Unconventional Thanksgiving Foods

New takes on traditional Thanksgiving dishes reinvent the classic holiday meal


While it may look like Carrot Cake, this is in fact the infamous Turkey Cake.

In 1621, the first Thanksgiving dinner occurred in Plymouth Colony as colonists and Wampanoag Indians celebrated a successful harvest. Though the colonists may not have referred to this feast as Thanksgiving, the meal became a staple after its second occurrence in 1623, after the end of a long and devastating drought. And in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day to be held every year on November 23rd. Three hundred and ninety six years later, the holiday is still widely celebrated in the United States of America.

While the original dishes of the first Thanksgiving are widely unknown, historians have suggested they were likely prepared using traditional Native American cooking methods. It is believed that the food at the original Thanksgiving may have included lobster, waterfowl, and a variety of vegetables and fruits. Historians are uncertain if turkey was included in the first feast, though it was a staple of Thanksgiving before Lincoln declared the national holiday as Alexander Hamilton once stated that no one “of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” And while some traditions of Thanksgiving have remained intact over the years, many aspects of holiday menu have changed.

Innovative recipes have transformed the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Dishes of roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, dressing, and pumpkin pie have been overrun by new recipes boasting contemporary combinations of the classics. One of the more interesting creations is the “Turkey Cake” that includes: ground turkey, stuffing, instant oatmeal, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and lightly browned mini marshmallows. The layers of the “cake” alternate between the turkey and stuffing, while the potatoes act as the icing with a topping of marshmallows. Would you rather have a slightly more “traditional” dessert? Salt & Straw, an ice cream shop in Portland, offers a variety of Thanksgiving-inspired ice cream flavors. Ranging from hazelnut rosemary stuffing and cranberry walnut stuffing to sweet potato casserole with maple pecans and honey bourbon corn pudding, these mod desserts are sure to impress. More of a breakfast fan? Using leftovers from Thanksgiving, cranberry salsa, and a tortilla, anyone can create a Thanksgiving breakfast burrito. These odd but clever twists on typical Thanksgiving dishes will insure the end of boring holiday meals.

A new take on the breakfast burrito.