Can’t find a turkey? Here are five things you can cook for Thanksgiving instead

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(WHNT) — When I was growing up, Thanksgiving meant one thing: turkey. Unfortunately, I never found myself obsessed with the bird like most of my family members, instead I went looking for the sliced ham – or amassed a plateful of sides.

This year, with turkey shortages nationwide, families may find themselves without a turkey at the center of their Thanksgiving table.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, inventories of frozen whole turkeys and turkey parts are 24% lower than 3-year average volumes.

“In 2021, the seasonal build-up was less pronounced than usual, and stock volumes appear to have peaked before starting an earlier-than-normal decline,” the USDA reported. “Stocks of frozen turkey meat typically follow a seasonal pattern, building throughout the year until the fall, when retailers prepare to meet holiday demand.”

(United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service)

While it may be harder to find the signature bird in stores, there are plenty of other options for Thanksgiving dinner that can easily substitute as the main dish of your holiday meal.

Shepherd’s Pie

Homemade Shepherd’s Pie in a Cast Iron Skillet (Getty Images)

Mashed potatoes, ground beef, onions, corn, and peas are all items easily found in most grocery stores that can be whipped up quickly for a nice, tasty shepherd’s pie.

While a traditional shepherd’s pie is often made overseas with ground lamb filling, most of us here in the United States opted for ground beef, because the odds are if you can’t find a turkey, I doubt you’ll be finding lamb.

Get the full recipe for this main course option at Delish.

What you’ll need to cook it: Mashed potatoes (recipe for those explained at Delish), olive oil, onion, carrots, garlic, thyme, ground beef, peas, corn flour, chicken broth, and chopped parsley for a garnish, if you’re feeling fancy.

Honey-Glazed Bourbon Ham

Close-up of ready-to-eat honey glazed ham with a side of arugula and spinach salad on the dinner table (Getty Images)

What you’ll need to cook it: A 5-pound whole bone-in smoked ham, bourbon or whiskey, honey, molasses, orange marmalade, whole garlic cloves

If you’re looking to avoid turkey altogether, the best choice at the supermarket is definitely a ham. Just don’t let it fall out of your bag and onto the highway like in “Christmas with the Kranks,” because that did not end well for Jamie Lee Curtis.

For a perfect honey-glazed bourbon ham, look no further than the former de facto First Lady of New York Sandra Lee. Her recipe on The Food Network should provide the perfect explanation on how to properly prepare a ham for the holiday season.

Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken in Cast Iron Skillet with Roasted Root Vegetables. (Getty Images)

Nothing says “I don’t like / have turkey” like bringing a whole chicken to Thanksgiving.

While turkey is a Thanksgiving delicacy, roasted chicken (with crispy skin, butter, and herbs, duh) is a year-round treat that can also be enjoyed no matter what holiday of special occasion you’ve got going on. I’d just advise giving your guests proper silverware for it, unless you want this to turn into a “eating a whole chicken with your hands” situation like at Dolly Parton’s Stampede in Gatlinburg.

What you’ll need to cook it: A whole chicken with the neck and giblets removed, lemon, a head of garlic, thyme, salted butter, salt, lemon pepper, parsley, sage, and rosemary.

The Little Spice Jar has the perfect one-hour recipe for a whole roasted chicken.

Honey Soy Glazed Salmon

Grilled salmon with a honey glaze on a bed of lambs lettuce (Getty Images)

What you’ll need to cook it: Skinless salmon, olive oil, garlic cloves, minced ginger, red pepper, soy sauce, and honey.

Salmon-related dishes have slowly, but surely taken over my ‘for you’ page on TikTok, and if you pay attention to food news at all, it seems like we’re going through some sort of “salmon renaissance.”

The fish that my grandmother once tried to force feed me in my childhood because it was “healthy” could make for a leaner, much more flavorful option for both seafood lovers and lovers of anything honey-glazed. which I would argue is most people.

Get the full recipe (with video instructions) at Tasty.

Oven-Roasted Cauliflower

One whole roasted cauliflower head with seeds and parsley on a table (Getty Images)

What you’ll need to cook it: Cauliflower, olive oil, garlic cloves, grated parmesan cheese, dried basil, dried parsley, dried thyme, salt, and black pepper.

If you want a vegetarian or vegan option for your guests, look no further than a staple of most vegetarian meals: roasted cauliflower. And we aren’t just talking about ripping up shreds of cauliflower, we’re roasting the whole head.

When cooked with parmesan and garlic and drizzled with olive oil, this easy recipe can substitute as a main course and might even convert some of your biggest red meat-lovers.

Get the full recipe on Wholesome Yum.

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