Imagine it: Family and friends gathered ’round a golden turkey and a smattering of sumptuous, comforting side dishes. Apple stack cake is served a la mode on the balcony with the rising crest of the Smoky Mountains as a backdrop. The next day, you head out for a scenic drive at the beautiful Newfound Gap Road before catching a performance at the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect stage for an epic Thanksgiving feast. Below, we outline Southern favorites and classics with an Appalachian twist that are so mouthwatering that Thanksgiving in the Smokies just might become an annual tradition.
Roast Turkey with Gravy
This classic recipe produces a golden bird with crispy skin, plus plenty of silky gravy to go around. There are no fussy brines or glazes, and it’s done in just four hours – which means that nobody has to wake up at 4 a.m. to get the turkey in the oven (after all, you’re on vacation).
Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Streusel Topping
Ditch the mini marshmallows and whip up this streusel-topped sweet potato casserole. With brown sugar and pecans, the decadent topping recalls a pecan pie – and is sure to please both big and little appetites.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
A staple on the Thanksgiving Day table? Maybe not, but we think it should be. In this Saveur recipe, classic elbow macaroni combines with sharp cheddar and white pepper for a creamy, comforting side dish. A dash of cayenne sets it apart from other mac and cheeses.
Brussel Sprouts with Ham and Caramelized Onions
You’ve got to have green somewhere on the table, right? It’ll pass with Southern chefs as long as it’s got some salt and fat to go along with it. This Brussel sprouts recipe uses ham and caramelized onions to a salty, crispy, and downright delicious effect.
Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
Instead of dinner rolls, bake a batch of cornbread in a sizzling cast-iron skillet to achieve buttery-crisp edges and a tender center. Try it with some blackberry jam from the Smoky Mountains Jelly House in Gatlinburg.
Tennessee Mountain Stack Cake
Tennessee is serious about its apple stack cake, a classic recipe made with dehydrated spiced apples that were originally sun-baked on the porch. This one’s a bit labor-intensive, and requires that you finagle the timing correctly: It needs to sit in the fridge at least overnight (for harried day-of cooks, this may actually be an advantage). Get your apples locally at the Apple Barn in Sevierville.
Don’t want to miss out on this Thanksgiving classic? Don’t worry: You can get it in moonshine form, with hints of nutmeg and vanilla, at Ole Smoky Distillery. Prefer to chew your pie? The Old Mill Pottery House Café and Grill has yummy seasonal pies.
You’ve got all the ingredients for an unforgettable Smoky Mountains holiday. All you need now is a place to stage your feast. Browse our list of Smoky Mountain cabins to find the setting for your perfect holiday!