Photo: Ridan Arellano

The United States of Thanksgiving Traditions

Every year on the last Thursday of November, Americans gather around the dinner table with their loved ones for Thanksgiving. Some people travel thousands of miles to see family in their hometown, others gather where they are for a Friendsgiving feast. Food and drinks are the centerpiece of it all. And while turkey gets the most attention, exactly what gets a place on the table - and the traditions around how it’s served - largely depends on what part of the country you’re in.

In the Midwest, casseroles (or hotdishes, if you’re in the Upper Midwest) dominate the sides, while people in Baltimore have a long history of eating sauerkraut with the Thanksgiving turkey. Empanadas are swapped for pies in parts of the Southwest, and barbecue takes over in Texas. And you can’t forget Western classics like frog eye salad and funeral potatoes.

Of course, for all the attention that’s paid to the dishes served, Thanksgiving is really about sharing stories and traditions with the people you love. There’s a family story or regional history behind everything that makes it to the table. All you have to do is ask.

Thanksgiving is a time for sharing all that connects us while also celebrating the idiosyncrasies that makes us special. These are the many ways we celebrate Thanksgiving.

How barbecue takes over the Thanksgiving dinner table in Texas

Louisiana’s classic holiday casserole has a seafood and squash twist

In the South, pineapple is a welcome addition to Thanksgiving dinner

In the Southwest, pumpkin empanadas join the traditional Thanksgiving pies

In New Mexico, Hatch chiles make traditional Thanksgiving dishes sing

Frog eye salad: a classic Western Thanksgiving dish explained

From kālua turkey to haupia pie: Hawaii’s multicultural take on Thanksgiving classics

Funeral potatoes, a classic Mormon Thanksgiving dish, explained

6 ways that seafood defines Thanksgiving in New England

How New England shaped what the country eats on Thanksgiving

In Baltimore, sauerkraut is a surprising Thanksgiving tradition

How marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes became an American classic

Cranberry sauce vs. relish: a classic American Thanksgiving side dish debate

The Midwest is the home of the casserole. These are the ones to try

This map shows each state’s favorite Thanksgiving side

Why you have to travel to Minnesota to find North America’s true wild rice

These fluffy, creamy, and decadent dessert salads are holiday staples in the Midwest

The signature, iconic pie for every state in the US

All the best pies in the US come from the South. Here’s why.

American history as told by 7 vintage pies

Why the saying should be ‘as American as pumpkin pie,’ not apple

How food can teach us about Indigenous traditions and culture

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