A beautifully roasted turkey is great and all, but truth be told, a perfect Turkey Day is all about the sides. Dig into the top 10 Thanksgiving sides of all time, all here in one place.
We've hosted Thanksgiving many, many times over the years, for happy crowds big and small. We've accommodated a wide variety of dietary needs and preferences, including our own, which change from time to time.
The goal is always to serve reliable, classic recipes that are the best versions of themselves. Each element holds its own, and they all play well together. Everything is full of flavor, and nothing is harder than it needs to be to shine.
For more recipes, advice, and tips, head to our Thanksgiving Headquarters. And just for fun, here are the top Thanksgiving dishes by state.
1. The mashed potatoes
Best-in-class mashed potatoes are an absolute must at Thanksgiving. Ours are made from well-seasoned Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled to perfection, and mixed with good butter and milk. We talk the best tools for mashing, and why it's 100% fine to make them a bit ahead and reheat. Get the recipe and learn everything you need to know HERE.
(Psst...for a low-carb option, try our epic mashed cauliflower.)
2. The stuffing
We have two stuffing recipes that vie for the number-one spot on our Thanksgiving table. Both are absolute classics, and you really can't go wrong. Either one can be used to stuff a turkey, but for simplicity's sake (and a better bird), I don't do that. They are both very moist and flavorful on their own.
- THIS ONE is based on the traditional bread stuffing served in my family for generations. Make it vegan, vegetarian, or meaty to suit your crowd. It's simply the best, whichever version you choose.
- THIS ONE is a classic cornbread stuffing with apples — a vegetarian adaptation of The Silver Palate's famous recipe.
3. The gravy
You've got three excellent options for Thanksgiving gravy, all of which are fabulously flavorful and savory and perfectly complement the whole meal.
- HERE's where you can learn to make a classic pan gravy from your turkey's drippings. This method produces an easy, robust gravy that takes about the same amount of time to make as your turkey needs to rest. The upsides are simplicity and full flavor. The downsides are that you can't make it in advance, and it can be a less-good method if you've brined your turkey, since it's prone to super-saltiness.
- HERE's a fabulous make-ahead turkey gravy that uses the turkey neck (just roll with it). You can make it as soon as you buy a fresh turkey or begin defrosting a frozen one. It's also great for making a second round of gravy for leftovers.
- HERE's one of our most popular recipes of all time: A rich, savory vegetarian gravy that's made many a non-meat-eater across North America and beyond very happy on Thanksgiving. This small act of service has truly been one of the joys of my life.
4. The cranberry sauce
Our cranberry sauce is gently sophisticated but still widely popular, with hints of orange, apple, and spice. It’s ready in minutes if you make it in the Instant Pot, or you can simmer it on the stovetop if you prefer. Freezes beautifully. Make it way in advance if you like. Refined-sugar-free option. Get the recipe HERE.
5. The green beans
Green bean casserole may be traditional for some, but we prefer to freshen it up a bit with a beautiful bowl of haricots verts with shallot vinaigrette. These thin, tender French-style green beans are easy to make and strike a great balance between elegance and comfort. Get them HERE.
6. The salad
We really appreciate some leafy greens on our plates at Thanksgiving.
- When we're in the mood for a showstopper, we make the gorgeous harvest kale salad pictured above. Get it HERE.
- When we're craving something simpler or just don't have the extra bandwidth, we love love love mixed greens with a perfect balsamic vinaigrette. Get it HERE.
- When Grandma's in town, everyone asks for her famous tossed salad, which I'll post here one day soon.
7. The mushrooms
Best-in-class sautéed mushrooms may not be the first thing you'd expect on the list of Top 10 Thanksgiving sides, but maybe they should be. Savory, earthy mushrooms are a great flavor fit for this autumn holiday, and they double as a protein-packed option for vegetarians and vegans. Get them HERE.
8. The perfect fancy cauliflower
Brown butter, pear, hazelnuts, and sage take cauliflower to a whole new level. This dish would be buzzworthy on its own, but it also plays beautifully with Thanksgiving flavors. Get it HERE.
9. The applesauce
I know, cranberry sauce and applesauce? Perfect homemade applesauce isn't a Thanksgiving tradition for everyone, but in our household I could never get away without it — and I'm glad. This is the same recipe that my mom has made since before it was among my very first solid foods, and it's a lovely complement to the Thanksgiving meal. It's another element that freezes beautifully and can be made well in advance. Get it HERE.
10. The popovers
This tradition comes from Cope's family, and it's a keeper. Crisp outside, magically hollow inside with an inimitable tenderness, popovers are worth the coveted oven space. Get them HERE.
11. And one for good luck: The creamed pearl onions
I'm not kidding when I say that, to my knowledge, these creamed onions were one of only two things in the world that my grandfather ever asked for. They're simple and simply perfect. Get them HERE.
12. Okay, two for good luck: The crispy roasted broccolini
Roasting cruciferous veggies in a blazing oven works absolute magic on them. This simple technique brings out a rich nuttiness that complements Thanksgiving flavors and creates a crisp outside/tender inside dichotomy that everyone seems to love. Broccolini roasts quickly, making it achievable even when oven space is at a premium. Get it HERE.
The bonus round
Purely based on tradition, these favorites don't always make the Top 10 Thanksgiving sides at our house, but they certainly could:
- Braised kale
- Creamy spinach
- Mac and cheese (Instant Pot or baked)
Hungry for more?
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