15 Mexican-Inspired Thanksgiving Ideas

From turkey mole to spicy soups, Mexican spins on American classics

We tend to think of Thanksgiving as a distinctly American holiday, but if America means anything, it’s drawing influences from around the world and making them feel at home. So if classic roast turkey and sage-themed stuffing are feeling a little tired this year, we have a few ideas to adding color, spice, and flavor to your table. See them all in the gallery above, from chile-rubbed turkey to a cornbread spiced with cumin.

Braised Turkey in Green Mole

Deconstructed turkey braised in a refreshing green mole provides a light and quick alternative to the standard Thanksgiving bird.

Chile-Rubbed Turkey with Beet Stuffing

New Mexico and arbol chiles create a sauce similar to a mole that coats the turkey, while adding spice and depth.

Turkey in Mole Poblano

It may be called the great American bird, but turkey was first domesticated in Mexico, where, as James Beard once wrote, “it was to that country what beef is to the United States.” One of our favorite preparations is a celebratory dish from the Mexican state of Puebla: a slow braise of breast meat in a deep, dark mole that’s shot through with three kinds of dried chiles, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds and enriched with chocolate and spices. The spicy, sweet, savory sauce can be sopped up with hot tortillas and rice, or even crusty bread. Get the recipe for Turkey in Mole Poblano »

Ancho Chile Soup with Avocado, Crema, and Chile Pasilla (Sopa de Chile Ancho)

The heat of this deep-red ancho chile soup and its pasilla chile garnish is balanced by the addition of cooling crema and thinly sliced avocado. Get the recipe »

Casa Dragones Guacamole

This guacamole features chiles, onions, and tomatoes. Get the recipe »

Potato and Leek Soup (Sopa de Poro y Papa)

This creamy, rich soup is a favorite in Mexico City. In summer it’s usually chilled like a vichyssoise, but it’s also served hot, especially in the cooler months.

Poblano Chile Soup (Sopa de Chile Poblano)

Sweet roasted poblano chiles add smokey depth to this soup made with spinach and enriched with cream.

Piquant Corn Bread

Jalapeños and cilantro punch up classic cornbread.

Oaxacan Stuffing

This stuffing gets its sweet-spicy flavor from chiles, fennel, prunes, and cumin. Get the recipe for Oaxacan Stuffing »

Squash Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce

This Mexican take on a Cajun-style bread pudding is studded with cubes of squash and plump raisins.

Sweet Potatoes in Syrup with Guava

A sweet and tangy preparation of sweet potatoes can be served as a side or dessert.

Creamed Roasted Onions

The smoky flavor of this side dish from Oaxaca-based cook Susana Trilling comes from charring the onions before adding them to a spice-infused cream sauce. Get the recipe for Creamed Roasted Onions »

Blackberry Masa Drink (Atole de Mora Negra)

If you’d rather drink your breakfast, try atole—a traditional Mexican drink thickened with masa harina and served hot.

Chile-Rubbed Roast Turkey

We’ve tried many roasting methods over the years, but the one Susana Trilling uses to make the chile-rubbed turkey she serves at her Thanksgiving feast in Oaxaca, Mexico, really stands out. An hour into roasting, Trilling flips the turkey so that the breast is on the bottom. The result is juicy white meat and meltingly tender legs and thighs.

Aunt Renee’s Gelatin Mold

A flip through any cookbook from the early or mid-20th century will reveal a bevy of shimmering, molded gelatin treats like this one, made with peaches and cream cheese.