Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I don’t use myself or truly love!
Now that Halloween is behind us, Americans are starting to think about Thanksgiving Dinner.
As an expat, collecting all of the ingredients to cook Thanksgiving Dinner in Belgium can be a big challenge. Turkeys are traditionally not eaten until Christmas, so they are not stocked regularly in the grocery stores until December.
A lot of the the “traditional” Thanksgiving recipes call for foods that are not possible to find in Belgium.
That is because they are highly processed.
So, you can either purchase these ingredients from Amazon or one of the international stores listed here:
American store in Antwerp – http://www.theamericanfoodstore.com
Or one of the British stores, Stone Manor – www.stonemanor.uk.com
Or Gourmet Food & Gifts near Schuman – Rue Archimede 59, 1000 Bruxelles
But you’ll be spending a lot of money for something that does not provide a lot of nutritional value.
I did that for the first Thanksgiving I cooked in Belgium.
Since then I have adapted all of my recipes to use ingredients that I can purchase from my local Delhaize.
There are only two exceptions to this ingredient list.
I use Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing powder and Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin. I feel the investment in these products is worth it. I could make my own, but my time is better spent on other things.
What follows are the key ingredients and instructions for assembling a Thanksgiving dinner.
In my opinion, as long as you have the following dishes you can consider yourself to be eating Thanksgiving:
- Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
- Cranberry Sauce
- Green bean casserole
- Pumpkin Pie
The key component of the Thanksgiving Dinner.
Frozen turkeys can be bought at StoneManor. I’ve never done this because:
- I don’t have a freezer that I could fit a turkey in.
- I am not organised enough to buy the turkey three days before, so that it can just thaw and then be cooked.
So, I always order a fresh turkey.
For my first Thanksgiving dinner here in Brussels, I ordered a turkey from Jack O’Shea’s.
It was delicious, but it was EXPENSIVE.
Since then, I order from my local Delhaize. The turkey is about half the price and equally nice.
You can order a fresh turkey from most of the big grocery stores in Brussels. Just go to the butcher’s counter.
Friends of mine have ordered from Carrefour and Colruyt.
The key to ordering a fresh turkey is to ORDER EARLY. I recommend 2 weeks in advance.
Two years ago I ordered the turkey a week in advance. Because of my horrendous French, I thought the turkey was going to be ready on the day that I needed to pick it up. But the butcher actually told me that it wouldn’t be ready for an additional week. Opps!!
So, that year we ended up cooking three chickens instead of one turkey.
And, ACTUALLY, that made cooking much easier.
We did the chickens on the BBQ and had the oven free to cook all of the sides.
In the US, a lot of people use prepackaged stuffings like Stove Top for Thanksgiving Dinner.
Stove Top Stuffing:
Fortunately, I have enjoyed sausage stuffing from the New York Times cookbook at all of my Thanksgiving dinners.
Click here for the recipe – http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/56-sausage-stuffing
When I was in the US I would make this recipe using Peppridge Farm breadcrumbs. But here in Belgium, I follow the traditional recipe and use bread that is a few days old.
Tip: Before the bread goes too stale, chop it up in a food processor or blender. Then lay all of the crumbs out on a cookie sheet to further go stale.
I used to HATE homemade cranberry sauce growing up at Thanksgiving Dinner. If the sauce had lumps, I wanted no part of it.
So, I ate highly processed cranberry sauce out of the can.
TIP: This is best served straight out of the can, just lying in a bowl, with little sliced sections.
Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce:
But, making homemade cranberry sauce has to the easiest thing to cook in the world.
Here’s the recipe that I use: http://damndelicious.net/2013/11/15/cranberry-orange-sauce/
TIP: Make it a few days ahead of time so that it can chill in the refrigerator. This has the added bonus of reducing the number of things you have to cook on the actual day.
Green Bean Casserole
The traditional Thanksgiving Dinner version of this recipe is made using canned green beans, condensed soup, and french fried onions.
Here is the traditional recipe – http://pzrservices.typepad.com/vintagerecipes/2011/04/heres-a-close-up-of-the-recipe-for-green-bean-casserole
Ingredients that are hard to find in Belgium:
French’s French Fried Onions:
Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup:
Fortunately, making this recipe from scratch also makes it a whole lot healthier.
Here is the recipe that I use: http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/recipe/fresh-green–bean-casserole-1
This recipe does require ranch dressing powder. I normally bring it back from the US.
You can buy it from Amazon, here:
You can also make your own ranch dressing powder using the following recipe: http://www.passionforsavings.com/homemade-ranch-dressing-recipe/
Here is my Thanksgiving Dinner pumpkin pie recipe – https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18470/libbys-famous-pumpkin-pie/?keywords=libby’s+famous+pumpkin+pie&crlt.pid=camp.ygcZhD1j4JPW
Canned pumpkin is essential for this recipe. I use Libby’s 100% Pumpkin, which I buy at StoneManor.
In previous years I have always used the red pie crust (pâte brisée) because it is the closest to what I used in the US.
This year I am thinking about using the yellow pie crust (pâte sablée) because it is a bit sweet. And I think that would take nice with pie.
What recipe makes Thanksgiving for you? Have you figured out how to make it in Belgium?
Use the hashtag #thanksgivinginbxl to share pictures of your Thanksgiving dinner preparation and celebration!
Follow me on InstagramGet a sneak peak into the behind the scenes of Carrie R Yoga, expat living, yoga tips and all of my adventures in Brussels.
Save this pin to Pinterest to read later!
Join the Carrie R Yoga Tribe!
You'll receive insider information and priority registration for all classes.