Hate Turkey? Here Are 14 Delicious Non-Turkey Thanksgiving Proteins to Cook Instead

Collage of non-turkey thanksgiving main ideas includign smoked ham, lamb rack and prime rib

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According to the National Turkey Federation, 88% of Americans eat Turkey on Thanksgiving.

If you want to join the 12% who would rather bite into a well-done steak than eat another turkey, we’ve collected our best festive recipes for a non-traditional Thanksgiving.

Best Non-Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

1. Smoked Prime Rib Roast

smoked prime rib

This prime rib is a holiday classic for a reason and kicks off our list of the best alternatives to Turkey. A herb and garlic compound butter gives the prime rib a flavor-filled crust.

2. Twice Smoked Spiral Ham With Pineapple Maple Glaze

Double-smoked spiral ham with your choice of bbq rub and a sweet pineapple & maple glaze makes for a perfect holiday main.

I guarantee this smoked ham will have even the most traditional turkey fans going back for seconds.

You can still follow this recipe with a nonspiral cut, e.g., a leg of ham.

3. Smoked BBQ Brisket 

hot and fast style brisket

While brisket is commonly served as a main course during Jewish holidays, for some reason it’s not a common option at Thanksgiving for the rest of us.

This one is cooked hot and fast, perfect for the holidays when you are short on time.

Smoked Pork Crown Roast

crown of pork on plate ready to carve

Just because you don’t like turkey, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the royal treatment. Our smoked pork crown roast looks impressive, but it’s really quite simple to pull off.

5. Grilled Steak Pinwheels 

grilled steak pinwheels

Flank steak stuffed with cream cheese, baby spinach & mozzarella, then rolled up into pinwheels and grilled until a perfect medium-rare. Guests will think you slaved over it but this recipe is deceptively simple to make.

6. Smoked Whole Duck with Maple Bourbon Glaze

Smoked duck has always been a decadent holiday treat. This recipe delivers a major flavor hit with a sweet maple bourbon glaze. Ticks the “poultry” box while being more exciting than dry turkey.

7.  Big & Meaty Smoked Beef Ribs 

smoked beef ribs stacked on a wood cutting board

You won’t see smoked beef ribs on many lists of turkey alternatives, but as barbecue enthusiasts, we think these Texas Style beef short ribs are big, bold and perfect for the center of your Thanksgiving table.

8. Hot & Fast Smoked Baby Back Ribs 

smoked pork ribs slathered in BBQ sauce on a grey plate

Just like the beef ribs, these aren’t typically considered “Thanksgiving appropriate,” but who wouldn’t want these tender and juicy, covered in sweet, sticky BBQ sauce ribs?

No one.

9. Smoked Rack of Lamb With Pistachio Crust 

smoked rack of lamb

This whole lamb rack is coated in pistachio breading and then smoked until a nice crumbly crust forms. Served with a drizzle of apricot-balsamic sauce it’s a great holiday main if you want to mix your menu up this year.

10. Double Smoked Ham with Maple-Mustard Glaze

double smoked ham

Smoked ham is a holiday classic, so we think it deserves two spots on our list of turkey alternatives.

This is another super simple recipe with a sweet holiday-themed maple-mustard glaze. We also have hot honey and bourbon glazed ham if you want to go for a more boozy glaze.

11. Smoked Lamb Shoulder

smoked lamb shoulder on Weber smokey mountain

If you liked the look of the lamb rack but need to cook for more people, then you can’t beat a whole shoulder (or leg).

A whole smoked lamb looks awesome as the centrepiece of your holiday meal.

12. Smoked Lobster Tails

cooked smoked lobster tails on the grill

We had to include a seafood option, and you can’t beat smoked lobster tails for a festive treat. The sweet and buttery flavors of lobster tails are enhanced even more with a little hit of smokey flavor.

13. Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Maple Bourbon Glaze

smoked pork tenderloin

The pork tenderloin is an affordable turkey alternative for your holiday main.

A single tenderloin is perfect for a small gathering, and it’s easy to scale up by cooking more. The maple bourbon glaze makes is the perfect festive finish.

14. Rotisserie Porchetta Pork Belly

Porchetta Pork Belly on rottisserie

If you have a rotisserie on hand, this porchetta recipe is a holiday winner.

What’s more, the smell that spreads through your house as the juices from the pork slowly hit hot coals will fill put your guests in a holiday mood.

How to keep that stubborn turkey lover happy

You now have plenty of epic main course alternatives for your holiday feast.

The only problem is keeping that one “it’s not Thanksgiving without turkey” person happy.

May I suggest you smoke a token turkey breast. It’s easy to prep, and affordable. Once you slice it up, there’s enough for everyone to get their taste of turkey without you having to prepare a whole bird.

You could also go for wings  or  legs  to keep them happy.

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