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10 Delicious Turkey Alternatives to Make This Thanksgiving

Three images of recipes from the article below including prime rib from Tastes Better from Scratch, broiled lobster tails by Wholesome Yum and Roast quail by Epicurious.
Tastes Better from Scratch/Wholesome Yum/Epicurious

It’s a Thanksgiving tradition to enjoy a golden turkey roast surrounded by a spread of bright and filling side dishes. But if you’re looking for something a bit offbeat this year (or you just can’t find a turkey), we’ve got 10 tasty alternatives you can try.

It’s true that many areas are facing a slight turkey shortage this Thanksgiving. If that’s the case for you, or your family just isn’t into eating bird, there are plenty of other meaty, tasty options. Beef, pork, and lamb are just a few of the other yummy entrées, and we have the recipes to prove it.

Go with Beef

Two images displaying prime rib by Tastes Better from Scratch, and Beef Wellington by Gordon Ramsey.
Tastes Better From Scratch/Gordon Ramsey

Just like you’d typically carve the turkey for guests, you can present beef the same way, and both prime rib and beef wellington make crowd-pleasing results your guests will love.

For each of the recipes below, you’ll need a sturdy, well-constructed sheet pan that’ll safely transfer a large rib roast or a beef wellington to and from the oven.

Nordic Ware sheet pans are made of pure aluminum that won’t warp or rust over time. They’ll work for both recipes above and various other sheet pan dinners.

Nordic Ware Commercial Half Sheet Pans

Perfect for sheet pan dinners and roasting delicious meats.

No-Fuss Prime Rib

Anything that says garlic and herb-crusted is sure to win this gal over, but knowing that a moist and flavorful prime rib lays under that crispy crust means heaven on a plate.

Slow roasted prime rib is one of those dinners that’ll indeed wow your guests. Even if you aren’t serving many people, we suggest spoiling yourself and others who plan to join you because the meal is just that fantastic.

The rib roast is naturally well-marbled, so when you gently cook it over low heat, the results are ever-tender and juicy, thanks to the considerable amount of fat. We like that this recipe provides the cooking times depending on your desired degree of doneness.

We slow-roast prime rib a few times a year and always melt butter and rub it over the beef before adding seasoning. The drippings alone make a fantastic addition to the steak, which we recommend drizzling over each piece before serving. We hope you enjoy this delicious show-stopping meal.

Beef Wellington

Beef wellington (if made correctly) is sure to knock everyone’s socks off. Sure it’s a bit fancy, and some might even say over the top, but if that sounds like your kind of meal, then there is no other recipe to follow than this one, by Gordon Ramsay.

This recipe is quite advanced, so if you are new to cooking, you’ll appreciate watching videos and doing a little studying before giving this one a go. Intimidating or not, this elaborate recipe will create incredibly delicious results.

Other Poultry Options

Two images displaying recipes including quail by Epicurious and roast chicken by Bowl of Delicous
Epicurious/Bowl of Delicous

A whole chicken is super inexpensive, cooks up very similarly to turkey, and tastes just about the same. If you want something a bit bolder, you can try a game bird like quail.

A large capacity oval Dutch oven crafted expertly with cast iron and accented in bright red enamel takes center stage during any holiday meal. Not only is it shaped just right, but it’ll hold a few quails and at least two whole chickens.

It’s a larger Dutch oven than the standard round, but if you’ve been looking for the perfect heavy-bottomed pot to add to your collection, a large oval one will surely fit in nicely.

Large Oval 7-Quart Dutch Oven

A large oval dutch oven is perfect for roasting one or two whole chickens, or many little quails.

Roasted Quail with Wild Mushrooms

Whether you purchase farm-raised or enjoy the rewards of a recent hunt, quail is a delectable little bird that offers a unique flavor you won’t get with turkey.

The Epicurious recipe will take you through each step, but if you can roast a turkey or chicken, then you’ll have no issue making this dinner.

Feel free to use any mushroom varieties found at your supermarket to avoid foraging for mushrooms, especially if you aren’t familiar with selecting edible versus poisonous varieties.

Dutch Oven Whole Roast Chicken

While roast chicken and potatoes are certainly a bit more basic than quail and wild mushrooms, we can appreciate the classic appeal of this dish.

Lemon, garlic, and rosemary work wonders in the flavorful butter you’ll slather over the chicken before letting your oven do the rest. Enjoy the ease of this one-pot meal without worrying about a chaotic kitchen on Thanksgiving.

Pork Doubles as a Centerpiece

Two images display ing recipes from the article below, including pork loin roast by Dinner then Dessert and Osso Bucco by Immaculate Bites.
Dinner then Dessert/Immaculate Bites

Pork makes a lovely centerpiece, and we have two recipes below to prove it. From a classic loin roast to braised Osso Bucco, these tasty meals will impress all.

Garlic Pork Loin Roast

In under two hours, you can have your main course set on the dinner table for guests to enjoy. The recipe provides excellent pictures and tips for making this tasty dinner, and Sabrina, from Dinner then Dessert, gives instructions on adding apples right into the dish.

The fall-inspired meal is a great substitution and tastes fantastic with homemade applesauce and roasted vegetables.

Pork Osso Bucco

Osso Bucco is a satisfyingly tender meal all on its own and boasts fabulous flavor once bathed in a flavorful tomato-based sauce. Oh, how your taste buds will sing!

A 4.5 or 5.5-quart round dutch oven is perfect for serving up this pork Osso Bucco recipe, plus any other stew, soup, or artisan bread. It will easily fit about four or five pork shanks, plus the brothy sauce surrounding the meat.

Lodge 4.5 Quart Dutch Oven

Perfect for serving soups, stews, roasts and more.

Because this dish is braised, the fork-tender results are beyond palatable; they are exquisite. While this recipe is traditionally made with veal, it tastes fantastic when made with pork. However, the recipe below is a general take, so feel free to use veal, beef, or pork.

Lamb Isn’t Just for Easter

Two images of recipes from the article including roasted leg of lamb by Damn Delicious and Lamb Shoulder Roast by RecipeTineEats
Damn Delicious/RecipeTinEats

Lamb is delicious any time of year and makes a lovely turkey substitution during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Le Creuset signature roasting pan is just what you’ll need (and love to have) around for any big holiday meal. The invaluable piece of cookware will last you decades, as long as it’s cared for with love, as it should be.

The 7-quart roaster measures 12.8 x 18.7 inches, which will comfortably fit either a leg of lamb or shoulder, like in the recipes below. The cast iron construction will help keep your meal hot while the meat rests before everyone enjoys it.

Roasted Leg of Lamb

This foolproof, fuss-free recipe is perfect for beginners but can also be appreciated by anyone who knows their way around a kitchen.

Score, rub and roast your leg of lamb, then enjoy the tender results hours later. If you’re wondering what to serve with it, you’ll love these fancy little Hasselback potatoes by Damn Delicious too.

Slow Roasted Rosemary Garlic Lamb Shoulder

From stuffing score marks with sprigs of rosemary and garlic cloves to roasting and resting before indulging in this fork-tender meal, every step helps in creating fantastic results.

You’ll find the shoulder to boast fattier and juicier results when compared to the leaner cut leg of lamb. So if you want something super tender, we say go for the shoulder cut. Serve this up with any hearty root vegetables, and don’t forget the gravy.

Fish and Seafood

Two images from the article including broiled lobster by Wholesome Yum and salmon by The Mediterranean Dish.
Wholesome Yum/The Mediterranean Dish

Fish and seafood make for a unique turkey substitution, but if it’s generally a popular choice amongst your family and other guests, then be sure to try the recipes below.

Lobster Tail Dinner

Living on the coast means lobster galore, and the most popular choice, of course, is the tails. Don’t let cooking lobster intimidate you. It’s not so bad, and we’ve been doing it for years.

Plus, if steaming or boiling lobster live doesn’t sound like your type of meal, you’ll appreciate the ease of broiling lobster tails instead. Grab the butter and lobster bibs because you’re in for quite a treat.

You can even go as far as making a scratch lobster mac and cheese as a side dish. There isn’t anything quite as luxurious as a bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese dotted with chunks of sweet lobster meat.

Baked Lemon Garlic Salmon

If lobster isn’t your thing, feel free to go with something a bit more simple, like a baked lemon garlic salmon. It’s impressive, tasty, and healthy; plus, it’ll serve nicely with a plethora of veggies and other side dishes you plan to make.

Whether we’re searing several dozens of scallops or gently flipping salmon or haddock fillets, we always turn to our fish spatula. The 11-inch lightweight spatula is durable yet flexible and will slide under any fish cut with ease.

We love that this French spatula is made with stainless steel and safe for the dishwasher. Don’t limit yourself here; it’s a fantastic tool for more than fish and seafood.

MIU Stainless Steel Fish Spatula

It's just the spatula you need for flipping delicate cuts of fish and seafood.

Enjoy this light and tasty fish dinner as a unique alternative this Thanksgiving, or better yet, whip out the grill and try any of these fantastic fish and seafood recipes.

If you’re looking for a new Thanksgiving tradition sans turkey, any of these recipes is sure to deliver the goods. Now, about those sides . . .

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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