Alternatives to Turkey for Thanksgiving

Turkey is the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving meal, but what if you’re looking for something a little different? 

Not everyone likes turkey. For many people, the turkey is something to endure, rather than something to enjoy.

Swap out the traditional turkey and jazz up your Thanksgiving showpiece this year. Here are some great alternatives to turkey for Thanksgiving.

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Alternatives to Turkey for Thanksgiving


Brisket is easy to swap in for turkey. 

A sweet, glazed, or smoked beef brisket creates a hearty, tender dish with all the seasonal flavors that go together perfectly.

Baby Back Ribs

Every meat lover loves ribs, and why not? 

Baby back ribs deliver a stunning twist on the classic Thanksgiving meal. Filled with meat, fat, and almost no gristle, these tender ribs will almost melt in your mouth while oozing with great flavor.

If the weather is warm enough, you may even be able to turn Thanksgiving into a barbeque. 

Throw some ribs on the grill and enjoy a post-summer fiesta in the backyard.


Chicken may sound as uncreative as turkey, but you have far more options by incorporating chicken into your Thanksgiving festivities.

Buy some small cornish game hens that are small enough for one person. Stuff them like you would a turkey and benefit from the fact they are a lot quicker to make than turkey.

Or why not indulge your wild side and opt for smoked chicken instead? Play around with the spices and create your own flavor profile.


Does the idea of salmon for Thanksgiving make you flinch? 

Seafood is not as uncommon as you think during the holidays. It’s both healthy and tasty, which is great if you’re willing to do a complete 180 for Thanksgiving this year.

Try pairing a prime cut of salmon with some cranberry-mustard sauce and herbs to preserve those Thanksgiving tastes and fragrances.

Salmon For Thanksgiving


Lamb has always been the definition of sophistication, and you need to be prepared to invest in your dinner to get a great cut. 

Unlike turkey, lamb banishes that traditional dryness and doesn’t require a huge load of cranberry sauce to make it enjoyable.

However, like turkey, lamb does take hours to make, so you’ll still need to plan your meal with care.

Lamb for Thanksgiving


A prime cut of steak is a mouthwatering prospect for anyone. From ribeye to T-bone, there are so many options for steak. Plus, they’re much faster to cook and they go with practically anything.

Give your family members a choice over how their steaks are cooked and make sure everyone goes home happy this Thanksgiving.

Steak for Thanksgiving


You don’t have to make a turkey for Thanksgiving if you don’t want to. There are plenty of other meat options that you can substitute for the main dish and all of your guests will be pleased. 

You’ll save a lot of time, and if you’re a last-minute shopper, you’ll also save yourself the stress of trying to find a turkey at the last minute.

Alternatives to Turkey for Thanksgiving


  1. These are wonderful option. I will go for chicken and salmon. As Turkey will not get finished by two of us.

  2. Oh wow, these are great alternatives to Turkey! I’d happily go with lamb option, my fave ❤️.

  3. Lynndee says:

    Those are great alternatives to turkey, for sure. I like ham as alternative, too. Yum!

  4. Catalina says:

    These are valid and delicious alternatives. I like lamb a lot and I make it only for holidays!


    I’m not a big turkey fan myself. I really love the alternative suggestions.

  6. Richelle Milar says:

    This is such a really great post! All of these are really great and nice alternatives!

  7. No vegetarian option? This comes up every year. I have a delicious nut roast recipe that usually ends up more popular than the turkey!

  8. Monica Simpson says:

    I’d be down for some brisket instead of turkey!

  9. Tasheena says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post, these are all wonderful alternatives.

  10. What no plant-based options? I will be having a plant-based burger this holiday.

    1. Hi Tara,

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure about plant-based options, so I don’t have any recommendations for that category.

  11. Sarah Bailey says:

    These sound like some great alternatives for people who aren’t so into turkey (I have to admit I often pick another type of meat myself).

  12. Amber Myers says:

    I’d be happy with any of these. We usually stick to turkey, but on Christmas we do prime rib!

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