Ask everyone around your Thanksgiving dinner table if they’re there for the turkey, and if they’re answering honestly, they’ll probably tell you they’re there for the sides. Despite the fact that the turkey is often depicted as the pièce de résistance of the big feast, the side dishes are the unsung heroes. They’re what we spend all year craving when we daydream about building our Thanksgiving plates. And this year, they deserve the complete and total spotlight.
The best part about Thanksgiving side dishes is that they round out the meal, complementing turkey’s blank slate with a variety of flavors, textures and colors. Whether it’s the creamy volcano of mashed potatoes with gravy lava, a tart burst of cranberry sauce, a crispy bite of Brussels sprouts or a warm flaky biscuit, your favorite side dish brings a little something extra to your plate — and make you want to go back for seconds.
In this collection of recipes, we’ve rounded-up our favorite potato dishes, stuffing recipes, vegetable sides and breads and rolls to round out your Thanksgiving feast. Chances are this list makes a nod to your favorite classics, like green bean casserole and chestnut stuffing. But for those seeking to shake things up, there are a ton of new players on the classics like spiced sweet potatoes, cacio e pepe cauliflower, Brazilian collard greens and so much more.
See if your favorite side dish made the cut:
Potato side dishes
Creamy Mashed Potatoes by Kristen Kish
No Thanksgiving table is complete without a huge pot of creamy mashed potatoes. Top Chef winner Kristin Kish calls for cooking the potatoes in chicken stock instead of water for an added flavor boost. Mash the soft spuds with whole milk, butter and cream cheese, plus salt and pepper to taste, for a simple yet elevated version of a classic.
Martha Stewart's Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese by Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart’s mom, who passed down this recipe for mashed potatoes, also makes cream cheese the star ingredient. She also recommends running them through a potato ricer for the best texture. One block of cream cheese, a stick of butter, whole milk and heavy cream do the heavy lifting, resulting in the creamiest mashed potatoes you’ll ever try.
Bobby Flay's Spicy Maple Hasselback Sweet Potatoes by Bobby Flay
To make Bobby Flay’s spicy hasselback sweet potatoes, place each potato between two chopsticks and cut horizontally, stopping before cutting all the way through. Glaze with butter, maple syrup, and chipotle puree for a sweet but smoky side dish that’s nutritious and delicious.
Siri's Spicy Sweet Potato Rounds by Siri Daly
These sweet potato coins are thicker than chips but still the perfect size to pop into your mouth along with a side of sliced turkey and stuffing. To make them, cut sweet potatoes into ½-inch rounds, drizzle with oil and season with salt, chili powder, paprika, black pepper, cayenne and garlic powder. Bake until fork tender and charred then garnish with even more paprika for color.
Cacio e Pepe Roasted Potatoes by Skyler Bouchard
Give roasted potatoes the cacio e pepe treatment with this winning flavor combo: freshly grated pecorino and ground black pepper! Pro tip: make sure the potatoes are evenly spaced on the roasting pan to avoid overcrowding. (If not, they’ll steam!) Serve the potatoes over the thick cream sauce with even more on the side for dipping. Everyone at your table will be asking for the recipe.
Pommes Chef Anne by Anne Burrell
Using chef Anne Burrell’s method, layer thinly sliced russet potatoes in a cast iron skillet, then drizzle with olive oil and liberally season with Parmesan cheese and kosher salt. Brown on the stovetop, bake, then flip for a gorgeous potato cake that’s crispy on the top and tender on the inside.
Crispy Sweet Potato Bake by Rachel Hollis
This sweet potato bake might be the fanciest three-ingredient side dish you’ll ever make. Using the same technique as Anne Burrell, but with a thicker cut, sweet potatoes are layered in a circular baking dish, then seasoned with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Bake until the edges are crispy and the center is fork tender.
Rosemary Garlic Hasselback Potatoes by Amber St. Peter
Transform a humble russet potato into a show-stopper of a side dish with this hasselback technique. Once sliced, nestle in a lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil, salt and pepper. Periodically brush with olive oil to ensure that the spuds brown evenly before sprinkling with garlic and rosemary for the final bake.
Candied Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup by Melissa Clark
Candied sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving table staple that guests wait all year to enjoy. To get ahead on prep, roast the sweet potatoes as far as a few days (or a few hours) in advance. Slice them up, then then pour over a butter-cider-maple syrup mixture spiced with cinnamon, cloves and orange zest. Top with marshmallows and broil until golden brown for everyone’s favorite part: an ooey-gooey campfire crust.
Slow-Cooker Mashed Potatoes by Elizabeth Heiskell
It’s no secret that stovetop space is limited on Thanksgiving day. Try a new method this year and make your mashed potatoes in the slow cooker. This technique is super hands off: Just plug in your slow cooker, cook the potatoes until fork tender, then plop in the garlic, butter, seasonings, cream cheese and sour cream. Use a hand mixer to mash the potatoes directly in the slow cooker and then keep on low until it’s time to serve.
Joy Bauer's Easy Sweet Potato Casserole by Joy Bauer
For added sweetness without any sugar, add carrots to your sweet potato casserole! The carrots add a vibrant orange hue and sweet flavor to this Thanksgiving staple. Mash the tender vegetables together with almond milk, butter and cinnamon, then top with mini marshmallows and bake until browned.
Baked Mashed Potatoes with Bacon by Curtis Stone
Bacon makes everything better — even mashed potatoes. In this make-ahead recipe for twice-baked taters, celebrity chef Curtis Stone upgrades his mashed potatoes with crispy bacon, pan drippings, sour cream, mascarpone cheese and Parmesan cheese. The final step? Bake until the potatoes puff slightly and the top gets slightly golden. The inside is creamy and fluffy and the top has a slight crisp that you’ll love digging into.
Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing by Matt Abdoo
This traditional stuffing recipe is endlessly customizable. Swap in cornbread, sourdough and even waffles (yep, you read that right) for French or Italian bread or add sausage or bacon to the sautéed vegetables for a meaty bite. Save yourself some prep time on the big day by making this stuffing a full day in advance.
Classic Stuffing by Martha Stewart
For purists who care about the distinction between stuffing and dressing, here is a true stuffing recipe for you that’s cooked directly in the bird. And leave it to Martha Stewart to encourage us to try this old-fashioned recipe. When roasting a turkey, the most important step — beyond flavor — is cooking it properly to ensure that the stuffed is fully cooked without overcooking the bird.
Bread Stuffing with Turkey Sausage by Katie Workman
You have permission to cook this bread stuffing inside a turkey, but recipe developer Katie Workman highly suggests cooking it in a pan so the top gets a nice layer of crunch. Level up the flavor with turkey sausage and an assortment of mushrooms for an earthy, umami-rich bite.
Melba Wilson's Cornbread Stuffing by Melba Wilson
This moist-yet-crumbly cornbread stuffing is the perfect pairing for turkey, ham or whatever else you may choose to roast for your big feast! Use homemade (or store bought) cornbread or muffins and cook along with the usual suspects: onions, sage, celery, poultry seasoning, chicken stock, parsley, salt and pepper. To make this stuffing vegetarian-friendly, swap the chicken stock for a vegetable-based version.
TODAY’s own Al Roker is to thank for this cornbread stuffing recipe, which features spicy pork sausage, chestnuts and dried cranberries. Don’t worry: it’s plenty moist thanks to four full cups of turkey stock and a duo of olive oil and melted butter.
Craig's Mom's Thanksgiving Dressing by Betty Melvin
The secret to this old-school, ultra savory Thanksgiving dressing? Chicken gizzards and turkey neck meat. Cook them along with the onion and celery, then chop and combine with crumbled cornbread and herbs, cream of chicken soup, chicken broth and beaten eggs. Keep the dressing covered so that it maintains its moistness.
Southern Cornbread Dressing by Grace Parisi
To get a jump start on Thanksgiving prep, make this dressing up to step number three a few days in advance. That means you can toast your cornbread, cook the sausage and vegetables and combine everything with stock, eggs and seasoning in a buttered baking dish. Tuck the dressing away in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it on the day.
Vegetable side dishes
Citrusy Candied Carrots with Yogurt Sauce by Will Coleman
Give humble carrots the star treatment with these citrusy candied carrots paired with yogurt sauce. Season them with freshly grated ginger and ground cardamom, smoked paprika and fresh chives for a way more exciting vegetable side than what you’re probably used to.
Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts with Honey-Soy Glaze by Becca Jacobs
Sit back and watch these Brussels sprouts win over everyone at your table. The two-part cooking method is pure genius: microwave them to steam the tough interior, and finish them off in an air fryer with a honey-soy glaze to get the outer leaves crispy and flavorful.
Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots by Siri Daly
Instead of using the recipe on the back of the can, try this elevated rendition of green bean casserole with crispy shallots. Transform fresh green beans with onion, butter, diced shiitake mushrooms, flour, chicken stock, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. The best part, of course, is the fried crispy shallot topping. You’ll be glad you thought outside the box!
Roasted Carrots, Spiced Yogurt and Pistachios by Jody Williams and Rita Sodi
Via Carota is one of the hardest restaurant reservations to snag in NYC, but now you can make this menu staple at home! Take the time to make the salmoriglio — aka an Italian dressing made with lemon juice, grated garlic, chili flakes, oregano, olive oil and chopped parsley. With a crunch of pistachios and cumin, these dressed and roasted carrots with spiced yogurt have a cult like-following for a reason.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts by Marcus Samuelsson
Thanks to a garnish of fresh pomegranate arils, this dish will be the gem of your Thanksgiving table. Chef Marcus Samuelsson likes to roast Brussels sprouts with olive oil, garlic and chopped rosemary, then makes a glaze with shallots, peanuts, maple syrup, vinegar and parsley. The crunchy peanut topping adds a sweet zip that perfectly complements the tender, slightly bitter Brussels sprouts.
Alex Guarnaschelli's Cranberry Sauce by Alex Guarnaschelli
Are you team canned cranberry sauce or homemade? If the latter, share Alex Guarnaschelli’s recipe with whomever is in charge of the sides this year. Instead of orange juice, this recipe calls for a cup of apple cider, which pairs well with the added cinnamon stick, allspice and nutmeg.
Spice-Roasted Honeynut Squash and Chickpeas by Melissa Clark
If you find honeynut squash at your grocery store or farmers’ market, buy it! It’s a rare, sweet variety of fall gourds that caramelizes beautifully when roasted. If you can’t, butternut squash makes a great, albeit less sweet, replacement. To make this vegetarian-friendly sheet-pan dinner from Melissa Clark, roast halved honeynut squash spiced with baharat, thyme, red pepper flakes and oil, then top with spiced chickpeas and red onion and continue roasting until crispy.
Creamy Corn Casserole by Kimberly Schlapman
You’ll want to dig right into this traditional Southern side. To make this decadent corn casserole, make a cream sauce with butter, shallots, flour, sage and cream. Once thickened, stir in frozen corn, half a package of crushed saltine crackers, eggs and sugar. Top with more crushed crackers and bake until golden brown.
Cacio e Pepe Roasted Cauliflower by Grace Elkus
There certainly won’t be leftovers of this vegetable side dish. Toss bite-size cauliflower florets with butter, salt, pecorino cheese and black pepper. As the florets roast under high heat, the cheese will create a crispy crust around the edges that you’ll want to scrape right off the pan.
Nina Compton's Jerk Sweet Potatoes by Nina Compton
Caribbean flavors meet a traditional Thanksgiving side in these jerk-seasoned sweet potatoes. The preparation could not be simpler: Mix diced sweet potatoes with allspice, ground cinnamon, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, ground cloves, cumin and butter. Roast until the potatoes are evenly caramelized and your kitchen smells divine.
Berbere-Roasted Carrots with Oranges by Marcus Samuelsson
Cut through the richness of all that Thanksgiving food with these fresh, citrusy carrots that are topped with olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, lemon and berbere seasoning. After roasting the carrots, toss in segmented oranges and fresh mint for a welcome brightness on your plate.
Delicata Parmesan by Joy Bauer
Delicata squash has its perks. Not only is it delicious but, as its name suggests, it has delicate, edible skin that you don’t need to peel. For this easy vegetable side, coat half-moons of the squash with grated Parmesan, Italian seasoning and salt. Brush with oil and roast until the cheese is charred and crispy, and the centers of the squash melt in your mouth.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon by Jet Tila
When cooking Brussels sprouts, browning is key. For this hearty side dish, crisp up some bacon, then cook halved Brussels sprouts in the fatty drippings along with garlic, salt, pepper and thyme. Once golden brown, add in the cooked bacon and place the pan in the oven until the outside leaves are crispy and the sprouts are tender throughout. Toss with balsamic and lemon juice to finish.
Kelsey Nixon's Homemade Cranberry Sauce by Kelsey Nixon
Make this cranberry sauce up to three days in advance and enlist some help from your little ones too! The process is so simple a kid could do it: Add a bag of fresh cranberries, water and sugar to a saucepan and simmer until the berries burst. Stir in orange zest and juice, a cinnamon stick and salt, remove from the heat and let it rest until thickened — that’s it.
Kale Slaw by Lorena Garcia
The real MVP brings salad to Thanksgiving dinner. A hearty base of kale, Napa cabbage and apples are dressed with a creamy vinaigrette made of Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, lime juice, minced garlic, Dijon and salt. Enjoy a much needed, underrated burst of freshness on your plate.
Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese by Ali Rosen
For a vegetarian side dish that even meat eaters will love, broil meaty portobello mushrooms and then stuff 'em with shallots, goat cheese and lemon juice before baking. This is a super forgiving recipe too. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, swap for blue cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella or feta. No shallots? Use onions or scallions. Skipping spinach? Use kale, radicchio or romaine instead.
Slow-Cooker Collard Greens with Bacon by Grace Parisi
Hearty collard greens lend themselves to a few hours in the slow cooker where they can get tender and soft as they cook with tomatoes, vinegar, water and sugar Cover and cook on high until the greens have softened to your liking.
Brazilian-Style Collard Greens by Dr. Jessica B. Harris
If you don’t have hours to cook collards the traditional Southern way, try this quick-cooking Brazilian-style version instead. Cook the prepped greens in olive oil and garlic, along with a few tablespoons of water until softened. Another bonus? This recipe is completely vegetarian.
Root Vegetable Harvest Salad with Crispy Quinoa by Skyler Bouchard
This isn’t your average quinoa salad. Cook the quinoa as you typically would, then spread it on a sheet tray with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast until golden brown and crispy in texture. While the quinoa cooks, roast assorted squash, sweet potato, and carrots until caramelized. To assemble, dress the roasted veggies with a maple-Dijon dressing and serve with crispy quinoa, minced shallots and fresh parsley.
Traditional Green Bean Casserole by Katie Lee
Your Thanksgiving table isn’t complete without a classic green bean casserole. Follow Katie Lee’s lead and blanch your green beans quickly to start to keep them bright green, then add chopped onion, button mushrooms, butter, flour and half and half and stir to heat. What makes this casserole stand out from other traditional versions tried is the addition of Parmesan and vinegar before baking.
Southern-Style Mac and Cheese by Kardea Brown
What gives this mac and cheese a southern flair? “It’s basically a custard-style baked macaroni and cheese with eggs, heavy cream and sharp cheddar cheese,” says recipe developer Food Network star Kardea Brown. Make this version and you’ll get invited back to Thanksgiving every single year.
Warm Kale Salad with Apples and Pancetta by Camila Alves
Don’t sleep on this warm kale salad! To soften the kale leaves and take away some of its notable bitter flavor, massage the leaves with olive oil so they break down slightly. Spoon a warm red wine vinaigrette over the massaged kale and crispy pancetta, shallots, apples, goji berries and shaved Parmesan for a shovel-worthy salad.
Bobby Flay loves this roasted acorn squash recipe so much that he added it to the menu at one of his restaurants in Las Vegas. The secret? Brown butter combined with pomegranate molasses and spooned over the roasted squash. Garnish with chopped hazelnuts for crunch and chopped parsley for freshness.
According to Bobby Flay, “button mushrooms don’t get the respect that they deserve,” but with this recipe, they certainly will. When topped with a garlic-parsley butter, then roasted, the mushroom caps get infused with an irresistible flavor that you’ll want to lick off the plate.
Stouffer's-Style Macaroni and Cheese by Eric Kim
Eric Kim masterfully recreates a nostalgic childhood classic — a homemade version of frozen Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese. And the secrets out: The key to the gooey, creamy, cheesy sauce is Velveeta (which contains the stabilizer sodium citrate) in addition to sharp yellow cheddar, and pecorino Romano.
Hot Cross Buns by Vallery Lomas
While these yeasty dinner rolls are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, there’s no reason why they can’t make an appearance on your Thanksgiving table too. After baking, brush with honey butter for a sweet, shiny glaze.
Chile-Maple Skillet Cornbread by Priyanka Naik
Cornbread is the ultimate Thanksgiving crowd-pleaser. This delicious vegan variation by Priyanka Naik turns the classic recipe on its head by spicing it up with Indian ingredients like garam masala, cilantro and green chile. To kick it up one notch further, smear the finished cornbread with maple-chile garlic butter.
Quick Biscuits by Ryan Scott
You probably have all the ingredients you need to make these quick biscuits at home. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda, then cut in butter until the mixture is nice and crumbly. Pour in warm milk and honey to create a sticky dough, then knead into a smooth and springy ball. Cut into biscuits then bake until golden brown.
Buttermilk Biscuits by Ina Garten
Ina Garten’s buttermilk biscuits are the perfect vehicle for sopping up any mashed potatoes and gravy left on your plate. Follow her instructions exactly (especially using very cold grated butter!) for light, flaky and moist results. After all, has Ina ever steered us wrong?
Al Roker's Skillet Cornbread, 2 Ways by Al Roker
Choose your own adventure with Al Roker’s skillet cornbread recipe. If you want a sweet version, drizzle with butter and honey. If you want it to be savory, add cheese, bacon or jalapeños (or all three)! Either way, this easy cornbread tastes delicious served warm from a cast iron skillet.
Joanna Gaines' Buttermilk Biscuits by Joanna Gaines
If you don’t have time to make Joanna Gaines’ buttermilk biscuits for your big feast, at least make them for breakfast the morning after! A great thing about this recipe is that you can bake them in advance and freeze for up to two weeks. There’s no need to thaw before baking so you can have fresh biscuits in a snap.
Callie's Buttermilk Biscuits by Carrie Morey and Callie White
People travel all the way to Charleston, SC for a taste of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits. And for good reason! These light and airy biscuits melt in your mouth, thanks to a simple dough made with self-rising flour, butter, cream cheese and buttermilk.
Skillet Cornbread by Sam Sifton
Sam Sifton’s skillet cornbread recipe celebrates perfection in simplicity. Once you master this base recipe, there’s no limit to the add-ins so you can make it your own. Serve it plain with a smear of softened butter for a nostalgic taste.
These yeasted rolls are so delicious that the bread basket might not make it all around the table without getting completely looted. The key to this recipe is patience. Make the smooth dough, then let rise until it’s doubled in size. Shape into rolls, dip in melted butter, let rise for another 45 minutes, then bake until golden. Oh, one more thing. Thank us later.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com