What Are The Best Thanksgiving Day Staples?

On Thanksgiving Day, families come together around the dinner table to give thanks and repeat the yearly tradition of debating which sides and staples are the best. When families blend together, there is often a clash of traditions and menus that may not reach the level of controversy of politics, but can still be the cause of heated disagreements.

So, what are the best staples of Thanksgiving? I’ll compare a few and offer my thoughts.

Cranberry sauce vs. cranberry relish

Frankly, it was a long time before I even knew there was a question about this. But, eventually I learned that a lot people have an affinity for cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving–be it canned or fresh. I’ve never understood that. In my family, we’re all for the cranberry relish. I can remember being introduced to cranberry relish in nursery school. I went to a private school for nursery school and kindergarten, and every year we made cranberry relish in the school kitchen. I can remember the old-fashioned cast iron grinder that you had to manually crank to grind the ingredients together. At my family’s table, there’d only be cranberry relish. We use a food processor now to make it, but it’s still pretty dang awesome.

Pumpkin pie vs. apple pie

This is a bit of a sore subject for me, because I’ve never really understood why people like pumpkin pie. For a long time, if a pumpkin pie got near me, I used to gag. I’m less averse to it now than when I was a kid, but I’m pretty picky about it, and only certain recipes work for me. Others in my family like pumpkin pie, so it’s still an offering, but I’m all about that apple pie. Sadly, for some reason, my annual reminders that I like apple pie are seldom remembered, and this year (again) apple pie will be missing from our Thanksgiving spread, but apple pie is still better than pumpkin pie. If you disagree, you’re wrong.

In-bird stuffing vs. out-of-the-bird stuffing

In all honesty, I’ll eat either. Generally speaking, as long as the stuffing is good, I can eat it either way, but I generally prefer out-of-the-bird stuffing. Why? I suppose I don’t like my stuffing too moist. A little dryness adds some texture and subtle crunch, which I like in my stuffing–or dressing, if that’s what you call it. Stuffing, I know, is one of those things where everyone has a favorite recipe, so I’m not gonna argue what the best recipe is, but for years, my favorite stuffing has been cracker stuffing as opposed to bread stuffing. I don’t remember the exact recipe that my mother makes, but it has Ritz Crackers, corn flakes, onions, peppers, and I believe chicken stock in it, and it’s to die for. One year when I was probably a teenager, I remember that we have some of this stuffing made both in the bird and out of the bird, and the out-of-the-bird stuffing was accidentally overcooked. It got extremely browned and slightly hard, and it was still amazing.


There’s gotta be a potato dish at Thanksgiving, right? As far as I’m concerned, there’s pretty much no wrong way to prepare potatoes. Baked, french fries, tater tots, mashed potatoes, sliced potatoes-you really can’t go wrong. That said, I still say the mashed potatoes are the true form of potatoes for Thanksgiving because that’s the form that goes best with gravy. Fight me on this, and you will lose.

Ham vs. turkey

I don’t even know why this is even a debate. Who eats ham on Thanksgiving? If you have to accommodate someone who doesn’t like turkey by offering ham, I suppose you can offer ham as an option, but not a substitute. But, Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without a turkey.

And that’s all there is to say about that.

I suspect that this may very well be one of my more controversial articles here on PJ Media, but as you know, I never shy away from a debate. If you’re here with us as you wait for your Thanksgiving Day festivities to begin, feel free to share your favorite Thanksgiving Day staples in the comments below.

And as you sit with your families today, always know how thankful we here at PJ Media are for you being a part of our community. To show you how much we appreciate you, we’re offering a 40% discount for new VIP subscribers. If you become a VIP subscriber today, use the code THANKFUL for 40% off your subscription.

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