How To Host The Perfect Italian Thanksgiving (+ Recipes!)

Imagine a Thanksgiving dinner with a delightful Italian twist! Welcome to our guide for creating an unforgettable Italian Thanksgiving feast that will leave your guests asking for more. From savory starters to hearty mains and delectable desserts, we've got you covered on all the must-haves for your unforgettable Italian Thanksgiving.

Up close slice of pie on a plate.

The holidays are right around the corner, so my family and I are in full swing with our holiday prep and creating our perfect holiday menu. Thanksgiving is no exception, and if you’re anything like us, the thought of hosting a Thanksgiving feast has probably crossed your mind.

I'm a proud Italian-American (Sicilian to be exact!) who loves to cook and share my recipes with others. My family has been putting an Italian spin on Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember, and it's just what you need to bring your dinner party to the next level!

With so many delicious recipes to choose from, it can be hard to decide what to put on the menu. Besides a traditional turkey (or roasted chicken), there are so many other delicious recipes to choose from.

I alwayslike to start off with a festive drink, like these cranberry clementine rosemary cocktails. Perhaps a sausage rigatoni as a starter (primi) or a side dish (contorni)? Or a luscious ricotta cheesecake for dessert?

Whether you want to honor your Italian heritage or simply crave a unique, flavorful twist on your traditional Thanksgiving menu, we've got you covered.

Is there Thanksgiving in Italy?

While Thanksgiving is traditionally an American holiday, there are many Italians who celebrate it as well. It's a time to gather with loved ones and express gratitude for all of life's blessings while enjoying a delicious meal.

In Italy, they celebrate "La Festa del Ringraziamento," which, although not identical to the American Thanksgiving, shares the same spirit of gratitude. These Italian Thanksgiving feasts occur multiple times throughout the year to celebrate the bounty of different harvest seasons.

However, they differ from the traditional American Thanksgiving in terms of the dishes served and the specific traditions observed.

While American Thanksgiving is known for roasted turkey and pumpkin pie, Italian Thanksgiving feasts vary based on the season's harvest, often featuring dishes such as sweet potato gnocchi, mushroom risotto, and local wines.

Despite the differences, both celebrations share a common theme: coming together with loved ones to give thanks and gratitude. And that's exactly the ethos we're bringing to our Italian Thanksgiving menu this year.

Why you'll love these Italian Thanksgiving dishes

  • We have a blend of simple yet flavorful dishes for you to try out! Nothing too complicated, but still delicious!
  • These recipes are perfect for incorporating some Italian flavors into your Thanksgiving feast.
  • Don't go the traditional route - add something different to your holiday spread with these Italian recipes.
  • These recipes are not 100% Italian, as we have added our own spin to them. So you get the best of both worlds! A nice blend of American and Italian culture.

40+ Italian Thanksgiving Recipes to Make This Holiday Season

It's time to start planning your holiday menu! These are some of my traditional Thanksgiving dishes with an Italian twist. Whether you're hosting a small gathering or a big family feast, these recipes will bring a taste of Italy to your Thanksgiving table.

Happy cooking!

Seasonal Appetizers to Serve at Thanksgiving

When it comes to serving appetizers, Italians know how to do it right.

Start with a traditional antipasto platter filled with cured meats, Italian cheeses, marinated vegetables (like these Meyer lemon olives), and some sort of crusty bread.

Along with the antipasto platter, you can also serve some delicious Italian appetizers. These are some of my favorites around the fall season!

A pear galette with walnuts on a checkered orange napkin.

Savory Pear Galette with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

If you're looking for a unique and delicious vegetarian option, this pear leek galette is perfect. The flavors of sweet pears and savory leeks come together beautifully in a flaky, buttery crust.

A serving bowl of caponata with raisins and pine nuts.

The Best Sicilian Eggplant Caponata

A classic Sicilian eggplant dish made with sweet and sour flavors, better known as "agrodulce." This recipe is made with eggplant, olives, tomatoes, and celery as the base. Perfect for an antipasto platter.

Mushroom and goat cheese crostini served on an ornate platter.

Roasted Mushroom and Goat Cheese Crostini

A blend of mushrooms, herbs, and creamy goat cheese on toasted bread slices. This simple but elegant appetizer is perfect for entertaining, especially around the holidays, but is casual enough to enjoy at family dinners too. 

Close up of a blue cheese tartine.

Blue Cheese Tartines with Apples + Arugula

This recipe makes the perfect fall appetizer, but I find myself making (and craving) it all year long. Tangy blue cheese, crisp apples, walnuts, and honey all play together beautifully.

A crostini made with roasted plums, topped with prosciutto and cheese.

Honey Roasted Plum Crostini with Burrata + Prosciutto

An easy appetizer that's sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy, and full of flavor. While I tend to make this most often in the summer, it's fantastic any time of year.

An orange bowl filled with roasted rosemary maple pecans.

Rosemary Maple Roasted Pecans

Within 15 minutes, you can have a warm, sweet, and savory snack that's perfect for any party or holiday gathering. All you need are 4 simple ingredients!

Roasted pumpkin seeds in a small mason jar on a wood surface with loose seeds sprinkled around.

Brined Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Seasoned pumpkin seeds make a delicious and nutritious snack, perfect for munching on before the main meal is served. Plus, they're easy to customize with different spices and flavors.

Savory pumpkin galette for an Italian thanksgiving menu.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Galette with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese + Sage

Making a sweet and savory pumpkin galette is a fun twist on traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Topped with caramelized onions and creamy goat cheese, this galette is full of fall flavors and sure to impress.

Butternut squash fritters with a spicy yogurt sauce.

Butternut Squash Fritters with Spiced Yogurt

These fritters are crispy on the outside, tender and creamy on the inside, and full of delicious fall flavors. Serve them as an appetizer or side dish for your Thanksgiving meal.

Italian Turkey for Family Dinner

Of course, you can't have Thanksgiving without a turkey! But why not give it some Italian flair this year?

I recently shared my family's recipe for Italian turkey! It's a delicious way to infuse your Thanksgiving turkey with flavors from Italy. This recipe uses herbs like rosemary and sage, along with butter, garlic, and white wine, for a juicy and flavorful turkey that's sure to impress your guests.

Tip: If you've never had the chance to carve a turkey yourself, my step-by-step tutorial will make it a breeze. And don't forget to save the turkey drippings for a delicious gravy!

Soups and Salads Perfect for an Italian Thanksgiving

Italians love to start their meals with soup (like Italian Wedding Soup) or salad, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Here are some options to try for your Italian-inspired holiday meal:

Kale gratin with Gruyere cheese and a crispy topping, served on a plate.

Kale Gratin

A gratin recipe loaded with healthy kale and creamy Gruyere cheese. Also, has a hit of nutmeg! This dish is perfect for a vegetarian Thanksgiving, and it's easy to make ahead of time!

Coconut milk based pumpkin soup topped with a corn and crab relish.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Corn and Crab Relish

This creamy pumpkin soup is made with a kick of spice from cayenne pepper and unsweetened coconut milk. Topped with a corn and crab relish, it's perfect for chilly fall evenings and makes a great first course for Thanksgiving dinner.

Healthy kale salad for an Italian Thanksgiving.

Detox(ish) Kale Salad

This salad is loaded with healthy ingredients and seasonal flavors, making it perfect for a holiday meal. Plus, the colors are beautiful! You can also add some sliced apples for extra sweetness and crunch.

Brussels sprouts tossed with kale, apples, cranberries, cheese, and a dijon mustard vinaigrette.

Brussels Sprout, Kale + Apple Salad with Sharp Cheddar + Bacon

Looking for a delicious salad to serve with your Thanksgiving turkey? This Brussels sprouts salad is an excellent choice! Made with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette, dried cranberries, cheddar cheese, and sliced green apples, it's both sweet and savory.

A bright, creamy lobster bisque in a white bowl.

Classic Creamy Lobster Bisque

A rich and creamy soup made with fresh lobster, heavy cream, and a touch of sherry. This decadent bisque is perfect for a special occasion like Thanksgiving dinner.

Italian Thanksgiving Side Dishes

While turkey may be the star of Thanksgiving, let's not forget about all the delicious side dishes that make this meal so special. Here are some Italian-inspired options to add to your holiday spread:

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Plate of homemade sweet potato gnocchi topped with rosemary and parmesan.

Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi

If you're feeling adventurous, why not try making your own gnocchi for Thanksgiving? These sweet potato gnocchi are surprisingly easy to make and taste delicious with a brown butter and sage sauce. Serve them as a side dish with some roasted turkey for a complete meal.

A spatula lifting a square of Dauphinoise potato gratin out of a pan.

The Best Easy Dauphinoise Potatoes (Potato Gratin)

No Thanksgiving feast is complete without potatoes, and this gratin recipe takes them to the next level. Thinly sliced potatoes are layered with cream and cheese for a cheesy and decadent side dish that's sure to be a hit.

Creamy wild mushroom risotto on a stoneware plate.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

This wild mushroom risotto recipe is the perfect dish for an Italian Thanksgiving! Making risotto requires patience and attention, but the results are always worth it. This simple and utterly delicious side can be made in under an hour!

A bowl of sautéed broccoli rabe for an Italian Thanksgiving side.

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) with Garlic and Oil

Also known as rapini, this is a classic Italian side dish that's very easy to make. Broccoli rabe is cooked with fresh garlic and crushed red peppers until tender for the perfect bite!

Roasted cauliflower tossed with breadcrumbs, capers, almonds, and golden raisins.

Roasted Cauliflower with Breadcrumbs, Capers, Almonds + Raisins

Sweet, crunchy, salty - that's what comes to mind with this roasted cauliflower recipe! An incredibly simple yet tasty vegetarian dish for your Thanksgiving spread. My secret surprise? Golden raisins.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with a salty anchovy caper butter on a wooden serving dish.

Brussels Sprouts with Anchovy Caper Butter

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes for Brussels sprouts. Salty anchovy caper butter is the perfect match for roasted, caramelized sprouts. I recommend serving this on bread, but you can also enjoy solo.

A baked cauliflower gratin with breadcrumb topping.

Easy Baked Cauliflower Gratin

A delicious and creamy casserole made with cauliflower, Gruyere cheese, and a crunchy breadcrumb topping. This dish is sure to be a hit at your Thanksgiving table.

Caramelized fennel and onion gratin in a cast iron skillet.

Fennel + Onion Gratin

Caramelized fennel and onions, topped with a creamy Parmesan sauce and crispy breadcrumbs, make for one delicious side dish. Fennel is a popular ingredient in Italian cooking, and this gratin is the perfect way to showcase its unique flavor.

A roasted butternut squash side dish for an Italian Thanksgiving.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Hazelnuts + Lime

Roasted butternut squash is a classic fall dish, but this recipe adds a twist with tangy goat cheese, crunchy hazelnuts, and bright lime juice. It's the perfect side dish for any Thanksgiving meal!

Creamed corn flavored with fresh rosemary.

Rosemary Creamed Corn

Creamy and flavorful corn with a hint of rosemary is the perfect accompaniment to your meal. It's easy to make and can be served warm or at room temperature, making it a great choice for large gatherings.

Cheesy biscuits piled up in a lined basket - perfect for a Thanksgiving table.

Irish Cheddar and Stout Biscuits

Who says your Thanksgiving bread has to be plain? These Irish cheddar and stout biscuits bring something unique to the table. The recipe is easy to follow, and these fluffy, cheesy biscuits are sure to impress. Serve them warm with some butter for even more decadence.

A healthy gratin dish made with celery root and parsnip.

Celery Root + Parsnip Gratin

For those looking for a healthier side dish, this celery root and parsnip gratin is the perfect choice. It's creamy and delicious but also gluten-free and vegetarian. Make it ahead of time and reheat before serving to save time on Thanksgiving Day.

A serving of spinach with butter, topped with parmesan.

Spinach with Butter + Parmesan

This simple and classic side dish is a staple of Italian meals. The butter and parmesan add richness, while the spinach adds a pop of color and nutrition. It's an easy and delicious way to incorporate some greens into your meal.

Pasta side dish with olives, anchovies, tomatoes and breadcrumbs for an Italian Thanksgiving menu.

Pasta with Olives, Anchovies, Tomatoes + Breadcrumbs

Pasta is a staple in Italian cuisine, so why not incorporate it into your Thanksgiving meal? This pasta dish is full of savory flavors from olives and anchovies, plus a touch of sweetness from tomatoes. The breadcrumbs add texture and crunch for a perfect bite.

Chick pea pasta with sausage and broccoli for a Thanksgiving side dish.

Chick Pea Pasta with Sausage + Broccoli Rabe

Looking for a heartier pasta dish? This chickpea pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe is the way to go. The spice from the sausage and bitterness from the broccoli rabe balance each other out, creating a deliciously satisfying dish. Plus, using chickpea pasta adds extra protein and fiber to your meal.

Pasta with clam sauce, served on a white plate.

Linguine alle Vongole: Pasta with Clam Sauce

Clams are a popular Italian ingredient, and this pasta dish showcases them perfectly. Linguini is tossed with clams in a white wine sauce for a light yet flavorful dish. Serve it as an appetizer or side dish to start off your Thanksgiving meal.

Traditional Italian Desserts For Thanksgiving

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without dessert, and these unique & traditional Italian treats will add a touch of sweetness to your holiday celebration:

A light green tray of ricotta stuffed cannoli.

The Best Sicilian Ricotta Cannoli Filling

Traditional Cannoli are a staple of Sicilian cuisine and have been enjoyed for generations. The crispy shell holds a creamy ricotta cheese filling that makes cannoli special. With this recipe, you can make the best Sicilian ricotta cannoli filling and create this delicious and authentic Italian dessert at home.

Cheese based Italian dessert on a small dish.

Italian Ricotta Pie

This Italian ricotta pie recipe has a delicately flavored creamy ricotta filling beautifully encased in a sweet pie dough that's buttery, light and flaky. It's a classic dessert in Italian households, especially during Easter and Thanksgiving. The best part? You can easily make it at home with just a few simple ingredients.

A whole creamy Cranberry curd Pie with sugared cranberries on a dark background.

Creamy Cranberry Pie Recipe with Gingersnap Crust

Tart cranberries and tangy Meyer lemons make for a perfect combination in this delicious pie. The buttery gingersnap crust adds the perfect balance to the flavors!

A whole ricotta cake with pears and sprigs of rosemary on a wooden board.

Classic Italian Ricotta Cake with Pears

This simple yet elegant cake is a great way to end your Thanksgiving meal. A light and moist ricotta-based cake is studded with pears, rosemary, and orange zest for a flavorful and fragrant dessert. Serve it with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for an extra treat.

Top view of a cranberry tart sliced and topped with sugared berries.

Easy Cranberry Tart with Almond Frangipane

Cranberries may not be a traditional ingredient in Italian cuisine, but this tart combines them with classic frangipane filling for a delicious and unique dessert. Baked in a buttery shortbread crust

Tiramisu made with pumpkin for an Italian Thanksgiving spin.

Easy No Bake Pumpkin Tiramisu

Pumpkin is a fall staple, and this pumpkin tiramisu puts an Italian twist on the traditional Thanksgiving flavor. Layers of pumpkin mousse, ladyfingers, and coffee liqueur create a rich and indulgent dessert that's perfect for any holiday gathering. A great no-bake dessert.

An old fashioned custard pie topped with cream.

Grandma's Old Fashioned Custard Pie

For a classic and comforting dessert, try this old-fashioned custard pie. The creamy and smooth custard filling is made with a touch of nutmeg and vanilla for an extra pop of flavor.

Easy Pignoli cookie recipe for an authentic Italian Thanksgiving.

Easy Authentic Italian Pignoli Cookies

Pignoli cookies are a traditional Italian almond-based cookie made with pine nuts, almond paste, and egg whites. Deliciously sweet and nutty, they're the perfect finish to any authentic Italian meal.

Baked pear and brown butter pandowdy for an Italian Thanksgiving menu.

Brown Butter Pear Pandowdy

Pandowdy is a traditional American dessert, but this recipe puts an Italian spin on the dish with the use of pears and brown butter. It's rustic and comforting, making it a great addition to your Thanksgiving spread. Serve it warm with some vanilla ice cream for a truly indulgent treat.

Vegan pumpkin cheesecake for a unique Italian Thanksgiving dessert.

Raw Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Raw Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake
For those with dietary restrictions, this vegan pumpkin cheesecake is a great alternative to traditional cheesecake. It's made with cashews and coconut cream for a creamy and dairy-free dessert option. Plus, the touch of pumpkin adds a seasonal and festive touch.

Brown butter apple crisp in a cast iron skillet, and a plated serving.

Brown Butter Apple Crisp

Apples are a staple ingredient in fall recipes, and this brown butter apple crisp takes the classic dessert to the next level. The nutty flavor from the brown butter pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the apples for a deliciously comforting treat.

A slice of classic apple pie on a plate.

Grandma’s Old Fashion Apple Pie

No Thanksgiving is complete without apple pie, and this recipe is a tribute to all the grandmas out there who make the best pies. The perfect balance of tart apples, warm spices, and buttery crust will make you feel like you're at your grandma's table again. Serve with some vanilla ice cream for the ultimate indulgence.

Tips for success

  • As with any big meal, planning ahead is key. Make a list of all the ingredients you'll need for your Italian Thanksgiving menu and shop accordingly. This will save you time and stress on the day of.
  • Try to be intentional with your menu and choose dishes that won't take forever to prepare or require last-minute attention. You want to enjoy the holiday with your loved ones, not spend all day in the kitchen.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks. Cooking can be a bonding experience, and involving your family and friends in preparing the meal can make it even more special. Things like putting appetizers out on the table, stirring a sauce, knocking out a few quick dishes, picking up any empty plates or glasses, putting on a great playlist, making someone (you?!) a cocktail... You're not running a restaurant - let people help!
  • Kindly request that guests bring a specific dish, such as a dessert, side, or appetizer, already prepared rather than planning to make it at your home. This will help free up space and ensure a smooth and enjoyable gathering.
  • Go for easy store-bought appetizers like cheeses, cured meats, olives, jarred artichokes, roasted peppers, or pickled veggies like giardinara. Don't forget dips, spreads, jams, mustards, and some good crackers, chips, pretzels, nuts, and other munchies. Keep the appetizers light on Thanksgiving with a big meal planned, but make sure there's something for people to snack on.
  • Many of these dishes can be made ahead of time and reheated or assembled before serving. This will not only save you time but also allow you to spend more time with your loved ones on Thanksgiving Day.

FAQs

How is American Thanksgiving celebrated in Italy?

Although Thanksgiving is not an official holiday in Italy, some Italians do celebrate it as a way to honor the American residents living in their country. They may serve traditional Thanksgiving dishes alongside Italian favorites or create an entirely Italian-inspired Thanksgiving menu.

However, most Italians do not celebrate the holiday and may not be familiar with its customs and traditions.

How much food do I need per person for Thanksgiving?

It is recommended to plan for about one pound of turkey per person, along with a variety of side dishes and desserts.

As a general rule of thumb, aim for three to four side dishes and at least two different kinds of desserts, plus 1-2 light appetizers or snacks. This allows your guests to experience a medley of flavors and caters to different tastes and dietary restrictions.

Remember, Thanksgiving is about abundance and sharing, so don't hesitate to go slightly overboard - leftovers are part of the tradition too!

What are the best make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes I can make?

There are many dishes that can be made ahead of time for Thanksgiving, such as casseroles, pies, desserts, stuffing and mashed potatoes.

Some great options include:

- Pumpkin Tiramisu: A fun twist on the classic Italian dessert, this pumpkin tiramisu can be made up to two days in advance and chilled until ready to serve.
- Stuffing: Prepare the stuffing mixture ahead of time and bake it on Thanksgiving day for a quick and easy side dish.
- Brussel Sprouts Kale Salad: This hearty and flavorful salad can be made a day in advance and dressed right before serving for a fresh and delicious addition to your Thanksgiving table.

Remember to plan out your make-ahead dishes carefully based on cooking times and storage options.

Did you make any of these recipes and LOVE it? Please leave a star ⭐️ rating and/or comment to help other readers. I absolutely love hearing from you and do my best to answer all questions and comments. I love seeing when you make my recipes, so please tag me @ColeyCooks on Instagram and I will repost!

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9 Comments

  1. Coley Cooks is my turkey hotline this year! I have 18 people coming tomorrow, and I have never roasted a turkey by myself. ha. I'm using your recipe for roasted turkey with herbs (love that video). The herb butter is ready to go. Thanks for this video on carving the beast, too. Wish me luck! Thanks for the shout-outs, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    1. Awesome!! I hope everything turned out well. We made your cranberry sauce and loved it!! Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you and your fam - I'm sure you rocked it!

      1. The turkey was AMAZING! Seriously, that herb butter under the skin works wonders. Toby watched your carving video yesterday morning and our platter looked exactly like yours. Very impressive. Thanks, Coley!