All 50 State’s Most Famous Thanksgiving Tradition

By: Shelly Grinfeld | Last updated: Nov 08, 2023

Thanksgiving is a time for family and gratitude, hearty food, and feel-good memories with the people you love the most. Every family has their own Thanksgiving traditions and what they are most thankful for, it’s what makes the holiday so special. No two Thanksgiving tables and traditions are exactly alike.

Not only are your traditions and customs dependent on your family, culture, heritage and religion but they are also sometimes quite heavily dependent on where you grew up, more specifically in the state you come from. Here is a countdown of some of the most famous Thanksgiving traditions based on what U.S. state you are from. Do you also do this at your Thanksgiving or do you defy for most popular State’s Thanksgiving tradition?

1. Alabama's Bread and Butter

The one thing you need to know about an Alabama Thanksgiving is the more bread the better. Bread and butter is literally what holds this table together. Alabama natives love their table rich and hearty like most of their diet. Whether it’s crescent rolls, baked garlic bread, or focaccia, the bread will find its way onto the table.

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Source: midjourney

One thing you can be certain of at an Alabama Thanksgiving is that there will be excess and more leftovers than you have people to take home with them. But what is Thanksgiving without more leftovers than days of the week? We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Alabama has lots of activities around this holiday time such as a Blues Festival, as well as their own Thanksgiving Parade. They even have their own “Gobble Wobble 5K Run” in tune with the Thanksgiving spirit. Count us in!

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Source: The University of Alabama

There is even an annual “Thanksgiving Pow Wow.” For those who don’t know an annual  “Thanksgiving Pow Wow”  is a gathering where Native American dancing, singing, and celebration is had. There are numerous Thanksgiving activities to get you into the holiday mood, like the Turkey Trot.

2. Alaska's Can't Get Enough Cinnamon Rolls

Alaskans love to wake up to the smell of something sweet on Thanksgiving morning. Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect treat to fill this void and Alaska households every Thanksgiving holiday love this cinnamon touch. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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Source: midjourney

Additionally, Alaska has many native influences and outdoor traditions as well as a lack of fowl. This means that the iconic turkey most states are familiar with is absent from an Alaskan Thanksgiving. Don’t feel bad though, they have elk, reindeer, halibut, salmon, and octopus soup on their tables instead. That sounds just as tasty to us.

Towns across Alaska host communal potlucks where everyone brings their special signature dish. Coming together as a community is a timeless tradition that native Alaskans continue to practice.

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Source: midjourney

Simultaneously, Natives have events to dance, break bread as a collective, tell stories, and play games together. It is a glorious time for kids and families alike and warms everyone’s hearts during the winter months.

3. Arizona's Finger-Lickin-Good Turkey

In contrast to Alaska, on an Arizona Thanksgiving table, Turkey is the star of the show. There is no Thanksgiving without their iconic finger-licking, feel-good turkey. Sometimes a classic is all that you need.

Source: midjourney

Arizona loves highlighting the classics like penne pasta and shrimp cocktail. It’s like the saying goes, don’t break what’s not broken and we are all for keeping these flawless traditions alive. Stuffing, green beans, and a full belly are what you’ll be thankful for at this Arizona Thanksgiving.

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Going back about 40 years, Fountain Hills has been the location for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Arizona and it does not disappoint.

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Source: Phoenix Zoo

Additionally, you can make it out to the Phoenix Zoo and celebrate the holiday with their ZooLights show. This new light show, an immersive 200-foot-long light tunnel with performances and unforgettable fun. If you love animals, lights, and a good time you don’t want to miss it, it’ll make everyone’s Thanksgiving just a tab more special, plus think of all the fun memories and photos you’ll have to look back on.

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4. Arkansas's Turkey Spaghetti Concoction

Arkansas loves to break barriers at their Thanksgiving table. They are known for tossing their turkey with their spaghetti, the prime example of an untraditional concoction becoming a long-standing Arkansas tradition.

Source: midjourney

What’s not to love, it’s the best of both worlds, carbs, and protein. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about anyway? well, in addition to the gratitude and spending it with loved ones of course. You’ve got your rice as a staple in eastern Arkansas while in northwest Arkansas pasta is more common.

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It is known that Springdale, Arkansas, is the “Poultry Capitol of Arkansas” and when examining national turkey production, Arkansas ranks third. Some would even go as far as to say that turkey is the glue that holds everything together, especially during the holidays. Arkansas sees great economic benefits from the turkey production sector making just over $443 million.

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Source: midjourney

The benefits of this are priceless, creating countless jobs across a wide range of locations, more than 17,500 to be exact. Overall U.S. turkey production reveals that 12% of this production comes from our trusted Arkansas. The star of Thanksgiving is most likely the turkey, so whatever you’re doing Arkansas, we thank you for it.

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5. California's Bursting Brussels Sprouts

Californians love their green juice on the daily. They love being lean and green with their healthy habits, and it seems as though Thanksgiving follows suit with their famous Thanksgiving staple, green grilled brussels sprouts.

Source: midjourney

Californians also take pride in their sourdough stuffing and additional fresh vegetables. They say that some mashed potatoes and a piece of turkey is the ideal Thanksgiving bite at this table.

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Being in California during the holidays is a real treat because the weather is always relatively warm. This means that you could even set up your Thanksgiving feast in the comfort of your own backyard if you wanted and have your celebrations by candlelight.

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Source: midjourney

Californians like their holidays fresh that’s one of the reasons farm-fresh ingredients always make an appearance, and turkey preparation options are endless. Since most Californians are health conscious most households go as far as to reduce the overall sugar in the sauce. Don’t worry, everything still packs a bunch of flavors.

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6. Colorado's Slamin' Ham

Coloradans favor glazing their ham as opposed to their turkey. There is nothing like a Colorado-glazed Thanksgiving ham on your holiday table. You’re sure to not want to leave the table until you’ve had a bite or a few. We won’t blame you.

Source: midjourney

If you’re feeling adventurous Colorado also has Thanksgiving traditions beyond the dinner table. Seven Falls, a local hike near a beautiful waterfall and hotel, the hotel named Broadmoor Hotel takes colored lights to emphasize the waterfall’s beauty. This Thanksgiving tradition has been around for over 60 years.

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7. Connecticut's Sassy Cranberry Sauce

A lot of people say that cranberry sauce is the glue that holds the Thanksgiving tradition alive. This can spark debate but not for Connecticut Thanksgiving tables, most would even say it is a necessity.

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Source: midjourney

Connecticut is also known for its nutmeg around the holidays and it is no exception when it comes to their feat’s sweet mashed potatoes. We are convinced, don’t forget to save us a place at the table.

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8. Delaware's Sweet Potato Casserole

A sweet potato casserole with marshmallows is a never-ending debate amongst all the states, but whether you love it or hate it, there is no debating a Delaware sweet potato casserole.

Source: midjourney

This sweet potato casserole is love at first sight and for many Delaware families a none negotiable dish made to please even the toughest family members. Yes, we are looking at you, Aunt Karen!

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9. Florida's Zesty Key Lime Pie

Leave your pumpkin pie at the door. Florida opts for a more interesting and zesty dessert, key lime pie. They are called the Sunshine State for many reasons and we bet that one of them is the fact that you can’t help but smile when you have this pie at your Thanksgiving table.

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Source: midjourney

The Thanksgiving season is a perfect time for hunting light geese, coots, and ducks so they always make an appearance as well. You know you’re at a Florida holiday table when your fowl is fresh from the field.

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10. Georgia's Peachy Keep Dump Cake

Georgia is the “Peach State” so it comes as no surprise that they celebrate every Thanksgiving with an iconic peach dump cake. If Georgia specializes in anything it’s their peaches and we can’t complain. Any of us would be lucky to have it as our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.

Source: midjourney

These Georgians also favor lacing up their skates and taking a spin at the ice skating rink after their holiday dinner. We hope they are careful after all that pie though, they surely got seconds.

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11. Hawaii's Sensational Sausage Stuffing

For a Hawaiian Thanksgiving, besides the beautifully vibrant decorations, you better believe there will be sausage! Nothing beats this tradition, sausage in between every bite of stuffing is the best you could ask for during this holiday.

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Source: midjourney

The Hawaiian Thanksgiving traditions include a Hawaiian luau. The word “luau” derives from the taro leaves that adorn the table both in decoration and food flavors. When it comes to the feat’s appetizers, these Hawaiian families don’t mess around, they make fresh poke and raw fish salads.

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12. Ohh My Biscuits, Idaho

Most states go for the crescent rolls during Thanksgiving, but not Idaho, they favor biscuits over anything else. According to this State, it’s warmer, flakier, and fluffier in taste during every bite. Who won’t want a roll to last longer, especially on Thanksgiving? Just make sure you don’t need to fight your way for the last one.

Source: midjourney

Beyond those biscuits, mashed potatoes and a whole lot of gravy are not far behind on this table. Chances are 1 out of 5 Idaho families probably have an Aunt Beth who grows her own award-winning potatoes for this occasion. Idaho is the potato state after all.

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13. Illinois's Mashed Up Holiday

An Illinois Thanksgiving is filled with mashed potatoes and they might just give Idaho a run for their money. Illinois families find mashed potatoes the perfect pairing to a turkey dinner. We can’t argue with that.

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Source: midjourney

The ultimate comfort food for any meal, we think Illinois has got it just right. To top it all off they even have their own Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. It’s an annual parade brought to the state by the Chicago Festival Association (CFA).

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14. Indiana's Corny Pudding

Corn pudding is the way to go when it comes to an Indiana Thanksgiving. The more corn the better when it comes to their Thanksgiving feast. It is as sweet as it is savory, which is exactly the type of balance you want.

Source: midjourney

While sitting at an Indiana table, one theme that you are sure to notice is that everything is homemade, homemade noodles, homemade rolls, homemade from head to toe. They aren’t afraid to get a little competitive about it too.

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15. Iowa's Pumkin Bars

The more pumpkin the better for this Iowa Thanksgiving table. If you want to get into the fall season and the Thanksgiving spirit in the best way possible look no further than this Iowa tradition packed with a nutmeg, cinnamon pumpkin punch.

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Source: midjourney

These bars are sure to make it on the table no matter where in Iowa you find yourself and we are certain the only regret you’ll have is not going in for another.

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16. Kansas's Pinwheels

Kansas family’s Thanksgiving tables like their holiday easy and tasty while favoring ham and cheese. This being the case, these ham and cheese pinwheels have become a family staple and Thanksgiving tradition for the ages.

Source: midjourney

You can’t go wrong with an appetizer like this, especially since they are just as beautiful on the table as they are in delicious in your mouth.

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17. Kentucky's Chicken and Dumplings

When it comes to a Kentucky Thanksgiving, traditions may not be what you think. Sometimes turkey just isn’t a fan favorite and that’s okay. There is no one way to celebrate.

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Source: midjourney

Chicken and dumplings go great together and why can’t Thanksgiving be yet another excuse to make it? We’d have to agree with this Kentucky tradition.

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18. Louisiana's Cornbread Stuffing

Lousiana’s tradition of merging two favorites, stuffing, and cornbread will win anyone over. We are already trying to score an invite because every side at this table is rich in flavor. In true New Orleans fashion, the dressing is made of oysters.

Source: midjourney

Any leftover oysters will of course be fried up for po-boys made from scratch on that post-Thanksgiving Friday. Mirliton casserole also makes an appearance.

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19. Maine's Chicken Pot Pie

When trying to sum up a Maine’s Thanksgiving, what comes to mind for most tables this holiday, is comfort food. These Mainer’s marine dish is chicken pot pie. They just cant pass it up.

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Source: midjourney

In Maine, it is common practice that stores usually start selling turkeys at a greatly reduced price so don’t wait until the last minute to get your turkey, or else someone might have already beat you to it.

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20. Maryland's Crab Cake Bites

Is it really a Maryland Thanksgiving without some crab at the table? The answer is definitely not. These families can’t even start without Crab Cake Bites being the first bite of the holiday.

Source: midjourney

Some would even go as far as to say that such crab cake bites make the perfect pre-turkey appetizer. We wouldn’t dispute it unless you are prepared to have some serious words exchanged with your country’s Marylanders.

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21. Massachusetts's Creamy Chowder

For Massachusetts families you can’t say  Thanksgiving without some creamy chowder, the more clams the better. You can even throw in some corn and leftover turkey for the next day.

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Source: midjourney

They also have their annual Plymouth Parade and Wampanoag ceremonies in honor of the holiday.

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22. Michigan's Hot Chili

A Michigan Thanksgiving is nothing without its traditional hot chili. If you’re good at something then why deny your calling? For Midwesterners, it’s their chili. Whether its a sporting event, viewing party, or a holiday, you know there will be chili.

Source: midjourney

Let there be chili, let there be light! The more the merrier.

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23. Minnesota's Green Bean Casserole

Casserole on casserole on casserole is what a Minnesota Thanksgiving is all about. Some might even swear that Minnesotans never met a casserole that they weren’t a fan of. Green bean casserole is everyone’s favorite out here.

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Source: midjourney

Casserole being such a favorite dish, it makes sense that it’s the star of this table’s Thanksgiving celebrations.

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24. Mississippi's Nice and Toasted Pecans

Toasted pecans isn’t a popular dish at everyone’s Thanksgiving but it is for Mississippi families. They like to save the leftovers from other dishes such as pies and casseroles and toast the rest into another yummy side dish or for a post-dinner holiday snack. Once you have some of these slow-cooked candied pecans you’ll surely adopt them for your own.

Source: midjourney

The morning of Thanksgiving among Mississippians also consists of gathering with friends and family, outdoors to dunk turkeys in a bubbling oil vat. Multiple turkeys can be fried in the same vat making for a good excuse to get together with your holiday party from the morning until it’s time to feast at night.

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25. Missouri's Breakfast Casserole

Missourians also love their casseroles but not in the same way as Minnesota. They save this casserole tradition for the next day. The morning after the Thanksgiving holiday is filled with an egg, cheese, bacon, and French toast casserole with everything you love about the holiday, comfort.

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Source: midjourney

Missourians know how to celebrate with several wineries hosting some special Thanksgiving events, participating in the Holiday Fare Wine Trail.

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26. Montana's Roasted Veggies

Montana’s fresh vegetables roasted to perfection on Thanksgiving, is a beautiful site. They’re been blessed with fresh produce right in their backyards.

Source: midjourney

These Montana families can’t forget able the healthy side of the holidays to go with all the usual high-calorie options.

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27. Nebraska's Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread for a Nebraska Thanksgiving is the ultimate tradition. Before pumpkin pie or anything else, these Nebraskan families know that the holidays start and end with nothing but Monkey Bread.

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Source: midjourney

Another tradition you can find around this holiday is good old-fashioned tree lighting.

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28. Nevada's Peanut Butter Cookies

Sometimes old-school is the way to go. We can’t argue with a Nevada classic, heavy on the peanut butter. To the contrary of pies for dessert, the Nevada Thanksgiving table is nothing without warm peanut butter cookies, freshly baked.

Source: midjourney

We can’t name one person that would be against this tradition, can you? Nevadans also like to volunteer as a family during this time of the year, nothing says thank you for what you have like giving back. Distributing food baskets is just one of the ways they do it.

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29. New Hampshire's New England Blueberry Pie

Thinking about this New Hampshire Blueberry pie already has us salivating. Nothing says Thanksgiving tradition in this state like a big slice of blueberry pie for the heart and the soul. It’s as easy on the eyes as it is rich in taste. The more blueberries the better.

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Source: midjourney

From a farm fair at the local farm to craft shows and holiday bazaars, nothing says Thanksgiving like New Hampshire stews, chowders and pot roasts.

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30. New Jersey's Crab Cake Burgers

You can’t get crab cake burgers at every Thanksgiving table and New Jersey folks love going against the grain. That’s why it’s such a special New Jersey tradition. There are also special activities such as the Festival of the Trees at the Historic Red Mill Museum in Clinton.

Source: midjourney

New Jersey families love to pack up everyone for a holiday-themed winter outing that includes some history, fun, and delicious burgers to top it off.

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31. New Mexico's Apple Pie Empanadas

What is Thanksgiving without a mix of cultures? Blending cultures is what the holiday is all about and these New Mexican families know how to do it right. New Mexico has a lot of Latin influences so it comes as no surprise that traditional empanadas aren’t far behind.

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Source: midjourney

Their take on the classic apple pie, as apple pie empanadas, is a tradition that maybe everyone should add to their repertoire. YUM! The more apples the better!

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32. New York's Classiest Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake is famous for a reason. There is nothing quite like it, whether it’s Thanksgiving or a birthday you know these New York families are adding this classic cake to the table.

Source: midjourney

To top it all off they have the Macy’s Day Parade right outside their door as the ultimate Thanksgiving tradition. What we see on TV they get to experience firsthand every year.

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33. North Carolina's Most Comforting Cornbread

North Carolina’s traditional cornbread is how you know it’s officially Thanksgiving in North Carolina households. What’s extra special is the fact that they drizzle some honey on top with they serve you up as slice.

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Source: midjourney

Volunteering is also popular for these North Carolinans. Most common on Thanksgiving day is participating in food drives and hosting dinners for those who need an extra hand.

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34. North Dakota's Ice Cream & Apple Crisp

North Dakotan families love their apple crisp during Thanksgiving, but you can’t forget that scoop of vanilla ice cream that ensures a sweet holiday for everyone involved.

Source: midjourney

You never need to fear an apple crisp getting overshadowed by a pumpkin on this Turkey day. These North Dakotan families will still be eating apple crisps long after the clock strikes midnight. We don’t think Cinderella would mind either.

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35. Ohio's Whipped Corn Dip

When you think of Thanksgiving often times corn comes to mind. It’s one of those autumn favorites that you can’t get enough of and it is something that we’ve been eating at Thanksgiving since the beginning, but Ohio families serve it a different way. Whipped corn dip is the ultimate Ohio tradition during this holiday.

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Source: midjourney

These Ohio natives can’t forget that it’s game day too and corn dip is always on the menu, served also with shallots, garlic, bacon bits and extra whipped cheese.

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36. Oklahoma's Perfect Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is a southern staple when it comes to Thanksgiving traditions but no one does it quite like they do it in Oklahoma. The holiday has officially started only when someone has gotten the pecan pie out of the oven, if you’re lucky than there is more than one.

Source: midjourney

Pecans, caramel, cookie crust, chocolate, do we need to even say more? Pair this up with a hot drink and a blanket around the fire and you’ve got a picture-perfect holiday card.

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37. Oregon's Burning Hot Bread Stuffing

Stuffing is a Thanksgiving classic and Oregon just can’t get enough. What’s their secret to getting it just right every time? We think it’s the thyme or the orange juice perhaps.

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Source: midjourney

Rumor has it that they used to celebrate two Thanksgivings once upon a time. With stuffing like this, I think anyone would approve.

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38. Pennsylvania's Crispy Oven Baked Potatoes

Chances are we’ve all eaten potatoes on Thanksgiving at one point or another but no one does potatoes quite like Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanian households are over achieves and their potatoes game does not disappoint. The level of potato dish assortments is nothing like you’ve ever seen before.

Source: midjourney

Thinly sliced, thickly sliced, mashed, smashed, they’ve got it all.

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39. Rhode Island's Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread

Rhode Island’s Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread is definitely a tradition worth keeping around every year. The gooier the cheese the better. Now these Rhode Islanders just need to figure out who has the better cheese pull. This sticky pull-apart bread is putting all the other monkey breads to shame.

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Source: midjourney

Many Rhode Island towns also celebrate the harvest at town fairs during this time of year. The butternut squash is to die for.

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40. South Carolina's Thank-Me-Later Sweet Potato Pie

Both states of the Carolinas are passionate about their sweet potato pie.  Particularly South Carolina’s tradition is to take marshmallows and sweet potatoes to different heights. Instead of baked mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping they make a beautiful sweet potato pie with homemade marshmallow whipped fluff to top it off.

Source: midjourney

You can’t have a traditional southern Thanksgiving without the cornbread dressing too, not stuffing but dressing. You need to try it to understand.

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41. South Dakota's Pumpkin Pie

Sometimes the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is with the classics. All Midwesterners, especially, South Dakotans like to honor long-standing traditions, that’s why pumpkin pie is a can’t-miss on their Thanksgiving menu.

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Source: midjourney

Whether you top it off with ice cream or marshmallow fluff is already a personal preference or a lifestyle choice.

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42. Tennessee's Smokin Sausage Balls

A Tennessee Thanksgiving tradition is their sausage balls. These sausage balls can beat out any cocktail meatballs you can find at any other table. These are the go-to appetizers for every family in this state, you can bet on that.

Source: midjourney

They also can’t have too much pea salad, deviled eggs, and pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. All these foods are good but in order for them to have that great Tennessee flare the dressing needs to be the focus, the saucier the better.

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43. Texas's Chicken Spaghetti

A Texan Thanksgiving is nothing without its Chicken Spaghetti. This tradition is quite different than most states’ Thanksgiving but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  Turkey isn’t on the same level here as in other states, but that doesn’t slow down those Texans. They’ve created their own special traditions, like their famed barbecue brisket.

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Source: midjourney

The locals have no problem highlighting other meats at this Thanksgiving feast and it might just make everyone forget about the turkey anyway. The chicken spaghetti seems like the dish to be most thankful for here.

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44. Utah's Crescent Rolls Leftovers Wrap

Probably one of the things all states have in common the most during Thanksgiving is the amount of leftovers. We all know and love those Thanksgiving sandwiches made of leftovers and we all have them. We may make them differently but we can’t have the holiday without them. Utah households have taken this tradition and made it their own by using crescent rolls as the base of this ritual. We give them points for creativity.

Source: midjourney

What do you put in yours? Utah loves to wrap these crescents with pieces of turkey, chunks of sweet potato, and a big spoon of cranberry sauce. The messier the better.

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45. Vermont's I Can't Believe it Butternut Squash Soup

Vermont’s Thanksgiving tradition revolves around this to-die-for butternut squash dish. The holiday can’t start without it. Somehow despite all the heavy foods during this holiday, they manage to throw in some health. You don’t need to compromise on taste to do that and this soup is proof.

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Source: midjourney

Another Vermont tradition during the Thanksgiving holiday is taking wagon rides with the whole family. Vermont families definitely know how to celebrate in style.

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46. Virginia's Cheesiest Mac and Cheese

You don’t want to miss this cheesy Virginia tradition. It’s cheesy but exactly where you want it. When it comes to their mac and cheese the cheesier the better, the more types of cheese the better.

Source: midjourney

Pro tip if you’re feeling extra adventurous is to add some nutmeg, truffle seasoning, and a dollop of mustard. Everyone at this Thanksgiving table will thank you.

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47. Washington's Traditional Sugar Cookies

It’s never too early to start baking sugar cookies, well at least according to Washington. For these Washington households getting into the holiday spirit starts with homemade sugar cookies from the minute the leaves start to change. These cookies can come in all shapes and sizes but the bigger the better.

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Source: midjourney

We’ll take one order of pumpkin spice sugar cookies, please and thank you!

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48. West Virginia's Buffalo Chicken Dip

West Virginia’s buffalo chicken dip is filling as it is low-maintenance. You don’t need any fancy appetizers when you have a tradition this good. West Virginians also can’t pass having their holiday feast without their pepperoni rolls, biscuit stuffing, and apple butter.

Source: midjourney

The best part of this buffalo chicken dip tradition is that it goes with everything and it’s as easy to make on game day as it is to make during the holidays. The most popular Thanksgiving item on the table in this state is Hawaiian rolls and it’s a good thing too since they compliment this dip to the nines.

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49. Wisconsin's Jumbo Garlic Shrimp

Wisconsin’s Jumbo Garlic Shrimp is the best tradition to pair with some Thanksgiving classics and once you have it on the table you can’t have Thanksgiving the same way again. Wisconsin is the land of the cheese so you better believe that this holiday is no exception to a cheesy good time, shrimp or otherwise.

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Source: midjourney

Other Wisconsin traditions that arrive just in time for the holidays is deer hunting with the family, eating Door County cherries, and frying up your turkey.

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50. Wyoming's Pork Chops

Ending this list is Wyoming’s traditional pork chops. These hungry Wyoming households have a big appetite to fill especially around Thanksgiving. Pork chops are a favorite to fill this spot in addition to turkey and all the other bells and whistles.

Source: midjourney

Wyoming even has its own Christmas Parade and annual turkey trot you don’t want to miss while you’re celebrating the holidays the Wyoming way.

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