Break out your stretchy leggings: Thanksgiving is here. For one night only, we gather ’round the dinner table with family and friends, cook our one (1) turkey of the year, and indulge in the recipes we hold cozy and close to our hearts.
We all know the real star of Thanksgiving dinner is what we eat despite the turkey: Our favorite dishes we cook year after year. These recipes have been handed down by generations, or are just store-bought in a box. But sometimes it’s good to mix things up and introduce a new option to the dinner table.
There’s nothing worse than a dish that ends up being a dud, so ELLE.com spoke to 7 leaders in the food and drinks industry—from food critics to restaurant owners—about their tried and true Thanksgiving eats. Here, their professional opinions on what to cook this holiday.
Christina Tosi, Chef and Owner of Milk Bar
“My favorite comfort food over Thanksgiving is my family’s Cornbake recipe, which has been passed down for generations— it’s a gloriously warm, spoonable mashup between cornbread and corn pudding. It usually hits the table first as a Thanksgiving side, but leftovers make it equally as great as dessert, drenched in some Cereal Milk. (It is also the flavor memory that inspired our beloved Corn Cookie at Milk Bar!) For another Thanksgiving showstopper, you can never go wrong with Milk Bar Pie. The gooey butter pie with a just-salty-enough toasted oat crust is appropriate any time of year, but on Thanksgiving day especially, it rounds out your pumpkin and pecan clad dessert table.”
Find Christina’s favorite recipe here.
Nicole Ponseca, Chef and Owner of Maharlika and Jeepney
“I’m a real sucker for canned cranberry sauce. I love it on turkey sandwiches, on Dutch crunch bread. Brings me back to [my college days in] San Fran in a heart beat. Aside from that, I love tikoy, a Chinese-Filipino sticky cake mostly served during Christmas and New Years. It’s the best at breakfast time.”
Find Nicole’s favorite recipe here.
Jeff Gordinier, Food and Drinks Editor, Esquire
“For me, the entire feast comes down to the stuffing, or the dressing, or whatever you want to call it. Stuffing is what Thanksgiving is: first you’re stuffing the turkey, and then you’re stuffing yourself with stuffing. (The dressing is the portion that you cook in a dish on its own, outside of the bird.) I don’t subscribe to the concept of “guilty pleasures” because I am not a person who feels guilty about pleasure, but the sheer excess of stuffing is pretty incredible, if you think about it — you’re eating a heap of salty carbs covered in gravy that is studded (if it’s made correctly) with gamey nuggets of offal. I like gravy with a lot of giblets in it. Cornbread stuffing with a strong whiff of sage, generous seasoning (meaning plenty of salt), plus copious tender scatterings of liver from the gravy—that would be my ideal. Add in some oysters and I’m even happier. I don’t even need the turkey, at that point. Just bowl after bowl of stuffing.”
Find Jeff’s favorite recipe here.
Sierra Tishgart, Founder of Great Jones
“Noodle kugel! It’s a classic Jewish casserole that my mom makes—not so traditionally–for Thanksgiving each year. I absolutely love it.”
Find Sierra’s favorite recipe here.
Mario Carbone, Chef and Managing Partner at Major Food Group
“I’ve always believed that some purchased products are hard to beat, no matter how long you’ve been cooking. To me one of those is Stove Top Stuffing. It’s unbeatable! I like to add crumbled Italian sausage to mine for the culture, but at the heart of it is Stove Top.”
Find Mario’s favorite recipe here.
Tess Koman, Senior Editor, Delish.com
“Cranberry sauce—not the jarred stuff, though I find that to be totally maligned, but actual cranberry sauce—is my favorite during Thanksgiving. Ina Garten has an A+ recipe that involves pounds of berries, a good few cups of sugar, and a bunch of orange zest and juice. It’s super sharp and sweet and spoonable and lovely!”
Find Tess’s favorite recipe here.
Aishwarya Iyer, Founder of Brightland
“My favorite comfort food to eat during Thanksgiving is Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole. It’s messy, cozy, can be eaten as a snack or in the morning. It just tastes like the holidays in a nutshell.”
Find Aishwarya’s favorite recipe here.