Thanksgiving is all about the sides. I love Thanksgiving side dishes with a passion, but how exactly do you decide what you’re going to make?
The Five Essential Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Everyone knows the feeling of getting sucked into a research hole on the internet. There are so many sites with massive lists of side dishes out there. But, if you’re anything like me, you get choice paralysis. There is definitely too much of a good thing. So, here are my five (yes, only five!) favorite Thanksgiving sides. I hope one of them makes it on to your Thanksgiving menu.
Let’s start off with this one because, green equals health. This is the mushroom-iest green bean casserole you’ll ever have. I love how the beans are crisp, snappy, and so fresh, all thanks thanks to an ice bath that leaves them an almost absurd shade of green. The mushroom sauce has a quadruple dose of umami thanks to mushrooms, soy sauce, fish sauce, and parm. Store bought crispy onions finish the whole thing off. Honestly, I can eat just these and call it a meal.
Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? Velveeta mac forever and ever because it’s a creamy, dreamy classic. I mean, just look at that bowl. It’s got the the cheese! Glossy, smooth, and simply delicious. It’s the best and will forever be on our Thanksgiving menu.
Some people might think that making your own homemade rolls is overkill, especially considering stuffing is an essential. I say, give me all that carb on carb action. Thanksgiving is just once a year and homemade squishy buns are so dreamy. It’s a pro move to brush garlic butter on top after they come out of the oven.
I’m a mashed potato connoisseur. Mike once did a double blind taste test for me with varying potato varieties and recipes and I was able to identify every singe one. This is my go-to recipe for mashed potatoes. It’s smooth and creamy, buttery and fluffy. It’s truly the best. The secret is that there is no secret, just good technique. Pure potato goodness from just potatoes, garlic, butter, and milk.
Stuffing (or dressing, if you must) lovers unite! I love stuffing so much that I make extra so I can eat it for breakfast every single day after thanksgiving. Turkey sandwiches? No thanks, give me stuffing please! This recipe, which I love making in the crock pot so it frees up the oven, is crisp and custard-y, and full of flavor. You can make it in the oven too, but don’t skip out on toasting the bread before making the stuffing, it’s what makes it so good.
Is it even Thanksgiving without Potato??
I love potatoes so much that I draw potatoes in my spare time. A potato buffet is my dream buffet.
Cheesy potato balls because even better than mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes stuffed with cheese and deep-fried with a crispy outer crust.
Crispy air fryer potatoes for those times when you want a crispy roast potato but the turkey’s in the oven.
Potato salad because why can’t you have potato salad at Thanksgiving? This one has addictive kewpie mayo and rice vinegar in it.
Irish boxty potato pancakes are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Nothing like latkes, more plush and potato-y.
Mini little potatoes you can just keep popping into your mouth, filled with ranch, bacon, and cheese.
If your oven isn’t free, these are the potatoes for you: crunchy on the outside and deliciously creamy on the inside.
If you want the most flavorful roast potatoes, duck fat is what you need. Maybe the best roasties you’ll ever make.
Make your roast potatoes extra lux this Thanksgiving and serve them up with some melty creamy burrata.
This might be one of my favorite ways of making potatoes: thinly sliced, trimmed into rectangles, and baked. The edges turn into a crispy chip and the centers are thick and creamy.
Roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes tossed in a lime-soy dressing with a crunchy savory granola situation on top.
After potatoes, stuffing is my next favorite side dish. Sometimes, when I feel like some extreme comfort food I’ll bake up a small dish of stuffing. Weird flex, I know, but damn, stuffing is the good stuff.
Technically this isn’t stuffing, more of a herby breakfast strata, but really, what is stuffing if not bread cubes soaked with deliciousness and baked up?
Creamy acorn squash and bread cubes together forever, topped off with cheese because cheesy stuffing is a game changer.
Vegetable Thanksgiving side dishes
Green things, because health. And not so green things because we’re inclusive and you don’t have to be green to be a vegetable.
Not only are they cute, they taste good too! Serve up some honeynut squash with greek yogurt and honeyed walnuts.
Forget your classic green been casserole and serve up some crisp green beans tossed in a miso dijon dressing.
I love how sweet and caramelized cauliflower gets when you roast it. Hmm, I think I like sweet vegetables, gotta work on getting more of those bitter greens in my life.
Kale is a leafy green! One that tastes amazing when you braise it in tomato sauce and top it off with burrata.
I love all things in tot form and these broccoli tots are just so poppable. And forkable. And delicious.
What do you mean kale chips aren’t a Thanksgiving side?! When you think about it, kale chips are just crispy kale and that’s a side in my books.
Bread and Biscuit Thanksgiving side dishes
Warm bread and biscuits fresh out of the oven are a treat but more so at Thanksgiving because it makes the house so warm and cozy.
This is the softest, most plush bread you’ll ever make. Spread some butter on and sprinkle on the flaky sea salt!
Salad and Salad-Adjacent Thanksgiving side dishes
I love salads with Thanksgiving dinner because they offer a fresh and tart counterpoint to all the richness. Plus they make me feel like I’m being a little healthy.
I could eat just this salad and be happy! Crunchy tender broccoli, red onions, sliced almonds, and craisins.
If you’re looking for a light salad that will bring some freshness to the table, this is it: chopped veggies, crispy pitas, and a sumac lemon dressing.
Mac and Cheeses are the best Thanksgiving side dishes
The preferred side dish on the East Coast. Those folks know! Creamy cheesy mac and cheese is a welcome addition to any Thanksgiving spread.
Did you know you can waffle mac and cheese!? The edges get wonderfully crisp and crunchy and the insides are soft and cheesy.
This one isn’t really a mac and cheese but I had to include it because it has scoobi doo mac and it has burrata, which is cheese!
Literally the EASIEST mac and cheese you will ever make because it is just penne and Boursin cheese.
Whew! That was a lot of side dishes. I’m amazed you made it this far. Hope you got inspired and happy side dishing!