Food. Family. Fun. Three things that bring more than 50 million travelers to the airport during the Thanksgiving holiday. Designated family cooks reach deep into their top-secret recipes to fill the dining room table with tasteful nostalgia as family and friends eagerly wait to share their critiques. The ominous anticipation of failure is a story that rarely gets told. Cooks work overtime to keep their guests pleased and remain at the top of their families’ unspoken recipe competition. With these new recipes, you can stop disguising local takeout for home-cooked meals and bring your dish to the family function with confidence!

Candied Yams

Candied yams in a bowl


  • 3-3 ½ pounds of sweet potatoes
  • 6 cups of cool water
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of unsalted butter (or vegan butter)
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger (or minced)
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of miniature marshmallows for topping (optional)


To make Candied Yams, start by peeling and cutting the sweet potatoes into wedges. Soak them in cool water to prevent browning. Prepare a syrup glaze by melting ½ cup of butter and adding brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, ginger, ground cloves and vanilla extract. Drain the sweet potatoes and place them in a baking dish. Pour the syrup glaze over them, cover and bake at 375°F for an hour. Optionally, top with miniature marshmallows and melt them in the oven for a few minutes before serving.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Someone prepares to carve a cooked turkey

Ingredients for Turkey Brine

  • 8 cups water
  • 5 apples, quartered, and another apple or two to garnish (You can use a mix of tart and sweet if you like, i.e., Granny Smith, Gala, Red Delicious)
  • 1 orange with the peel on, quartered (and another orange or two to garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons whole cloves
  • 1 pomegranate, quartered
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

Ingredients for Southern Thanksgiving Rub

  • 10-pound turkey (This recipe works for a 10-15 pound turkey)
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning Famous Dave’s Country Roast Chicken Seasoning, or similar
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning Weber Roasted Garlic and Herb Seasoning, or similar
  • ½ cup parsley, fresh and finely chopped, to garnish
  • 4 sprigs fresh herbs (like rosemary, parsley and thyme) to garnish


To prepare this Southern-style Thanksgiving turkey, start by simmering a mixture of water, apples, brown sugar, cloves, ginger, cinnamon sticks, pomegranate and orange in an Instant Pot. After 30 minutes, remove the aromatic ingredients. Create a spice rub with Famous Dave’s seasoning and Weber’s seasoning. Rub the turkey with the spice mixture and place it in a roasting pan. Pour the apple cider brine over the turkey, then roast it in the oven at 350°F for 1 hour and 30 minutes, basting every 20-30 minutes. Let the turkey rest, garnish with fresh herbs, apple and orange slices, and serve with giblet gravy or turkey broth.

Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese in a bowl


  • 8-10 ounces elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1½ teaspoons white pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ pound Velveeta, cut into small chunks
  • 8 ounces shredded Colby-Jack cheese, or 4 ounces Colby and 4 ounces Monterey Jack
  • 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese


First, preheat the oven to 350ºF and boil macaroni until al dente. Drain and place in a baking dish. In the same pot, whisk together whole milk, evaporated milk, eggs, salt, pepper and sugar. Pour this mixture over the macaroni. Add butter, Velveeta, Colby-Jack and sharp cheddar cheeses, stirring well. Top with shredded mild cheddar and bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Peach Cobbler

Peach cobbler


  • 1 Double Crust Buttery Pie Crust Recipe, already chilled
  • 2 pounds frozen sliced peaches (about 6-7 cups thawed)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar


To make peach cobbler, preheat the oven to 400°F. Divide pie crust into two balls, roll out and line a greased deep-dish pie plate with the first ball. Cut the second ball into eight strips for lattice topping and refrigerate. In a bowl, mix peaches and sugar until syrupy. Add flour, butter, vanilla and lemon juice. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar on the bottom crust, then spoon peaches in, leaving excess syrup. Add lattice crust, seal edges, brush with egg whites and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes, then cover with foil, reduce heat to 350°F and bake for another 25 minutes. Protect the oven from bubbling juices. Let cool, then serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.

Prepare to receive requests for takeout containers and extra foil from your family members as they eagerly pack your delicious meals to take home. Enjoy the confidence boost that comes with your culinary success!

Written By Elijah Brown ’24, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications