For Thanksgiving, if you’re not talking turkey, it’s not really Thanksgiving – or is it? Here’s something you might not know. Originally, seafood was a big part of Thanksgiving. President Lincoln, in 1863, made it an official U.S. holiday. A blurb from a book from 1905 is quoted as saying, “Like Christmas, Thanksgiving has its own bill of fare which has not been varied for many generations… Oysters seem to be a part of the Thanksgiving dinner” – from Mrs. Rorer’s Every Day Menu Book.
When you think about it, it makes sense. Settlers of America first came to New England where to this day, shrimp, oysters, and seafood in general is a main staple. In fact, we wouldn’t even recognize a traditional Thanksgiving dinner from back then. Forget rolls and biscuits. You had hush puppies and porridge with your fish and oysters!
In that spirit of old America, we have put together the ultimate guide to a seafood Thanksgiving like the pilgrims used to have! And let’s face it, the way we do Thanksgiving dinner now is not exactly healthy; thick rich gravy, juicy stuffed turkey, delicious salty sides. You can still have delicious without the bad stuff with a traditional seafood Thanksgiving dinner – here are 30+ recipes to choose from!
30+ Seafood Thanksgiving Recipes
This list is broken down by type of dish and then we wrap it up with a Thanksgiving seafood menu for you. You can pick and choose and mix and match until you have created the perfect seafood Thanksgiving dinner that your family and friends will love!
#1. Whole Stuffed Grouper, Snapper, Bass, or Flounder
If your main dish is a fish dish, you have to make sure you get a fish big enough to feed your crowd. You may be tempted to buy one giant fish, but the best way to highlight a whole fish as your main dish is to cook two whole fish that are about six pounds each.
Here is a recipe from the News Observer that shows you how to roast and stuff a large grouper to serve six. If you can’t find grouper where you live in November, snapper, bass, or flounder are great substitutes! Get the recipe here.
#2. Whole Salmon Roasted with an Orange Butter-Based Glaze
We found this recipe courtesy of the famous Martha Stewart. Her recipe for a roasted whole salmon calls for an eight pound salmon which serves 12. So make sure you do a head count – you may need two or you may need a smaller salmon! Get the recipe here.
#3. Broiled Salmon for Small Groups
This recipe that we found at Food.com is perfect if your Thanksgiving dinner isn’t some giant 50 guest bash. If it’s just you and your family at the kitchen table, this is a great choice. It only takes 30 minutes to cook and serves four! Get the recipe here.
#4. Award Winning Slow Roasted Salmon
If you are a fan of Top Chef, then you probably know about the Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardoz – this is his famous salmon recipe! If you don’t mind a little spice and a little tang you will love this sweet and tangy salmon recipe. It takes much longer to cook but that keeps it juicy and less fishy tasting. Get this tamarind and chipotle infused salmon recipe here.
#5. Mediterranean-Style Baked Fish
This recipe from The Clever Carrot uses parchment as a way to make your baked cod juicy. Each fish is served individually in crispy baked parchment paper. When your guests open them up, inside is a juicy piece of cod, scallions, mixed veggies, and a little pat of butter on top! Get the recipe here.
#6. Shrimp Bruschetta as an Appetizer
Before you get to your main fish dish, we thought you might like to start with this recipe for a shrimp appetizer that may sound iffy but is guaranteed to please! We’re talking about shrimp bruschetta with pumpkin! Sounds strange right? When you see how loaded it is, you can see how the pumpkin blends beautifully for a delicious meal starter! Get the recipe here.
#7. Easy Roasted Shrimp in Cazuela Sauce
The Food Network shared this delicious and easy recipe for roasted shrimp swimming in a flavorful Cazuela sauce. It only takes 20 minutes to cook and is very easy to make. This shrimp secret comes from one of the network’s famous chefs, Bobby Flay. Get the recipe here.
#8. Large Shrimp Dish for Big Groups
We found this recipe from Taste of Home for those with a big old crowd of people at Thanksgiving that they need to feed. Here’s a starter that will get people ready for the main dish! We’re talking about the “Party Shrimp” menu, swimming in a marinade so delicious, you don’t need a sauce to dip it in! Get the recipe here.
#9. Marinated Shrimp Appetizer
One of the best things about this shrimp appetizer from The Culinary Cellar is how easy it is to prepare. Most of the prep is making a marinade. The rest of the time it’s just sitting in the fridge. You can buy precooked shrimp or cook it first and then soak it in this delicious marinade overnight or day of! Get the recipe here.
#10. Homemade Shrimp Dumplings
You’ve heard of chicken and dumplings. Well we found shrimp dumplings to go with your original Thanksgiving seafood feast! It may sound hard to make but it really isn’t. You make the dough, add cooked shrimp inside and then load it with your favorite fillings before frying it up! Get the recipe here.
#11. Cheesy Shrimp Toast
Last on our list of shrimp dishes is perhaps our favorite Thanksgiving shrimp appetizer. It is the super cheesy, creamy, toasty, bite-sized, shrimp on a toasted French baguette from Damn Delicious. Make this for your Thanksgiving dinner and it will be the hit with everyone in your crowd! Get the recipe here.
Way back in 1825 in Massachusetts, a local paper recorded the earliest evidence of the vaunted place on the Thanksgiving dinner table of oysters once upon a time. In fact, oysters were as crucial to a traditional Thanksgiving meal back then as turkey and mashed potatoes are today. So naturally, we included several oyster recipes for your seafood Thanksgiving dinner!
#12. Southern-Style Oyster Casserole
A nod to how diverse America is as well as how blended, the oyster thing traveled from New England to the south and became a traditional homemade dish. It’s like your grandma’s cookies and pies. Everyone has their own twist on this recipe. Southern Living took all of the different versions of this oyster casserole favorite and created what they believe is the ultimate oyster casserole! Get the recipe here.
#13. Oyster Patty Finger Foods
For this recipe, we took a peak at another southern food site, Raisedonaroux. This New Orleans based recipe for making bite-sized oyster patties is similar in style and taste as oyster dressing but instead of being a main dish, this one is served as an appetizer. Although the traditional recipe calls for oysters, you can use different kinds of seafood meat like crab or shrimp as a substitute. Get the recipe here.
#14. Stuffed Oysters with Creamy Spinach
Rachel Ray is the creator of this fantastic oyster Thanksgiving dish. According to the website, this dish is like “if oysters Rockefeller and classic turkey stuffing had a baby…” In fact, it is basically oysters stuffed with creamed spinach and some other good stuff! Get the recipe here.
#15. Oyster Mashed Potatoes
No Thanksgiving meal is complete, whether seafood or otherwise, without some mashed potatoes! If you’re at all adventurous and you actually really dig oysters, you’re going to want to add this to your Thanksgiving seafood menu. Of course, you want to use the best oysters – Corsican Oysters for this recipe! Get the recipe here.
#16. Traditional Oyster Stew and Biscuits
In the south, it’s biscuits in gravy. In New England, it’s oyster stew and biscuits! Actually stew was also a prominent feature of any Thanksgiving dinner when America was first settled by pilgrims. This recipe is an original by a hometown culinary star from Alabama, chef Reis. It is an oyster stew served hand-in-hand with soft, puffy southern-style biscuits. Get the recipe here.
Sides Recipes that pair well with Seafood
Today’s typical Thanksgiving dinner sides may not go quite as well with a seafood feast. The menu is different and seafood is a totally different flavor from turkey, so we think the sides should be different as well. Here are some sides to go with your main seafood dish!
#17. Cod over a Citrus Salad
Interesting combination right? We thought so. Interesting and yummy sounding! This recipe is a citrus salad full of limes and oranges, peppers, and arugula, topped with poached cod. It may not be for everyone but salad goes great with seafood and this dish threatens to be a hit with your crowd! Get the recipe here.
#18. Roasted Veggie Dish
Not steamed or stir-fried, but roasted veggies are the features of this amazing seafood side dish. Talk about uniquely seafood style veggies, this dish is loaded with atypical Thanksgiving veggies, including: roasted chicories, radicchio, endive, parsley, and capers. Mixed with bread crumbs and served with browned butter, get ready to blow everyone’s mind! Get the recipe here.
#19. Classic New England Seafood Stew
Clam chowder is a specifically New England delicacy. That’s the type of seafood stew the first settlers lived on and Thanksgiving was no different. This stew combines clams and lobsters in a fish sauce. All kinds of good stuff is mixed in including snapper and halibut! Get the recipe here.
#20. Simple Cauliflower and Brussel Sprout Dish
Not quite a salad, but a nice mix of veggies and pasta make this chef inspired side dish. Topped with toasted bread crumbs and mixed with unbroken bucatini, this refreshing vegetable mix will blend perfectly with your seafood menu! Get the recipe here.
#21. Spicy Cajun Crab Potato Skins
When we saw this recipe for Cajun crab potato skins at Peas and Crayons, we flipped out! It has some of our favorite things: Cheese, potatoes, and spicy Cajun crab meat. Then it is toasted in the oven until the skins are crispy– MMmmm good! Get the recipe here.
Seafood Dressing Recipes
So what if you don’t have a stuffed turkey this Thanksgiving. It doesn’t mean you can’t have stuffing. Did you know that there are tons of seafood dressing recipes? We found some good ones for you!
#22. Quick 30 Minute Oyster Stuffing
When you are making a seafood stuffing, it means you have to make the stuffing from scratch – no out of the box Stove Top. But, we found an oyster stuffing recipe that you can make in just 30 minutes! Get the recipe here.
#23. Crab and Shrimp Savannah Seafood Stuffing
This southern-style seafood stuffing from All Recipes combines all of the good stuff we love about stuffing and adds a pound of crabmeat and shrimp to make a delicious and moist Thanksgiving Day stuffing! Get the recipe here.
#24. Cornbread-Style Seafood Dressing
Coop Can Cook is where we found this unique recipe for seafood dressing. Instead of the traditional bread cubes used to make stuffing, this recipe takes stuffing and makes it like a cornbread mixed with seafood! However, the broth is made up of ground chicken livers so if you are vegetarian, you should use a meatless broth. Get the recipe here.
#25. Another Seafood Cornbread Dressing
There are all kinds of different seafood dressing recipes but very few cornbread dressing recipes. We happened to have found two that you can try – compare and test and see which one you like best! This one is buttery and mixes shrimp and crab into it! Get the recipe here.
#26. Shrimp-Based Cornbread Dressing
Okay so we found another cornbread dressing – but really, there are not a lot! However, this one from Taste of Home is not a smorgasbord of seafood. It is a cornbread stuffing infused with shrimp only. If you aren’t a fan of other seafood meat but love shrimp, this is the seafood dressing for you! Get the recipe here.
#27. Southern-Style Crawfish Dressing
Like the last recipe, this one is not packed with a variety of different seafood meats. It is chock full of crawfish – hence the southern in the southern-style crawfish dressing. You can cheat and use a box of dressing to make this one and if you don’t eat land meat, this one actually calls for Andouille sausage so you might want to leave that out. Get the recipe here.
Seafood Thanksgiving Menu
Now that you have a taste of what it means to prepare a traditional seafood Thanksgiving meal, we thought we’d put a menu together for you. Of course, you can add or sub or mix and match any of the other dishes on this list into the menu as you please!
#28. Mac & Cheese made with Smoked Gouda
Just because you are having a seafood Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that everything has to be fishy. What modern Thanksgiving Day dinner is complete without some good old mac and cheese? We found something unique and incredible from The View from Great Island. It is a smoked Gouda mac and cheese. Very simple to make – only 5 ingredients for this masterpiece! Get the recipe here.
#29. French-Style Roasted Lobster
If you’ve got lobster money, you can really wow the folks with this mouth-watering recipe for roasted lobster cooked in Verjus sauce giving it a nice tang. This simple recipe is basted and moistened with a spicy vinaigrette that contains jalapenos and tarragon! Get the recipe here.
#30. Apple Crisp Anyone Can Make
No menu is complete without a couple of desserts right? We found this awesome easy recipe for apple crumble from Café Delites. Apples cooked from scratch and a layer of crispy baked oats make this the perfect post-meal dessert! Get the recipe here.
Ever had pavlova? Once you do, you will get hooked. This creamy dessert treat from Better Homes and Gardens combines a fluffy and light lemon cream meringue with a topping of raspberries! Get the recipe here.