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 12 of our favorite ideas right now.
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 recipe.
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.
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.
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.
Everyone knows this a loose dress, stretchy pants kind of dinner party, but if you want to make one healthy dish concession, this 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.
To hell with nostalgia, kick cans to the curb and treat your friends (and yourself) to this fresh ingredient-driven version. Best of all, in this southernized spin on the classic, rich, oozy pimento cheese replaces the the drab (sorry, mom) traditional cream of mushroom soup sauce. Get the recipe.
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 recipe.
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 recipe.
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 couple for next day leftovers, because clearly these destined for sandwich glory. Get the recipe.
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. Get our Bourbon Cream Turkey Gravy recipe.
Take a detour from the traditional pumpkin pie route with these cream cheese frosting-stuffed cookie sandwiches. Get our Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies recipe.
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 recipe.