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7 Easy Thanksgiving Recipes That Anyone Can Make

Every November, leaves burst into bright explosions of red and orange, the balmy fall air turns crisp, and collegiettes begin to don their knit hats, scarves and gloves.  All of these seasonal signs lead to one of the greatest holidays of the year: Thanksgiving. Some students rush home eagerly to spend the holiday with their families while others choose to stay on campus and celebrate with their friends. No matter where you will be on November 28 this year, thanks will be given and a feast is sure to be had.

So whether you stay at school or are spending the holiday at home, why not whip up some seasonal fare? We did some recipe research and found quick and easy Thanksgiving recipes. While some require an oven, others are no-bake—a great option if you will be staying in the dorm. Put on your apron, collect those ingredients, and start cooking!  

Appetizer: Creamy Pumpkin Pie Dip (Courtesy of Kitchen Simplicity)

Nothing screams Thanksgiving like good ole pumpkin-flavored treats. This appetizer dip is sure to be the crowd pleaser at any Thanksgiving celebration. It doesn’t require any baking and can easily be stored in the refrigerator until it is ready to be served. What might you dip in this delectable treat? Anything from graham crackers, ginger snaps, and cinnamon cookies to fresh apple and pear slices will do. Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips might be fun to try, too!

  • 1 package (8 oz.) spreadable cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ¾ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup sour cream

Cream together cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Stir in cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and sour cream. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

Drink: The Poinsettia (Courtesy of The Kitchn)

This cocktail is easy to make, tastes delicious, and, most importantly, is seasonally festive! The sparkling wine-based cocktail has light touches of cranberry and orange, two great fall flavors. If you want to make a non-alcoholic version, all you have to do is swap out the sparkling wine for ginger ale and sub in orange juice for the liqueur. It’s as simple as that!

  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 4 ounces champagne, prosecco, cava, or other dry, sparkling white wine
  • ½ ounce orange liqueur
  • Cranberry and orange peel for optional garnish

Pour cranberry juice into a champagne flute and top with sparkling wine. Then top with a final layer of orange liqueur. Garnish with an optional twist of orange peel and a single fresh cranberry.

Side Dish: Parmesan Crescent Rolls (Courtesy of Pillsbury)

Crescent rolls might just be one of the most delicious Pillsbury products out there, so why not share the yummy rolls with family and friends? Adding Parmesan cheese gives the rolls a little extra kick that will have your guests oohing and ahhing over your genius culinary creation. And the best part is that you only need three ingredients and an oven!

  • 1 can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten

Heat oven (or microwave oven) to 375°F. Separate dough into eight triangles. Sprinkle each triangle with 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese. Roll up each triangle, starting at the shortest side of the triangle and rolling to the opposite point.

Place the rolls point side down on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush the top of each roll with beaten egg and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake the rolls for 10-12 minutes, or until they look golden brown on top. Serve warm.

Side Dish: Cranberry Sauce (Courtesy of Martha Stewart)

No Thanksgiving is complete without a side of sweetly tart cranberry sauce. The deep burgundy of the fruit adds a touch of fall festivity to the table and the fragrant aroma will bring a smile to everyone’s face. This recipe only requires two ingredients, and the best part is that it can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to three days before serving.

  • 1 bag (12 ounces) frozen cranberries
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) red currant jelly

In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries and the jelly. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have burst and the liquid has reduced to syrup (about 20 to 30 minutes). And don’t worry if it’s chunky—cranberry sauce isn’t supposed to be complete liquid! Transfer to a serving dish, let cool, and enjoy.


Side Dish: Microwave Raisin-Apple Stuffing (Courtesy of eHow)

Stuffing is the perfect compliment to a traditional Thanksgiving turkey. The sweetness of this raisin-apple stuffing pairs perfectly with the savory bird, and the best part is that it can be made in the microwave—no oven needed!

  • 2 cups cubed bread
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 stalk of finely chopped celery
  • 1 peeled and cubed apple
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper

Mix the cubed bread with the melted butter, onion, celery, apples and raisins in a microwave-safe dish. Add the chicken broth and mix gently with a spoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place a lid on the microwave-safe dish and microwave on high power for four to six minutes. Remove the dish from the microwave and let it sit for five minutes. Remove the lid and gently fluff the stuffing using a fork. Serve immediately.

Dessert: Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes (Courtesy of Betty Crocker)

Everybody likes cupcakes, right? Add some pumpkin and spice to a simple yellow cake mix and you have a delicious fall dessert that is easy to make and even easier to eat. Spread on cream cheese frosting and you will send your family and friends into a world of sugary bliss.

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 container cream cheese frosting

Heat oven (or microwave oven) to 350°F. If you are using a dark or nonstick pan, heat the oven to 325°F. Place cupcake liners in your cupcake pan.

In a large bowl, stir cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice until batter is smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the pan, filling each cup until it is about two-thirds full.

Bake 19 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack and cool completely for another 30 minutes.

Frost the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and eat up!

Dessert: Pumpkin Oreo Truffles (Courtesy of Cookies & Cups)

This might just be one of the cutest dessert fall desserts out there and the best part is that it is tons of fun to whip up. Start by making Oreo truffles—an easy, no-bake dessert—and finish off by dressing each truffle up like a pumpkin. If you want to be super festive, why not watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while you concoct your truffles?

  • 36 Oreo cookies, finely crushed
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
  • Mini pretzel sticks, broken in half
  • Orange candy disks (found at Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, AC Moore or online)
  • Tube of green icing

Mix cookie crumbs and cream cheese until blended. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Stick a pretzel stick into the top of each ball; this will act as the pumpkin’s stem. Freeze for 20 minutes.

Melt the orange candy disks in a microwave, stirring every 15-20 seconds. Let the candy shell harden. Use the green icing to pipe on some vines and voila! Make sure to store these in the fridge as they contain cream cheese.


There you have it—seven easy and delicious recipes to make this Thanksgiving as memorable as possible! Nothing brings together family and friends like a tasty appetizer, a warm and hearty side dish, or a killer fall dessert. So what are you waiting for? Start making that Thanksgiving grocery list and prepare for one of the yummiest holidays of the year.

Kelsey Damassa is in her senior year at Boston College, majoring in Communications and English. She is a native of Connecticut and frequents New York City like it is her job. On campus, she is the Campus Correspondent for the Boston College branch of Her Campus. She also teaches group fitness classes at the campus gym (both Spinning and Pump It Up!) and is an avid runner. She has run five half-marathons as well as the Boston Marathon. In her free time, Kelsey loves to bake (cupcakes anyone?), watch Disney movies, exercise, read any kind of novel with a Starbucks latte in hand, and watch endless episodes of "Friends" or "30 Rock."
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