Forgotten Thanksgiving Dishes

When I asked what you all wanted to see, there was GREAT response! Thank you so much for all of your input and ideas, I loved them!

I was intrigued at looking further into one of the suggestions (Thanks Deloris!): Forgotten Thanksgiving Dishes, I hadn’t even ever thought of that before! But alas, they exist!

I just hope the sources I found are right, I’m assuming they are, I don’t know why people would just make it up ha ha.

First of all, think back into the 1600s,1700s, 1800s, They probably didn’t all have the same luxuries we do, such as canned corn, cranberry sauce, de-feathered turkeys, etc. HOLY COW! Think of all the time spent in the kitchen! I am so grateful we can cut the time out of some of those things, including clean up with running water, etc. Anyway, things would have had to be prepared differently.

So, the list shows things we still use, too, but maybe they just prepared it differently. However, some things, LIKE MAC N’ CHEESE! Are definitely out of the norm for our Thanksgivings. You might want to try serving some of these this year!


Woah! Not your normal boxed stuff either, not even like our homemade mac-n-cheese. It had tomatoes, more like a lasagna.

Cranberry Sauce:

This took about 45 minutes to make, the cranberries couldn’t be boiled too hard, it couldn’t be stirred, and sugar had to gradually be added. A lot of pot watching and hoping all worked out well. Someone said cranberries were ” widely abused”. Crazy! Most of us probably don’t give a second thought to cranberries. However, in 1621, they probably did not have cranberry sauce as there sugar was depleted.


Pumpkin would have had to be cooked and strained, no canned pumpkin or store bought pie. Mince meat pies were also seen. At the first Thanksgiving, they didn’t have a lot of flour or butter: pie crust would have been hard. Sp pies probably weren’t there. Some sources say settlers improvised by pouring milk, honey, and spices into a pumpkin and then roasting it. YUM!

Cole slaw:

I think of this more at a BBQ now than at Thanksgiving!


Turkey was probably served at the First Thanksgiving, but it was probably not the main part of the meal like it is now. Also, in the 1800s, it was sometimes served with OYSTERS. Seafood may have been at the first Thanksgiving as well.

Corn porridge:

Probably served at the first thanksgiving, this is how corn was usually prepared back then. Sometimes it was sweetened with molasses.

Wildfowl, waterfowl, and venison:

These were supposedly served at the first Thanksgiving. See the accounts below!

“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.”

William Bradford, autumn of 1621: “And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion.”


They probably didn’t have potatoes in North America in 1621, but I’m sure glad we have them now!

Remember , remember it is not about the food, it is about our gratitude and our loved ones. SO, if the turkey burns or the rolls don’t rise, try to be happy anyway. Remember to put your focus on the love and the thanks.

Do any of you serve different dishes than the normal turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, corn, and stuffing menu? I know my dad always says he’s going to start doing turkey pizza. He thinks turkey isn’t good anyway and it takes so much time, so why don’t we just do pizza? Ha ha I love my dad!


    Sydney Hill
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2012
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