86 Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes That Will Impress Everyone at the Table

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)
·13 mins read

What’s the best part of Thanksgiving dinner? It’s the sides, of course. Sweet, savory, creamy or crunchy, these additions to the turkey (or tofurkey) are really what make it the most indulgent feast of the year. Luckily, you don’t need expert kitchen skills to make a compliment-worthy dish everyone will rave about until next Turkey Day. Here are 86 easy Thanksgiving side dishes we love.

RELATED: 14 Festive Cocktail Recipes to Make This Thanksgiving

1. Hasselback Butternut Squash

In our humble opinion, you should Hasselback everything. Just halve and slice a squash horizontally and you’ve created an easy-yet-impressive side.

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2. Spiralized Winter Vegetable Gratin

All you need is a spiralizer (or, you know, a container of pre-spiralized veggies from the grocery store) to make this fancy holiday side. Mix the seasonal spirals with the creamy sauce and get ready to be served compliments.

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3. Harissa and Honey-Roasted Carrots

Honey and harissa are both major crowd-pleasers, and the sweet and spicy flavors come together wonderfully.

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4. Kale Salad with Persimmons, Crispy Chickpeas and Fried Shallots

If you’ve never had persimmons on your Thanksgiving table, try them this year. Brighten up a typically heavy green dish with this autumnal fruit and kale salad.

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5. Alison Roman’s Roasted Squash with Yogurt and Spiced Buttered Pistachios

The Nothing Fancy author knows a thing or two about easy side dishes. Roman’s squash recipe takes less than five minutes to prep, and it’s almost too good.

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RELATED: The 54 Best Winter Squash Recipes of All Time

6. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

No one’s expecting fries at Thanksgiving, and that’s kind of the whole point. Swap out your typical mashed sweet potatoes for an easy-to-eat finger food.

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7. Sweet and Spicy Cornbread

A little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, a lot delicious. Serve this cornbread as a warm side straight out of the hot skillet.

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8. Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Chickpeas and Yogurt Sauce

Here’s a trick to crispier sweet potatoes: Don’t line the sheet tray when you bake them. Parchment and foil just trap steam, and that’s the opposite of what you want.

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9. Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

It’s Thanksgiving. Why not go all out?

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10. Sprightly Biscuits

These biscuits have a secret: They’re made with lemon-lime soda, which makes them extra fluffy (and no, they don’t taste sweet—or citrusy).

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11. Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sriracha and Lime

Add some heat to the Thanksgiving table (just warn your Aunt Sally ahead of time).

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12. Cast-Iron Cornbread

This cornbread recipe is sweetened with maple syrup and contains brown butter, because what could be bad about that?

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13. Baby Vegetables with Orange and Thyme

Pick and choose your favorite in-season veggies, then tuck them into a parchment pouch to steam away. Look ma, no cleanup.

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14. Roasted Beet and Citrus Salad

With mostly warm and roasted dishes, it’s nice to have a bright and refreshing salad to balance everything out.

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15. Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

Voilà, you have your vegetables and your carbs all in one dish.

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16. Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower

It’s creamy, cheesy and ready to eat in 20 minutes.

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RELATED: The 50+ Best Cauliflower Recipes of All Time

17. Brussels Sprouts Skillet with Crispy Pancetta-Garlic Breadcrumbs

Give us a crispy Brussels sprout and we’ll have eyes for no other veggie. Bonus: The aromatic topping does double-duty, bringing that extra crunch we crave.

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18. Pumpkin Polenta

It’s rich, creamy and cozy, and bound to become a new Thanksgiving staple for your fam.

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RELATED: 30 Amazing Pumpkin Recipes to Make All Fall Long

19. 5-Ingredient Red-Wine Cranberry Sauce

We should mention that this dish contains a third of a bottle of wine. What you do with the rest is your call, chef.

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20. 15-Minute Microwave Mashed Potatoes

You don’t even have to boil water to make them.

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21. Cacio e Pepe Brussels Sprouts

The simple combo of black pepper and cheese instantly elevates any ingredient.

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RELATED: 27 Brussels Sprouts Thanksgiving Recipes That Are Pretty Much Foolproof

22. The Best Potatoes au Gratin Ever

We opted for nutty Gruyère to balance out the creaminess of this classic French dish, but you can—and should—experiment with different cheeses (like cheddar or Fontina).

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23. Cheese and Bacon Baked Potatoes

Fill those crispy crevices with all the cheese and bacon your heart desires.

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RELATED: This Swedish Way of Making Potatoes Is the Absolute Best Way, No Question

24. Charred Sweet Potatoes with Pistachio-Chili Pesto

It’s way more sophisticated than the usual sweet potato and marshmallow casserole.

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25. Creamed Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions

This is the mac-and-cheese equivalent of veggies. Need we say more?

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26. Green Bean Casserole Galette

It’s not a Thanksgiving celebration without a green bean casserole. This one turns up the volume just a touch (and there’s no canned soup in sight).

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27. Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Ranch

Ranch on Thanksgiving? No one is stopping you.

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28. Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Cook the taters ahead of time so you can worry about important things day-of, like your guests and sipping wine.

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29. Dorie Greenspan’s Maple Syrup and Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Honestly, this 25-minute side dish is as delicious as any main course.

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30. Whole Roasted Carrots

Forget everything you know about cooking carrots, because this is the only recipe you’ll ever need.

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31. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust

It maybe frigid outside…but your heart and belly will be warm thanks to this absolute stunner.

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32. Crisp Fall Green Salad with Benne Seed Ginger Dressing

The dressing comes together easily in a blender, and its bright, complex flavor pairs fabulously with the bitter salad greens.

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RELATED: 25 Fall Salad Recipes That You’ll Actually Look Forward to Eating

33. Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Leeks

Hello, ultimate comfort food. Can we eat this every holiday?

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34. Pumpkin Brioche

Leave off the crunchy sugar topping for a more savory-tasting bread. Just don’t skimp on the butter.

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35. Cauliflower, Pomegranate and Apple Salad

Top it with a drizzle (or dousing) of tahini-honey dressing and save a bite for us.

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36. Domino Potatoes

A potato side dish is always a beautiful thing, but these French-style potatoes are particularly easy on the eyes (and surprisingly simple to make).

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37. Crispy Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts

No more standing over a smoking-hot pan. These cuties are cooked entirely in the oven.

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38. Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

It’s not plain, it’s elegant.

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39. Charred Cauliflower with Crunchy Garlic Chile Oil

The garlic chile oil can be made up to a month ahead but be warned: You’ll want to put it on everything.

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40. Radicchio, Lentil and Apple Salad with Vegan Cashew Dressing

It’s hard to believe the creamy dressing is dairy-free. It’s the ultimate foil to the bitter radicchio, lentils and apples.

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41. Roasted Squash Salad with White Beans, Breadcrumbs and Preserved Lemon

All those flavors and textures are bound to please your guests.

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42. Salt and Vinegar Roasted Potatoes with Feta and Dill

They’re crispy like French fries on the outside but creamy and soft on the inside.

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43. One-Pot Macaroni and Cheese

If you make this one in eye-catching cookware, you can serve the gooey, cheesy pasta straight out of the only pot it was cooked in.

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44. Baked Feta with Dill, Caper Berries and Citrus

Do you really need a reason to serve up a big plate of cheese?

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45. Roasted Winter Vegetable Platter with Miso Aioli and Romesco Sauce

Include any hearty vegetable you like, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli or fennel. The sauces take two seconds to make in your blender.

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RELATED: 20 Kabocha Squash Recipes to Make While It’s Still in Season

46. Julia Turshen’s Radicchio and Roasted Squash Salad

You can mix the whole thing up the day before, refrigerate it and then bring it to room temperature before serving. Genius.

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47. Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Horseradish and Sea Salt

This is how you convert those die-hard mashed potato people to team crispy.

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48. Crispy Parmesan Brussels Sprout Bites

Make a double batch; they’ll disappear in no time.

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49. Pull-Apart Bread with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

It has all the fun of monkey bread…but it’s a little more elegant.

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50. Roasted Delicata Squash Salad

Delicata squash is ideal for salads, since it has a sweet, nutty flavor and you can eat the delicate skin.

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51. Charred Broccoli with Sriracha Almond Butter Sauce

Is it traditional for Thanksgiving? Not really. Is it positively delicious? You bet.

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52. Dorie Greenspan’s Roasted Acorn Squash Wedges

These wedges get their je ne sais quoi from Za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend of dried herbs, sesame seeds and sumac.

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53. Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

Two veggies brought together in harmony with a blanket of cheese. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about, right?

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54. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Butternut Squash with Lentils and Gorgonzola

Serve it warm so the cheese melts ever so slightly when it’s dotted on top.

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RELATED: 25 Ottolenghi Recipes to Take You from Breakfast to Dinner

55. Make-Ahead Farro and Brussels Sprout Salad

Regular lettuce has a hard time standing up to the rest of the spread. Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, will steal the show.

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56. Coconut Creamed Spinach

They won’t believe it’s vegan.

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57. Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw

Make it the day before Thanksgiving. It’ll save you time in the kitchen, and it tastes better on the second day.

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58. Delicata Squash Agrodolce

It’s sweet, sour and caramelized, and we can’t stop ourselves from going back for seconds.

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59. Baked Cauliflower with Pomegranate Seeds and Thyme

This has all the familiar flavors of Thanksgiving stuffing, without any of the bread. Gluten-free folks, we see you.

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60. Easy Cauliflower Gratin

Who needs spuds when you have cauliflower?

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61. The Crispiest Potato Latkes Recipe of All Time

Hot tip: Squeeze as much of the water from the shredded potatoes as possible. You thank us once you taste those crispy edges.

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62. Julia Turshen’s Sheet-Pan Stuffing with Sausage and Spinach

This stuffing gets baked on a sheet pan so the crispy-to-soft ratio is basically one to one, just the way we like it.

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63. Stuffing Muffins

Alternatively, you can bake your stuffing in muffin cups for individually portioned bites.

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64. Brussels Sprouts Latkes

Why didn’t we think of this sooner?

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65. Greens Mac and Cheese

It’s Thanksgiving, so naturally you want to indulge. But you can also sneak in a few greens while you enjoy a heaping plate of mac and cheese (if you’re into that sort of thing).

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66. Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Toss your Brussels sprouts in honey and hot sauce, and never look back.

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67. Mushroom and Sausage Sourdough Stuffing

Instead of onions, celery and stale white bread, use shallots, mushrooms and sourdough. It’s called modernizing a classic.

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68. Kale Caesar Salad

It’s all about those crispy croutons. Make extra.

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69. Prosciutto and Fig Salad Board

Figs are in season in the fall, but if you can’t find them, try this dish with apples or pears instead.

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70. Kale and Cheddar Cheese Galette

Who doesn’t want a slice of pie as a side?

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71. Cauliflower with Roasted Tomatoes, Parsley and Breadcrumbs

When roasting with olive oil, salt and pepper just isn’t enough, add breadcrumbs, olives and lots of fresh herbs.

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72. Scallion and Chive Flatbread

Who needs a centerpiece when you have this gorgeous bread bouquet?

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73. Apple Focaccia with Blue Cheese and Herbs

It’s like a beautiful cheese board in bread form.

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RELATED: The 41 Best Bread Recipes That Don’t Require a Sourdough Starter

74. Easy Dinner Rolls

Skip the store-bought rolls in favor of these easy homemade ones. We promise they’re worth the effort.

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75. Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread with Tomatoes and Scallions

Fancier than your usual cornbread, but just as mouthwatering.

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76. Macaroni and Cheese in Acorn Squash Bowls

If you’re not going all out with squash bowls of pasta, you might want to reconsider your strategy.

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77. Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Barley Risotto

These are impressive enough to serve as a vegetarian main, but we also love them as a hearty side dish.

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78. Oven-Roasted Beets and Potatoes

Get your guests to ooh and ahh twice: Once for the turkey, and once for these artfully arranged veggies.

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79. Lemon-Tahini Salad with Lentils, Beets and Carrots

The bright, nutty dressing complements the earthy flavor of the beets and greens just so.

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80. Delicata Squash Rings with Garlic-Lemon Sauce

Is it an appetizer or a side dish? We don’t really care, because it’s too darn delish either way.

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81. Brussels Sprouts 3 Ways

Roasted, pickled and raw shaved Brussels (with plenty of shaved Parmesan, of course) is a combo made in Thanksgiving heaven.

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82. Roasted Indian-Spiced Vegetables with Lime-Cilantro Butter

Turmeric, cumin, coriander and cilantro are staples of Indian cuisine. We propose adding them to your spread to mix up the usual parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

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83. Baked Brie with Cranberries and Pomegranate

Nothing brings people together like a warm, oozy baked Brie straight from the oven.

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84. Gluten-Free Cheese and Cauliflower ‘Breadsticks’

They’re low-carb, so you can have two (or three).

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85. Turnip Fries

Who said potatoes get to have all the holiday fun?

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86. Hearty Stuffed Butternut Squash

Gorgeous? Check. Easy to make? Check, check. Tasty beyond compare? You better believe it.

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RELATED: 34 Thanksgiving Vegetables You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less