November 15, 2023
Lauren Platero

26 Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner Catering Ideas

Thanksgiving dinner catering services are equally festive as they are convenient. The holiday season is such a busy time of year, that sometimes, just the thought of preparing a full course meal is stressful. That’s why so many businesses across the restaurant industry create their annual Thanksgiving catering menu

But catering Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a headache, either. Continue reading this menu for inspiration regarding all sorts of festive menu types!

The Convenience of Thanksgiving Dinner Catering 

Catering is one of the most convenient services that a restaurant business can offer. However, it’s even more so during a holiday as hectic and food-centric as Thanksgiving. That’s why offering such services are just as important to consumers as they are to restaurant personnel. See below to learn why:

For Restaurants:

Choosing to have a Thanksgiving dinner catering menu is a foolproof way to maximize revenue, even if it’s just for a day. Thanksgiving dinner catering menus typically have a high markup. Plus, everything that is typically on a Thanksgiving catering menu can be prepared as a result of mass cooking. Not only are traditional dishes simple, but they can be prepped in advance. 

Whether restaurants cater off-premise festivities or offer delivery services for at-home gatherings, it’s a profitable venture. It’s a holiday where you’ll be showcasing a variety of delicious dishes. Plus, you’ll be making the day extremely convenient for the guests. If you ask us, that’s certainly a way to create a positive customer experience and make a lasting impression.

For Festive Gatherings:

Are you planning to order Thanksgiving dinner online? Or, are you hosting Thanksgiving this year and doing most of the cooking from scratch? Either way, Thanksgiving dinner catering services are a major benefit. For one, they can take quite the burden off of people who are inviting a lot of guests over. Besides, a home oven can only prepare so much at once. Plus, restaurants that have a Thanksgiving catering menu may give the option of purchasing the items through an online ordering platform. Yup, it’s that convenient! 

Do you want to offer Thanksgiving catering services through your restaurant? Schedule a demo with us to discuss catering online ordering integrations!

Thanksgiving Dinner Catering Menu Ideas

Maybe you’re the business owner of a restaurant that has a Thanksgiving dinner catering menu. Or, perhaps you’re the host(ess) of your family, and you’re planning a catered Thanksgiving dinner. Regardless of your situation, a delicious menu is a must!

Need some inspiration for your Thanksgiving dinner catering menu? Read on for several ideas! From traditional classics to innovative food trends, we cover it all. Before you know it, you'll have a Thanksgiving dinner catering menu ready in no time!

Appetizers and Finger Foods

Every feast begins with an appetizer list! Whether it be minimal or elaborate, every Thanksgiving dinner catering menu starts out with a handful of munchies. Plus, everyone will have something to snack on while the main course is in the oven. 

Some of the most popular appetizers you’ll find on a Thanksgiving catering menu include:

  • Shrimp Cocktail - one of the most classic appetizers that’s super easy to prepare. 
  • Stuffed Mushrooms - preferably with crab meat, this is a great way to serve seafood on Thanksgiving. 
  • Charcuterie Boards - the epitome of the word “festive,” as every host can make them their own.
  • Soup Shots - an innovative way to stay warm on a crisp fall day without feeling too full. 

Appetizers tend to be much more casual than the other courses on a Thanksgiving catering menu. So, feel free to opt for a more family style dining approach to keep things simple.

Entree Food 

The main courses at Thanksgiving dinner are certainly the stars of the show. After all, you can’t have a Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey and side dishes. And you absolutely could not craft a Thanksgiving catering menu without them either. 

Typically, a Thanksgiving catering menu should comprise several items from the list below:

  • Turkey - the ultimate classic that you can’t host Thanksgiving without. 
  • Ham - a savory entree for those who aren’t a fan of poultry. 
  • Gravy - the perfect way to add moisture and flavor to any menu item. 
  • Cranberry Sauce - a sweet and tart compliment to all the savory dishes on the table.
  • Stuffing - a savory side dish that pairs perfectly with a spoonful of gravy. 
  • Mashed Potatoes - the classic dish with a hint of salt, pepper, and butter. 
  • Sweet Potatoes - don’t forget to bake with marshmallows for an extra touch of sweetness.
  • Vegetables - from roasted veggies to green bean casserole, a side of vegetables can add balanced nutrition to a Thanksgiving catering menu. 

You can’t go wrong when mixing and matching items from the list above. Just ensure that the options create a balance, and you’re set!

Dessert Menu 

You can’t host Thanksgiving dinner without ending the meal with something sweet. During this time of year, dinner hosts and restaurants ditch traditional desserts you can find all year round. Instead, they lean toward spices, flavor notes of baked fruit, and earthy ingredients, like maple and pumpkin. 

Whether you’re catering dinner at an upscale restaurant or in the comfort of your own home, you can never go wrong with these Thanksgiving desserts:

  • Apple Pie - an American classic found on every Thanksgiving dinner table. 
  • Pumpkin Pie - one of the most fall-centric dessert items of all time. 
  • Warm Apple Cobbler - a slightly different variation of the classic apple pie. 
  • Maple Pecan Bars - a unique variation of traditional maple pecan pie. 
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake - for the guests who aren’t in the mood for pumpkin pie. 

Did you notice that there’s nothing listed that’s loaded with chocolate? We’ll start adding those back to menus as it gets closer to Christmas!

Alcoholic Beverages

There are several types of alcohol that can pair with Thanksgiving dinner catering menu ideas. From festive spins on popular cocktails to subtle flavor notes in basic drinks, mixology for holiday gatherings has no limits. If anything, it can be a challenge to decide which recipes you’ll make for your Thanksgiving feast! That's why we chose some of our top favorites. 

See below for a handful of seasonal drinks to spice up Thanksgiving dinner (no pun intended):

  • Harvest Mimosa - replace the orange juice with apple cider for a seasonal twist.
  • Harvest Ale - many beer brands use seasonal flavors in their hoppy brews. 
  • Mulled Wine - Warm red wine simmered with spices like cinnamon and clove. 
  • Pumpkin Pie Martini - the best way to serve pumpkin liqueur and vanilla vodka.
  • Caramel Apple Sangria - a sweet and festive option to pair with dinner or dessert. 

Consider which alcoholic drinks are normally on your drink menu. Then, check if there are any limited edition ingredients that you can add to them. Original and trendy beverages should be a staple at any holiday dinner!

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Thanksgiving beverages can be just as festive as the main courses. And yes, restaurants and dinner hosts can be just as creative with non-alcoholic drinks as they are with those containing liquor. One of the best things about the fall season is that there are so many flavor profiles to mix and match. Meanwhile, many of which can be present across drink menus. 

Here’s some inspiration for delicious non-alcoholic drinks for your Thanksgiving dinner catering menu: 

  • Apple Cider - a traditional classic with the perfect balance of spices and sweetness. 
  • Cinnamon Cranberry Mocktail - a seasonal twist on traditional cranberry mocktails
  • Eggnog - the perfect drink for dessert time, fueling the excitement for Christmas. 
  • Pumpkin Spice Coffee - the perfect after-Thanksgiving-dinner beverage.

These are just four examples that may get the wheels turning for your drink menu. However, drinks are an easy category to experiment with flavors. Depending on the drink, test different combinations using spices, syrups, and coffee creamers inspired by fall. The concoctions you come up with may surprise you!

Frequently Asked Questions About Thanksgiving Dinner Catering

Thanksgiving dinner catering ideas can be as traditional or creative as you’d like. Not only are there a ton of pre-made options, but the twists you can put on basic recipes are endless. But now that we’ve talked about the many Thanksgiving dinner catering ideas, from food dishes to drinks, let’s dive a bit deeper into more technical details. 

From the cost per person to where you can find already-cooked turkeys, we’ve got you covered! Check out some of the most frequently asked questions and answers below.

What Is the Average Cost Per Person for Thanksgiving Dinner?

The average cost per person for Thanksgiving dinner is roughly $65. Bear in mind that this includes a standard three-course meal. Meanwhile, the main course, typically including ham or turkey, will come with multiple sides. It’s also important to note that restaurants with Thanksgiving catering menus will raise prices since it’s a holiday.

What Do Most People Serve for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Most people serve the following dishes at Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Turkey 
  • Stuffing 
  • Potatoes 
  • Gravy 
  • Corn
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Apple pie
  • Pumpkin pie

Can You Buy a Fully Cooked Turkey for Thanksgiving?

Yes, it's possible to purchase a pre-cooked turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, Harry and David sell their "heat and eat" turkey that's ready for Thanksgiving. Plus, it can serve between ten and twelve people.

Does Costco Have Turkeys for Thanksgiving?

Yes, Costco carries frozen as well as fully-cooked turkeys during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. After picking out a turkey, you can add the rest of the feast to your cart. From potatoes to pies, you can purchase your entire Thanksgiving dinner at Costco.

What Is the Average Cost of a 10-Person Thanksgiving Dinner?

The average cost of a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner is roughly $650. Or, about $65 per person. It’s worth noting that this figure is about 20 percent higher than last year. So, it’ll likely increase as the years go on.

A Thanksgiving Dinner Menu Catered to Perfection!

Now that you have a diverse selection of delicious Thanksgiving menu ideas, it’s time to get a hold of a template. Then, you’ll be able to plan your courses, purchase ingredients, and host Thanksgiving like a pro.