Thanksgiving is on its way, and you are beginning to think about your menu for your family gathering. But is everyone a bit tired of always having turkey? Then why not add a twist this year with some Irish Thanksgiving food and dinner-inspired dishes to make it a Thanksgiving dinner to remember.
Turkey and cranberry sauce are the staples of Thanksgiving dinner, but sometimes it can become a bit boring. Perhaps in line with your Irish heritage, you’d like to change things up a bit this year and create an Irish Thanksgiving menu. With these Irish dishes for Thanksgiving, everyone will enjoy dinner and you never know, it could become part of your Thanksgiving traditions in the future.
Irish Thanksgiving food and dinner ideas
While none of these are specifically Irish Thanksgiving dishes, since they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland, they are all typical Irish food dishes that you can substitute or add to your dinner menu.
All of these dishes can add an Irish twist or flare to your Thanksgiving menu and I’m sure your guests will enjoy something different, whether it is with the traditional turkey and cranberry sauce or not.
Irish Thanksgiving dinner ideas
Here are some ideas for Irish dinner dishes to add or substitute to your Thanksgiving table this year.
One of the best comfort foods there is, Shepherd’s pie is a hearty meal all in one. Ground meat (either lamb or beef) is mixed with vegetables and gravy, poured into a baking dish, and topped with creamy mashed potatoes.
Vegetables can include finely diced carrots, onions, mushrooms, and garden peas. And your mash can even be cheesy mash. If you can an all-in-one dinner dish, then opt for Shepherd’s Pie. Recipe
Another hearty winter warmer that you could have instead of traditional turkey this Thanksgiving is Irish Stew. Traditionally made from mutton and potatoes, an Irish stew is now more often made with diced lamb or beef.
The dish also includes vegetables such as carrots, onions, mushrooms, barley, parsley, and gravy. This traditional dish combines the fruits of the land and it is considered Ireland’s national dish. Recipe
Whether you eat this on its own or as a side dish, Colcannon is another Irish dish that could make an appearance on your Thanksgiving dinner table. Combining mashed potatoes with chopped kale or cabbage, this potato-based dish is one of my personal favourites for any Irish-inspired meal. Recipe
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Originating from Irish immigrants in America, corned beef is an Irish dish that my family traditionally used for celebrations such as St Patrick’s Day or Easter. Beef brisket is cured in a brine solution with pickling spices for 7 or more days in the fridge before cooking.
The meat is accompanied by cabbage and potatoes, a staple on any Irish table. The curing and slow cooking afterward ensure the meat falls apart and is tender as can be. This could be a great alternative to turkey. Recipe
Bacon and Cabbage
Bacon, gammon, ham, whichever you choose, this is another alternative to Thanksgiving turkey. Boiled or baked ham is served, again, with cabbage and potatoes and whatever other accompaniments you wish.
In our house, we also serve our bacon and cabbage with carrots and either gravy or HP Brown sauce (my husband’s choice). This traditional Irish dinner dish is a favourite in our house at any time of the year. Recipe
Irish Thanksgiving dessert ideas
Here are some ideas for Irish dessert dishes to have after your meal this Thanksgiving.
Barmbrack is a very traditional Irish cake, normally associated with Halloween. But it would lend itself well to a Thanksgiving menu. This quick bread is made with raisins and sultanas and was used as a fortune-telling food due to the hidden objects inside (find out more here). Nowadays, only a toy ring is contained inside, but Barmbrack is delicious when served with real Irish butter and a cup of Irish tea. Recipe
Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake
Who doesn’t love cheesecake for dessert, but what about serving an Irish Bailey’s cheesecake? The Irish crème liqueur is flavoured with whiskey, cream, and cocoa and is traditionally served alone over ice. But, it can turn a normal cheesecake into a fabulous dessert to delight the tastebuds of your guests. Recipe
Another way to finish off your Thanksgiving meal with an Irish twist is to serve up some Irish coffee. Strong black coffee, sugar, Irish whiskey, and lightly whipped cream are all you need to create this after-dinner drink. Recipe
Warm Apple Crumble
If you want to remain closer to the true meaning of Thanksgiving, then you could opt to serve a warm apple crumble for dessert. Served with ice cream or custard, this is a favourite dessert in our house. Or instead of crumble, make an Irish apple cake instead. Recipe
Whether you are opting for a complete Irish Thanksgiving dinner or simply looking for some Irish-inspired dishes to add to your dinner table, I’m sure any of these dishes will go down well with your family and friends.
Cath is an Irish expat now living in Portugal. She regularly returns to Ireland to explore more of the wonderful island with her family.