pumpkin spice whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting
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I’d never admit this to my family, but Friendsgiving totally trumps Thanksgiving.

Aside from the inherent lack of inevitable family drama and awkwardness, the great thing about Friendsgiving is the creative freedom it allows you to apply to the traditional Thanksgiving menu. (And, in my case, the fact that you’re not afraid to really let loose and party.)

Instead of feeling restricted to the well-known old standards—delicious though they may be—this preamble-to-the-main-event dinner party is the perfect occasion to test out some more adventurous spins on Turkey Day’s greatest hits. Here are 15 of our favorite Friendsgiving recipe ideas right now.

1. Roasted Garlic, Sage, & Pumpkin Hummus

Cocktail hour grazing  just got a little bit more interesting thanks to this sweet-savory pumpkin and roasted garlic hummus. Try not to binge and spoil your appetite. Get the Roasted Garlic, Sage, & Pumpkin Hummus recipe.

2. Pumpkin Pie-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin pie spiced pumpkin seeds

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Turns out pumpkin pie spice does have a life beyond lattes. Here, the allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg blend seasons pepitas to create a super meta fall-themed snack. Get our Pumpkin Pie-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds recipe.

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3. Stuffed Peppadew Peppers with Goat Cheese and Marcona Almonds

goat cheese stuffed peppadew recipe

Chowhound

This is an easy appetizer that literally anyone can pull off, and it will impress everyone else—plus, your host will be thankful that your dish requires neither oven nor fridge space. You’ll spend more time finding the sweet-spicy Peppadews and buttery marcona almonds at the store (try Whole Foods) than you will combining them with creamy goat cheese, fresh oregano, and olive oil. Get our Stuffed Peppadew Peppers recipe.

4. The Turducken of Cheese Balls

best cheese ball (the turducken of cheese balls)

Chowhound

If you’re feeling more ambitious—and even cheesier—this 12-layer cheese ball is a showstopper, but best shared among a big group lest you fill up too soon before the main event. Seriously; it weighs about 5 pounds. But it’s still easier than an actual turducken (or a Piecaken, for that matter). Get our Ultimate Cheese Ball recipe.

5. Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi and Bacon

brussels sprouts with kimchi and bacon

Chowhound

Looking to breathe new life into the been-there-done-that Brussels sprouts and bacon combo? A sauce of puréed kimchi gives this side dish a bold, tangy, spicy edge that will make it a standout on the table. Get our Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi and Bacon recipe.

6. Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Panko

Japanese glazed sweet potatoes with panko bread crumbs

Chowhound

The mini marshmallows in a classic sweet potato casserole are cute, but maybe you’re better off saving them for the hot cocoa. Instead of going for a sweet on sweet profile, this Japanese tempura-inspired rendition goes umami and texture-heavy with a mirin, ginger, and soy sauce-glaze and panko breadcrumb topping. Get our Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Panko recipe.

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Related Reading: The Best Potluck Products for Transporting Your Food in One Piece

7. Healthy Root Vegetable Gratin with Buttery Walnuts

healthy root vegetable gratin with walnuts

Chowhound

Everyone knows this is a loose dress, stretchy pants kind of dinner party, but if you want to make one healthy dish concession, this is a good way to go. By layering thin slices of richly flavored root vegetables (think sweet potato, celery root, and rutabaga), you can basically ditch the usual cheese and heavy cream overdose without feeling like you’re sacrificing deliciousness. Get our Healthy Root Vegetable Gratin with Buttery Walnuts recipe.

8. Herbed Green Bean Casserole

herbed fresh green bean caserole recipe

Chowhound

To hell with nostalgia, kick cans to the curb and treat your friends (and yourself) to this fresh ingredient-driven version. In this fancified spin on the classic, rich cream cheese and heavy cream replace the the drab (sorry, mom) traditional cream of mushroom soup sauce. Fresh herbs fleck the filling, and best of all, the greasy canned fried onions are replaced with a mix of crunchy panko, slivered almonds, and parmesan. Get our Herbed Green Bean Casserole recipe.

Related Reading: Chefs’ Tips for Gourmet Green Bean Casserole

9. Stuffing Muffins with Apple and Pancetta

Sure, there are plenty of unique ingredients you could introduce to spruce up your stuffing routine for your Friendsgiving: oysters, prunes and apples, brown bread and chestnuts, you name it. But if you really want everyone at the part talking about your stuffing, there’s no better way than to bust out a platter of these oh-so-Instagrammably-precious apple and pancetta stuffing muffins. (And if you want, save aside some of the mix to make a batch of appetizer-friendly stuffed mushrooms). Get the Stuffing Muffins with Apple and Pancetta recipe.

Related Reading: New Ways to Use Your Muffin Pan

10. Mushroom Gruyere Bread Pudding

mushroom bread pudding recipe with gruyere

Alexis deBoschnek

You can also skip the stuffing entirely (or let’s be real, have stuffing and a stuffing alternative!) with this rich and gooey mushroom bread pudding, which also happens to be vegetarian. Get the Mushroom Gruyere Bread Pudding recipe.

11. Acorn Squash Mashed Potato Boats

If you’re really looking to go off-the-beaten-path with your Friendsgiving dinner menu, dare to replace the beloved, classic mashed potatoes with this creative take on a twice baked potato. Get the Acorn Squash Mashed Potato Boats recipe.

12. Stuffing Biscuits

stuffing biscuit recipe

Chowhound

As much as we love a good, buttery Parker House roll, when it comes to this meal, anything with “stuffing” in the name gets priority on the table. Seasoned on top with a blend of onion powder, ground sage, thyme, and celery seed, these dense cheddar biscuits do a damn fine job of impersonating the flavor profile of everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish. Try to save a couple for next day leftovers, because clearly these destined for sandwich glory. Get the Stuffing Biscuits recipe.

13. Bourbon Cream Turkey Gravy

bourbon cream turkey gravy

Chowhound

Roasting the neck and giblets helps crank up the volume on the turkey flavor in this rich, creamy, you-want-it-on-everything gravy. Also, bourbon. And you can never have too much gravy, so it’s totally okay to bring extra. Get our Bourbon Cream Turkey Gravy recipe.

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14. Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies

pumpkin spice whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting

Chowhound

Take a detour from the traditional pumpkin pie route with these cream cheese frosting-stuffed cookie sandwiches. Get our Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies recipe.

Related Reading: 18 Great Thanksgiving Desserts That Aren’t Pie

15. Apple Pie Bites

If you’re crunched for time, this shortcut, finger food-friendly version of the classic dessert features slices of crisp green apple, chopped pecans, and apple pie spice wrapped in a wedge of buttery puff pastry. Get the Apple Pie Bites recipe.

Related Video: These Honey-Harissa Carrots Are Another Fantastic Friendsgiving Side Dish

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