When you think of Thanksgiving dinner, your first thought is probably turkey. But on this holiday, the table is also covered with glorious Thanksgiving side dishes. Depending on what you choose to make, these dishes could even upstage your main course.
According to Country Living, 66% of Americans prefer the side dishes, and over half would be completely content without turkey, ham, or any of the traditional main courses.
There are so many delicious and beautiful options out there to consider. There are traditional, perennial favorites, and some new and not-so-conventional options you should consider.
And it’s completely okay to skip the meat and make an all-sides Thanksgiving if you’re one of the many Americans who prefer them. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you may already have a similar tradition for this festive fall holiday.
Traditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes
There are some dishes you expect to see on a Thanksgiving table, no matter who you’re spending it with. They also tend to be the most popular ones.
- Mashed potatoes
- Green bean Casserole
- Cranberry Sauce
- Candied Yams
- Macaroni and Cheese
25 Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes
Nothing says you must go with traditional sides if you serve this year’s meals to family or friends. We have dozens of choices for you to consider.
1. Roasted Pumpkin Spinach Salad
If you’re looking for a healthy option to add to your table this year, consider this salad from Lively Table. It combines pumpkin, spinach, apples, pecans, and blue cheese for a gorgeous and delicious fall side dish.
2. Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
Want something a little less healthy but still full of vegetables? Consider this casserole from Bon Appetit. Topped with crushed Ritz or other buttery crackers, this is a cousin to broccoli cheddar soup.
3. Candied Yam and Marshmallow Bake
Like traditional candied yams, this casserole from Life Family Fun is coated in toasted mini marshmallows. It’s sweet, buttery, and a little bit spicy.
4. Ultimate Fall Salad
You could make this fall-themed chopped salad from Nutrition in the Kitch to serve alongside your Thanksgiving dinner. But filled with vegetables, fruit, nuts, and cheese, it’s hearty enough to eat as a meal.
5. Cheesy Bacon Butternut Squash
This delightful dish from Delish has two types of cheese and half a pound of bacon and cooks in one dish. Simply toss your butternut squash with oil, garlic, and thyme, scatter chopped bacon on top, and bake. Then top with cheese.
6. Cream Cheese herb Biscuits
Here’s another recipe for cheese lovers from Country Living. It combines cream cheese and asiago with garlic, chives, parsley, and black pepper in this side dish that no one can resist.
7. Honey-Squash Dinner Rolls
These rolls from Taste of Home are as pretty as they are tasty. The rolls are sweet and hearty, and before baking, they’re brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
8. Cinnamon Ginger Carrot Souffle
If you love the idea of sweet potato casserole, but it’s a bit too sweet for your tastes, this option from Lively Table could be just what you have been looking for. It uses carrots, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, but Greek yogurt and egg whites keep it light and fluffy.
9. Air Fryer Potatoes
Want a bunch of sides on your holiday table but don’t have enough space to cook all of them in your oven? Delish has you covered with these fantastic seasoned fries you can cook in your air fryer. Coat the potatoes with oil and seasonings, and cook on your countertop.
10. Gorgonzola Baked Polenta
They may not celebrate Thanksgiving in Italy, but you can borrow one of their classic dishes when you prepare your own feast this year. Polenta is a traditional dish in Italy, and this baked version from Country Living, laced with three different kinds of cheese, is sure to make everyone’s taste buds sing with joy.
11. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
These potatoes from Love and Lemons are perfect if you’re considering a Thanksgiving of all side dishes this year. You can set up the ingredients buffet-style and let people choose their own options. Include choices like curried chickpeas, shredded Brussels sprouts, cranberries, feta, tzatziki, salsa, and guacamole.
12. Cheesy Brussels Sprout Bake
Another dish for cheese lovers, this version of Brussels sprouts from Delish is creamy and cheesy, using white cheddar, gruyere, and heavy cream. It’s sprinkled with bacon and baked bubbly and golden in the oven.
13. Healthier Scalloped Potatoes
If you love cheese, but you’re looking for something a bit healthier, we’ve got good news. Lively Table explains that you don’t need pounds of butter and cream to make scalloped potatoes; you just need quality ingredients. Find the best parmesan and gruyere you can, and always grate it yourself.
14. Herb and Feta Spoonbread
For a side dish that works just as well on a Thursday in May as it does on Thanksgiving day, try this herb and feta spoonbread. It uses a handful of ingredients you likely have on hand, though you may need to go to the store for the feta cheese.
Popovers are a bit complicated, but they are so worth it. Give them a try this Thanksgiving with a recipe for The Pioneer Woman. She even gives you a couple of tips. Let them cool in the oven if you don’t want them to collapse before you serve them. But if you plan to serve them immediately, they will have a delightful custard-like filling.
16. Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Looking for something a bit more traditional? These garlic mashed potatoes from Delish will hit the spot. One unexpected ingredient in this version of garlic mashed potatoes? Balsamic vinegar.
17. Acorn Squash Salad
Can you have too many salads on your Thanksgiving table? As long as you vary their ingredients, the answer is no. Consider adding this salad from Country Living to your next feast. Served warm like spinach salad, this variation includes onions, almonds, tahini, and lemon juice.
18. Curried Chickpea Acorn Squash
If you’re looking for something a little different this Thanksgiving, try adding this recipe from Ahead of Thyme to your repertoire. It’s served inside an acorn squash, which is pretty traditional, but the stuffing is not. It has onions, mushrooms, chickpeas, coconut milk, curry seasonings, and soy sauce.
19. Moroccan Spiced Carrots
Here’s another recipe you can make in your air fryer, freeing up essential space in your oven. Delish tosses carrots with oil, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, salt, and paprika and then cooks them up on the countertop. It’s finished with a citrus dressing and pomegranate arils for a dish as beautiful as it is delicious.
20. Southern Baked Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese on Thanksgiving is a Southern tradition. If you live in this neck of the woods, consider adding this version from Food Network if you don’t already have one of your own. It may be the best option to start out with if you’re from outside the area.
21. Hot Bacon Brussels Sprout Salad
Another side dish to add to your table this Thanksgiving is this hot bacon Brussels sprout salad, but it’s not for vegetarians or vegans. There’s bacon in the salad and bacon drippings in the dressing. And it’s topped with blue cheese.
If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can buy prepared shaved Brussels sprouts from places like Trader Joe’s.
22. Parmesan Creamed Spinach
When you hear creamed spinach, you may think steakhouse more than Thanksgiving, but this Taste of Home side dish could be just the thing to spice things up this year at your home. It’s surprisingly easy to make and cooks up on your stovetop, saving you valuable room in the oven.
23. Pimento Cheese Corn Muffins
These savory muffins from Delish could work at any dinner, but they make a delightful addition to Thanksgiving. The muffins contain cheese and pimentos and are served slathered with pimento cheese. It doesn’t get much better than that.
24. Slow Cooker Bacon Mushroom Dressing
Dressing and stuffing are interchangeable terms. And like air fryer recipes, this option from Taste of Home lets you use a different kitchen appliance to prep one of your Thanksgiving side dishes. It is also semi-homemade. You mix stuffing cubes and cornbread stuffing mix with veggies, bacon, and chicken broth.
25. Stuffing Stuffed Pumpkins
This recipe from Delish is a bit labor-intensive, but if you’re looking for something fancy and willing to go all out, they make a gorgeous addition to your spread. Butternut squash and homemade stuffing are topped with cheese and served in snow pumpkins for a charming presentation and a scrumptious treat.
Tips for Making Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Mashed potatoes can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. Add sour cream or cream cheese if they’re more watery than you would like when reheated.
- Cranberry sauce and gravy can both be made ahead of time and frozen. Take them out on Thanksgiving morning so they have time to thaw before you use them.
- You can make your stuffing ahead too, and freeze it. Or you could just toast bread, nuts, and other inclusions and keep them on hand in your pantry or fridge to reduce prep time.
- That classic green bean casserole can also be prepped ahead of time. Mix and refrigerate without the crispy onion topping. On Thanksgiving morning, top it with the onions and pop it in the oven to bake.
- Rolls can also be made ahead and frozen, and your salad dressings can be mixed and refrigerated in advance.
What is the most popular side dish at Thanksgiving?
The most popular side dish at Thanksgiving is mashed potatoes, by a small margin, followed closely by stuffing coming in next. According to SNWS Digital, 46% of people named mashed potatoes their favorite Thanksgiving side dish and 43% chose stuffing. Sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce also ranked high on the list.
How many sides should you have at your Thanksgiving feast?
Your Thanksgiving feast should have at least 3 sides for up to 8 people, but many families choose to have an array of sides available on the holiday table. Plan for more if you are hosting over 16 for this year’s festivities.
How far in advance can I make Thanksgiving side dishes?
How far ahead you make Thanksgiving side dishes depends on the type of side you’re making. Soups can be made up to a week prior. Gravy can be made even sooner if you aren’t using the giblets from your Thanksgiving bird. Stuffing, casseroles, salads, and cold sides can be prepared two days in advance.
Thanksgiving side dishes are a delightful complement to the main course and could even replace it if you’re so inclined. Since more than half of Americans favor them to the main course, consider a sides-only Thanksgiving feast this year, and give the people what they really want for the holidays.
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