Thanksgiving can challenge even a sophisticated cook—perhaps because the most beloved dishes sometimes feel a little outdated. The F&W Test Kitchen gives these recipes a delicious makeover.

Consider the celery and canned-olive tray. How many holiday meals across America once kicked off with this appetizer? It’s so 1950s (you might say, rolling your eyes), but there’s something about it that you can’t help but love: Retro American dishes like this tap into a collective nostalgia for the foods so many of us grew up with. That’s why, in developing the recipes that follow, we decided to focus on the sometimes outdated ones that traditionally define Thanksgiving. Our goal was to make over these dishes without losing their identity, to create new versions for adventurous cooks who, like us, still crave turkey, stuffing, cranberries and sweet potatoes on the last Thursday in November. Not to mention celery and olives. This last dish, for instance, appears on our table in a magically altered form, as celery strips tossed with chopped Calamata olives and ricotta salata in an anchovy dressing. It’s so good we couldn’t stop eating it. But we did, if only to move on to recipes like turkey with bourbon-pecan gravy (hold the giblets), corn bread stuffing with chorizo, curried sweet potatoes and winter squash-chocolate parfaits.

Starters & Soups

Outdated: Shrimp Cocktail
Updated: Ginger Shrimp with Sweet-Spicy Thai Dipping Sauce

Outdated: Artichoke Spread
Updated: Roasted Artichoke, Lemon and Garlic Dip

Outdated: Celery-Olive Tray
Updated: Celery and Olive Antipasto with Ricotta Salata (photo)

Outdated: Oyster Soup
Updated: Mussel Soup with Rouille Toasts

Outdated: Cream of Mushroom Soup
Updated: Wild Mushroom Broth with Parsnip Custard


Side Dishes

Outdated: Parker House Rolls
Updated: Parmesan-Herb Cloverleaf Rolls

Outdated: Casserole of Green Beans and Cream of Mushroom Soup
Updated: Green Beans with Cremini Mushroom Sauce (photo)

Outdated: Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Butter
Updated: Warm Brussels Sprout Slaw with Bacon

Outdated: Country Biscuits
Updated: Bacon Biscuits with Roasted Apple Butter

Outdated: Fennel-and-Celery Dressing
Updated: Parmesan-and-Sausage Stuffed Roasted Fennel

Outdated: Scalloped Potatoes
Updated: Spicy Scalloped Rutabagas with Parsley

Outdated: Candied Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows
Updated: Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Curried Onions

Outdated: Cauliflower au Gratin
Updated: Creamy Cauliflower Gratin with Whole Wheat Crumbs

Outdated: Cornmeal, Onion and Sausage Dressing
Updated: Corn Bread, Chorizo and Collard Stuffing

Outdated: Range-Top Stuffing
Updated: Sourdough Rye Stuffing with Ham and Cheese

Spiced Smoked Ham with Mango-Cranberry Chutney
Credit: © William Meppem

Main Courses

Outdated: Pineapple-Glazed Ham with Maraschino Cherries
Updated: Spiced Smoked Ham with Mango-Cranberry Chutney (photo)

Outdated: Roast Turkey with Giblet Gravy
Updated: Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bourbon-Pecan Gravy

Candied Winter Squash Parfaits with Chocolate


Outdated: Pumpkin Pie
Updated: Candied Winter Squash Parfaits with Chocolate (photo)

Outdated: Mom’s Apple Pie
Updated: Rustic Pear and Hazelnut Crostata

Outdated: Pecan Pie
Updated: Caramelized Apple-Pecan Pie with Calvados