32 Thanksgiving Sides Because You Screwed Up The Turkey Again

Having a well-thought-out side dish plan helps negate a total holiday disaster.

Nov 9 2018, 4:00pm

Photo by Heami Lee.

Sure, turkey might be the Thanksgiving main event, but you don’t achieve holiday greatness with a main course alone. The star (bird) of the show is nothing without its supporting ensemble of carefully curated side dishes. (Plus, how does one even begin to dream up such wonderful things to do with leftovers if all you’ve got to work with is dry day-old turkey?) If you let your famimly bring the sides, you run the risk of ending up with three trays of stuffing and nary a vegetable in sight. (There’s nothing wrong with the fact that all the best Thanksgiving foods are beige, but you’ve gotta reserve SOME space on the table for something green, just for the sake of Health. Also, Brussels sprouts are delicious, fight us.) Whether you want to go with the old-school classics or update them with more of a modern/vegan/healthy twist, Thanksgiving sides are the place where you can get most creative with your holiday menu. We pulled together a master list of all of our best Thanksgiving sides for your menu planning perusal.

Maybe you’ll consider Naomi Pomeroy’s just-a-little-bit-cheffier version of the classic casserole for your holiday feasting this year, with fresh chanterelle mushrooms and a smoked gouda cheese sauce in place of the traditional cream o’ mushroom soup.

If one were to find any flaw in the original Campbell’s Soup-based green bean casserole recipe, it is that the vegans of the world are excluded from experiencing it. Here, we use hemp milk to keep things strictly plant-based.

Not a fan of things called “casseroles” in general? This green bean salad with bacon fat and champagne vinegar and tarragon is a brighter way to get green beans on the table, while sacrificing no flavor in the process.

If you thought mashed potatoes were usually the side dish that disappeared fastest on the dinner table, watch how much faster they go when twice-baked with A FULL CUP OF BUTTER and cream cheese.

Not quite baked, not quite mashed, these buttery smashed fingerling potatoes are the ultimate combo of all your favorite ways to eat a potato.

Sweet caramelized onions and a bit of fresh thyme balance out the richness of heavy cream and gruyere cheese in this gratin.

Get all fancy and Hasselback a potato or two for every guest this year, even if they don’t appreciate all that hard work, the ungrateful brats.

This is a straight-up 1:1 ratio of potatoes to cheese curds, so if you’ve ever thought, “how could I possibly make Thanksgiving dinner more coma-inducing?” well, this recipe is for you.

For a color that’s at least two shades off from the traditional Thanksgiving beige, try mashing carrots and sweet potatoes with your good ol’ Russets.

Pop this dish into a 450°F oven for a few minutes and let it get nice and caramelized on top

Creamy, salty brie and chili flakes might make your grandma raise an eyebrow, but this could very well be your next great contribution to the family’s Thanksgiving traditions.

Keep it a little on the lighter side and get some—gasp!—salad greens on the Thanksgiving table.

Somewhere between casserole and sweet potato streusel, this vegan version of a holiday classic will be a crowd pleaser.

Maybe what your Thanksgiving dinner this year needs is a soup course, with some bright ginger and lemongrass to shake things up.

Fair warning: you’re going to get the kitchen a lil smoky with this recipe, but it’s worth it for the crispiest Brussels sprouts of your life.

For those who are stuck on the fact that Brussels sprouts are no more than doll-sized, stinky cabbages, we say: how do you feel about them with bacon?

A raw salad? For Thanksgiving? Groundbreaking.

Matty Matheson, though he be Canadian, is here for you with the most traditional of stuffing recipes for Thanksgiving no matter if you’re celebrating it in November or October, as our neighbors to the north do.

You can still keep it simple and lean on the dehydrated cubes of bread from boxed stuffing mixes for this if you want to, but torn day-old white bread would work just as well.

*drooling emoji*

Sneak something gluten-free onto the menu this year with this wild rice and mushroom stuffing.

If you can’t get your hands on New England’s rather large quahog clams, any other fresh small clams, cooked and chopped, will do just fine.

Learn a little bit from historian and chef Michael Twitty about this cornbread dressing that is steeped in African and enslaved peoples’ culinary traditions. “We're simply talking about the origin story of a dish that speaks to how far we've come, and how ingenious enslaved Africans and African Americans were, taking what little they had and turning it into delicacies that crossed the color line.”

Apples or pears might be easier to get your hands on for something subtly sweet in your stuffing, but we promise that it will be worth it to track down fresh figs for this recipe from New York chef Jimmy Bradley of the beloved but soon-to-close Red Cat.

Our culinary director Farideh Sadeghin has not yet met a vegetable she doesn’t think can be improved upon with the addition of cheese and bacon.

Not a spicy boi? Forego the jalapeño here and you’ve still got a solid cornbread batter for soaking up all that gravy.

There’s no polite way to say it—making Parker House rolls is a real bitch of a process, but they also make for THE BEST vehicle for making sandwiches out of leftovers, so you kinda gotta just do it.

Yeah. We said it. Perfect.

JK, we’re kidding, Julia Ziegler-Haynes’ family! Your great grandma’s gravy is delicious, too, perfect is merely in the eye of the beholder!!!

This cranberry sauce is nothing like you’re used to, with a generous amount of ancho chili powder, burnt cinnamon, and cranberries caramelized and grilled over an open flame for a ton of smoky flavor.

You could strain out the extra cranberry skins for a smoother sauce closer to what comes out of the can, but we kind of like a little texture.

Instead of drowning bitter, tart cranberries in enough cups of sugar to turn the whole mixture into jam, try adding sweetness with two cups of orange juice instead.