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The best (and simplest) food ideas for Friendsgiving

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, know this: Unless your pals are exclusively chefs, they don’t expect a five-star meal. They expect good food and better company. So, the best food ideas for Friendsgiving don’t have to be expensive or require you to spend days in the kitchen.

A group of people at a thanksgiving dinner table.

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Friendsgiving Dinner. Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Take this as your guide to straightforward Friendsgiving food ideas including main dishes, side dishes, appetizers and desserts. I’ll kick things off with suggestions on dishes your guests can bring.

Dishes your Friendsgiving guests can bring

Friendsgiving parties often have a potluck element. Since your friends probably have varying degrees of experience in the kitchen, be forthright about what they should bring. No one wants undercooked turkey for dinner. Nor do you want a friend spending time and money on a dish that overlaps with your menu.

“When I’m meal planning for a large friend get together I always give people a course to be part of and tell them directly. This prevents us from having six appetizers but no side dishes and keeps the meal more balanced.”

—Shelby, Fitasamamabear.com

Also consider the potential for food allergies. Friends with allergies may prefer to bring a dish they can eat. You might give them the first pick when you’re doling out food assignments. 

“As someone living with a food allergy, I always bring side dishes that are safe for me to eat, but tasty for all to enjoy. That also helps ensure my host doesn’t feel any pressure to go to any extra effort on my account.”

—Sage Scott, Sage Alpha Gal

Here are seven excellent suggestions when friends ask what they can bring to your celebration:

  1. Drinks
  2. Chips and salsa
  3. Dip and veggies
  4. Slow cooker specialties
  5. Cookies
  6. Butter and gravy (the friend who doesn’t cook can bring sticks of butter or premade gravy)
  7. Rolls

Food ideas for Friendsgiving: The menu

You’ll want to include an entrée, sides and dessert, but you can be as creative as you want with the types of dishes you offer. Here’s a classic menu that’s just right:

  • Chicken or turkey entree 
  • Roasted vegetable
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Stuffing
  • Baked or roasted white potato or sweet potato
  • Store-bought dinner rolls, butter and gravy
  • Cookies, brownies, pie and/or ice cream for dessert

This is a respectable Thanksgiving-inspired meal that’ll serve a bunch of your friends. Even better, this is not a labor-intensive menu. You won’t need a sous chef beside you. You’ll probably be able to socialize some before everyone sits down to eat. And your friends will love that you pulled together a traditional fall feast for them to enjoy.

Friendsgiving dinner ideas

A whole roasted turkey is the default main entree for Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s not your only option. You can also roast turkey pieces, a whole chicken or chicken pieces. Or go out on a limb with Instant Pot duck confit.

cranberry sauce in a white bowl wit a spoonful being lifte up

Super side dishes

Side dishes are important role players for your meal. Don’t discount them. The right combination of side dishes add color, complexity and tons of flavor to the plate.

Green veggies

Try roasting your veggies — this method is easy and delicious. Brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini squash are all candidates for roasting.

The roasting process for any of these is simple. Trim and cut your veggies into bite size pieces. Toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and pop them in the oven on a baking sheet. Generally, you can cook them at 400 F (204 C) and check for doneness every 15 minutes. I like to line the baking sheet with parchment paper for easier cleanup.

Or make air fryer broccolini to keep your oven free.

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Kick your veggies up a notch

If olive oil, salt and pepper feels too boring for you and your guests, you can easily upgrade your roasted veggies with extra seasonings, cheese, panko, nuts or bacon.

  • Add dried seasonings (or fresh-squeezed lemon juice) at the beginning, before you roast.
  • Add fresh seasoning at the end, after roasting.
  • Add cheese or panko breadcrumbs a few minutes before your vegetables are done. Pull them out of the above, toss with your favorite cheese and pop them back in for a minute or two.
  • Add roasted nuts or crispy cooked bacon after roasting.

The great cranberry debate

Canned cranberry sauce is the easiest of Friendsgiving dishes. It’s also one of the most controversial. For whatever reason, people either love or hate canned cranberries. I say buy the canned cranberry if you like it. Friends who don’t like it can work around it.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also make your own cranberry sauce. You can even make Instant Pot cranberry sauce, which is really easy and quick. It has only four ingredients. Just know that you may never go back to canned cranberry after making it yourself.

Must-Have: Stuffing

Stuffing can be labor-intensive, but it’s also one of the most popular fall dishes. You can make it easier by starting with pre-cut ingredients. For a basic but delicious option, try this easy stuffing recipe. Or combine sides by making a green bean and stuffing casserole.

A potato casserole dish topped with Ritz crackers and parsley.


Mashed potatoes are a lovely addition to a Thanksgiving meal, but they add last-minute work to your process. Instead try a cheesy mashed potato casserole with a buttery Ritz cracker topping. The great thing is that i can be made in advance.

Potatoes au gratin is another great make ahead option. Thinly sliced potatoes are layered with a bechamel sauce and cheese and then baked until the potatoes are tender and the cheesy top is a delicious golden brown.

Store-bought extras

Buy your rolls, butter and gravy at the store. Or, have your friends bring these. Rolls and butter ensure everyone feels satiated and gravy is easier to buy than to make.

Easy appetizers

You can stick with a simple appetizer menu of chips, salsa, or crackers and Smoked Salmon Dip.

If you’re craving something fancier, see this list of memorable savory appetizers.

Overhead shot of an apple galette with apples on the side.

Delicious desserts

Cookies or brownies paired with ice cream makes an easy but also decadent finish to a meal. To go the extra mile, treat your pals to apple galette, pumpkin pecan cheesecake or layered peanut butter chocolate brownies or something more traditional, such as homemade pecan pie, pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie.

Maintain your sanity by preparing the dessert the day before.


This is already a big list of Friendsgiving food ideas. Even if you stopped reading two paragraphs earlier, your friends are in for a well-rounded, satisfying meal.

Still, if you want to earn the “most amazing host/hostess” title among your friends and make Friendsgiving extra memorable, you could add some after-dinner drink options to your menu. Coffee and warm apple cider are nice choices. Or, play grownup with a digestif, like port wine, armagnac, amaro, or grappa

Catherine Brock is the blogger behind Blog Chef. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband and spends her free time riding horses and finding new ways to cook with green chiles.

This article originally appeared on Blog Chef

By on October 26th, 2023
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About Robin Donovan

Robin Donovan is the creative force behind All Ways Delicious. She's a writer, recipe developer, photographer, and cookbook author with more than 40 books to her name, including the bestselling Ramen for Beginners, Ramen Obsession, and Campfire Cuisine. Her work has been featured in major publications, both print and digital, including MSN, Cooking Light, Fitness, Buzzfeed, and Eating Well. More about Robin

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