You might think Thanksgiving is the same everywhere you go, but travel across the country and you might see a hearty dish of mac and cheese where your beloved sweet potato casserole should be. Sometimes you can chalk it up to family tradition, but there’s a unique connection between certain recipes and corners of the country.
Want to know which dishes even count as “Thanksgiving foods”? We rounded up the most traditional Turkey Day recipes in the U.S.
The statistics website Five Thirty Eight published a poll earlier this year asking for the most popular Thanksgiving dishes. Most people immediately answered “turkey.” But after that, the responses diverged. Researchers realized that the popular recipes seemed to vary depending on the region where each person lived. So what were your neighbors craving? Let’s dig in!
On the Side
Before you get upset, we’re not talking about your average leafy greens. Think fruit salad, potato salad or our favorite, roasted butternut squash salad. The New York Times even found two popular searches in this area to be “frog eye salad” and “Snickers salad,” dessert-type dishes doused in thick, creamy dressing. (By the way, Snickers salad is a fantastic way to get rid of that extra Halloween candy. See our take on it here!)
When it comes to using up that fall harvest, the Northeast is on the right track. With so many delicious squash dishes in our recipe boxes, we’re ready to jump on the bandwagon! Strangely enough, even though they’re near the home of America’s most famous potato rolls, this region doesn’t eat a whole lot of bread. But read on to find out who does.
Southeast: Mac and Cheese
Wisconsin might be the Dairy State, but the Southeast takes the lead when it comes to serving up gooey, creamy macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving Day. This easy, cheesy recipe can bubble in your slow cooker all day so you can worry about the rest of the feast (or watch the parade in peace).
Central South: Cornbread
It wouldn’t be a southern Thanksgiving without a slice of warm, buttery cornbread—or corn casserole. In fact, there are so many delicious southern Thanksgiving dishes, we put together a collection of them. Ready to see what we found?
Great Plains: Green Beans and Casseroles
…or, if you’re like us, you put them together for green bean casserole. We appreciate the Great Plains’ attempt at eating healthy (gotta get your vegetables in somewhere!).
Great Lakes: Rolls and Biscuits
These Midwesterners really like their rolls, and who can blame them? Thanksgiving has introduced us to some pillowy, carb-filled delights like these butter-brushed yeast rolls.
It’s really no surprise that stuffing didn’t show up in the study, because think about it: Like turkey, this dish is pretty universal. The difference, however, is that people in the South typically don’t call it “stuffing”…unless it was actually baked inside the bird. Nope, to half of the country, this dish is referred to as “dressing.” It might sound weird to Northerners, but that’s just the wacky world of American food dialects! (It’s not the only one: Find out about more foods known by many names.)
Time for Pie!
Now, the info you’ve all been waiting for: Which mouthwatering Thanksgiving pie does your region prefer to devour?
According to survey results, every part of the country serves pumpkin pie. However, if you’re from the Midwest or West, you might be serving a cherry pie, too. The South is more fond of sweet potato pie and pecan pie, whereas New England and the Middle Atlantic stick to apple.
While you’re carving that turkey, look around at the other dishes on the table to see how your family compares. Does the Thanksgiving spread include the typical fare in your part of the country, or is it more unique? Boom—instant dinner conversation!