What Time Do You Eat Thanksgiving Dinner

What Time Do You Eat Thanksgiving Dinner? Explained

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

Celebrating Thanksgiving dinner is a beloved custom in numerous homes throughout the United States.

It’s a time when families and friends come together to share a special meal and give thanks for the blessings in their lives. 

In my own experience, the time we eat Thanksgiving dinner has varied over the years. Sometimes, it’s been as early as 2 p.m.; other times, it’s been closer to 5 or 6 p.m. 

But what time do you eat Thanksgiving dinner? Today, I’ll share when to eat your Thanksgiving dinner to let you savor the day’s gratitude. Keep reading. 

What Time Do People Eat Thanksgiving Dinner?

Thanksgiving dinner is a special time when people come together to enjoy a big meal. The best time to start is usually around 4 p.m. This way, the meal becomes the main event of the day. 

You can also start later, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. This gives you some flexibility to fit your plans and ensure everyone can join the celebration. 

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” 

Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

So, whether it’s 4 p.m. or a little later, Thanksgiving dinner is about sharing good food and gratitude with loved ones.

Check out these ten delicious meals that are cooked during Thanksgiving here.

Do People Eat Thanksgiving Dinner Early?

Thanksgiving dinner traditions vary, but generally, people tend to have this special meal earlier than they would on regular weekdays. 

As such, it ensures that the Thanksgiving meal gets the spotlight it deserves, making it the central event of the day. 

However, some families prefer a later schedule, stretching into the early evening. The choice depends on what works best for each family. 

So, the important thing is coming together to enjoy good food and each other’s company during this special holiday, whether it’s early or a little later.

But where did the most expensive Thanksgiving meal ever take place?

What Time Should Visitors Be Invited To Thanksgiving?

When planning your Thanksgiving gathering, think about when you’ll be ready to eat. Once you’ve figured that out, invite your guests an hour earlier. 

This gives everyone time to arrive, say hello, and get comfortable before the meal. 

It’s a simple way to ensure your Thanksgiving celebration starts smoothly and everyone can enjoy the food and company.

Is It Considered Rude To Arrive Late To A Thanksgiving Meal?

Arriving late to a Thanksgiving meal is generally considered impolite. It’s important to respect that schedule when invited for a specific time, such as noon. 

Arriving early can disrupt the host’s carefully planned meal preparation, and arriving late can leave everyone waiting, which is both inconsiderate and can affect the quality of the food. 

Thanksgiving is about sharing gratitude and a special meal with loved ones, so punctuality shows respect for the host’s efforts. 

What Are Some Typical Dishes For Thanksgiving Dinner?

roasted turkey with gravy

1. Roasted Turkey & Gravy

The star of the Thanksgiving table, a succulent roasted turkey infused with aromatic herbs [1] and accompanied by rich gravy, takes center stage. 

And roasting the turkey slowly ensures it absorbs all the flavorful seasonings. The gravy from the turkey drippings adds a savory finish to every bite.

2. Pumpkin Pie

No Thanksgiving feast is complete without a slice of pumpkin pie. This classic dessert features a spiced pumpkin filling in a flaky pastry crust, often topped with whipped cream.


3. Cornbread Dressing (Stuffing)

A staple side dish, cornbread dressing, or stuffing, is a savory blend of cornbread crumbs, herbs, vegetables, and sometimes sausage. 

“The beauty of Thanksgiving is that it’s not about the hour on the clock; it’s about the timeless tradition of coming together to give thanks.”

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It’s baked until golden brown, with a crispy top and a moist, flavorful interior, providing a delightful contrast to the turkey.

4. Classic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Creamy and velvety mashed potatoes made with buttermilk are another must-have. They offer a comforting, buttery taste that pairs perfectly with the turkey and gravy.

5. Cooked Vegetables

To balance the richness of other dishes, cooked vegetables like green beans, roasted Brussels sprouts [2], or buttered corn often grace the Thanksgiving table.

What Do People Usually Do The Night Before Thanksgiving?

The night before Thanksgiving is a busy time for many families. It’s when they get ready for the big day ahead. People often bake pies, which are a traditional dessert for Thanksgiving. 

This way, the pies are fresh and ready to enjoy. In addition to pies, families also make dishes like casseroles and soups that can be heated up quickly on Thanksgiving morning. 

Preparation in advance helps things go smoothly on a busy Thursday morning. 

Read: 10 Worst Topics To Bring Up At A Thanksgiving Dinner


When do most people in the United States eat dinner?

When it comes to dinner in the United States, most households typically dine between 5:07 p.m. and 8:19 p.m., with the most common dinner hour being around 6:19 p.m.

Find out the percentage of Americans who skip turkey on Thanksgiving here.

How long do you usually stay at Thanksgiving dinner?

Thanksgiving dinner is typically enjoyed over a comfortable span of no more than two hours. 

But what are the other three countries that celebrate Thanksgiving?

What is the day before Thanksgiving that people drink the most?

The day before Thanksgiving, known as “Blackout Wednesday” or “Drinksgiving,” is when many people gather for socializing and often consume more alcohol than usual.

In Summary

The timing of Thanksgiving dinner has always been a matter of tradition and togetherness. 

Based on my observations, starting around 4 p.m. is perfect because it allows this special meal to take center stage in our day. The anticipation builds, and it truly becomes the main event. 

But I also appreciate some families’ flexibility, starting their feasts between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., ensuring everyone can participate in the celebration. 

Ultimately, it’s not just about the time on the clock but the cherished moments shared with loved ones and the gratitude we express around the table that make Thanksgiving dinner truly special.


Kimberlee Johnson
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