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Tired of Turkey? Be the Talk of the Table With These Modern Thanksgiving Dishes

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

Love it or hate it, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that never leaves you hungry. 

Usually, that means you’re satisfied with dry turkey and seasonless sides. 

If you’re looking to enjoy the feast this year and call it a day with a full stomach, these three top-tier sides are sure to snag you a seat at the head of the table. 

Steakhouse Mac and Cheese 

If you’re tired of bland cheesy noodles disguised as Mac and Cheese, this recipe is for you! 


For the Mac and Cheese

  • 1 box of Cavatappi pasta (16 oz)
  • 1 block of white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 block of gouda cheese, shredded
  • ½ block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • ½ tsp of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp of garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp of onion powder

For the Breadcrumbs

  • 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ tsp of olive oil
  • ¼ tsp of black pepper
  • ¼ tsp of garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp of paprika
  • ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper 
  • ½ cup of parmesan cheese, to top


  1. In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium to high heat until hot. Then, combine breadcrumbs and spices and pour into the pan. Wait for oil to crisp breadcrumbs and set aside. 
  2. Cook pasta according to package. Once drained, set aside.
  3. In a large skillet or pot, melt butter. Once butter is melted, add in flour and whisk continuously until a roux is formed. The color should be a light-medium brown, and the roux should be thick. 
  4. Add heavy cream to the pot and stir. Then, slowly add in the cheeses until fully melted. At this point, add in any other spices to taste. 
  5. Fold in the pasta and then place into a baking dish. 
  6. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese over the top of the mac and cheese, and broil for 5-7 minutes on high.

*Note: If this dish is being served more than 30 minutes after it is prepared, keep in the oven until serving time at a low temperature to ensure the cheese remains melted!

Pimento Cheese Dip (or Ball) 

The easiest party pleaser for picky eaters!


  • 1 block of cream cheese (8 oz)
  • ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika 
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise 
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of Uncle Chris’s Seasoning
  • 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 jar of pimentos (4 oz)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1 jalapeno, diced 


  1. In a food processor or stand mixer, combine cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. 
  2. Shred the sharp cheddar cheese and dice the jalapeno, then set aside.
  3. Add garlic powder, Uncle Chris’s, smoked paprika and salt and pepper to the mixer. Stir until the spices are fully incorporated. 
  4. Add in the shredded cheddar cheese and mix until the cheese reaches a consistency of your liking. If attempting to form the cheese into a ball shape, a thicker consistency is best. 
  5. Fold in the drained pimentos and minced jalapenos. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve on a platter or in a dish!

Pecan Pie Cheesecake 

Better than your grandma’s famous pecan pie 

Inspiration: SpaceShips and Laser Beams 

Via: https://spaceshipsandlaserbeams.com/pecan-pie-cheesecake/


For the Crust:

  • 1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust*

*The original recipe calls for a homemade pie crust, however, for the sake of time and my own sanity, I usually use a pre-made pie crust. 

For the Pecan Pie Filling:

  • ⅓ cup of salted butter
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of light corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1½ cup of pecans, chopped

For the Cheesecake:

  • 2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1½ tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup of sour cream

For the Pecan Topping:

  • ¼ cup of salted butter
  • ⅓ cup of light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of roughly chopped pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (F). 

For The Pecan Pie Layer:

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt ⅓ cup of butter over medium heat. 
  2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla, and pecans, and then add that mixture to the butter in the saucepan (or you can add the sugar, corn syrup, and pecans first and the eggs and vanilla over the top, so it’s all being stirred in together). Cook for about 10 minutes. 
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low once the mixture comes to a boil, and continue simmering until the mixture deepens to a golden brown color and thickens.
  4. Pour the pecan pie filling into the chilled crust (in a pie pan) and spread it into an even layer.

For The Cheesecake Layer:

  1. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until fully mixed and fluffy. Mix in the salt and flour.
  2. Stir in the vanilla extract and one egg at a time by hand until fully combined.
  3. Mix in the sour cream and stir until smooth.
  4. Pour the cheesecake mixture into an even layer over the pecan filling mixture. 
  5. Place the cheesecake into the oven and bake for 1 hour, until the cheesecake is just slightly jiggly.
  6. Turn off the oven when the cake is just slightly jiggly and leave the cheesecake inside with the oven door closed for about 30 minutes. Then crack the door open for another 30 minutes and allow the oven and cheesecake cool.
  7. Cover and chill overnight. 

For The Topping:

  1. In the morning: melt together the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. The mixture will deepen in color.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Whisk until smooth. Stir in the pecans and spoon the topping over top of the cheesecake.
Casey is a third-year student at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a journalism degree and a business Spanish certificate. She is currently a food editorial intern at Camille Styles and where she writes and publishes food and lifestyle pieces. In her free time, Casey enjoys cooking, traveling, and practicing yoga. IG: caseymckee_ Blog: KeenlyCasey.com Twitter: casey.mckee7