Thanksgiving with the Duggars

With a table prepared for over 30 people and the smells of warm Thanksgiving aromas along with thankful hearts in the air, the Duggar family begins a long day of friends, family, food and fun.

With 19 children, ranging from the ages of 25 to three, the well-known “19 Kids and Counting” family from Northwest Arkansas celebrates the holidays in a super-sized way.

This time of the year comes with many traditions the Duggar family participates in. Some of the traditions have been alive since Josh, the oldest Duggar child, was very young.

“When Josh was young, and I had seven children under the age of seven, I started something called Grateful Gobblers and I wanted that to become a family tradition,” Michelle Duggar, mother of the family, said. “I would trace over their hands on paper to make little hand turkeys.”

She would then have each of the children color their turkeys or cut them out with construction paper and think of four things they were grateful for that year to write on each one of the feathers of the turkey.

“We worked on memorizing the definition of gratefulness,” Michelle said. “Gratefulness is realizing God and others are responsible for achievements in my life. We would then talk about what we were grateful for from God. Usually these were things like mom, dad, sisters and brothers.”

The thankfulness and gratitude for what the Lord has blessed them with did not stop. Family traditions continue into Thanksgiving Day when the rest of the family is present.

The process is one that all of the family gets involved with.

The family usually eats Thanksgiving lunch around one o’clock in the afternoon, but there is more that happens beforehand, said Michelle.

“Before the meal, we take time to go around the room and each person goes around and says what they are thankful for,” Michelle said. “We start with the youngest and go to the oldest. We try not to repeat things we are thankful for.”

The Duggar family does not keep Thanksgiving Day just to the immediate family. Aunts, uncles and cousins are always welcome, as are others from the community whom the family knows has nowhere else to go for the holidays.

“This is the perfect time to also teach our children about hospitality,” Michelle said. “Hospitality is cheerfully sharing food, shelter and spiritual refreshment with those God brings into our lives. I want to teach my children to be welcoming of those who would be lonely.”

Michelle added that this year, her eldest son Josh’s family will be out of state this year, spending the day with his wife Anna’s family.

“We will miss them this year. That is five that we will not have with us,” Michelle said. “But we can definitely fill that space with those who do not have family to be with.”

The aromas and smells of Thanksgiving along with spending time with loved ones are something the entire family enjoys.

“It really makes you anticipate one o’clock lunch,” Michelle said.

Preparing food for all that are invited to Thanksgiving Dinner at the Duggar house is a process that involves more than just Michelle. Some of the work has to be done beforehand, while other things can be done the day of.

Beforehand, preparation for the homemade rolls, green bean casserole and pumpkin pies is done. On Thanksgiving day, those are put in the oven and baked while mashed potatoes and corn are cooked. The turkey is cooked the night before.

“Sometimes the variety of favorites is dependent on who wants to come in and help me,” Michelle said. “Industrial ovens help cooking for 30 much faster.”

She also added that there are always plenty of leftovers.

“We have the whole spread,” Michelle said. “The whole counter serving line will be filled with food.”

But the favorite food of the day is what the Duggar Family website labels as “Daddy’s Favorite Pumpkin Pie.” You can find the recipe online at

“We usually make about 15 pumpkin pies,” Michelle said. “Sometimes it turns out being what gets eaten for breakfast too. The children have fallen in dad’s footsteps of eating a piece of pumpkin pie in the morning, so we need 15.”

Michelle also added that some members of the family enjoy pumpkin pie so much that they will request it on their birthdays as well, instead of birthday cake.

Another favorite dessert is Aunt Carol’s buckeyes, which she described as “melt in your mouth” Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

“The kids always look forward to those,” Michelle said. “We have to ration them out to make sure we save some for the next day.”

After offering their thanks and having Thanksgiving Dinner together, the family and friends sit around and enjoy fellowship with each other.

“Sometimes we just hang out, and maybe take naps,” Michelle said. “Then we play board games and puzzles. Chess and scrabble usually make an appearance. We just sit around and enjoy family and fellowship with those that are there with us.”

Family and fellowship with one another is a big part of what the Duggar family values during the Thanksgiving holiday, but also being able to share life and being thankful with and for those they are surrounded by.

Michelle says that she is most thankful for knowing Christ and being born again and having a solid rock she can base her life on.

“God gives us life,” Michelle said. “Family is a joy to have because God created and designed it.”

She is also thankful for the fact that her family is able to base their lives on God’s truth as well.

“I am thankful for God’s word and the family He has blessed us with,” Michelle said. “I am thankful for the truth we base our lives on. We know where we can go for answers to questions.”

Duggar family favorite Thanksgiving Recipes!

Pumpkin Pie
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can (29oz.) Libby’s™ Solid Pack Pumpkin™
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cloves
2 (13oz.) cans evaporated milk or 3 1/4 c. half n’ half
2 9” unbaked homemade pie shells with high fluted edge*

Preheat oven to 425. Combine filling ingr. in order given;
Divide evenly into pie shells. Bake 15min. Reduce temp. to 350 & bake an additional 45 min. or until knife inserted near center of
each pie comes out clean. Cool; garnish, if desired, with whipped topping.

For Two Pies
*If regular 9” Frozen pie shells are substituted, recipe fills 4 (bake in two batches). Slightly thaw pie shells while combining other ingredients. Preheat cookie sheet while preheating oven to 375. Bake 2 pies on cookie sheet 45 min. or until pies test done as directed above. Repeat with remaining 2 pies.

*If deep dish 9” frozen pie shells are substituted, recipe fills 2. Let shell thaw 20 min. then re-crimp edge to stand 1/2” above rim. Preheat cookie sheet while preheating oven to 375. Bake 70 min. or until pies test done as noted above.

For One pie, follow above recipe but divide all ingredients in Half (half of one 29 oz. can measures 1 1/2 c.) Mix & bake as suggested. Enjoy!

Duggar Homemade Rolls
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
2 pkg. yeast
2 c. flour

Combine first 5 ingr. in large bowl & cut with pastry cutter.

2 eggs beat in 2 c. measuring cup, fill cup to 2 cup mark with hot water. Pour over dry mixture.

Slowly add:
3 c. flour

Cover. Let Rise 20 min. in warm oven. Pour onto floured surface. Knead. Flatten with hands into large pizza shape. Cut with pizza cutter into16 slices. Roll up from wide end to point. Place in greased pans leaving space for rolls to double in size. (can shape like crescent or lay on side where swirl shows.) Cover. Let rise in warm oven at least 20 min. Remove from oven. Preheat oven. Preheat oven to 375. Bake 20-30 min. depending on how dark you prefer. Immediately brush with 1 stick (1/2 c.) melted butter. (Everyone’s favorite Roll’s!)

Yields 16 Rolls in 2-9”x13” pans

Sweet Green Bean Bundles
3 (14.5 ounce) cans whole green beans, drained
1 pound turkey bacon, cut in half
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Wrap 7 green beans with bacon and place in prepared dish. Repeat, using all the green beans and bacon.

Combine butter with brown sugar. Pour over green bean bundles and sprinkle with garlic salt. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Makes 6 servings