There are few holidays that remind me of home more than Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday where families gather around the dinner table, take time for each other, and enjoy dishes like roasted turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie. Before moving to Switzerland from the U.S., I’d spent every Thanksgiving with my family. Although I now live an ocean away, I still crave the flavors of my childhood favorites this time of year. And I suspect I’m not the only one!

By utilizing resources all around the Geneva area, loved ones can feel closer through the familiarity of food this holiday. If you’re looking to put together a traditional American Thanksgiving meal in Geneva, here are some strategies and tips for sourcing what you’ll need.

Photo courtesy of Epicurious

The centerpiece of Thanksgiving is a roasted turkey. If you’re looking for where to find a turkey in Geneva, know that although turkeys are available here, they’re more difficult to find than in the U.S. Not every grocery store has bin after bin of frozen turkeys on offer this time of year the way stores in the U.S. do. After talking to several women who’ve lived in Geneva for several years, they unanimously recommend ordering a turkey in advance from either Manor Food or Boucherie du Molard. Delivery days and times may differ, so allow one week to ten days for your order.

Two things to consider when planning this dish: the size of your oven, and cost.

  • Swiss ovens tend to be smaller than their standard U.S. peers, so If you pre-order a large bird, be aware that it may not even fit in your oven. Before ordering, be sure you know the capacity of your appliances and roasting pan.
  • Also, because turkeys aren’t as common of a dish this time of year in Switzerland, you pay a higher price than you’re used to. Last year, I bought a 2.2 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast at Manor and paid CHF 36.30. That translated into CHF 16.60 per pound – compare that to the $4 per pound I paid the year before in the States! Paying four times as much as you’re used to (or more!) is not uncommon. I was told by several women that whole turkeys can cost between 200 and 300 CHF – which makes my turkey breast seem like a bargain! You can always ask the butcher or poultry counter attendant in advance how much your bird will cost to avoid last-minute sticker shock. Or, a less expensive way to have turkey on Thanksgiving without breaking the bank is to prepare turkey cutlets or a turkey leg. I’ve found turkey legs at Manor and turkey cutlets at Migros, Coop, and Manor.

Photo courtesy of Epicurious

To me, it’s not Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce. Luckily, fresh cranberries are sold at Migros and Manor. If you can’t live without the canned version, it is sold at the American Food Avenue and American Market stores. As with anything sold at these specialty stores, keep in mind that the canned stuff is priced at a premium.

Photo courtesy of Epicurious

Potatoes, from sweet potatoes to fingerling, are available at Manor and some Migros and Coop locations. Mashed, roasted, or whipped – no matter how you fix them, most all varieties of potato are available at area grocery stores.

If your Thanksgiving sweet potatoes just wouldn’t be the same without a cap of marshmallows, you can find bags of large-sized marshmallows at most Coop stores (look for the Rocky Mountain brand, near the candy aisle) or miniature marshmallows at Manor. If you can’t locate marshmallows at these stores, you can always make your own (it’s easier than you think!) using a recipe like this one.

Another side dish that has always featured prominently in my family Thanksgiving meals is green bean casserole with french fried onions. Canned or fresh green beans are available at stores like Manor, Migros, and Coop. Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, the classic binding agent found in many recipes, is more difficult to find in Geneva but is available at American Food Avenue and the American Market stores. For topping, French’s fried onions can be found at the American Food Avenue and the American Market, or you could make your own version using a recipe like this one or this one.

There are so many versions of stuffing (also called dressing in some parts of the States) that it would be difficult to tell you where to find ingredients for every version that suits every palate! Classic ingredients like breads, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, and fresh herbs can be found at any area grocery store. But if you have a taste for the boxed version or don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own, varieties of American brand Stove Top are sold at American Food Avenue and the American Market stores; a British version, Paxo brand Sage & Onion Stuffing, is sold at Coop in their international foods section.

Photo courtesy of Epicurious

The grand finale of a traditional Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie. Most recipes call for using canned pumpkin (though whole pumpkins are available here if you’re up to roasting your own). You can find canned pumpkin, Libby’s brand 100% pure pumpkin, at Globus and at the American Market stores and American Food Avenue. McCormick’s pumpkin pie spice is sold at American Food Avenue.

Photo courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

Finding ingredients for a classic American Thanksgiving feast may take some detective work (and probably trips to multiple stores), but the upside is that it’s not impossible to have the tastes of home at your Swiss table this holiday. Happy eating, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Store Information

  • Manor Food (www.manor.ch): Rue Cornavin 6, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland and Route de Thonon 40, 1222 Vesenaz, Switzerland
  • Migros (www.migros.ch): Many locations in the Geneva area
  • Coop (www.coop.ch): Many locations in the Geneva area
  • Grande Boucherie du Molard (www.boucheriemolard.ch): Rue du Marche 20, 1204 Geneva, Switzerland
  • Globus (www.globus.ch): Rue du Rhône 48, 1204 Geneva, Switzerland
  • American Food Avenue (www.afoodavenue.ch): Chemin de la Mairie 7 (in front of Post Office), 1223 Cologny Geneva, Switzerland
  • American Market (www.americanmarket.ch): 3 Rue de Neuchâtel, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland and 8 Rue Juiste Olivier, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Tell us about what you’re doing for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. What are your tips for putting together an American-style Thanksgiving in Geneva? 

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/.

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