meanwhile, place the oil and turkey bacon in a large skillet or stewpot. Cook these ingredients over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon turns crispy. Remove it and set it aside.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and add the Brussels sprouts. Cook them, stirring occasionally, until they brown and the edges turn crisp (about 10 minutes).
  • Stir in the vinegar, salt, pepper, and bacon.
  • Serve warm, and enjoy!

Servings: 8

Roasted Turkey Breast

If you're not in the mood to roast a whole turkey or you don't need that much food, try this flavorful, roasted turkey breast recipe instead!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of boneless turkey breast
  • 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons of dried herbs (thyme or oregano)
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
  • Rinse the turkey well and pat it dry.
  • Place all marinade ingredients (mustard, vinegar, herbs, salt, pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, and olive oil) into a bowl and mix well.
  • Rub the mixture all over the turkey.
  • Refrigerate to marinate overnight or let the turkey breast sit for at least 1 hour before roasting.
  • Place the turkey breast on a baking pan or sheet.
  • Roast it for 45-60 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 170 Fahrenheit.
  • Let the turkey stand for a couple of minutes, slice it, and serve.
  • Enjoy this healthy Thanksgiving recipe with your family!

Servings: 8

Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy

Pair this vegetarian gravy recipe with your turkey this year!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 8 ounces of oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of dry sherry
  • 3 cups of mushroom stock or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 2 tablespoons of vegan margarine or vegan butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté it for about 1 minute.
  • Add the thyme, salt, and mushrooms. Sauté the mixture for about 8 minutes or until the mushrooms brown.
  • Add the sherry and cook until the liquid evaporates. Stir in the broth.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and cook further it until the gravy is reduced to about 2 cups (it takes about 14 minutes).
  • Whisk together the flour and water in a small bowl. Add it to the skillet and return the mixture to boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture until it's slightly thickened (about 2 minutes).
  • Remove the gravy from the heat, stir in the vegan margarine or vegan butter (1 tablespoon at a time), and add the pepper.
  • Serve the gravy with your turkey and enjoy this healthy Thanksgiving recipe!

Servings: 8

Next-Day Turkey Soup

Are you looking for a delicious way to utilize leftover Thanksgiving turkey? Take advantage of this practical, yet mouth-watering, next-day turkey soup healthy Thanksgiving recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 turkey carcass with all meat removed
  • 1 carrot, halved lengthwise
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 minced celery stalk
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups of turkey meat
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 cups of mixed vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh sage, chopped

Instructions

  • Place the chicken broth, turkey, carrot halves, celery stalk, onion halves, and 1 bay leaf in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Dice the turkey meat, making sure the pieces aren't larger than a soup spoon.
  • Before straining the broth, remove the large bones and carcass using tongs. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
  • Heat the garlic and olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Allow it to brown slightly (about 3 minutes).
  • Add the minced carrots, celery, and onions. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until softened (about 7-8 minutes).
  • Dice the mixed vegetables.
  • Add the sage, turkey broth, and remaining bay leaf to the soup pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add Brussels sprouts, green beans, and diced turkey to the soup.
  • Bring the soup back to a simmer.
  • Add sweet potatoes to the center and gently push them down.
  • Turn the heat off and cover the pot. Allow the soup to sit and steam for 5-7 minutes. Let it simmer for 5 more minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Servings: 6-8

Gluten-Free Paleo Stuffing

Instead of traditional Thanksgiving stuffing, make this nutrient-dense, gluten-free paleo stuffing recipe!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of avocado oil
  • 3 cups of onion, diced
  • 2 cups of celery, diced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup of apples, cored and diced
  • 1/4 of a cup of dried cranberries or dates, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons of poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 cups of almond flour
  • 3 large eggs, whisked

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onion, celery, apples, mushrooms, cranberries or dates, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Sauté the mixture until the ingredients soften (about 7 minutes).
  • Remove the skillet from the heat.
  • Keep the ingredients in the skillet or transfer them to a 9×9 baking dish.
  • Stir almond flour into the other ingredients until it's well combined.
  • Add the whisked eggs and mix well.
  • Place the skillet or baking dish in a preheated oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until the stuffing browns on top.
  • Serve this dish warm, and enjoy!

Servings: 8

Mini Stuffed Pumpkins

This mini-stuffed pumpkin recipe is almost too beautiful to eat! You'll wow family and friends with it this holiday season.

Ingredients

  • 8-10 mini pumpkins
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 pound of uncured turkey sausage, lean ground turkey, or roasted turkey pieces
  • 3/4 cup of chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup of roughly chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 3/4 cups of cooked quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice mixed with flax seeds
  • 1 cup of chopped kale leaves
  • 1 cup of shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set it aside.
  • Slice the tops off of the mini pumpkins and scoop out the seeds.
  • Rub the pumpkins and tops with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  • Place the pumpkins on the prepared baking sheet with their tops on them. Roast them for 15-20 minutes or until they become tender.
  • Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook well. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper and set it aside.
  • Add the onions and mushrooms to the same pan and cook them until tender.
  • Add apple cider to the pan. Deglaze the pan with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the pecans, nutmeg, and thyme. Cook the mixture for about 4-5 minutes until the liquid is slightly reduced. Remove from heat and set the mixture aside.
  • Prepare the quinoa or rice mixture.
  • Combine the turkey, onion, mushrooms, dried cranberries, rice, kale, and 3/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Transfer the pumpkin bottoms to a large cast-iron pan and set the tops aside.
  • Stuff the pumpkins with the turkey, rice or quinoa, and cranberry mixture by heaping the mixture into each pumpkin. Sprinkle each with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the pumpkins for 15-20 minutes or until they're soft and the stuffing is heated through.
  • Serve this dish hot, place the pumpkin tops back on the pumpkins, and enjoy!

Servings: 10

Vegan Mashed Cauliflower

Go lower-carb this Thanksgiving by choosing a vegan mashed cauliflower recipe in place of traditional mashed potatoes!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of vegetable broth + 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of vegan butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pot, bring the broth, water, and salt to a boil.
  • Add the cauliflower and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Cover it and reduce the heat to low. Steam for 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower becomes tender.
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower to a food processor.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of the pot's vegetable broth/water mixture, along with vegan butter.
  • Process the mixture until smooth.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Add thyme and process the mixture until well combined.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Servings: 3

Baked Cinnamon Apples

Add these baked cinnamon apples to your list of healthy Thanksgiving recipes this Fall season!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 6 medium granny smith apples
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • Chopped walnuts or pecans for serving

Instructions

  • Peel and chop the apples into small, uniform pieces that are about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Heat a medium skillet to medium-low heat and add water.
  • Add the apples and cinnamon to taste, stirring and cooking until the apples until they soften (about 6-10 minutes). If all of the water evaporates, add a little more while you cook the apples.
  • Add the cooked apples to serving bowls and top each serving with chopped nuts if you'd like.
  • Enjoy!
  • Store the leftover apples in your refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat them in the microwave for 20 seconds or stir them into oatmeal or Greek yogurt!

Servings: 4

Erin Coleman
B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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