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15 Thanksgiving Recipes with Secret Ingredients

Give one of the classics on your menu a little, delicious tweak, and your guests will be raving all dinner long.

Bowl of honey on wooden table. Symbol of healthy living and natural medicine. Aromatic and tasty. Top view.Agnes Kantaruk/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for turkey: honey

A honey glaze, flavored with rosemary and sage, creates a crispy, savory turkey skin while keeping the inside meat succulent and moist.

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Fresh Raw red pear on brown woodKateryna Bibro/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for sweet potatoes: pears

Instead of topping your sweet potatoes with familiar marshmallows, blend a mix of brown sugar, cinnamon, and cooked or canned pears straight in for a light, sweet taste. Here’s the rest of the menu you should follow for the best Thanksgiving ever.

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ripe green apples and apple slices on wooden gray background, top viewKucherAV/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for mashed potatoes: apples

Mash potatoes with tart, cooked apples and top with crisp bacon for a sweet-savory take on the classic. These foods were actually present at the first Thanksgiving. 

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Top view of Oatmeal in bowl and vintage spoon on rustic wooden background.Yuliya Gontar/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for apple pie: oatmeal

This from-scratch apple pie uses oatmeal to make a simple, no-rolling pin-required crust. Don’t miss these 15 Thanksgiving “facts” that aren’t actually true.

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evaporated milkArne Beruldsen/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for pumpkin pie: fat-free evaporated milk

Lighten up traditional pumpkin pie (without sacrificing flavor) by using fat-free evaporated milk.

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bowl of cowberries on old wooden tableMaraZe/Shutterstock

Secret Ingredient for tarts: cranberries

Bring sweet-tart cranberries to the table in an unexpected way with this seasonal dessert. It bakes up beautifully in a springform pan and is glazed with a cranberry-orange topping. Food didn’t turn out as well as you thought it would? Check out these handy fixes for Thanksgiving cooking goofs.

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Ripe red apples in wooden box. Top view with space for your textEvgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for soup: apples

Start your meal with a bowl of creamy, seasonal squash soup that gets a dash of zing from unexpected apples.

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Peel raw chinese water chestnut on dishphloen/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for Brussels sprouts: water chestnuts

Fancy up Brussels sprouts by adding fresh parsley for brightness—and unexpected diced water chestnuts for crunch. Bonus: This stovetop recipe means you can save space in the oven.

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Freshly squeezed orange juice on wooden tableLeszek Czerwonka/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for beets: orange juice

This bright, citrusy recipe pairs ruby-red beets with orange slices, juice, and zest. And while you can certainly use fresh beets, canned beets make this dish extra easy.

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bowl of cereal on wooden table, overhead view.Kantapit Tanadkarn/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for green beans: cornflakes

This green bean recipe will convince kiddos and adults alike to eat more greens on Thanksgiving. The recipe combines cheese, cornflakes, and green beans for the perfect holiday side dish. Here are our tips for keeping your sanity intact while hosting Thanksgiving.

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pecan nuts in a rustic scoop against a grunge wood backgroundJozef Sowa/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for stuffing: pecans

Pecans add a crunchy and nutty element to this stuffing dish. The recipe combines some of the best Thanksgiving and fall flavors including cranberries, onion, celery, in addition to the pecans.

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maple syrup in glass bottle on wooden tableshowcake/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for gravy: maple syrup

For a sweeter spin on classic gravy, try adding in two tablespoons of maple syrup. This make-ahead recipe also features fresh sage. Here are 10 surprising Thanksgiving cooking hacks using everyday objects.

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Mug of beer on an old wooden tableLeszek Czerwonka/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for macaroni and cheese: beer

Cheese and beer mold together for this delicious mac and cheese bake. The added beer elevates the cheesy taste instead of being overpowering. Plus, there are three types of cheese and bacon in this recipe.

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overhead view of plain or natural yoghurt in yogurt pot with dessert spoonAxel Bueckert/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for cornbread: yogurt

This cornbread is quick and easy to prepare. The yogurt helps make this bread light and fluffy while providing a slightly tangy flavor, too.

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overhead view of a glass and bottle of whiskeyBrian Goodman/Shutterstock

Secret ingredient for pecan pie: bourbon

Chocolate pecan pie with a touch of bourbon is the pie recipe you never knew you needed. The creamy chocolate, crunchy nuts, and gooey filling make this favorite-Thanksgiving-pie contender. Next, check out the 20 most-asked Thanksgiving questions answered in 20 words or less.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest