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