Victorian America’s Thanksgiving Recipes

It’s Thanksgiving time, and for most Americans, that means a sit-down meal with “all the trimmings”. While the side-dishes have changed (as far as I can discern, the green bean casserole appeared far into the 20th century) somewhat, many sides (like sweet potatoes) have remained certain. Our great-great-grandmothers in the Victorian-American nineteenth century went so far as to make cranberry jelly or cranberry sauce from scratch… and homemade Parker House rolls, homemade dressing / stuffing, and homemade pies (of a variety of flavors). Victorian America’s Thanksgiving Recipes.

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Victorian Recipes

Reading the recipes from 118 to 139 years ago is like a glimpse of “Reality History”, where glimpses of real life come into focus. Details like oyster pie was made, truly, in Missouri. (Who knew?) In this way, locations of nineteenth-century newspapers shed light on the way things were in favored settings for western historical romances. Note that some of the recipes included here were published in Kansas and Missouri– as “frontier” and “old west” as any state or territory could be throughout the nineteenth century. Yes, many of the recipes are from upstate New York and Boston. Why? Because those papers had dedicated columns for recipes, with shout-outs published in the months leading up to holidays, asking subscribers to send in their tried-and-true recipes with careful and detailed instructions.

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Related Thanksgiving Articles

I’ve shared previous articles that are closely related to this Thanksgiving recipes post:

  1. How to Carve a Thanksgiving Turkey ~ 1889
  2. Thanksgiving Dishes in Victorian America
  3. Victorian Era Thanksgiving Celebrations
  4. Historic Pie Recipes

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Why Thanksgiving Recipes?

Why the interest? My new release, Unmistakably Yours (A Holidays in Mountain Home Romance) is part of the new Thanksgiving Books &  Blessings Collection One Series, where all titles, spread throughout the nineteenth century, have the commonality of an important Thanksgiving Dinner scene.

While preparing to write this full-length novel (435 paperback pages), and conducting additional research later on, I discovered Thanksgiving menus offered in hotel dining rooms, restaurants, and suggestions for home dining (published in era newspapers). Such vintage samples provide a glimpse into available foods, preferences, favorites, and the apparent role of the train in making ingredients (like oysters!) available in the west.

Enjoy this short list of sample recipes from late nineteenth century. Note that each image’s caption provides the vintage newspaper’s name, location, and date of publication.

How to Select a Turkey (1892)

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Vintage Newspaper clipping: How to Select a Turkey, published in The Osage City Free Press of Osage City, Kansas on December 1, 1892.

How to select a turkey, published in The Osage City Free Press of Osage City, Kansas on December 1, 1892.

Roast Turkey (1882, 1900)

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Roast Turkey Recipe for Thanksgiving, vintage newspaper clipping from The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, NY on Dec 21, 1900.

Roast Turkey Directions published in The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, New York on December 21, 1900.

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes -Thanksgiving Recipe Roast Turkey. Published in Brown County World of Hiawatha, Kansas on November 30, 1882.

Roast Turkey instructions. Brown County World of Hiawatha, Kansas. Published November 30, 1882.

Stuffing for a Turkey (1895, 1900)

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Victorian Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes - Dressing for Turkey. The Boston Globe of Boston, Massachusetts. November 27, 1895.

Dressing for Turkey, published in The Boston Globe of Boston, Massachusetts on November 27, 1895.

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Stuffing for Turkey. The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, NY. December 21, 1900.

Stuffing for Turkey recipe published in The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, New York on December 21, 1900.

Sweet Potatoes (1900)

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Sweet Potatoes. The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, New York. December 21, 1900.

Sweet Potato Instructions published in The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, New York on December 21, 1900.

Oyster Pie (1879) in Missouri!

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Oyster Pie. Chariton Courier of Keytesville, Missouri. November 29, 1879.

Oyster Pie published in the Chariton Courier of Keytesville, Missouri on November 29, 1879.

Parker House Rolls (1894)

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Parker House Rolls. The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, New York on November 14, 1894.

Parker House Rolls Recipe published in The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, New York on November 14, 1894.

Cranberry Sauce / Jelly (1882, 1895)

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Cranberry Sauce. Brown County World of Hiawatha, Kansas. November 30, 1882.

Cranberry Sauce instructions. Published in Brown County World of Hiawatha, Kansas on November 30, 1882.

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Cranberry Jelly. The Boston Globe of Boston, Massachusetts. November 27, 1895.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Jelly recipe, published in The Boston Globe of Boston, Massachusetts on November 27, 1895. Note the use of a mold [alternately, mould] (decorative dish meant for setting up (like gelatin) of the jelly, to be inverted onto a serving dish). Molds were a common kitchen implement in the late Victorian era.

Plum Pudding (1900)

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Plum Pudding. The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, NY. December 21, 1900.

Plum Pudding Recipe published in The Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, New York on December 21, 1900.

Pumpkin Pie (1879)

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - To Make a Nice Pumpkin Pie. Chariton Courier of Keytesville, MO. November 29, 1879.

“To Make a Nice Pumpkin Pie, published in Chariton Courier of Keytesville, Missouri on November 29, 1879.

Mince Pies (1895)

Kristin Holt | Victorian America's Thanksgiving Recipes - Mince Pies. The Boston Globe of Boston, Massachusetts. November 27, 1895.

Mince Pies Instructions, published in The Boston Globe of Boston, Massachusetts on November 27, 1895.

Related  Articles

Kristin Holt | Link to "Victorian Coffee"

Kristin Holt | A Victorian-American Thanksgiving Day 1897

Kristin Holt | How to Carve a Thanksgiving Turkey 1889

Kristin Holt | Thanksgiving Dishes in Victorian America

Kristin Holt | Victorian Era Thanksgiving Celebrations

Kristin Holt | Book Review: Things Mother Used to Make, A Collection of Old Time Recipes

Kristin Holt | Historic Pie Recipes

Kristin Holt | Historic No-Fail Pie Crust

Kristin Holt | Economic Victorian Dining: Croquettes

Kristin Holt | Victorian Homemakers Present: Tapioca Pudding

Kristin Holt | An Honest-to-Goodness Pioneer Recipe (Chicken and Dumplings)

Kristin Holt | Victorian Cake: Tins, Pans, Moulds

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