Thanksgiving 101

Sides that Steal the Show

Updated on 07. Nov. 2022
If ever there's a time to go all out, it's Thanksgiving: the more side dishes, the better!
If ever there's a time to go all out, it's Thanksgiving: the more side dishes, the better!

Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, (fill-in-the-blank) and other side dishes. After all, who wants to eat the turkey without the delicious trimmings? These vegetable-rich dishes bring so much variety to the holiday table in both flavor, texture and color (here's looking at you, cranberry jelly). What's more, it's the sides that enable the Thanksgiving meal to appeal to everyone on your guest list, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

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Stragetize Your Sides: Think Logistically for a Stress-Free Holiday

Planning and advance preparation: That's what makes the mad dash to the finish line (er, the Thankskgiving feast) completely manageable. The same basic tenets apply whether you are making three, six, nine or twelve different side dishes.

  • First, make sure you have the counter/oven/refrigerator space to prepare/cook/store all the dishes you want to make. 
  • Secondly, as with any meal, choose sides with a variety of tastes, textures and colors, and even temperatures.
  • Stack your menu with make-ahead side dishes as possible; chutneys and relishes and breads can all be fully prepared in advance.
  • Pick casseroles and stuffings that can be baked the day before and then reheated just before serving. 
  • For sides that require last-minute cooking, do all the prep work (chopping vegetables, toasting nuts, etc) a day or two in advance.
  • Dishes that can be served at room temperature (such as a green bean salad) are always good options, since they won't take up limited oven/refrigerator space.
  • Keep in mind: Even mashed potatoes and other vegetable purees can be prepared a couple hours ahead and kept warm over a hot water bath.
  • Vary the cooking techniques so you don't have to struggle for oven space; make good use of your stove-top burners by pan-roasting, sauteeing, blanching or steaming vegetables. 

Mix-and-Match Recipes

You really can't go wrong so long as you don't load up on too many starchy carbs. Make sure there's at least one green vegetable (better yet, two) on the menu; we've got some that even the kiddos will love. 

Stuffings and the like

Assorted Stuffings: Apple, Pecan and Sausage Stuffing, Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing, Chestnut Stuffing

Fruit and Nut Stuffing 

Baked Bread Stuffing

Baked Pumpkin with Vegetable Wild Rice Stuffing

Savory Bread Puddings with Wild Mushrooms

If you plan to stuff the turkey, read this

Rice and other grains

Pearl Barley Mushroom Risotto

Pumpkin Wild Rice 

Chestnut Wild Rice Risotto with Sage and Bacon

Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

Barley Pilaf with Vegetables and Mushrooms

Quinoa-Stuffed Squash

Quinoa with Leek and Carrots (Vegan)

Mashes and purees

Creamy Mashed Potatoes 

Apple and Celery Root Puree

Mashed Rutabaga

Pumpkin Puree

Butternut Squash Puree

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Gratins and casseroles

Celery Root and Potato Gratin

Sweet Potato Crisp with Cranberries

Candied Sweet Potato Gratin

Potato and Parsnip Gratin

Green Bean Gratin

Carrot and Kohlrabi Gratin

Creamy Vegetable Bake

Roasted vegetables

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts

Roasted Pumpkin with Pumpkin Seeds

Balsamic Roasted Apples and Onions

Oven-Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

Roasted Carrots with Fennel

Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese

Steamed, sauteed or braised vegetables

Sauteéd Broccoli Rabe and Hazelnuts 

Sautéed Spinach with Toasted Pine Nuts and Raisins

Brussels Sprouts with Almonds

Fresh Green Beans with Pecans and Bacon

Savory Braised Chard

Honey-Glazed Carrots

Braised Onions

Braised Cabbage Rolls

Side salads

Toasted Walnut, Cranberry, and Blue Cheese Green Bean Salad 

Kale Salad with Pears and Walnuts 

Beet and Quinoa salad

Apple and Fennel Salad

Spinach Salad with Cheese and Pomegranate

Herbed Beet Salad

Tossed Brussels Sprout Salad (with dried cranberries and pear)

Relishes and chutneys

Pear-Cranberry Chutney 

Apple, Cranberry and Walnut Relish

Cranberry Relish

Preserved Beet Relish

Plum Chutney

Fig Chutney

Quick breads and rolls

Cornbread Loaf

Pumpkin Rolls

Fresh Cranberry Orange Scones

Mixed-Seed Dinner Rolls



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