5 Turkey Alternatives That Won't Break Your Holiday Budget


Thanksgiving is awesome, but all those ingredients equals one time-intensive meal — especially the turkey. If you're not the biggest fan of brining, spatchcocking, or roasting one in an exhaustive two-day process, then try these five turkey alternatives that won't break your budget.

1. Roast Ham

If you don't have diet restrictions against pork, honey-roasted ham makes for a great low-maintenance turkey alternative. Simply buy a frozen or fresh bone-in ham, and enjoy days of delicious sandwiches after Thanksgiving.

Want a lower calorie, albeit slightly pricier alternative? Try a pork tenderloin. This is a lean, succulent cut that is perfect for oven-roasting or even pan-roasting. It's great with sweet garnishes like apples, pears, or cranberries, plus it cooks very fast in comparison to birds.

2. Brisket

Brisket is so delicious that we eat it all year round in sandwiches and in barbeque. This leads to us not thinking of it as anything special — but oh, it is. Roasted brisket is an affordable, deliciously well-marbled cut of beef that is easy to prepare and can feed a lot of people.

It can be prepared in many different ways, but your best bet for Thanksgiving is a braised brisket with slow-roasting root vegetables like parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and celery.

3. Roasted Vegetables

Fall and winter boast lots of great seasonal veggies that make for tasty main dishes. Some ideal options for big whole vegetable roasts include these meaty stuffed mushrooms, this cranberry acorn squash, and these hearty cauliflower steaks.

If you're looking for a more complex dish, a vegetarian casserole can also make a crowd-pleasing main entree. Try this root vegetable gratin, this quinoa stuffing, or this pumpkin and bean casserole.

Those who like a prettier baked centerpiece might want a savory pie. You might like this tart filled with squash, greens, and feta. Or, for extra umami, this mushroom and stout pot pie with sweet potato crust.

4. Rotisserie Chickens

If you're still jonesing for poultry, but can't stand the fuss of roasting a turkey, it's okay. Just pick-up two or three whole chickens, which will be easier to cook because they are much smaller. A perfect roast chicken is so easy to make.

Also great? The fresh rotisserie chickens at your local grocery store deli! For only $7 to $9 a pop, you can feed everyone (no fighting for the last bits of light or dark meat) without spending the time to cook. If you buy a few hours ahead, keep them warm in a roast pan with chicken broth to prevent them from drying out.

5. Trader Joe's "Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast"

Vegans have a hard time at Thanksgiving, especially while visiting their omnivore families. If you are near a Trader Joe's, it is very much worth trying this Turkey-less Stuffed Roast. It's a meaty, well-flavored blend of soy, ancient grains, and vegetables with a vegan stuffing inside. If it's your only main dish, be sure to get a few — it will go fast!

Do you skip the turkey on turkey-day? What's your favorite alternative?

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