What Americans think about Thanksgiving foods and traditions

Linley SandersData Journalist
November 18, 2021, 5:45 PM GMT+0

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for gratitude and feasts, with people expressing that they are thankful for their family. In recent years, YouGov has conducted polling on everything from the most popular Thanksgiving main dishes and sides to Americans’ favorite Thanksgiving pie and whether politics is served at their tables.

Americans' favorite Thanksgiving dishes

When it comes to the Thanksgiving meal, there are certain classics that Americans want to see at the table. In a 2020 poll, YouGov asked its members to choose the better of two Thanksgiving dishes in a series of head-to-head match-ups. The data revealed that Americans crave a traditional turkey surrounded by starchy sides (looking at you, potatoes, stuffing, and bread).

  • Most popular main dish: Turkey
  • Most popular potato dish: Mashed Potatoes
  • Most popular non-potato side: Stuffing (or dressing)
  • Most popular non-potato vegetable: Green beans
  • Most popular turkey-alternative: Ham

America's favorite Thanksgiving dish is turkey, followed by mashed potatoes

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The most popular Thanksgiving pie is pumpkin pie

Pass the pumpkin pie — it’s the most popular choice for Americans on Thanksgiving, according to a 2022 YouGov poll. About one-quarter of Americans (23%) choose pumpkin, followed by pecan pie (14%), apple pie (12%), and sweet potato pie (8%).

Pumpkin pie only takes the top spot for Thanksgiving, however. A March 2019 poll shows that Americans rank apple pie (25%) above pecan pie (13%) or pumpkin pie (10%).

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Thanksgiving is a holiday of leftovers

Even after Thanksgiving, most Americans will be eating leftovers for at least one day afterwards. A poll conducted in November 2019 shows that 23% of Americans say they expect leftovers to last for one day. About half (47%) anticipate eating Thanksgiving leftovers for two to three days. And 11% of Americans expect the food to last at least four days.

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Americans leave politics out of Thanksgiving (usually)

Americans are generally not worried about politics (or general arguments) being brought into the Thanksgiving meal. An Economist/YouGov Poll conducted just after the 2022 congressional elections showed that only 19% of Americans who usually celebrate Thanksgiving said there are ever arguments about politics at their celebrations. Just 13% said they have ever had Thanksgiving ruined by a political argument.

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