Best Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes: Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, and More | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Thanksgiving Sides That Make the Meal

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Our most popular Thanksgiving side dishes

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Let’s be real! Thanksgiving side dishes make the meal! Think of all those colorful hues—such as red cranberry sauce, deep-orange sweet potato casserole, and golden-baked acorn squash. Some of us could JUST have a dinner of sides. Here are editors’ picks for favorite side dishes—plus, some vegetarian options and a couple of historically-inspired dishes!

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Sure, there’s the turkey. But what excited us about the Thanksgiving meals are those autumn harvest side dishes; their colors, textures, and flavors just meld together like no other meal! Listed below are some of our favorite side dish recipes. We’d suggest you select 4 to 5 favorites and create a menu (with or without the bird)!

Cornbread Stuffing

This classic Cornbread With Sausage Stuffing dish is a favorite on the holiday table. The dressing comes out very buttery, with a nice blend of sausage and herbs. The surprising flavor is the apples, which add a crisp, fresh taste. Add to the bird or enjoy solo with all your sides! Browse more stuffing recipes.

cornbread_stuffing.jpgCredit: Sam Jones/QuinnBrien

Maple-Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Plain baked sweet potatoes are great; this way of preparing them is sublime, especially alongside that cranberry sauce!

maple-mashed sweet potatoesCredit: Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Casserole

Since we’re such big fans of sweet potatoes, here’s another option!  The classic sweet potato casserole with pecans adds great crunch and texture and is a reader favorite.

sweet-potato-pecan-casserole_full_width.jpgCredit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Basic Cranberry Sauce

Our basic cranberry sauce recipe has a perfect balance of sweet and tart. For something a little more creative, try our Chai-Spiced Orange-Cranberry Sauce

cranberry_sauce.jpgCredit: Anna Shepulova/shutterstock

Maple Squash Casserole

Our other favorite winter vegetable is squash! From acorn to butternut, this is another way to add orange warmth to the plate. Similar in texture to a sweet potato casserole, our Maple Squash Casserole can be made with any winter squash. We used a combination of delicata and butternut squash to create a slightly sweet and nutty dish. 

winter squash casserole

Baked Acorn Squash

A second winter squash option is acorn squash, which lends a golden autumn hue. When baked, this gift from the garden has a tender, mouthwatering taste, especially when enhanced with a bit of butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. And everyone loves the squash boats!

acorn squashCredit: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Green Bean Casserole

For greens, we always enjoy the classic green bean casserole; it simply fits well with all the other sides. Here, you’ll find a lighter homemade version that ditches the canned soup component.

green_bean_casserole_1.jpgCredit: Sam Jones/QuinnBrein

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Shallots and Bacon

If you’re not into green beans, how about seasonal Brussels sprouts? This roasted Brussels sprouts, bacon, and shallot dish is our favorite, but if you don’t want to use up the oven, try our Easiest Brussels Sprouts recipe (in a large sauté pan).

recipe-roastedbrusselssproutsrecipe.jpgCredit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Mashed Potatoes With Chives

Mashed potatoes are non-negotiable for many folks on Thanksgiving. Here’s a recipe with chives to add a tangy flavor and some interest. For other potato options, see our recipes for Cheesy Potatoes, Stuffed Mashed Potatoes, and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

chive_mashed_potatoes.jpgCredit: Sam Jones/QuinnBrein

Fall Harvest Squash Rolls

It’s time for bread rolls! These fall harvest squash rolls are always a hit! People are surprised when they learn they’re made from squash. 

recipe-squash_rolls_becky_luigart_stayner.jpgCredit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Spiced Carrot Biscuits with Salted Caramel Butter

Or are you looking for something different yet still delicious? Try these tasty carrot biscuits, which won third place in our 2014 Recipe Contest!

Carrot biscuits. Photo by Becky Luigart-StaynerCredit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Vegetarian Dishes

Curried Butternut Squash and Rice

This colorful butternut squash and rice recipe showcases the flavor of fall’s harvest in an easy yet deeply satisfying vegetarian (and vegan) meal.

shutterstock_485130997_full_width.jpgCredit: Sergey Fati/Shutterstock

Sweet Potato Lentil Coconut Curry

This Sweet Potato Lentil Coconut Curry is hearty, warming, colorful, and adaptable!

recipe-sweet-potato-recipe-winners_2.jpgCredit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

An entry in our Old Farmer’s Almanac Reader Recipe Contest, this Macaroni and Cheese uses pumpkin for a seasonal twist!

shutterstock_347710118_full_width.jpgCredit: Koss13/Shutterstock

Two Historically-Inspired Sides

The first Thanksgiving probably didn’t include many of our classics today, such as cranberries or mashed potatoes. (Read more in Why We Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving.) They were more likely to have chestnuts, squash, corn, and beans on hand, not potatoes, so we have included some historically-inspired side dishes for something different!

Classic Succotash

It’s pretty likely the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags ate this dish, which features a mix of beans and corn. The word “succotash” comes from Wampanoag msíckquatash, meaning “boiled corn kernels.” Try this homemade succotash with lima beans, corn, and bacon.

shutterstock_506036521_full_width.jpgCredit: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Chestnut Croquettes

At the time of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, there were undoubtedly chestnuts in the forest. This recipe for Chestnut Croquettes is simple, and makes a lovely accompaniment to turkey or goose.

shutterstock_132057926_full_width.jpgGoose leg with croquette and orange sauce. Credit: Ryzhkov Photography/Shutterstock

So, which sides strike your fancy? Please tell us below!

More Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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