Tropical Thanksgiving Recipes To Spice Up Your DinnerNovember 21, 2022 - Updated November 21, 2022
Thanksgiving, the absolute favorite holiday for some, is upon us once again. The usual spread – consisting of pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and of course, turkey or ham – will grace the tables of singles, couples, and groups of friends and families everywhere. But what if you could spice up the holidays a bit by adding something special? No, not your great aunt's casserole with her “secret” ingredients. We’re talking recipes and flavors that aren't typically associated with Thanksgiving in many areas of the United States – particularly where colder climates are concerned.
No matter what part of the country you live in, it might be nice to kick Thanksgiving up a notch this year by giving it a tropical flair. You could, in fact, extend the theme throughout your home with place settings, decorations, music, and more.
Let's explore some of your options for successfully kicking off this year's Tropical Thanksgiving.
Don't forget to offer up a tropical Happy Hour to break the ice and get the party started. The drink we have in mind for your Hawaiian/tropical Thanksgiving theme revolves around pineapple. Why pineapple? The only US state that produces pineapple is, currently, Hawaii, which is pretty tropical. Pineapple is, in fact, indigenous to many tropical locations and is used in numerous drinks and dishes with a tropical theme.
Mini or dwarf pineapples will be needed for this recipe. Just under one pound should do, depending on how many guests you have. How do you know if pineapples are ripe? At the base, they should smell sweet. They should be slightly soft with a yellow exterior.
Here's the recipe for a Pineapple Ricky… It serves six people.
Ingredients you'll need:
- Soda water
- Light rum (8 ounces)
- Small sprigs of mint as well as eight leaves
- Fresh ginger root (half cup peeled and chopped)
- Cored fresh pineapple (halved)
Tips: Save the pulp after you scoop out the pineapple and then freeze it for a gin or vodka spiked potion. Surely you can use it for something. As for "cups," should you go with regular sized pineapples instead of minis, be prepared to Uber everyone home after your celebration!
Ahi Poke – A Snack
Your Ahi Poke will consist of cubed raw tuna/ahi, crunchy sweet onions, and salty seaweed. It's not for everyone, but it's in keeping with the tropical theme, in a big way. It's a great starter. If tuna isn't something in which you or your guests want to partake, other options include dried and smoked beef (pipi kaula), smoked salmon, clams, cooked shrimp, octopus, or crab.
Ingredients you'll need in addition to your fish/meat selection:
- Macadamia nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Chili pepper
- Fresh ginger
- Sesame oil
- Maui onion or yellow onion
- Chopped green onion
- Soy sauce
Your bread selection practically goes without saying: Kings Hawaiian Sweet Buns/Rolls. You can also use them for stuffing, if you wish, or make them from scratch in your kitchen.
Dessert – A Slice of Paradise
Pumpkin pie is relatively traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving, but we're going to give it a tropical twist with a recipe for Haupia Pumpkin Pie.
The Main Dish – Kalua Turkey, Of Course
Provided you and your guests opted for turkey rather than ham, here's a tropical recipe to help you incorporate your theme into the main dish of your Thanksgiving meal. For Kalua Turkey, you will need a 16-pound turkey (or larger, depending on the size of your gathering), liquid smoke seasoning, kosher or coarse sea salt, and water. At 16 pounds, you can figure in roughly 4 1/2 to 5 hours of roasting time, until a thermometer reads 165° Fahrenheit, and the skin is slightly browned. For 30 minutes after you remove it from the oven, you'll want to let it sit and rest. It should literally fall off the bone.
Would You Rather Have Ham?
If you and your guests would rather have ham instead of turkey, or simply want to add a ham to the mix, we've got you covered! Here's a recipe for Hawaiian ham. (Specifically, Hawaiian-style guava and pineapple glazed ham.)
If you think about it, this really isn't much of a stretch since many cooks already use pineapple slices and pineapple juice when cooking a ham. This just adds a little more of a tropical flair to the process and finished product.
Don't forget the sweet potatoes if you plan on making ham; they go hand-in-hand in the minds of many individuals. In Hawaii, the Okinawan sweet potato is, in fact, a staple ingredient. It has numerous health benefits and is known for its purple, vibrant color. Numerous dishes in Hawaii are built around this sweet potato. Can you buy them in America? You may need to locate a specialty store, but they can be found. (You can actually order them on Amazon and other online locations, in fact.)
If you can't find them, just consider adding brown sugar and pineapple to regular sweet potatoes. Here's a recipe for Hawaiian-style sweet potatoes to go with that Hawaiian-style ham. You'll need the following for this recipe:
- Mini marshmallows
- One egg
- Crushed pineapple
- Pepper and salt
- Brown sugar
- Sweet potatoes
What about Decorations?
If you decided to go with our suggestion above and continue the tropical Thanksgiving theme throughout your table, place settings, and home, some incredible ideas can be found under Pinterest Tropical Thanksgiving Ideas. Be sure to check them out. There’s sure to be some Don Ho music available somewhere, too.
If you want to drive home the Hawaiian theme specifically, be sure to wish your guests "aloha" upon arrival, as well as when they leave. It means both hello and goodbye in Hawaiian and communicates kindness, passion, and love. Perfect for Thanksgiving. Warm up that chilly autumn day with a celebration to rival all other Thanksgiving get-togethers. Go tropical this year.
Even if you live in a North Carolina community, you can have a Thanksgiving typical of one that might be found in Florida, Hawaii, or any other tropical setting. Don't let the cold weather get you down. You might even want to make beachwear or muumuus the required attire for attending your Thanksgiving tropical soirée!