Before I go to far into this, I think it’s only right to share that we arrived in Portugal on November 8th, 2022. Thanksgiving was on our 16th day in the country. There may be easier, or better ways to source what we did for our Thanksgiving meal for two, but heck if we know what they might be right now.
The good news is that yes, while some items (like canned pumpkin) are not as easy to come by, everything you need in Portugal to put an American Thanksgiving feast on the table is possible to get. If, unlike me, you don’t love cooking and baking up the big meal, there are expat Thanksgiving celebrations that you can join. We went to one on Thanksgiving Eve and had a great time. If you love Thanksgiving like we do, I recommend doing both.
Pumpkin pie is the most important item on our Thanksgiving menu. I don’t eat it, but Chris absolutely adores Pumpkin pie. He looks forward to eating it every year. Canned pumpkin isn’t stocked on any of the shelves we’ve shopped so far. A search for canned Pumpkin near me on the internet turned up one for 6,514 euros. One 15 ounce can. Over 6K euros. On sale.
I was able to find Organic Hokkaido Pumpkin in the produce section of Apolonia. So, for the first time in my life, I made my very own pumpkin purée. It was easier to do than I had thought and the pie results were fantastic.
When I searched for turkey in nearby grocery stores, the smallest whole turkey I could find was 5 KG (11 pounds). Both Chris and I prefer white meat to dark, so I decided to search for turkey breast. Unable to find plain turkey breast in the grocery stores near us, I emailed The Natural Meat Co. to see if they had any. They were able to get some from their suppliers, but I’d have to order a minimum of 3 KG. No problem. I’d rather freeze the extra turkey breasts than roast a whole turkey and have more leftovers then we could handle. The next day, Chris and I drove 20-minutes from our place to get turkey breasts from them. While there we picked up a bottle of wine and some Port* (because when in Rome).
I wanted to make my own cranberry sauce, but a small bag of fresh cranberries cost €12 at the only grocery store I saw them in. Instead, I bought jarred cranberry sauce for much less (€2,39).
If you’re an American shopping online for groceries in Portugal, you may need to look up what the British call the item. A search for baking soda on a grocery store’s website turned up nothing. I looked up what the British call it and learned that they call it Bicarbonate of Soda. I entered Bicarbonate of Soda into the search bar and voila – I had options to choose from.
The Recipes I Used for Our First Thanksgiving in Portugal (Thanksgiving 2022):
Best Pumpkin Pie With Cranberry Caramel Topper Note: I did not do the Cranberry Caramel Topper. Chris is a Pumpkin Pie purist, so there was no point in attempting it. The Pumpkin Pie itself turned out fabulous!
For more on how we managed to celebrate Thanksgiving in Portugal, check out our We Try to Have Thanksgiving in Portugal! [American Expats Vlog] video.
Have you ever celebrated Thanksgiving while living outside the United States? Where were you and what was the most challenging ingredient to find? We’d love to know!
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*Port is a dessert wine that originated in and is made in (well… near) Porto, Portugal.