Italian Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas to Wow Your Guests

The festival honoring the Gods of Harvest (Giorno del ringraziamento) is an integral part of the culture in Italy. However, Italian expatriates living in America are not far behind in rejoicing in the tradition of Thanksgiving.

Whether a native American or an immigrant in the country, you can give a twist of taste to the Thanksgiving food in Italian fusion. This year, serve the Mediterranean-inspired turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and candied yams for a refreshing fete.

If Italian cuisine is on your mind for the coming Thanksgiving holiday, here are the best ideas to plan a delicious traditional Italian feast for your loved ones.


Tips to Plan Thanksgiving Festa with Yummy Italian Menus

You can never go wrong planning a full-course traditional feasting meal for your guests. You may take a cue from the options below. As with any Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll need all of the proper ingredients to make for an excellent feast Italian style. Appetizers, main courses, sides, and desserts are all an important part of this seasonal Holiday that much of the world enjoys celebrating.

italian thanksgiving appetizers

Aperitivo (Appetizers)

The tradition of welcoming guests with beverages and some light food is a part of Italian culture. So, the dinner starts in the evening, welcoming guests with Aperitivo. This course may include champagne, white wine, spumante, or prosecco. The drinks are commonly served with nuts, stuffed green olives, or cheese cubes.


Antipasti (Starters)

Charcuterie platter such as figs with Gorgonzola cheese filling wrapped in prosciuttos is a must for an Italian Thanksgiving starter. But if you are looking to add a few more items, here are three alternatives:

Crispy Sicilian Crocchè

Derived from the French croquette, Neapolitan cuisine’s 17th-century deep-fried street food originated in Sicily, Naples, and Campania. You can make this dish in numerous versions with mashed potatoes, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Serve the succulent cheese-stuffed Crocchè hot before the smoke evades to feel the gooey texture.


Arosticini is popular lamb meat skewered kebob of the Abruzzo gastronomy culture. Natives of the region relish the soft meat with bread and the local red wine- Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

It is also an ideal dish for your BBQ party in winter. This smoky-grilled antipasto is a spicy, sour, and flavorful treat for the tastebuds.

Ricotta Cheese Balls

Crispy outside and juicy inside, Ricotta cheese balls are for all occasions. Serve them with sun-dried tomato-chili sauce.

thanksgiving appetizers in Italy
Antipasti appetizers for thanksgiving dinner in Italy.

Primi (First Course)

For the main course, traditional Italian Thanksgiving dinners usually include the same main dish as we do here in America. Turkey! Everyone across the world that celebrates this holiday loves this wonderful tasting bird, and is usually the center piece of the dinner table, where you can find a couple of the family members debating as to who gets the legs and wings. But in Italy they have a first course before the turkey is brought out, usually pastas and breads are included in this part of your T-day dinner.

Pasta all’Arrabbiata

The Italian Thanksgiving menu must include at least one pasta variation. Classic arrabbiata is always a choice over others for the angry face hues. It does not take more than 30 minutes to cook this Roman pasta made with rich red chili sauce. Avoid the Pecorino Romano DOP when on a diet, but put a handful of grated cheese for a holiday treat. 

Tortelli Di Zucca

If you have had enough cheese pasta and arrabbiata sauce, try this classic recipe native to Lombardy. The iconic flavorsome pasta has a filling made with mashed pumpkin, amaretti, and nutmeg. After stuffing, the pasta is sauteed in sage-infused butter.

Involtini di Parmigiano

Homemade parmesan rolls outrun other bread when planning a party for esteemed people. Feel the juice in every bite of these uber-soft and fluffy rolls with the richness of butter.

Pasta e Fagioli

Soups are perfect for a light first course. While Italian primi does not contain meat, this soup with crushed sausage is a bonza if you want to do it with a few items in the main course. Pasta e Fagioli is colorful and easy to make with finely chopped carrots, beans, tomatoes, and other seasonal veggies treated with assorted herbs. Feel the crunch of sausage granules with soft pasta and juicy vegetables.

italian thanksgiving turkey
Italian Thanksgiving Turkey

Secondi (Main Course)

As with most who celebrate Thanksgiving, the turkey is almost going to be the main course! Of course there are those who may want to switch it up a little, and vegans and vegetarians probably want to opt for something like a tofurkey. But if you don’t want to stick with the traditional holiday bird, then you might want to try some of the dishes we have listed below.

Gattò di Patate

Palatable aromatic mashed potatoes are your best bet to ditch the lasagna this year. There are several versions of mashed potatoes in Italian cuisine.

The dish is made with boiled potatoes, eggs, breadcrumbs, Grana Padano DOP cheese, butter, and black pepper. Add soppressata salami and provolone cheese to the potatoes to make a protein-packed meal.

Ali di Tacchino a Lenta Cottura (Slow-Roasted Turkey Wings)

It is super easy to cook the roasted turkey in Italian style. You can make this dish seasoned with fresh herbs- thyme, rosemary, or sage, on any occasion throughout the year. Add a bit of tartness and flavor to these savory chicken wings with Negroni cranberry sauce (I love to cook it with Campari). If cooking cranberry sauce for kids, avoid alcohol and use fresh orange juice…tangy and flavorsome.


Contorni (Salads and Veggies)

Insalata di Carciofi e Bottega

The vegetable salad makes an ideal combination when served with carbs and turkey on the feasting day menu. Emanated in Sardinia, this piquant salad is made with artichokes, bottarga, radicchio, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Insalata Caprese

This salad preparation is excellent for novices trying to excel in culinary art. A seasoning with shredded basil, olive oil, and salt makes a classic Caprese with diced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

An Italian dessert, Tiramisu

Dolci (Desserts)

Torta Di Zucca

This cousin of the traditional American pumpkin pie comes with a twist of Amaretto liquor filling and a tart shell.

Dark Chocolate Pie with Cherries

The chocolate mania is never gone for kids. This luscious cake is high in nutritional value too. Flavored with dark cherry syrup and butter. It is soft and chocolaty inside and crispy outside.


Italian-Inspired Drinks and Cocktails

The starters on the Thanksgiving evening are best served with these curated Mediterranean cocktails:

Tuscan Vin Santo with Cantucci Biscotti

Vin Santo, the holy wine best served with crunchy almond-filled Cantucci biscuits, is a must for Thanking the God of Harvests in Italian style.

Hot Chocolate Rum

This sugary drink is made with a mix of melted dark chocolate, creamy milk, and rum treated with sugar and spices.

Frozen Quadratino

If you love dark rum, this drink goes well with roasted turkey and crunchy rice balls. All ingredients, including Kahlua, chocolate, and ice are blended well and served in a tall glass. Present the chilled drink topped with whipped cream and cinnamon powder.


SESAMO Wishes You A Happy Thanksgiving

While the above are only a few ideas from the flavors of Italy. If you love Italian food, the choices are endless for a formal dinner or a fun party with friends. Ensure you have a few items for each course and some cocktail options. When skipping the mixology art, white wine or vodka goes well with the food to make your guests comfortable.

From the family here at SESAMO, we wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and hope your holiday meals are something to remember!