Staffers' Favorite Regional Thanksgiving Recipes

These family dishes always make it to the holiday table.

1 of 12

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

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“Every year I have Thanksgiving with a friend and her family, and we then invite other families and friends who find themselves in town. Last year we cooked for 26 people, and I'm always required to make a giant apple crisp with an oatmeal crumble topping. Guests have threatened not to come if I don't make it!”  
—Tina Anderson, Photo Director



1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1 cup old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces


1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

2 1/2 pounds Fuji, Rome or Granny Smith apples (about 6 medium) or a combination, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Vanilla ice cream (optional)


For the topping: Combine brown sugar, oats, flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture comes together in clumps. Cover and chill while preparing filling. (The topping can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)

For the filling: Heat oven to 375°. Generously butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Combine cranberries, apples, sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl. Transfer filling to prepared dish. Sprinkle topping over fruit mixture.

Bake until filling bubbles and topping is crisp and deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream, if desired. 

Makes 8 to 10 servings. 

2 of 12

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

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"No marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes on the big day for us. My family now prefers an Indian-inspired stir-fry sweet potato dish with onions, cayenne, ground ginger, cinnamon and raisins.”—Michael Tyrell, Associate Food Editor

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Makes: 12 servingsPrep: 15 minutesCook: 25 minutes


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

3 1⁄2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large), peeled

1 cup golden raisins

2  tablespoons light-brown sugar

1 1⁄2  teaspoons salt

 1 teaspoon ground ginger

 1⁄2  teaspoon cinnamon

 1⁄4  teaspoon cayenne pepper


In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes or until golden. Add sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups water, raisins, light-brown sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cayenne. Cook, covered, over medium heat 12 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead: Spoon fully prepared potatoes into a casserole and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. To serve, unwrap and let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes. Heat at 325° for about 30 minutes or until internal temperature registers 140° on an instant-read thermometer.

3 of 12

Coquito Mini Doughnuts

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"We’ve spent the last couple of Thanksgivings with my husband's family in upstate New York. My favorite dish to contribute is coquito mini doughnuts. Coquito is a Puerto Rican version of eggnog that's popular throughout the holidays. I’ve found a way to incorporate the drink into my mini doughnut recipe and it’s been quite a hit!”—Stefanie Ruiz, Art Production Manager


This recipe makes about 7 1/2 to 9 1/2 cups, depending on how much rum you use. You'll need about 1 cup coquito to prepare the doughnuts.


3 cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut

1 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 to 2 cups rum (optional)

Ground cinnamon, for serving (optional)


In a small pot, add 1 cup water, cinnamon sticks and ground cloves. Bring to a boil and let cool.

In a very large bowl, combine evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream of coconut, coconut or vanilla extract, ground nutmeg and cinnamon-clove water. Stir until well blended. If using, add rum to taste and stir until well blended. Set aside 1 cup coquito to prepare doughnuts.

Serve cold. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Coquito Mini Doughnuts 

Makes: about 30 doughnuts



5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup coquito (add a bit more if too thick)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup coquito


Heat oven to 325º. Lightly oil 2 or 3 mini doughnut pans (depending on number of indents) and set aside.

In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, coquito and vanilla and mix until just combined (mixture will look curdled).

Add baking powder and salt and mix until just incorporated. Mix in flour until just combined. You don't want to overmix this batter.

Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip or a ziplock bag with the tip cut off. Pipe into indents, filling each halfway. 

Bake at 325º for 4 to 6 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

Combine cinnamon and sugar. Dip each doughnut lightly in coquito, then roll in cinnamon and sugar.

4 of 12

Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie


"Because I've always been more than a little bit country (despite my New Jersey roots), my Kentucky bourbon chocolate pecan pie has become a much-demanded Thanksgiving dessert staple among my friends and family."—Ron Kelly, Managing Editor


1 cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup butter

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup pecan pieces

1 unbaked pastry shell fitted into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate


Heat oven to 325°. (Optional: While you 
wait, treat yourself to a swig of bourbon. You don’t have to, but
 me likey.)

In a saucepan, cook sugar, corn syrup and butter over
 medium heat. You gotta stir this puppy constantly, making sure all the
 sugar dissolves and the mixture smells like...well, heaven. Let it
 cool slightly. (Hmmm, waiting again. Hey, look! There’s a bottle of

Grab a healthy-sized bowl and beat eggs, bourbon,
 vanilla and salt. Gradually add the aforementioned heavenly sugar
 mixture. Beat well with a wire whisk. (At this point, if you’ve been
 visiting with the bourbon as often as I do, you’ll find yourself
 patting some flour on your face and screaming "No…more…WIRE…
WHISKS!!!!!" then laughing hysterically until you stumble upon the
 realization that this is why you’re still single.)

Stir the chocolate chips and pecans into the hot sugar
 mixture, then pour the entire concoction into the pastry shell.
 Here’s a tip: I’ve found that it helps if you introduce the chocolate 
chips and pecans beforehand. You know, let them mix and mingle. Get to
 know one another. That way, you don’t get big clumps of one or the
 other in different areas of the pie. I like my pies fully integrated.

Bake your soon-to-be masterpiece at 325° for 55 minutes or until
 set. I’d err on leaving it in a minute or two over, actually, so it’s
 fully set. The only risk involved in making this pie is removing it too
 early, leaving it a bit runny and hard to cut. (Not that your guests 
still won’t be scraping it off their plates.)

Serve with whipped cream, a side of ice cream, a shot of bourbon…you know, whatever you like.

5 of 12

Sweet Potato Casserole


"Our midwestern family would cry if my mom didn't make her sweet potato casserole. Funny thing is, there isn't a sweet potato to be found in the dish—it's actually yams mixed with canned pineapple, butter and brown sugar. The casserole is topped with mini marshmallows and pecans, then baked until oozy. It's sweet enough to be eaten in place of pie."—Melissa Knific, Associate Food Editor


2 cans (29 ounces each) Bruce’s Yams, drained and diced

1 can (20 ounces) Dole Pinapple Tidbits in Light Syrup, drained

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons apple pie spice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups mini marshmallows


Heat oven to 350°. 

In a bowl, combine yams, pineapple, apple, brown sugar, apple pie spice, cinnamon and salt. 

Transfer to a buttered 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Dot with butter. Top with mini marshmallows.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly toasted and yams are bubbling.

6 of 12

Adobo Chicken and Pancit

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“In my family, we don't eat a traditional American meal on Thanksgiving. Instead, we have a full-on Filipino party (although sometimes we'll serve mashed potatoes or mac and cheese too). Filipino food is pretty meat-heavy and very flavorful. Here are two of my favorite recipes.”—Syden Abrenica, Beauty and Fashion Editorial Assistant

Adobo Chicken 


4 to 5 pounds chicken thighs

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

3 bay leaves


Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and marinate chicken for 1 to 3 hours.

Bring pot to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and let simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened and chicken is tender, about 20 more minutes.

This is usually eaten with steamed white rice.


The chicken is optional, but this dish is so much better with it—or even with shrimp!


1 package (12 ounces) dried rice noodles 

1 teaspoon vegetable oil 

1 onion, finely diced 

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups diced cooked chicken breast meat (optional)

1 small head cabbage, thinly sliced 

4 carrots, thinly sliced 

1/4 cup soy sauce 

2 lemons, quartered, for garnish


Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with warm water. When soft, drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until soft. Stir in chicken, cabbage, carrots and soy sauce. Cook until cabbage begins to soften. Toss in noodles and cook until heated through, stirring constantly.

Transfer pancit to a serving dish and garnish with quartered lemons.

7 of 12

Nana Una’s Panamanian-Style Dressing


“My grandmother Una was from Panama, and every year I re-create her famous dressing: a perfect blend of ground beef, sausage, olives, pimientos, croutons, tomatoes and Latin spices, all baked to perfection. I call it my Love Bomb. For my kids, no Thanksgiving is complete without it.”—Suzanne Rust, Lifestyle Editor


1 to 2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 to 2 carrots, chopped

1 to 2 ribs celery, chopped

2 pounds ground beef

3/4 pound sausage meat

1/3 cup Goya pitted alcaparrado (from an 8-ounce jar), drained and chopped

1 packet Goya Sazón with annatto (from a 1.41-ounce package) 

1  can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes

1/2 bag Pepperidge Farm cubed herb seasoned stuffing (from a 12-ounce bag)

Salt to tasteThere's already quite a bit of salt in the sausage meat and alcaparrado.

Black pepper to taste

Red pepper to taste

1 small handful raisins (optional)Nana always used them and I like the nice touch of sweetness, but my children hate them! No raisins in my dressing. Sigh.


Heat oven to 350°.

In a large Dutch oven, sauté onions, garlic, carrots and celery until slightly soft.

Add ground beef, then sausage, and brown.

Add alcaparrado and Sazón. Cook 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and stir well. Cook over low heat about 20 minutes. Stir in croutons.

Pour mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish and bake at 350º for 30 to 45 minutes, until browned and a little crispy on top. 

Note: I always keep a smaller baking dish ready in case there's extra. Then I make a mini to freeze for later.

8 of 12

Cranberry-Orange Salsa


“My father is from Connecticut and my mother is a true Texan, so we like to mix it up at Thanksgiving. My mom makes a killer cranberry-orange salsa (with jalapeños, of course) for the turkey. The recipe, Jalapeño Cranberry Relish, is from The El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook.”—Daley Quinn, Editorial Assistant 


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"Every year we coerce my mom into making these sweet crepes, which are a Croatian classic. Mom cooks up a stack and we fill them with whatever's on hand, usually Nutella, sugar, honey or fruit preserves."—Karmen Lizzul, Creative Director


3 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

Zest from 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unbleached flour, sifted

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted


Whisk eggs, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and salt. Whisk in flour and milk, alternating 1 tablespoon flour with 1/4 cup milk. Add slowly so that flour doesn't clump. Let batter sit 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature.

Heat an 8-inch nonstick pan over medium heat. Brush pan with some melted butter. Use a small ladle to coat pan with a thin coat of batter (about 1/4 cup or less). Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until crepe is golden brown. Using a spatula, flip crepe and cook until that side is lighty browned, about 1 minute. Slide crepe onto a plate. Repeat with remaining batter, lightly coating pan with butter between crepes.
Serve crepes naked so guests can fill according to taste. Offer options like Nutella, honey, fruit preserves or whatever you like. My personal fave is bananas and Nutella. Have some powdered sugar or chocolate syrup available for topping.

10 of 12

Artichokes Stuffed with Breadcrumbs and Parmesan


"I celebrate with the Italian side of my family every year, and we always have lots of Italian dishes, like artichokes stuffed with breadcrumbs and Parmesan."—Nicole McGovern, Associate Beauty and Fashion Editor


6 to 8 large artichokes

2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 1 1/2 cups Italian breadcrumbs 

1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper 

1 to 2 tablespoons garlic powder 

1 to 2 tablespoons onion powder 


Cut sharp stems off artichokes. Bang artichokes a bit so they open up. 

In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Using a small spoon, fill in between artichoke leaves with breadcrumb mixture, making sure to separate leaves as you go so you don't miss any spaces.

Fill a large pot with enough water to reach halfway up artichokes and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. (You may need 2 pots, since artichokes should fit snugly in one layer, standing.)

Add artichokes to pot. Drizzle with as much olive oil as needed so exposed areas are not dry. 

Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 1 hour or until leaves are soft.

Remove from pot using tongs and enjoy!

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Cream Pie


"In true Pennsylvania Dutch style, we have tons of pies—shoofly, rhubarb, pumpkin. My family's favorite is cream pie with a graham cracker crust, vanilla pudding filling and meringue topping. Ever since my grandma passed away, the Creveling ladies have been trying to make it as perfect as hers."—Mallory Creveling, Associate Health Editor



1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers (from a 14.4-ounce package) 

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup softened margarine

Custard filling

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 cup cornstarch

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Meringue topping

4 egg whites

Pinch cream of tartar

2 tablespoons sugar


Prepare piecrust: Add graham crackers, sugar and margarine to a blender and blend until well combined. With the back of a large spoon, press into pie a plate. Bake at 375º for 8 minutes. 

Prepare custard filling: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in cornstarch, sugar and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Raise heat to medium and continue stirring until mixture boils and thickens, then remove from heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks. Continue until egg yolks are the same temperature as hot mixture, then add remaining hot mixture and stir until well combined. Return to heat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla. Fill piecrust with custard. Let cool.

Prepare meringue: Whip egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar until stiff peaks form. Add to top of custard. Bake at 375º until lightly browned. 

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Ginger-Pear Cranberry Sauce

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"I celebrate Thanksgiving in Boston with my brother every year. He makes this incredible sauce using local cranberries. We even put it on pancakes the next morning!"—Jessie Van Amburg, Associate Editor

Recipe lightly adapted from a 1994 Williams-Sonoma recipe


1 firm, ripe pear

Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger

Freshly grated ginger, to taste 

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Peel, quarter and core the pear, then chop into small pieces.

Place pear in a saucepan with lemon juice and zest. Stir well to keep pear from turning dark.

Add cranberries, sugar, water, ginger and cinnamon.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover partially.

Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, pear is tender and cranberries have burst, 10 to 15 minutes. 

Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Serve as a holiday side, as a topping on pancakes or latkes, or stirred into Greek yogurt.