Recipes for an Eastern European-Style Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in Eastern Europe the way North Americans do (Canada also celebrates but on the second Monday in October), but many of the same foods typically associated with this holiday are enjoyed year-round by Eastern Europeans.

While not a dinner centered around Native Americans and Pilgrims, Most Eastern European countries have some type of harvest festival or "giving thanks for the grain." It is spelled variously Obzhynky in Ukrainian, Obzhinki in Russian, Dożynki...MORE in Polish, Prachystaya in Belarusian, Dožínky in Czech, and so on. Jews have the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot and Shavuot which are harvest festivals and an opportunity to give thanks for bountiful blessings and the receiving of the Torah.

Shake things up a bit and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner Eastern European style! And with leftover poultry of any kind, try .

  • 01 of 19
    Photo of Roast Turkey
    Photo of Roast Turkey. Flickr by Hoomant
    Turkey is very popular in Eastern Europe. In Poland, young hens are used because they are more tender than toms. But in the West, where toms are bred for tenderness, this recipe will work for a larger bird also.
  • 02 of 19

    Roast Turkey with Pasta Tatters Recipe - Croatian Purica s Mlincima

    Roast Turkey with Pasta Tatters - Croatian Purica s Mlincima
    Roast Turkey with Pasta Tatters - Croatian Purica s Mlincima. © 2009 Barbara Rolek licensed to, Inc.

    This recipe for roast turkey with pasta tatters, purica s mlincima, bears witness to Croatians' and Slovenians' love of whole roasted birds. Both cultures like to serve goose, turkey and duck with mlinces, also known as mlinci, a stiff cracker-type dumpling that is reconstituted in boiling water and flavored with the roast drippings. They're known as "pasta tatters" in English.

  • 03 of 19
    Turkey Fillet
    Turkey Fillet. © Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

    In this recipe for Slovenian turkey fillets, the Italian influence on the cuisine can be seen in the Gorgonzola sauce that accompanies the dish. Turkey, duck and rabbit are more popular than chicken in Slovenia, but chicken breasts can definitely be substituted for the turkey.

  • 04 of 19
    Roasted Duck Breast
    Roasted Duck Breast. © 2009 Barbara Rolek licensed to, Inc.
    This recipe for pan-roasted filet of duck breast is fast and easy, and delicious when served with a honey-brown sugar sauce. Eastern Europeans love turkey and whole roasted birds, but this is a nice change of pace, and can be found at many of the upscale restaurants in Poland.
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  • 05 of 19

    Raisin-Almond Stuffing Recipe

    Photo of Stuffing
    Photo of Stuffing. Flickr by Meadaura
    Raisin-almond stuffing is great with any roasted meat -- chicken, turkey, lamb, pork and game. Unlike traditional American stuffing, this version has no celery or onions.
  • 06 of 19

    Kasha with Mandarin Orange Stuffing Recipe

    Kasha with Mandarin Orange Stuffing
    Kasha with Mandarin Orange Stuffing. © 2009 Barbara Rolek licensed to, Inc.

    Kasha -- roasted buckwheat groats -- is a favorite among Russians, Poles and Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans. It's a winner because of its high fiber content and low-glycemic index.

  • 07 of 19
    Mashed Rutabagas and Potatoes. © Diane Miller / Getty Images
    Rutabagas and potatoes are two favorite vegetables among Poles because they overwinter so well and winters can be very harsh in Poland. Here they are cooked in chicken stock and mashed with as much butter as your diet will allow.
  • 08 of 19
    Pumpkin-Cheese-Potato Gratin
    Pumpkin-Cheese-Potato Gratin. © Brigitte Wegner / Getty Images

    This Polish pumpkin casserole recipe features potatoes and cheese, and would be a good alternative to mashed potatoes but, I know, I know, who can resist mashed potatoes? So make both!

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  • 09 of 19
    Root Vegetables
    Root Vegetables. © 2009 Barbara Rolek licensed to, Inc.
    Common root vegetables include potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and beets. Their not-so-glamorous, but equally delicious, cousins include turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, and celeriac (celery root), and they show up on most Eastern European tables in late fall and winter.
  • 10 of 19

    Cranberry-Currant Sauce Recipe - Polish Sos Zurawinowo-Porzeczkowy

    Cranberry-Red Currant Sauce
    Cranberry-Redd Currant Sauce. © Joff Lee / Getty Images
    This cranberry sauce is less gelatinous than its American cousin, and it gets a little zip from grainy brown mustard. If you like, add a jigger of red wine but, since this is a no-cook sauce, the alcohol won't cook out. Make two versions -- adult- and kid-friendly!
  • 11 of 19

    Cherry-Cranberry Sauce Recipe

    Cherry-Cranberry Sauce
    Cherry-Cranberry Sauce. © 2011 Barbara Rolek licensed to, Inc.
    This recipe for cherry-cranberry sauce combines two of the fruits Eastern Europeans love -- wild cranberries and sour cherries. Cultivated cranberries will work fine and, you can substitute fresh cranberries for the cherries making this a triple-cranberry sauce. This condiment goes well with turkey, duck, chicken, pork, ham and game meat, so don't save it just for Thanksgiving.
  • 12 of 19
    Creamed Pumpkin
    Creamed Pumpkin. © Tara Fisher for "The Viennese Kitchen"

    This creamy side dish combines pumpkin, onion, sour cream and dill. It's not something you see everyday. Polish pumpkins are naturally very sweet. If yours is on the bland side, add a little sugar to brighten the flavor.

    Go to the next page for bread and dessert recipes.

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  • 13 of 19
    Photo of Polish Potato Bread - Okregly Chleb Kartoflany
    Photo of Polish Potato Bread - Okregly Chleb Kartoflany. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to, Inc.
    Polish potato bread is firm enough to accommodate sandwiches made of leftover turkey AND cranberry sauce without falling apart. And its flavor won't compete with the meat the way rye bread would.
  • 14 of 19
    Apple Slices
    Apple Slices. © Olga Pasaawska / Getty Images
    This recipe is a little different from most apple slices -- the pastry dough top has a crackly finish because it's brushed with egg white and sugar before baking (not a meringue).
  • 15 of 19
    Poached Pear with Chocolate Sauce
    Poached Pear with Chocolate Sauce. © Flickr by Frenchie01
    For a dramatic presentation, leave the pears whole and remove the core from the bottom or slice them in half for easier core removal. For a pink color, 1 cup of the water can be replaced with 1 cup red wine.
  • 16 of 19

    Pumpkin Custard Recipe

    Pumpkin Custard. Nina Gallant / Getty Images
    Eastern Europeans have a love affair with the pumpkin, whose seeds were brought to them from the Americas. This custard recipe is another example of Eastern Europeans' fondness for hiding food in other foods.
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  • 17 of 19

    Pear Custard Pie Recipe

    Pear Custard Pie
    Pear Custard Pie. © 2009 Barbara Rolek licensed to, Inc.
    I developed this recipe for pear custard pie when I had two beautiful Korean pears and half a package of thawed filo dough staring me in the face. I thought a sweet spin on Serbian burek would be just the ticket, and it was.
  • 18 of 19
    Cranberry Kisiel or Pudding
    Cranberry Kisiel or Pudding. © Flickr by Bitter-Sweet

    Polish puddings or kisiel are typically thickened with potato starch, and are somewhere between an opaque gelatin and a transparent pudding in appearance. What sets them apart is their fresh fruit flavor that's not too sweet.

  • 19 of 19
    Cranberry Cordial. © Lubomir Lipov / Getty Images

    You can say na zdrowie! as you lift your glass to toast your guests with this refreshing cordial that packs a kick.