A Taste of the Outer Banks this Thanksgiving

Bring the Outer Banks To Your Thanksgiving Dinner Table

Thanksgiving is a time to feast with family. Turkey, cranberries, and sweet potatoes are the traditional Thanksgiving fare.  This year consider giving your meal an Outer Banks twist.  These recipes have been passed down by Outer Banks locals for generations, but our versions have been updated for modern tastes and times.

Bon appetite.


This is the section for sides and appetizes to go with your holiday meal. It’s a way to add a touch of the Outer Banks without overshadowing the main course.

Hush Puppies

An Outer Banks favorite, everyone has a hushpuppy recipe. Here’s ours.

  • 2 cup of cornmeal
  • 1 T flour
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 t chopped onion (optional)
  • 1/2 cup corn (optional)

You will also need a fryer of some kind. You can use one of those ‘daddy fryers’ or just make due with a deep pan and a stove. You want to make sure your fryer is deep enough to cover the hushpuppies. (Hushpuppies float when they are done, so they need some room.)

Mix together all ingredients and stir by hand until well blended. Drop spoonfuls of batter into the fryer and wait for them to rise. Drain on paper towel and serve.

Mock Turtle Soup

Prior to the modern age, turtles were plentiful and easy to catch. This is why they became a staple of the Outer Banks diet. Turtles were said to have a unique consistency and taste like seven kinds of meat. Fortunately, there are many substitutes for turtle in the modern age. Our neighbors in England substitute oxtails. Here in America, we use veal since this is the closest meat in both taste and consistency.

  • 2 lb. veal
  • Large stock pot
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 2-3 onions (depending on your taste for onions)
  • 1 can evaporated milk

Chop veal, potatoes and onions into fine pieces. Place in a large stockpot and cover with water. Cook until done. Stir in evaporated milk over warm (but not still on) burner. Season to taste.

Oyster Soup

Traditionally, Thanksgiving on the Outer Banks wasn’t turkey season, it was oyster season. Even today, you can find restaurants on the Outer Banks offering all kinds of oysters on their Thanksgiving buffets. Eating it raw is one of the easiest ways to eat an oyster, but this recipe is pretty easy too.

  • Butter (for sautéing)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 qt. chicken broth (store bought can be used)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 dozen raw oysters in shell

Shuck the oysters and put them in bowl along with their own juice. Dice both the onion and potato into fine pieces and place in pan. Add the melted butter and sauté until the onions are tender.

Add chicken soup and cook until the potatoes are tender. Add in the heavy cream and stir until it starts to thicken. Add in oysters and juice and heat through. Season to taste.

Dressings and Sauces

Need a little something extra to go with your meats, salads and desserts? The Outer Banks has a recipe for that too. Get your taste buds ready for some really great food.

Sauce for Duck

The Outer Banks has a long history of duck hunting. In fact, the town of Duck was even named after this practice. Duck’s Cottage and the Whalehead Club are the only surviving examples of the Duck hunting clubs of the 1920s. Whalehead is the only historically preserved example of a duck hunting club. They call this ‘sauce for duck’ but it could go on any meat, such as ham or turkey.

  • 1 orange
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 T currant jelly
  • 1 T grated horseradish
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Start by melting the current jelly. Use your beater to mix the juice and rind from your fruits to your other ingredients.  Pour into a pot or an oven safe pan and heat until the liquid is runny. Then pour over meat and serve.

Fig Preserves

Preserving fruits was a common thing to do on farms during harvest time. Without electricity, preserving them was the best way to keep them all winter. Preserving back then usually involved salt, sugar or brine. This recipe calls for sugar. The resulting preserves were usually served on toast, salads and other foods. It even makes a good topping on salads, ice cream, or plain cake.  

  • 1.5 lb. figs (pitted dates can also be used)
  • 1/2 lb. of sugar
  • Orange/lemon slice

Rinse the figs. Pour in the sugar and let them sit overnight. Figs don’t need to be refrigerated, so that’s your call.  In the morning, the figs will be soft. Pour the sugar and figs into a large pot.

Add your citrus slice. Stir the figs over a low heat until the sugar is melted. Turn the heat up to medium after the sugar is melted cook over a medium heat until figs turn tender. Mash with potato masher and let cool. Spoon into jar and keep in fridge until ready to use.

Squash Relish

Squash was present at the first Thanksgiving. It also grows pretty readily on the Currituck mainland. Squash enjoys being one of the power foods that we should all eat more of. However, squash recipes are few and far between. This relish is a great way to invite squash to your Thanksgiving feast. 

  • 5 cups of minced unpeeled squash
  • 2 cups of minced onions
  • 2 ½ T salt
  • 1 ¼ cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • I small pepper each, red, green and optional hot pepper 
  • 1 ¼ t dry mustard
  • 1 ¼ t turmeric
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • 1 T cornstarch

Mince the peppers and set them aside. Combine the salt, squash and onions; cover with water and let stand overnight.  In the morning, squeeze out as much water as possible. 

Combine all ingredients in large pot. Bring to a boil and stir until well blended. Continue to boil for 35 minutes. Season to taste.



Ready for some Outer Banks Desserts? We have several to choose from  — whether you like down home favorites or fancy. Enjoy.

Prune Cake

Don’t let the name fool you, it’s delicious. And since it’s made with mostly healthy ingredients, you CAN have your cake and eat it too.  You can also make this recipe with figs or dates instead of prunes.

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cup flour
  • 2 cup prunes
  • 2 t each of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1 t each of baking soda and salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans

Start by cooking and mashing the prunes. The nuts should be chopped and set aside for later.

In a separate bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients, including the prunes. Then add in the dry ingredients. (except for the nuts.) Use a mixer to beat until smooth. Fold in the chopped nuts by hand.

Bake in a greased pan at 350 for one hour.

Buttered Rum Cake

Rum, (fermented sugar,) has a long history in coastal communities. Supposedly, the town of Kill Devil Hills was even named after a shipment of rum ‘strong enough to kill the devil’ washed up on its shores. And of course, nothing’s better than buttered rum. This cake is a little more ambitious as it actually has two parts; cake and filling.  

I’ve provided the recipe for both parts. However, if you donâ??t feel like baking a cake from scratch, you can also use a store bought cake mix.


  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 cup milk

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and beat until smooth. Pour into four shallow cake pans to create layers. (or you can cut layers later.)  Bake at 350 degrees until done. 


  • ½  cup chopped raisins
  • 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
  • 2 lb. sifted powdered sugar
  • ½ lb. butter
  • ½ cup rum

Combine the sugar, butter and rum in a pot over a low flame and stir until smooth and runny. Remove from heat and separate out 1/3 of the icing. Let cool.

Fold in minced raisins and walnuts in the 1/3 icing and mix until uniform.  Between each layer of cake, spread out a generous serving of walnut, raisin and rum icing. Once all the layers have been assembled, take the remaining icing and ice as one solid piece.

Chocolate Supreme

This is the newest recipe on the list. They used to make it a local restaurant that sadly doesn’t exist any longer. This is can be served as a dessert in fancy bowls or just added to another dessert on a plate.  



  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 stick of butter

Mix together and spread in a 9″x13″ pan. Cook at 300 degrees for 25 minutes.



  • 1 cup Cool Whip
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 8oz of softened cream cheese

Mix ingredients together and spread on cooled first layer



  • 2 packages of Jell-O Instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3 cup of milk

Combine the pudding and the milk until thick. Spread the pudding on top. Then let cool in refrigerator. Scoop out into bowls (or plates) and garnish with whipped cream.


Don’t forget, if you need a bigger house to accommodate all the relatives, there’s nothing like a home on the Outer Banks. Many larger homes come equipped with everything you need to cook that feast. Feel like visiting but not cooking? No problem. Many Outer Banks restaurants are open for Thanksgiving.

See you soon.


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