Thanksgiving Recipes that Add Extra Yum to Your Holiday Dinner

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love gathering with family and of course, eating! And one of the special things about Thanksgiving recipes is that they aren’t things you make everyday. They are once-a-year recipes that make the day memorable. The dishes we make on Thanksgiving give me something to look forward to year after year.

I’ve included two of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes below, sure to please your guests and add that extra special something to make the day all that more memorable. Of all the things on the menu for the day, these are the two dishes that my family loves and asks for every year. Our holiday just wouldn’t be the same without these two exceptional dishes. Hope you enjoy them as well!

Cranberry Sauce Extraordinaire

Cranberry sauce is a staple Thanksgiving recipe, but this one is over-the-top yum. The sweetness of the added fruits in addition to the spiciness of cinnamon and nutmeg take this from ho-hum to WOW.

Thanksgiving recipes cranberry sauce


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
  • 1 orange, peeled and pureed
  • 1 apple – peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 pear – peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 cup chopped dried mixed fruit or canned fruit mix (I use mango and cherries)
  • 1 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks – cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


In a medium saucepan, boil water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.

Reduce the heat to simmer, and stir in cranberries, pureed orange, apple, pear, dried fruit, pecans, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

*this freezes well and will keep about a year

Pumpkin Walnut Cheesecake

Why make plain old pumpkin pie when you can make pumpkin cheesecake? This new spin on an old favorite Thanksgiving recipe makes everyone’s eyes light up. It truly is the grand finale to our holiday dinner–we always leave room for dessert when it’s pumpkin cheesecake!

Thanksgiving recipes pumpkin cheesecake

There are two options for crust: traditional and nutty. Ingredients for each are listed below.

Traditional Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. (1 1/2 c.) crushed graham crackers or Zwieback crackers
  • 3 tbsp butter – melted

Nutty Crust Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • ¾ cup vanilla wafers
  • 3 tbsp butter – melted

Cheesecake Ingredients:

  • 3 pkg. (8 oz.) softened cream cheese
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar, light
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream

Topping Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 c light brown sugar
  • 1 c coarsely chopped walnuts


Start with the walnut topping. Combine softened butter with brown sugar in a small bowl; mix well until crumbly. Blend in coarsely chopped walnuts (pecans also work well). Set in a cool place until needed.

Make the crust and set aside.


Blend grahams with 1/4 cup sugar (can sub brown sugar) and butter in bowl. Press firmly on bottom and sides of *9” spring form pan.


Using food processor, chop up nuts and wafers to a semi fine (small chunks are acceptable) consistency and mix with melted butter Press firmly on bottom and sides of 9” spring form pan*

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugars, blend until well mixed. At a slow speed, beat in eggs once at a time. Then mix in spices, pumpkin, and cream at low speed. Pour in pan.

Bake in a water bath in a 325-degree oven for 1 hour 35 minutes. Remove cake from oven, sprinkle with walnut topping. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool cake on wire rack and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Don’t cut or remove from pan until completely cooled. Add the walnut topping and serve!

*Can also use 3-4 smaller spring form pans (ex. 4-6” or 2-8” pans work well) – cook time will be shorter with the smaller pans but will need to double or triple the crust and the topping

Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes? Check out this traditional oyster stuffing.