While many Thanksgiving tables will be laden with turkey, stuffing and other more traditional fare, there's no rule that says you have to blend in with the crowd. In fact, doing something a little different could make you the most popular chef in your social circle — so don't be afraid to branch out.

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

  • 1


    The soy-based meat substitute, which is stuffed with mushrooms, herbs and wild rice, is a favorite among vegetarians, who swear its taste and consistency are similar to the real thing.

    dainec, Flickr
  • 2


    When a simple turkey just won't do, how about stuffing it with a chicken that's been stuffed into a duck? It's a three-fer! And while it's enough to make the vegetarians among us blanch, the turducken has become an increasingly popular item on Thanksgiving tables.

    Bojangles, Wikimedia Commons
  • 3

    Molded Turkey Butter

    Standard butter pats are so passe. Spice up your table with molded butter instead — you can use candy molds in any shape you want, but of course the traditional turkey may be the best choice.

  • 4

    Cranberry-Nut Bread

    For a twist on the traditional cranberry sauce, try a delicious cranberry-nut bread. Best of all, any leftovers will pair nicely with your morning coffee.

    loridstone, Flickr
  • 5

    Chorizo Pumpkin Soup

    Pumpkin isn't just for pie anymore. This creamy soup gets its texture from chorizo and onion, and the subtle pumpkin flavor melds with the broth to create an unforgettable taste.

    vidya365, Flickr
  • 6

    Thanksgiving Jambalaya

    Buck tradition and bring a little New Orleans to your Thanksgiving table with a jambalaya. Make it as spicy or mild as you like, and use your choice of meats — turkey, chicken, or shrimp are always popular ideas.

    gromgull, Flickr
  • 7

    Crockpot Spicy Glazed Carrots

    Tired of the tried-and-true corn? This yummy side dish has the added benefit of being prepared in a crockpot — which means you don't have to tend to it while it cooks. In addition, the sweet smell of carrots and ginger will make your whole house smell festive.

    fotoosvanrobin, Flickr
  • 8

    Eggplant Parmesan

    If you'll have non meat-eaters at the table, keep in mind not all of them like faux meat (in fact, many are decided haters of the aforementioned Tofurky). Satisfy them with this hearty Italian staple — and they won't feel they've missed a thing.

    zeke_, Flickr
  • 9

    Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

    Swap out the traditional sweet potato casserole with these individual servings, each topped with a heavenly pecan and marshmallow streusel.

  • 10

    Stuffed Cod

    Lo these many years ago, harvest celebrations in coastal New England featured a whole, stuffed cod as the main dish. Harken back to those times with this delicious entree, using a simple stuffing of bread crumbs and Ritz crackers.