40+ Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes [Mains, Sides & More]
Today we are talking turkey- and lots of other Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes for that matter! Whether you are cooking the whole meal, or bringing a side, appetizer or dessert, we have got you covered. With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy the pleasures of a Thanksgiving meal and still stick to your healthy lifestyle. This article uses partner affiliate links.
Every year the same cycle repeats. The holidays draw near and we find so many excuses to forget about our health goals. OR we eat whatever we want and kick ourselves when we look back at the “damage” we've done.
This year let's do things differently. Let's make a plan!
I'm not suggesting swapping out ALL of your classic favorites for barely-there, lightened up alternatives.
These dishes deliver on the flavor, just with fewer calories than the heavier classics.
Quick & Easy Tip to Eat Healthy On Thanksgiving
My favorite Healthy Eating App has given me a new perspective about planning for holiday meals.
It's not about abstaining from anything tasty. It's not about denying yourself a good day.
You do deserve to enjoy a special holiday meal, without guilt. And life is too short to never eat your favorite foods.
At the same time you can spend some time before you are faced with the Thanksgiving table to plan ways to enjoy your favorite foods while sticking to your healthy lifestyle goals.
Before you plan your Thanksgiving meal, think back to past years and ask yourself questions:
- Which Thanksgiving foods were your favorites? You really delighted in eating which foods?
- Which foods could you skip if it means you can enjoy your favorite foods without guilt?
- Are there foods where a couple bites are enough for you?
- Which foods are good but you'd be fine eating a lighter version?
Use the answers to these questions to help you decide what dishes will contribute to a good balance for you.
If you want to swap out a classic recipe for a lighter version, check out the recipes below.
Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes
Healthy doesn't have to mean boring or tasteless. These recipes deliver on taste AND nutrition.
Scroll through and find the section you need, or check out all the recipes.
Healthy Thanksgiving Appetizers Ideas
Start things off on a healthy note with these trimmed-down starters.
- Skinny Baked Cranberry Brie Phyllo Cups – Only 5 ingredients, these easy one-biters are impressive looking and very tasty.
- Healthy, Easy Stuffed Mushrooms – The name says it all! Easy and healthy. Classic appetizer too.
- Colorful Crudite Platter – This is a great option to have healthy bites before the big meal.
- White Bean Dip – As filling as it is delicious.
- Curried Butternut Squash Dip – This warm, spiced dip is not spicy but it is a cozy treat.
Healthy Thanksgiving Drinks
For your Thanksgiving celebration, here's a selection of festive, low-calorie drinks, including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options:
- Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latte – To satisfy your coffee craving, try this festive seasonal drink in a lighter recipe.
- Pomsettia – This fun drink is a skinny pomegranate cocktail or mocktail, with actual pomegranate seeds!
- Healthier Hot Toddy Mocktail (or cocktail) – Cozy up with this winter classic made with lighter ingredients to fit with your calorie goals.
- 100 Calorie Cranberry Margarita – What a fun take on a holiday cocktail.
- Or try these Low Carb & Low Calorie Cocktail Hacks to whip up your own creation.
Healthy Thanksgiving Main Dishes
These recipes promote healthy eating by using lean proteins, herbs for flavor, and avoiding heavy sauces or marinades. They are satisfying without contributing to the high calorie count often associated with holiday meals.
- Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast– A flavorful herb seasoning keeps the calories in check for a lean protein option. This dish is Ina Garten's classic recipe and offers a healthier twist on the Thanksgiving staple.
- Air Fryer Tandoori Turkey Breast– This recipe uses an air fryer to cook the turkey breast. By keeping the bone and skin intact, it helps to retain moisture and reduce fats.
- Lemon Herb Chicken– Chicken is a great healthy alternative to turkey. It requires less cooking time than turkey and catering to both adult and children's tastes.
- Apple Cider Chicken – This is another flavorful yet low calorie main dish option for Thanksgiving.
- Herb Roasted Turkey – This easy version of the Thanksgiving classic gets awesome reviews. Everyone raves about how juicy it is AND how easy.
- Sheet Pan Thanksgiving Dinner – For a smaller group, use this genius method to cook everything together. Healthy, delish and way less work than a full turkey.
Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas
When it comes to healthy Thanksgiving sides, there are so many options.
Root Vegetables & Squash Dishes
Many a Thanksgiving plate will have a dollop of sweet potatoes this year. Depending on where you want to allocate your calories, you can go for the sweet potato casserole or try a more minimalist option.
- Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole– This lighter version of the classic sweet potato dish keeps the comfort but cuts down on the sugar and fat. It's a yummy twist that lets the natural sweetness of the potatoes shine through.
- Baked Sweet Potatoes – Want to skip the toppings altogether? Baked sweet potatoes are a great option because you can provide toppings and everyone can choose their own.
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes – This creamy, yummy dish is a perfect healthy comfort food.
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes – Another easy but awesome option to keep the calories down.
- Lighter Mashed Potatoes – These are heavenly, and such a classic for this holiday.
- Skinny Turkey Gravy – Can't have one without the other!
- Slow Cooker Harvest Roasted Vegetables – This gorgeous recipes is perfect for a Thanksgiving table. Using the crockpot for these veggies means more room in the oven for other dishes.
- Easy, Healthy Butternut Squash Soup – This quick and simple soup is something you can prepare ahead of time to free you up to prepare other dishes. Plus soup is filling and helps you feel full without overdoing it on other foods.
- Baked Butternut Squash & Wild Rice – This savory, filling dish is a great gluten free starch option.
Greens & Beans
For those who want to keep their Thanksgiving spread diverse and healthy, there's a plethora of vegetable side dishes. From green bean casserole, to hearty greens, you'll find something for everyone.
- Lighter Green Bean Casserole – Ditch the heavy, gloppy green bean casserole for a lighter version made in a slow cooker.
- Crockpot Green Beans – Skip the casserole altogether, and try this easy recipe for delicious, tender green beans cooked in a crock pot.
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad – Packed with nutrients, this salad combines shaved Brussels sprouts with the crunch of nuts and the sweetness of dried cranberries for a dish that's as nutritious as it is delicious.
- Sweet and Spicy Roasted Carrots – Jazz up the usual carrot side with a dash of paprika and nutmeg for a simple dish that's flavorful and healthy. It's an easy way to spice up your holiday menu with minimal effort.
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Kale Salad – This salad has tons of crunch which is always nice on a plate of otherwise soft textured foods.
- Air Fryer Green Beans – This recipe is another option for adding a crunch to your plate.
- Cauliflower Stuffing – Mushrooms add a big savory flavor boost to this healthy stuffing alternative.
- Brussels Sprouts & Squash Quinoa Salad – You could use butternut or acorn squash in this hearty, filling salad. Great option for gluten-free folks.
Cranberry Sauce Recipes
This doesn't exactly fit in this category but you can't have Thanksgiving without it:
- Alton Brown's Amazing Cranberry Sauce – This is the only cranberry sauce my family will eat and it is delicious. Alton always works hard to refine his recipes and he knocked it out of the park here.
- No Sugar Added Cranberry Sauce – This version uses Stevia in place of sugar to lower the calorie count. I haven't tried it because we find Alton's to be “worth the calories” but if cranberry sauce isn't as essential to you, this is a great lightened up option.
Healthy Thanksgiving Desserts
Here are some Thanksgiving dessert options that are both delightful and in line with healthy eating goals:
- Key Lime Pie Coconut Date Balls– A dessert that's rich in flavor with dates as a sweetener and only requires four ingredients. This treat is nutrient-dense and high in fiber, making it a smarter choice for a sweet fix.
- Sautéed Apples – If your dessert of choice is usually apple pie, this simple dessert (or side) is a great healthy option with delicious flavor thanks to the cinnamon and maple syrup.
- Zero Point Pumpkin Pie – If your Thanksgiving isn't complete without pumpkin pie, try this luscious crust free dessert.
- Healthy Pumpkin Mousse – These look fancy and taste delicious. Somehow they manage to be low calorie too! Winner winner, thanksgiving dinner!
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Shooters – Another impressive but light option for that pumpkin flavor.
- “The World's Healthiest Pecan Pie” – This self-proclaimed winner is a decent way to get your pecan pie without going overboard.
- Healthy Pumpkin Spice Cookies – These contain actual pumpkin as well as the spices and oats for a really toasty, yummy flavor.
- 2 Ingredient Chocolate Truffles – For a fancy-seeming chocolate dessert try these bites, which are technically vegan.
- Rainbow Fruit Skewers – Every time I bring fruit for dessert people comment how refreshing it is after a heavy meal. You'd be surprised how welcome it is after the normal heaping plate of food.
Wishing You a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving!
As we wrap up our culinary journey through healthy Thanksgiving recipes, I hope you feel inspired and excited to try these delicious options.
From savory main dishes and vibrant veggies, to guilt-free desserts, we've covered a feast that's as nutritious as it is delicious.
Let's not forget those delightful low-calorie drinks adding a sparkle to your festive celebration.
This Thanksgiving, let's give thanks for food that not only tastes wonderful but also nourishes our bodies and souls. Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous, healthy, and flavorful Thanksgiving! 🍂🦃🍁