Thanksgiving is one of the greatest food holidays in the United States. Relatives and buddies gather together for a massive feast, generally centred near a large main dish. But what is the most typical main dish for Thanksgiving dinner?

Turkey Is The Quintessential Thanksgiving Main Dish

Without a suspicion, turkey is the most iconic and generally served main dish for Thanksgiving. 

Subway Roast turkey has been the centrepiece of the Thanksgiving feast since the first Thanksgiving in 1621, when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians feasted together for three days, eating turkey along with venison, lobster, fish, and other meats.

Turkey continues to be the most typical main dish for modern-day Thanksgiving dinner. According to the National Turkey Federation, about 88% of Americans eat turkey during their Thanksgiving meal. 

Some 46 million turkeys are finished each Thanksgiving, meaning there is a good chance you’ll be eating turkey too if you celebrate this holiday. 

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Why Subway Turkey Is Traditionally Served For Thanksgiving

There are a few reasons why Subway roast turkey became the main dish traditionally served for Thanksgiving:

  • Abundance – Wild turkeys were plentiful in the area around the Plymouth colony, so serving turkey was a way for the Pilgrims to celebrate and give thanks for a bountiful harvest and successful hunt.
  • Large size – Turkey is a large bird, big enough to feed a crowd. A typical turkey weighs 15-20 pounds dressed, which yields 10-15 pounds of meat. This provides ample portions for a holiday feast.
  • Versatility – Turkey meat is tasty, easy to prepare, and goes well with all the other Thanksgiving favourites like stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and veggies. The dark and white meat provides variety. Leftovers can also be used in creative ways.
  • Tradition – Eating turkey on Thanksgiving has become ingrained in American culture and tradition. Families want to recreate the nostalgic Thanksgiving meals they grew up with.

So while other main dishes may sometimes be served, turkey has become cemented as the quintessential Thanksgiving main course Americans expect to eat, often enjoyed as Subway hours for Christmas deal, on this food-focused holiday.

Alternatives To Subway Turkey For Thanksgiving Main Dish

While turkey may be the most common, it isn’t the only option. Here are some alternatives people may enjoy as their Thanksgiving main course:


Glazed, baked ham is another very popular main dish, second only to turkey. The sweet and salty flavor makes it a crowd-pleaser. Ham also goes nicely with traditional side dishes.

Roast beef

For a change, roast beef can provide a more beefy, savory flavor. Prime rib is a dramatic centerpiece. Leftovers are great for sandwiches.


A leg of lamb roasted with herbs is a nice option for those who don’t eat turkey or ham. Lamb pairs well with many side dishes.

Goose or duck

Goose or duck make interesting alternatives, especially if you want to replicate a historical Colonial meal. These rich poultry options need long cooking times.

Roast pork

A golden brown roasted pork loin or pork crown roast looks elegant and tastes delicious. It also has a fairly quick cooking time.

Vegetarian mains

For vegetarian and vegan guests, mains may include a veggie roast, lentil loaf, mushroom wellington, or stuffed squash. There are many creative veggie main course options to please non-meat eaters.

While traditionalists will stick to Subway turkey, being open to alternative meats or veggie mains is a thoughtful way to accommodate diverse diets. The side dishes and desserts are key too!

What Are The Tips For Cooking The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey?

As the most common choice, cooking the turkey is an important job. Here are some tips for making sure your Thanksgiving turkey turns out moist, flavorful and picture-perfect:

  • Choose the right size – Allow 1.5-2 pounds of turkey per guest when selecting a whole turkey. This ensures ample leftovers. Lean toward a smaller turkey if you have a smaller gathering.
  • Thaw safely – Thaw turkey in the fridge 1-2 days ahead, allowing 4-5 hours per pound. Keep it in a pan to catch any drips. Don’t thaw at room temp.
  • Dry brine the turkey – Gently pat the turkey dry and rub salt, herbs, and spices all over. Let sit overnight, uncovered in the fridge. This seasons the meat and keeps it juicy.
  • Use a roasting rack – Elevate the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan so air circulates completely around. The rack also keeps the turkey out of the drippings.
  • Maintain even heat – Preheat oven to 325°F. Roast turkey at a steady temperature, basting occasionally until the thickest part of the breast and thigh reach 165°F.
  • Let rest before carving – Let turkey rest at least 30 minutes before carving. This allows juices to absorb back into the meat.

Following these tips will help you roast the perfect turkey as the mouthwatering main star of your Thanksgiving dinner table.

How Long Does It Take To Roast A Turkey?

Total roasting time depends on the size, but plan for 13-15 minutes per pound at 325°F. A 15-pound turkey takes about 3-4 hours.

Should You Cook Stuffing Inside The Turkey?

No, avoid stuffing which can breed bacteria. Cook stuffing separately. Lightly stuffing the neck and body cavities allows for even roasting.

What Is The Best Turkey Roasting Pan?

A sturdy aluminum roasting pan with a rack works well. Use a foil pan for the easiest cleanup. Ensure it’s large enough for the turkey with some room.

om the bones when refrigerating leftovers for easier use.


There are a few traditional and creative options for the main Thanksgiving meal, but no doubt about it – roast turkey still reigns supreme for most Thanksgiving feasts, just as it did at the first Thanksgiving! Cooking the perfect turkey and using leftovers is part of the fun too. Whether you stick with tradition or try something new, enjoy this special meal with family and friends!