Thanksgiving in America is about to celebrate its 396th anniversary, and like any other longstanding national holiday, this one in steeped in tradition — especially when it comes to what we put on our tables.
Turkey is the shining emblem — the iconic poster-child of Thanksgiving. But what would the holiday be without mashed potatoes and gravy? What is turkey without that tart foil of cranberry sauce? Turkey is ever-present, but the side dishes should be the real stars at this annual feast.
It is said that the first Thanksgiving was a three-day affair and that lobster, seal, and swan made appearances on the original Pilgrims' menu. But you only have one day to make it count; what will you be serving? Try any of these essential sides, you won't regret it!
“Blech, Brussels sprouts” is a phrase uttered far too often. But these green brassicas can come alive when they are prepared the right way: with some crispy char and a drizzle of sweet maple syrup. Trust us: These Brussels sprouts will not last long. You could also add a few slices of bacon for another divine upgrade.
Candied yams go perfectly with turkey — their sweetness is simply irresistible and punctuates the turkey’s savory meatiness. For a slight variation, try this caramelized butternut squash instead.
This simple corn pudding is made with corn, lime juice, butter, and paprika. The citrus and spice will enliven the otherwise overly rich meal.
Some families just love the stuff from a can — and don’t you dare mash it! Can-to-plate is the way to go.
For others, a chunky cranberry relish is desirable, and for others still, a smooth citrus-studded sauce is the norm — as in this recipe, where fresh cranberries are gently simmered with lime and honey.
Sweet corn is stewed in a thickened cream sauce to make this side dish incredibly rich.
This popular vegetable preparation goes great with turkey, but it's also great with lamb or roasted chicken. You can even bake portobello mushrooms stuffed with creamed spinach for a tasty Thanksgiving appetizer.
This dish uses honey, butter, and an orange peel to infuse tender carrots with a bright and rich flavor. These delicious carrots are a great way to up the vegetable count at your table, too.
Green bean casseroles are typically built with canned ingredients: canned green beans, canned soup, canned crispy onions — but not this one. You won't find anything canned here.
Mac and cheese is a surprisingly common Thanksgiving side. This version is made with colby and Cheddar cheeses, and has a crisp, crunchy topping made with breadcrumbs and pine nuts.
You can lighten your basic mashed potatoes by adding softly caramelized onions and plenty of fruity olive oil. Other spins like pumpkin mashed potatoes or black truffle mashed potatoes will also wow your guests.
Good bread is beyond necessary for Thanksgiving — what is better than a soft fresh roll to mop up that extra gravy on your plate? As far as tradition goes, Parker House rolls are a famous Thanksgiving side. They are buttery and crispy on the outside but light and fluffy in the middle.
Stuffing (or dressing) is surprisingly simple to prepare — all it takes is stock, breadcrumbs, flavorful aromatics, and any other ingredient you want to gently toss into the mix. If you like your stuffing extra moist and wet, add more stock to your breadcrumb mixture.
The fattiness of the pork in this sausage stuffing is a lovely accompaniment to the lean turkey meat. Don’t be shy adding herbs like rosemary, sage, and parsley; the aromatic herbaceousness will round out the flavor of the rich sausage.
Sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows has been a favorite Thanksgiving side dish since the early 1900s. This featured recipe, however, is less sweet but no less tasty. Instead of marshmallows, this dish is adorned with a brown sugar pecan streusel. The best thing about this dish? It is one of the great make-ahead dishes you need this Thanksgiving.
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