Thanksgiving

Our 50 Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

The greatest hits, plus new classics.

by:
October 25, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin

There is no other holiday on the U.S. federal calendar that lets you celebrate vegetables, salads, and side dishes in such an unbridled, unapologetic way as Thanksgiving does. When it comes to this holiday, turkey—as much as I love the taste of it with its drippings and the amazing future sandwiches it's destined to root—is the one true side at my table.

Thanksgiving lets you go the extra mile with the supporting characters, so much so that, for many, they somehow end up becoming the stars of the show.

It's a beautiful day, isn't it, when the underdog finally gets to shine?

I'm a sides guy, in short. I think many people are. Which is why it makes sense to really nail down your mix because there's a lot going on in side dish land: You've got to keep some mainstay classics because the point of Thanksgiving is, on the one hand, tradition: the comfort of repetition and family and the dinner table.

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Top Comment:
“It goes perfectly with turkey , pork crown roast, standing rib beef roast - quite likely with any main Thanksgiving dish. Recipe: 1 package (12 oz) fresh cranberries; 1 1/4 cup sugar; 1/4 (or more) cup port wine; 2 tsp corn starch; 2 tbsp. water cook cranberries, sugar, and port over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes (berries will begin to pop); combine cornstarch and water and stir into cranberry mixture; cook for 2 more minutes until until sauce thickens”
— William
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On the other hand, time (and the day off!) to do nothing but dwell in the kitchen, cooking and communing and experimenting with new recipes. In the midst of all the cheesy casseroles and starchy starches (the reliable standbys), it helps to throw in something green, or something crunchy, or something fresh and vibrant and zingy—something novel. Eye-opening side dishes that will become, in their magnificence, new classics.

I've gathered below our best Thanksgiving side dish recipes, including some of our latest favorites.


Our 50 Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

1. Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pears & Pistachios

Roasted Brussels sprouts make an excellent side dish all year long, but we especially love this fall-ready version with tangy-sweet pears and crunchy pistachios.

2. Pear, Brandy & Walnut Cranberry Sauce

If canned cranberry sauce isn't your thing, don't write off this classic condiment just yet—try this homemade cinnamon and brandy-infused version made with fresh cranberries. It just might change your mind.

3. Crispy Delicata Rings With Currant, Fennel & Apple Relish

One of the greatest things about delicate squash: you don't have to peel it. Simply slice into rings, remove the seeds, roast with lime, and top with a zingy fennel and apple relish.

4. Martha Stewart's Macaroni & Cheese

Over 100 glowing reviews don't lie: this lusciously cheese macaroni and cheese from Martha Stew is the bomb.

5. Harvest Stuffing Bread

Get all those cozy, carb-y stuffing flavors in a single loaf with this soft, tender white bread packed with lots of dried herbs and spices, from dried onion powder and celery seed to dried sage and thyme.

6. Homemade Green Bean Casserole

This isn't your average green bean casserole. Here, snappy haricots verts get dressed up in a lush wine and shallot-spiked mushroom bechamel. Basically, side dish heaven.

7. Mashed Potatoes With Caramelized Onions & Goat Cheese

Up the Thanksgiving ante by fancy-ing up your next batch of regular mashed potatoes with a mix of mellow-sweet caramelized onions, punchy goat cheese. and garlic.

8. Northern Spy's Kale Salad

Side dishes you can prep in advance are a lifesaver during the holidays, and for that reason, this make-ahead kale salad with studded with squash, almonds, and pecorino is on the menu often.

9. Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout & Bread Stuffing With Apples

If you have friends or family who need a bit of convincing that vegan dishes can be just as tasty and satisfying as their non-vegan counterparts, make them this wow-worthy bread stuffing with squash, herbs, alliums, and apples.

10. Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock's Sweet Potato Casserole

You won't find golden-browned marshmallows topping this sweet potato casserole, but don't worry—this recipe calls for a layer of sugar-crusted pecans over smooth, whipped sweet potatoes that's just as satisfying (if not better).

11. Classic Parker House Rolls

Warm, toasty dinner rolls are a must for any Thanksgiving spread, and these classic Parker House rolls are one of our go-to recipes for a crowd.

12. Diane Morgan's Classic Mashed Potatoes

These traditional mashed potatoes have a trick that makes them extra fluffy and flavorful: mix in the melted butter first, then add the warmed-up milk.

13. Angel Corn

This creamy baked corn casserole has been a part of former Food52 Editor Cory Baldwin's Thanksgiving tradition for as long as she can remember. She calls it "a magnificent excuse for a vegetable" and we can't help but agree.

14. Roasted Carrot Soup

For the best-tasting carrot soup, roast your carrots in the oven with nothing but olive oil and salt until they're soft and lightly browned before blending with stock and seasonings.

15. Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole

This dish has all your major food groups: vegetable, carbohydrate, and cheese. Inspired by the classic recipe from the side of a can, my version of the comforting casserole has been spread out onto a sheet pan so that the rice can caramelize and get extra crispy. If you're like my family members—who love rice—then this may replace the turkey at your table this year.

16. Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric-Tahini Sauce & Pistachios

If you're throwing a vegetarian Thanksgiving, we think this doozy of a whole-roasted cauliflower with dried Kalamata olives, a crunchy pistachio-sesame condiment, and turmeric-tahini sauce would make a showstopping side dish for sharing.

17. Sheet-Pan Cornbread Stuffing With Sage

Cooking your stuffing on a sheet pan adds a whole new layer of texture: the super-buttery cornbread gets crispy-chewy on the edges and the veggies have just the right amount of bite.

18. Stovetop Green Bean “Casserole”

You can never have too many green bean casserole options, in our opinion, and this four-ingredient stovetop riff is a great addition to any list.

19. Instant Pot Buttermilk & Leek Mashed Potatoes

"All variations are fair game with these potatoes," Recipe Developer Ella Quittner says. And her recipe Instant Pot buttermilk and leek mashed potatoes, which comes together in just 20 minutes, is one of our favorites.

20. Sheet-Pan Mac & Cheese With Pumpkin & Brown Butter

We're big fan of alllll types of mac and cheese, but we especially love serving up this sheet-pan version with pumpkin and nutty brown butter during the holidays.

21. Brown Butter Stuffing

Speaking of brown butter, we love it added to a simple stuffing, like this one with just fresh sage, stock, and eggs.

22. Momofuku's Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Fish Sauce Vinaigrette

Typical roasted Brussels sprouts get an extra spark with the addition of a fish sauce vinaigrette with lime juice, chiles, and garlic.

23. Sweet & Smoky Roasted Carrots

"If you love smoked paprika, the odds are high that you’ll love these carrots," writes Dorie Greenspan of her sweet and smoky roasted carrots.

24. Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

The Instant Pot works its magic again with this creamy, pancetta-y mac and cheese that's sprinkled with a stovetop-toasted panko.

25. Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon & Balsamic-Cranberry Glaze

These family-favorite Brussels sprouts from longtime Food52 contributor EmilyC call on a few tricks that make them extraordinarily delicious: start with a piping-hot sheet pan and coat the Brussels sprouts in a balsamic-cranberry glaze.

26. Caramelized Butternut Squash Wedges with a Sage Hazelnut Pesto

Fresh sage and roasted butternut squash are a pitch-perfect autumn pairing, but the hazelnut, sage, and ricotta salata pesto(ish) drizzle really takes the combo over the top.

27. Creamy Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms

Expect to make an extra-large batch of these addictive sausage-stuffed mushrooms—they're pretty much guaranteed to disappear the second they hit a serving dish.

28. Heavenly Oatmeal-Molasses Rolls

You don't need to be an seasoned bread-maker to pull off these oatmeal and molasses rolls—the method is exceptionally straightforward and the dough is a dream to work with (no kneading necessary).

29. The Best Pan-Roasted Potatoes

You won't need more than three ingredients—potatoes, oil, and salt—to pull off these crispy-edged pan-roasted potatoes, which are indeed, the very best.

30. Corn Pudding

Let one Food52 community member's review of this corn pudding help you decide whether or not to give it a try: "I LOVED this recipe. It was the star of my Thanksgiving menu!!!! My relatives would not stop talking about it the whole meal."

31. Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Cilantro

Cauliflower's natural sweetness shines after a stint in the oven, plus it gets a nice complement with smoky cumin and bright cilantro.

32. Seared and Glazed Parsnips with Rosemary

Parsnips may not get the same fanfare as this season's other root vegetables, but these smoky seared-meets-charred parsnips deserve just as much attention as carrots, sweet potatoes, and the like.

33. Mashed Potato Focaccia

Your new favorite focaccia recipe has a secret ingredient that makes it the most tender of them all: mashed potatoes. Make an extra portion of mashed potatoes when you're prepping Thanksgiving dinner and use them here for an incredibly soft, bread-y side.

34. Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese

Who would turn down a cheesy gratin with garlic-infused milk, Gruyère, and your fall's favorite root vegetables (like potatoes, parsnips, and butternut squash)? Not us.

35. Roasted Pear and Rainbow Chard Salad

Lemony vinaigrette, chèvre cheese, roasted-till-golden pears, and a bed of tender rainbow chard strike the perfect balance of tart, sweet, creamy, and earthy.

36. Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple and Red Pepper Flakes

This roasted acorn squash is simple and delicious, requiring little more than the ingredients that are listed in the recipe's title.

37. Grilled Potato and Green Bean Salad

Potato salad is a summer staple, but this " feisty, grilled version" fits right in during the chillier months.

38. Roasted Delicata Squash Stuffed with Autumn Farro

Squash stuffed with fennel and pistachio-spiked farro makes a hearty side dish, but it can also stand in as the main on a vegetarian Thanksgiving table.

39. Paul Kahan's Panzanella With Roasted Leeks, Pecans & Apples

Leeks, cut lengthwise and roasted, shine in this easy panzanella (aka bread salad) alongside toasty pecans and crisp apples.

40. Sautéed Dates with Roasted Butternut Squash, Wheatberries and Blue Cheese

"This salad has many of my favorite things: sweet, caramelized dates, funky blue cheese, spiced, roasted squash, and peppery arugula," reads the Test Kitchen notes on this hearty salad. Yep, we're sold.

41. Stewy White Beans with Escarole, Garlic, and Sizzled Rosemary

These stewy white beans silky escarole are easy, one-pot, and call for budget-friendly ingredients, so basically you're looking at the ideal side dish.

42. Baked Ricotta with Mushroom Confit and Balsamic Brown Butter

This baked ricotta takes a few uncomplicated ingredients—ricotta, mushroom, garlic, and balsamic, for starters—and turns them into something spread-able, dip-able, and totally dreamy with a few easy steps.

43. Autumn Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

According to one reviewer, this fall-friendly salad "tastes as good as it looks," which must be very, very good.

44. Steam-Roasted Carrots with Cumin

"The beauty of this recipe is in the method—adding water right before you roast, and covering the pan," writers former Food52 Editor Kenzi Wilbur of her five-star steam-roasted carrots.

45. Thanksgiving Root Vegetable Pie

This savory, vegetarian-friendly pie can be prepped a day or two ahead of time, so all you have to do on Thanksgiving is roast your vegetables and bake everything.

46. Cream-Baked Endive with Bacon and Pecans

"Endive browned to perfection and then slathered in a cheesy cream sauce, topped with bacon and pecans?" asks our Test Kitchen notes. The answer is yes. Always yes.

47. Molly Stevens' Roasted Fennel, Red Onion, and Orange Salad

Three winter standbys—fennel, onion, and orange—make a bright and fresh-tasting trio in this absurdly simply salad recipe.

48. Carlo Middione's Polenta Facile

Heaps of turkey, roasted vegetables, and even a dollop of cranberry sauce would all taste great over this creamy, two-ingredient polenta—yep, we're talking polenta and salt.

49. Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce (and Savory Apple Charlottes)

This ultra-comforting applesauce is just like what you might buy in a plastic cup—only a bit more fresh-tasting and balanced (thanks to a splash of apple cider vinegar).

50. Roasted Root Vegetables with Cider Vinaigrette

It doesn't get more traditional than a tray of roasted root vegetables, but the addition of a sweet-tart vinaigrette takes things to the next level.


The True "Side Dish" at My Table

What's the must-have side at your Thanksgiving every year? Let us know in the comments below (and psst—please share the recipe if you have it).
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Eric Kim is a Senior Editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the Digital Manager at Food Network, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.

24 Comments

William November 17, 2019
For many years I have made Port Wine Cranberry Sauce. It goes perfectly with turkey , pork crown roast, standing rib beef roast - quite likely with any main Thanksgiving dish.
Recipe: 1 package (12 oz) fresh cranberries; 1 1/4 cup sugar; 1/4 (or more) cup port wine; 2 tsp corn starch; 2 tbsp. water

cook cranberries, sugar, and port over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes (berries will begin to pop); combine cornstarch and water and stir into cranberry mixture; cook for 2 more minutes until until sauce thickens
 
OldGrayMare November 17, 2019
Creamed onions!! MUST have creamed onions! Also, the cranberry molded salad filled with sour cream.
 
HRH November 11, 2019
We have to have all the old favorites, but my daughter always requests "my" squash gratin! It's basically just zucchini and yellow squash, with some onion, and of course a creamy cheesy sauce. Garlicky toasted breadcrumbs on top :)
 
creamtea November 2, 2019
It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without my sweet, often-requested Golden Carrot Soufflé on this site: https://food52.com/recipes/14483-golden-carrot-souffle
And Portuguese Green beans from Jean Anderson's book, The Food of Portugal: steamed green beans, olive oil, lemon juice and minced garlic make a refreshing side at what is usually a heavy meal.
 
Brenda D. November 20, 2018
My family don't think it's Thanksgiving without broccoli casserole. I was trying to skip it this year for something new and different, but not so. :)
 
Author Comment
Eric K. November 21, 2018
Aw me too, Brenda. We make a broccoli cheese rice casserole that probably came from the back of a Velveeta box, tbh! But we love it. Happy Thanksgiving.
 
Annie November 17, 2019
Ha, same! I have been describing it to people where I live ( California) and nobody seems to know about it. I chalked it up to just being a Midwest thing. Am I making it this year? YES!
 
Author Comment
Eric K. November 17, 2019
Brenda and Annie,

One year later, I wrote about it: https://food52.com/blog/24763-why-this-casserole-is-my-familys-favorite-thanksgiving-recipe Remembered your comments on this piece and thought you'd relate.

Happy Thanksgiving!
E
 
Peppa November 19, 2018
Despite my fancy cooking skills, every year I am requested to make my "famous" creamed peas and onions, which is basically a bag of frozen peas and + a bag of frozen pearl onions simmered with heavy cream and salt. Maybe I'm not as good a cook as I think I am. :)
 
Author Comment
Eric K. November 19, 2018
Or you're just a Thanksgiving genius. ;) That sounds divine to me.
 
ElenAubry November 19, 2018
Sounds both Delightful and easy to follow. Simply genuis.
 
bjm October 17, 2019
I had a belly laugh over this one!!! It sounds fabulous and so easy - what a treat.
 
Linda L. October 17, 2019
Now I have to have this. Sounds delicious!. Same here. I have to bring my "famous" mashed potatoes, which is absurd, since it's only mashed potatoes with a little extra garlic powder and a sprinkle of dried chives, plus too much butter. lol.
 
Winifred R. November 10, 2019
As delightfully remembered from my childhood and youth as a very special dish. You have absolutely right idea.
 
Tania K. November 14, 2019
I am totally going to make this! Thank you for a easy, fast and yet tasty Thanksgiving side!
 
Valerie November 18, 2018
Where’s the recipe for pecan crusted sweet potato?
 
Author Comment
Eric K. November 18, 2018
Hi Valere, it’s this dish: https://food52.com/recipes/39002-edna-lewis-scott-peacock-s-sweet-potato-casserole
 
Timothy E. November 18, 2018
The email "teaser" mentioned Gingered Cranberries but I do not see a recipe for them in this article. A search of the site only produced a chutney. My interest is peaked. Do you actually have a Gingered Cranberry recipe?
 
Author Comment
Eric K. November 18, 2018
Here you go, Timothy! https://food52.com/recipes/1440-gingered-cranberry-fig-chutney
 
Timothy E. November 22, 2018
Thank you!
 
BerryBaby November 17, 2018
All traditional fare and, of course, classic green bean casserole made with canned green beans. Everyone insists on canned not fresh beans.
It's a once a year indulgence!
 
Author Comment
Eric K. November 17, 2018
My brother, too; canned, never fresh.
 
myartofbeinghere November 16, 2018
I've made this cranberry sauce recipe probably the last 5 years straight for Thanksgiving. I think it's just about perfect.

https://food52.com/recipes/1467-pear-brandy-and-walnut-cranberry-sauce
 
Author Comment
Eric K. November 16, 2018
We think so, too. :)