A French-Inspired Thanksgiving Menu

From remoulade to Jacques Pepin’s apple tarte, our favorite French recipes for a Thanksgiving feast

Kat Craddock

By Kat Craddock

Updated on March 29, 2021

Start your meal with a crunchy fall salad and dunk pretty brioches à tête into smooth, sweet-and-savory soup. Ditch the canned cranberry sauce in favor of one or two boozy fruit accompaniments to an oyster-stuffed bird. Or skip the roast entirely and confit your turkey in duck fat à la Française.

Buttery haricots verts and a bistro-style potato dish or two round out the meal, but go easy on the sides; the French have mastered the art of pâtisserie better than just about anyone, so you want to save room for the last course.

A pumpkin pie from Guy Savoy or an an apple tarte from Jacques Pépin will appeal to traditionalists while delicate maple pots de crème or fragrant pear tarte tatin will delight diners looking for something a little different. Make two or three desserts and be sure to whip up plenty of crème chantilly for dolloping on everything.

The Appetizers

Apple, Celeriac, and Carrot Salad
Apple, Celeriac, and Carrot Salad

This simple salad is lighter and more modern compared to traditionally heavy Norman dishes. It pairs crisp celery root—a vegetable grown in abundance in the region—with raw apples. Get the recipe for Apple, Celeriac, and Carrot Salad »

Pear and autumn squash take on savory depth in elegant delicata squash soup, brightened by a splash of vinegar and a drizzle of maple syrup. Get the recipe for Pear, Shallot, and Delicata Squash Soup »
Brioche a Tete
Brioche a Tete

Golden on the outside, with a feathery, rich-tasting interior, the brioche is a perfect showcase for butter. The French name of this type of brioche (tete means head) refers to the confection’s shape: a large sphere topped with a smaller one (the “head”). Get the recipe for Brioche a Tete »

The Turkey

This sage-infused roast turkey is stuffed with a bacon-enriched dressing brimming with wild rice, hazelnuts, and oysters. Get the recipe for Sage-Brined Roast Turkey with Oyster Dressing »
Turkey Confit
Turkey Confit

Curing and cooking turkey legs and wings in duck fat–yielding the dish that the French call confit–renders them succulent; roasting them in the oven afterward makes them crisp. Get the recipe for Turkey Confit »

The Sides

You can smell the milk and cream turn from sweet to savory as this dish bakes. Get the recipe for Potatoes Baked in Milk and Cream »
Pomme Puree
Pomme Purée

Passing cooked potatoes through the fine holes of a potato ricer ensures a silky consistency for this ultrarich side. Get the recipe for Pomme Purée »

This delicious cranberry sauce is a simple, luscious side that can be prepared a day ahead. Get the recipe for Cranberries with Port »
Herbed Hericots Verts
Herbed Hericots Verts

This delicate bean dish is a sophisticated take on a holiday classic. Get the recipe for Herbed Hericots Verts »

The Desserts

Make Guy Savoy's fresh pumpkin pie the day you plan to eat it. With hints of granny smith apples, vanilla, and pecans, we're sure you won't have a problem finishing it. Get the recipe for French Pumpkin Pie »
Apple Clafoutis
Apple Clafoutis

Clafouti (or clafoutis) is a French batter cake, a specialty of the Limousin region, traditionally made with black cherries but also sometimes with prunes, apples, or other fruits. Our version is from Sally Schmitt (of French Laundry fame) who suggested adding apple cider syrup to the apple juices to sauce the clafouti. Get the recipe for Apple Clafoutis »

Creamy custard sweetened with maple syrup makes a lovely ending to any meal. Get the recipe for Maple Pot de Crème »
Maman's Apple Tart
Maman's Apple Tart

This dessert comes from the chef Jacques Pépin, who learned how to make it from his mother. Get the recipe for Maman’s Apple Tart »

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