The Ultimate Thanksgiving Feast: 10 Best Sides to Elevate Your Celebration

October 2, 2023

It’s that time of year again when the leaves turn gold, the air becomes crisp, and people gather around the table for Thanksgiving to give thanks and enjoy a meal that nourishes both body and spirit. While the centerpiece of Thanksgiving may be the turkey, the real magic lies in the array of delectable side dishes accompanying it. From classic favorites to modern twists, these 10 Thanksgiving side dishes will surely delight your palate and make your Thanksgiving celebration unforgettable.

1. Creamy Mashed Potatoes: Comfort in Every Bite

No Thanksgiving table is complete without a heaping mound of creamy mashed potatoes. This timeless favorite embodies comfort with its velvety texture and buttery flavor. The journey to perfect mashed potatoes starts with selecting the right variety of potatoes – Russets or Yukon Golds are great choices due to their high starch content, resulting in a fluffy texture. Once boiled to tenderness, the potatoes are mashed with a generous amount of butter, milk, or cream. Consider adding roasted garlic, cheddar cheese, or fresh herbs for a twist. Whether you prefer them whipped, lumpy, or loaded with garlic, mashed potatoes provide the perfect canvas for gravy artistry and an excellent partner for every other dish on your plate.

2. Savory Stuffing: A Taste of Tradition

Stuffing, or dressing, is another Thanksgiving classic that brings a sense of nostalgia to the table. This dish adds layers of depth to your meal, made with a base of breadcrumbs or cornbread and flavored with aromatic herbs, vegetables, and sometimes even sausage. There’s an endless array of stuffing variations to explore – from the traditional sage and onion stuffing to more creative versions like cranberry and walnut stuffing. Its golden, crispy top and moist interior make it an irresistible side that perfectly complements the turkey.

3. Cranberry Sauce: A Burst of Sweet-Tart Elegance

Cranberry sauce provides a vibrant flavor that balances the richness of the Thanksgiving spread. Whether you get it in a can or make it yourself with fresh cranberries, this sweet-tart condiment is a great way to dress up a simple meal. The process of making cranberry sauce is a culinary adventure in itself. Simmering cranberries with sugar, orange zest, and a hint of cinnamon transforms these ruby gems into a delightful sauce that adds color and tang to your meal. Turkey and cranberry sauce are a match created in the kitchen.

4. Green Bean Casserole: A Fusion of Texture and Taste

The green bean casserole is a modern classic that marries the freshness of green beans with the indulgence of creamy mushroom sauce and crispy fried onions. This dish was created as a marketing campaign by a canning company in the 1950s and has since become a Thanksgiving staple. Make this classic dish your own by switching to fresh green beans from a can and making your mushroom sauce with various mushrooms for added depth of flavor. This dish’s textural and flavorful contrast to the rest of the meal is delicious, and its overall effect is one of cozy exhilaration.

5. Sweet Potato Casserole: A Sweet and Gooey Delight

Sweet potato casserole strikes the perfect balance between a side dish and dessert. This dish adds a sweet and gooey element to your Thanksgiving spread with its marshmallow or pecan topping. The sweet potatoes’ natural sweetness harmonizes with the toppings’ richness, creating a symphony of flavors that dance on your taste buds. To take this dish up a notch, add a touch of bourbon or a sprinkle of nutmeg to the sweet potato base for added depth.

6. Roasted Brussels Sprouts: A Modern Twist on Greens

For those seeking a healthier option, roasted Brussels sprouts are the answer. These petite cabbages transform the oven, turning crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and perhaps a drizzle of balsamic glaze, roasted Brussels sprouts offer a modern twist on greens that adds color and nutrition to your feast. Toss the roasted Brussels sprouts with crispy bacon bits or toasted nuts to enhance the flavor profile.

7. Buttery Cornbread: Soulful and Satisfying

Cornbread, with its golden hue and crumbly texture, is a staple in Southern cuisine and a must-have on any Thanksgiving table. Served with a pat of butter or a dollop of honey, this side dish has a soulful quality that transports you to simpler times and exudes warmth and comfort. Experiment with different add-ins like jalapenos and cheddar cheese for a savory kick, or incorporate blueberries for a sweet twist.

8. Creamed Spinach: A Luxurious Indulgence

Elevate your Thanksgiving meal with a touch of sophistication through creamed spinach. This side dish brings a touch of luxury to your spread, with tender spinach leaves bathed in a luscious cream sauce. To enhance the dish further, infuse the cream with aromatic spices like nutmeg and a hint of lemon zest. The combination of earthy greens and velvety texture creates an indulgent and refined sensation.

9. Garlic Roasted Potatoes: Rustic and Irresistible

While mashed potatoes take center stage, garlic-roasted potatoes offer a rustic alternative that’s equally satisfying. These bite-sized gems are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and infused with the bold flavors of garlic and herbs. To achieve the perfect roasted potato, choose the right type – waxy varieties like red or fingerling potatoes hold their shape well during roasting. Toss them in olive oil with minced garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and roast them in the oven until golden and crispy. They’re the perfect accompaniment to any protein on your Thanksgiving table.

10. Pumpkin Bisque: A Silky Start or Finish

While not a traditional side dish, a velvety pumpkin bisque can be an exquisite addition to your Thanksgiving meal. Whether served as an appetizer or a light, comforting course before dessert, this silky soup captures the season’s essence with its warm, earthy flavors. Add a swirl of spiced cream or a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds to enhance the flavor profile.

Thanksgiving is a time for celebration, gratitude, and, of course, indulgence. The turkey may take the spotlight, but the array of side dishes truly elevate the feast and create a symphony of flavors. From the timeless comfort of mashed potatoes to the modern twist of roasted Brussels sprouts, each dish brings its unique charm. So, as you gather with loved ones this Thanksgiving, savor each bite of these 10 best side dishes that come together to create a memorable and mouthwatering culinary experience.

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