Integrating a touch of spice into your Thanksgiving menu is a simple yet effective way to add a burst of flavor and excitement to the holiday festivities.
Read on to find inventive, spicy takes on beloved Thanksgiving side dishes that promise to elevate your culinary game and impress your guests.
Incorporating spicy foods into your Thanksgiving meal
Spicing up traditional Thanksgiving dishes can really bring the meal to life. While I’d personally love a full-on spicy Thanksgiving, it’s important to remember that not all guests may share that enthusiasm for heat.
The recipes I’ve included here range from low to medium heat, making them a safe bet even for those who aren’t big on spice. You have the option to turn up the heat by adding more chili powder, fresh chilis, or hot sauce or by using even spicier ingredients.
To be considerate of everyone’s preferences, I recommend labeling any spicy dishes so they can make informed decisions.
1. An elevated charcuterie board with peach habanero jam
A charcuterie board serves as an engaging starter or side dish for your Thanksgiving gathering, especially when it features a standout element like homemade peach habanero jam. This jam effortlessly melds the innate fruitiness of habaneros with the sweetness of fresh peaches, creating a harmonious yet fiery blend that’s sure to captivate your guests.
2. Sweet and spicy baked delicata squash
Delicata is one of my favorite winter squashes, and its natural sweetness beautifully contrasts the heat of chili powder.
This particular recipe elevates the squash’s flavor profile by incorporating chili and other quintessential autumn spices like cumin and cinnamon. The result is a dish with a rich, nuanced taste. The heat level is flexible; you can ramp it up by either increasing the amount of chili powder or opting for a spicier variant.
3. Jalapeño deviled eggs
Is it even Thanksgiving without deviled eggs? This recipe stays true to the classic while introducing the twist of sweet-spicy candied jalapeños. The tanginess of the jalapeños effectively balances out the creamy richness of the egg yolk and mayo, offering a well-rounded flavor profile.
4. Honey Sriracha brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are a staple in many Thanksgiving menus, but adding Sriracha can make them unforgettable. The interplay of honey and Sriracha adds a sweet and spicy dimension that elevates this dish to something extraordinary.
Can’t find Sriracha? I’ve ranked 10 alternatives to help you find the perfect substitute.
5. Spicy roasted vegetables
If the thought of regular roasted vegetables leaves you unimpressed, this spicy version will captivate your palate. Incorporating the warmth of cayenne powder, the recipe calls for everyday vegetables like bell pepper, zucchini, and red onions. For those who crave an extra kick, the addition of fresh chili peppers can turn up the heat even further.
6. Cheddar jalapeño cornbread pudding
I’ll be the first to admit that I could contentedly eat boxed stuffing any time of the year, but this recipe elevates it to a whole new level. Combining crumbled cornbread, sharp white cheddar cheese, heavy cream, and diced jalapeños, this dressing is rich and hearty, delivering that desired touch of heat.
7. Sweet and spicy cranberry chutney
After experiencing this Indian-inspired take on a Thanksgiving staple, canned cranberry sauce may never make it to your table again. Utilizing fresh cranberries, black mustard seeds, fresh green chilis, and turmeric, this chutney recipe offers a vibrant and savory profile, complete with a well-balanced kick of heat.
8. Spicy Asian cucumber salad
Thanksgiving feasts often tip the scales toward heavier fare, dominated by meat, bread, and potatoes. To bring some balance, consider this spicy Asian cucumber salad featuring gochugaru or Korean red pepper. This dish has gained viral attention on TikTok for good reason: it’s visually captivating and utterly delicious.
9. Jalapeño mac and cheese
You’re missing out if mac and cheese isn’t part of your Thanksgiving lineup. Recognizing that oven space is at a premium during the holiday, this creamy and spicy mac and cheese recipe is designed for the crockpot, making its preparation more convenient than ever.
10. Jalapeño cheese buns
Move aside, traditional bread rolls—make room for jalapeño cheese buns that bring both flavor and excitement to the table. The vibrant tang of pickled jalapeños melds seamlessly with the rich goodness of cheddar cheese and butter, creating a harmonious yet invigorating flavor profile that’ll elevate your Thanksgiving spread.
11. Cranberry jalapeño dip
This fresh, raw, cranberry jalapeño dip is a real twist on the classic Thanksgiving flavor. The berries are bright and sour (although mellowed out by sugar and the creaminess of cream cheese), with the kick of raw jalapeños. This dip is surprising and pungent and will leave a real impression on your guests!
12. Ejotes a la Mexicana
Another spicy twist on an absolute Thanksgiving classic, Ejotes a la Mexicana (or Mexican green beans) are essentially green beans prepared in a fresh salsa. Using raw jalapeños gives this dish a bright bite without overpowering heat.
As you prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving celebration, don’t be afraid to shake things up and get creative with your menu. Whether you’re a spice lover or a newcomer to the world of heat, incorporating these zesty twists on classic side dishes can make for a more memorable and enjoyable holiday meal for everyone at the table.