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Your Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Thanksgiving is one of the holidays we can't help but associate with food, family, and friends. If you agree that the key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner is choosing the suitable side dishes, then this article will help you decide what sides to cook this year. And how to make this Thanksgiving feast perfect precisely for you and your family.
Anna at SideChef
Content Specialist. Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.
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Anna at SideChef
Content Specialist. Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.

We love the holiday season and the delicious festive foods!

Making the perfect main dish sure is essential. But for many of us, the Thanksgiving table is all about the sides. Roasted Brussels sprouts, all kinds of potatoes (creamy mashed potatoes are a must), casseroles, cranberry sauce, butternut squash, something with green beans... so many! And everyone has their favorites.

No matter what you have planned for your Thanksgiving dinner, you will find some fantastic holiday table ideas for Thanksgiving sides. We also have some amusing facts about everyone's favorite feast to spruce up your dinner table conversations!

What Are The Most Popular Side Dishes for Thanksgiving?

Every year, depending on where you are from, there will be some essential side dishes you simply must make. No Thanksgiving dinner table would be considered complete without the all-time favorite classic sides like a green bean casserole (especially if you are from the Midwest), corn pudding, roasted butternut squash, or bacon Brussels sprouts (if you're from the South). Maybe for your family, macaroni and cheese or glazed carrots are those staples.

It only makes sense to start with The Best of Traditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes and some fascinating trivia facts about them for you to entertain your friends and family.

There are three activities we all engage in during Thanksgiving long weekend. We spend time with our family or friends, watch football or the parade, and eat a lot of food. A LOT 'f food.'. Thanksgiving stretchy pants trend started by Joey Tribbiani from 'Friends' is never going out of style!

Number one Thanksgiving side dish all across the country is mashed potatoes. Your family might have something unique about your mash recipe or the consistency that the Thanksgiving mash must be. But either the classic fluffy or a fancy roasted garlic version of this side will be on most festive dinner tables come last Thursday of November.

Stuffing is number two on the traditional side's ranking list—savory, crispy, full of fall flavors, and comforting warmth in every bite. And there are hundreds of Thanksgiving stuffing recipes to choose from. Nothing beats the classic stuffing recipe for the traditional ones of us.

Fun Facts:

Thanksgiving Side Dishes to Impress Your Guests

Let's get a bit fancier now. It goes without saying that you must have a signature Thanksgiving side everyone asks for year after year. But if you really want to take it up a notch and impress your family and friends into a Thanksgiving culinary coma, make something more elaborate than a green bean casserole.

If your usual go-to was sweet potato casserole, make a gratin. Hasselback your potatoes instead of going with a boring mash. Roast some acorn squash, and it will double as a Thanksgiving table decoration as well. Upgrade your usual dinner rolls into a show-stopping masterpiece.

If you are ready to take up the challenge of leaving your family and friends speechless, you should check out the detailed list of Thanksgiving Side recipe ideas to impress. A lot of these can be made ahead of time and are not that complicated to put together.

When it comes to sides, the more, the better approach never fails, so add something elegant and grand to your Thanksgiving menu; it might start a whole new family tradition.

Fancy Fun Facts:

Easy Thanksgiving Dinner Sides or Last Minute Side Dishes to Avoid Thanksgiving Kitchen Disasters

Thanksgiving dinner is like the Super Bowl for home cooks. So the stress of juggling multiple culinary tasks while keeping everybody happy is overwhelming. And try as you might, sometimes things go wrong because #lifeishard.

Top Thanksgiving mistakes that might lead to a disaster include:


  • Underestimating thaw time and overestimating cooking time.

  • Overcommitting on the side dishes and running out of time.

  • Only choosing dishes that need to be cooked and skipping on salads.

  • Making the pie on Thanksgiving day.

  • Serving too much alcohol (we all have that one drunk uncle)


The best way to avoid all of the above is planning. PLAN EVERYTHING!

Plan your Thanksgiving menu thoroughly (include cold and hot sides, the main dish you can cook with your eyes closed, several dishes that you can make ahead of time, several desserts, and a few before dinner snacks), make the holiday grocery list, do your shopping in advance, estimate cooking time you will need, and last but not least make sure you have help in the kitchen. Don't leave all the cooking for Thanksgiving day; it's a sure way to end up with an anxiety attack and hungry guests.

ALWAYS make sure to have a plan B and include some foolproof, easy side dishes to put together quickly if something goes awry with your plan A.

If you don't have a go-to easy recipe in mind, get some ideas from this list of Easy Last-minute Thanksgiving Side Dishes to Salvage Any Kitchen Disaster.

Fun Facts to Buy Some Time in Case of Thanksgiving Kitchen Emergency:

Vegan-Friendly Thanksgiving Side Dishes

The holiday season might involve even more planning when you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Going with Thanksgiving classics won't work, and you will have to either seriously alter the recipes to fit your dietary restrictions or find the ones that have been adapted already. Either way, it's extra work.

To save you some precious time you can check out this list of our favorite Vegan Thanksgiving side dish recipes and find something exciting for the dinner table.

No-turkey Thanksgiving Fun Facts:


  • President George H.W. Bush pardoned the first turkey in 1989 because he thought that the 50-pound bird looked somewhat nervous (and rightfully so) at his official Thanksgiving proclamation. It has been a tradition for every American president ever since. The pardoned turkeys go on to live happy lives.

  • Tofurky is a delicious meat-free main dish. And ever since 1995, Tofurky Roasts have been making vegans everywhere enjoy a proper Thanksgiving feast.

Low-carb Thanksgiving Sides

Suppose you are a carb and calorie-conscious individual and prefer to find suitable food substitutes and fun recipe options. In that case, you should look into low-carb Thanksgiving side dish options available.

Just like any proper holiday meal, Thanksgiving will take some planning and then a bit of extra planning if you are determined to stay on the low-carb track and make no excuses even for the holiday season.

Some traditional dishes are already low carb - turkey or tofurky, fresh green beans, Brussels sprouts, etc. And a lot of side dishes traditionally rich in carbs can be successfully transformed to fit low-carb requirements. Cauliflower, for instance, can help to replace traditional mashed potatoes. And if you are willing to make some reasonable exceptions for the holiday, sweet potatoes can still stay; just don't turn them into a brown sugar-loaded sweet potato casserole dish.

And nobody said you absolutely have to stick to classics. It's great to mix and match and perhaps consider including something like hummus, baked camembert, or Parmesan cheese into your low-carb Thanksgiving menu.

Thanksgiving ideas: bonus section

Now that we are clear on how vital it is to plan your Thanksgiving dinner menu let's get into some more delicious detail.

Side dishes will rule your holiday dinner table, but don't forget to include other thanksgiving day essentials into your planning. And by 'essentials,' I mean these:

Fun Bite-sized Thanksgiving Appetizers
You might ask, "Why do I need to go the extra mile and making appetizers as well?"

Remember how we talked about all the thanksgiving kitchen nightmares that could happen? Making a couple of entertaining appetizers ahead of time is another way to get out of any culinary emergency unscathed.

The Best of Thanksgiving Pies
It's safe to say that a good Thanksgiving pie is just as important as having a versatile side dish selection. If you are only thinking of pumpkin and pecan, check out the link above and think again. And there are so many options there!

The Best of Thanksgiving Boozy Cocktails and Drinks
Find the right balance, keep that one drunk family member at bay and avoid any controversial conversations during Thanksgiving day. It's for family, fun times, good food, and boozy drinks. A good Thanksgiving cocktail is what you need to stay calm and collected no matter what.

Have a happy and delicious Thanksgiving!

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