It's time to talk Thanksgiving. No, not turkey — rather, the holiday's real showstopper: the sides. Without them, the seasonal spread would be colorless and, frankly, bland. Even if cooked to perfection with crisped, golden-brown skin and tender meat, turkey would live its short life on our dinner plate with no companion to make it truly shine.
With that in mind, we've rounded up the best of our easy Thanksgiving side dishes. This simple list has everyone covered, including the kids and the home cooks who like to prep ahead of time. From classic mashes tosavory stuffing— voted No. 1 Thanksgiving side last year — and vibrant vegetables, here are some of the season's most delicious supporting roles.
"I love the variety of textures and pops of flavor in this stuffing," Al Roker said about his Thanksgiving stuffing recipe. In each bite you get a hit of sweetness, a touch of spice, some crunch and crumble. It's almost impossible not to go back for seconds."
Bread Stuffing with Turkey Sausage by Katie Workman
Turkey sausage and mushrooms make this stuffing seriously flavorful. The types of mushrooms that can be used in this recipe are basically limitless. Opt for inexpensive button mushrooms, mix in some fabulously delicious and chewy shiitakes or splurge for all wild mushrooms.
Italian Sausage and Rice Stuffing by Anthony Scotto
Using rice instead of bread, and adding savory sausage and melty cheeses, gives this stuffing a distinctly Italian flavor.
Southern Cornbread Dressing by Grace Parisi
This meaty and delicious dressing that features cornbread can be prepared as far as two days in advance.
Mofongo Stuffing by Alejandra Ramos
Mofongo — a Puerto Rican recipe of fried green plantains mashed with garlic, pork and seasonings — could easily claim the title of the island's national dish. Mofongo is enjoyed throughout the year as a side, but for Thanksgiving, we add broth and a few other ingredients to turn it into a moist and savory stuffing that's right at home next to the turkey.
Wild Mushroom Stuffing Muffins by Natasha Feldman
Baking stuffing in muffin tins instead of a big pot is a super simple way to ensure everyone gets all the best bits of stuffing: The crispy buttery top and the super moist interior. You can dress these up with whatever you traditionally put into your stuffing, but these mushrooms add a deep, earthy nuttiness that complements many other sides and mains.
We love this stuffing because it is fun, exciting and incorporates the best flavors of the season. The toasty almonds, sweet cranberries, nutty wild rice and savory aromatics go so well with Thanksgiving turkey.
Mashes and potatoes
Pumpkin, Bacon and Crispy Sage Mashers by Ryan Scott
Once you try this recipe, it will be a repeat side dish at Thanksgiving forever. Don't skip the roasting of the pumpkin puree: This important step removes excess liquid and intensifies the flavor for a beautiful combo of salt and a little sweet.
Crispy Sweet Potato Bake by Rachel Hollis
We love this recipe because it involves just three ingredients and is so simple to prepare but still looks fancy.
Internet-Famous Crispy Potatoes by Jeremy Scheck
These potatoes amassed almost 20 million views between the two times Jeremy Scheck posted them on TikTok. So, in addition to being absolutely crisped and delicious, they've totally earned their spot on the holiday table.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes by Kristen Kish
Sometimes, nothing quite beats a silky, creamy mashed potato to smother each bite of turkey and gravy. Cooking the potatoes in stock gives them a greater depth of flavor and the cream cheese makes them incredibly creamy and rich. These potatoes don't need to be completely smooth — a rustic-style mash is great!
Super Potato Pie by Andrew Carmellini
This recipe takes mashed potatoes and turns up the flavor and texture to the max! A classic fluffy mash gets amplified with the crunch and tang of salt and vinegar chips. There's not a person on Earth who won't like it.
Siri Daly's Smashed Potatoes by Siri Daly
"I love any recipe that's easy to make in bulk, but even easier for your guests to individually grab for their plate, and these potatoes are just that," said Siri about these simple smashed potatoes. "They are a cross between a baked potato and a French fry, with a ton of flavor and an incredible crunch. My neighbor Jen has made them famous in our area and they are a hit every single time!
Perfect Roasted Sweet Potatoes by Elena Besser
Sometimes, a simple roast sweet potato is all that's needed. No frills, topped with a little butter and salt. All one really needs is an oven and roasting pan to accomplish this perfect-by-nature Thanksgiving side.
Greens and other vegetables
Kimchi Creamed Spinach by Gerald Sombright
Enliven this hot, classic dish with something a little tangier. The kimchi adds a gently sour and spicy crunch to provide texture and more flavor to regular creamed spinach.
Siri Daly's Autumn Panzanella by Siri Daly
What's better than a warm, bread salad on a crisp autumn night? Well, one that features fall ingredients, such as squash, sprouts, sage and maple syrup. This is a family-favorite to serve during the months before winter — including on Thanksgiving.
Sheinelle's Dad's Spicy Collard Greens by Darnell Jones
Fiery cayenne, spicy jalapenos and hot black pepper add serious spice to these tender, slow-cooked collard greens from Sheinelle's dad, Darnell.
Burnt Broccoli and Charred Brussels Sprouts Salad by Romel Bruno
Serve this simple salad warm, with a vinaigrette that’s bright, acidic and onion-y. Mixed with crispy pancetta, the fat of which is used to cook down the shallot, and a splash of vinegar and Dijon to balance it all out, this hearty fall side won't disappoint.
Ina Garten's Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash by Ina Garten
Sliced, scooped and roasted, these no-brainer squashes do most of the talking with their naturally sweet flavors. As a nod to her mother's dish growing up, however, Garten puts a dollop of butter and maple syrup in the butternut's centers — making them downright irresistible.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon by Jet Tila
Brussels sprouts get a bad rap but are some of the tastiest vegetables ever. The secret is they need to be caramelized by dry heat like roasting or frying to unlock their sweetness and texture. Remember these three tips: First, be sure to brown the sprouts and get some crispy leaves; second, season generously; and third, keep them al dente inside, so they'll have some texture.
Balsamic-Honey Roasted Carrots by Lauren Salkeld
These carrots are just as good served warm or at room temperature, so they’re ideal for buffets, potlucks and, of course, Thanksgiving, where they can sit out on the table a while while you prepare everything else.
Casseroles and macs
Siri's Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots by Siri Daly
According to an analysis of Google searches last year, this creamy green bean casserole has fans all over the country — from Idaho to Texas and the Southwest, as well as portions of the Midwest and Upper South. With the crunchy onion topping and cheesy sauce smothering the blanched veggie, it's easy to see why.
Southern-Style Mac and Cheese by Kardea Brown
We love Southern-style mac and cheese because it's cheesy and hearty, yet sturdy. It's basically a custard-style baked macaroni and cheese with eggs, heavy cream and sharp cheddar cheese. There's no denying this mac and cheese is irresistible!
Roker Family Sweet Potato Poon by Isabel Roker and Al Roker
"I don’t know where my mom came up with this recipe," said Al Roker about his family's famous recipe. "I’ve heard of many versions of it from the South, but my mom wasn’t from the South! Somehow, though, it became a Thanksgiving staple for our family. It provided us with hours of entertainment, as my mom always got distracted as soon as it went under the broiler, which caused the smoke alarm to go off and resulted in endless laughter. And that’s why, to this day, I always buy two bags of marshmallows — just in case."
Creamy Corn Casserole by Kimberly Schlapman
Little Big Town singer Kimberly Schlapman shares her take on the traditional Southern side, a rich and luscious dish that's perfect for Thanksgiving.
Baked Cheesy Mac and Broccoli by Antoni Porowski
Antoni Porowski's skillet mac and cheese is crispy along the edges and has a wonderful, crunchy breadcrumb topping. Broccoli and cheese make a great pair, especially in a baked pasta. You could substitute broccolini or broccoli rabe: Broccolini is slightly sweeter than broccoli, while broccoli rabe is pleasingly bitter.
One-Pan Cheesy Root Vegetable Casserole by Nancy Fuller
Toss all the seasonal root veggies into this one-pot wonder. Packed with fresh herbs, cheese, a little garlic and heavy cream, it's a real crowd-pleaser.
Kelsey Nixon's Homemade Cranberry Sauce by Kelsey Nixon
If you're not a canned cranberry sauce type of person, make your own! Kelsey Nixon's version can be made three days in advance. Store chilled and covered in refrigerator.
Apple-Orange-Cranberry Relish by Katie Lee
This is a fresh take on traditional cranberry sauce. The flavors are so bright and provide a great balance to all of the heavy dishes on the Thanksgiving buffet. It's also a super-fast recipe to make with no cooking required!
Orange and Walnut Cranberry Sauce by Evette Rios
Have some extra nuts left over from your pre-Thanksgiving baking extravaganza? Toss them into your sauce for a little crunch and an earthy flavor that balances out the tart cranberries. The recipe calls for walnuts, but pecans or cashews are great additions, too.