25+ Easy & Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Updated Nov 12, 2023
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Looking for easy Thanksgiving side dishes? Welcome to your one stop shop for the best holiday side dishes, including fall salads, roasted vegetables, potatoes cooked in a myriad of ways, and of course the classics that will surely impress your dinner crowd. I’m all about easy, healthy, and foolproof recipes!
While a perfectly golden, roasted turkey always takes center stage at Thanksgiving, the truth is that having a good assortment of side dishes is key. And the best Thanksgiving side dishes can often outshine the turkey! That’s why nailing down your mix of textures, flavors, and colors is super important.
Mainstay classics such as creamy mashed potatoes, honey glazed carrots, or roasted Brussels sprouts are a must (if I do say so myself). But if you game plan ahead of time, you might even have room to experiment with new recipes — the Downshiftology way.
Lighten up your hearty dinner spread by adding veggie-forward dishes, refreshing salads, or cozy soups. With the list below, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of recipe inspiration!
Table of Contents
Top 10 Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Before we dive into the wide variety of recipes you can whip up, I wanted to highlight the top 10 best Thanksgiving side dishes. These are reader favorites year-after-year (aka perennial winners!) and always make an appearance on my dinner table. They’re classics for a reason!
Best Mashed Potatoes: A quintessential side dish that’s a no-brainer for your Thanksgiving dinner table. But to ensure the fluffiest and creamiest consistency, follow this no-fail recipe.
Sweet Potato Casserole: Whipped sweet potatoes are given an even sweeter boost with maple syrup and warming spices, then topped with a nutty pecan crumble. No marshmallows are needed here!
Honey Glazed Carrots: This easy sheet pan recipe transforms the everyday carrot into a highly addictive side dish. It’s sweet, savory, and beautifully caramelized.
Parmesan Herb Roasted Acorn Squash: Skip the sweet version and make this savory twist with herbs and shredded parmesan cheese. It’s ten times better!
Butternut Squash Soup: All I can say is that this butternut squash soup is one of those must-make recipes of the season. It’s creamy, and savory, and celebrates butternut squash in the best possible way.
Creamed Corn: This classic Thanksgiving side dish is buttery, rich, perfectly chunky, and will satisfy all corn lovers. Plus, it’s super easy to make with frozen corn!
Candied Yams: For an extra sweet touch to the table, everyone will love these candied yams. They’re tossed in a buttery, sugar-spiced glaze and baked to perfection.
Garlic Herb Roasted Potatoes: A side of roasted potatoes is a given. And I’m partial to this easy recipe that’s loaded with extra garlic and herbs for a savory touch.
Cranberry Sauce: Homemade cranberry sauce is a million times better than any store-bought version. And this one is naturally sweetened with maple syrup and a hint of orange.
Mashed Thanksgiving Side Dishes
When it comes to planning out textures across the table, a mashed side is a must. They’re rich, creamy, and add a delicious softness to your Thanksgiving plate. But, don’t limit yourself to classic mashed potatoes. You can also transform seasonal vegetables into the best mashed sides.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Swap white potatoes for these sweet and savory spuds. They’re naturally sweet and vibrant.
Mashed Cauliflower: This is an easy way to sneak more veggies into your dinner spread, with garlicky herb goodness.
Mashed Butternut Squash: Don’t forget that you can mash butternut squash into the best side dish.
Roasted Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Roasted vegetables are always favorite and for very good reason. The vegetables caramelize on the outside and transform into a savory, naturally sweet flavor. Plus, they’ll add brightly-colored hues around the beige turkey.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts: A classic Thanksgiving dish that’s crispy on the outside and so tender on the inside. And I’ve got flavor enhancement ideas on the recipe post.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes: These sweet potatoes are tossed in delicious spices and baked with caramelized edges. It’s always about that perfect seasoning.
Roasted Butternut Squash: Aside from sweet potatoes, don’t forget that you can dice and roast little cubes of butternut squash. They have a sweet yet nutty flavor that makes them great for complementing any other dishes on the table.
Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower: Roasted cauliflower is great. But when you add za’atar spice, dates, pine nuts, and thyme to the mix, it definitely kicks it up a couple notches.
Smashed Potatoes: If you’re looking for a new way to serve a side of potatoes this Thanksgiving, these smashed potatoes are it! They’re seasoned with garlic parmesan goodness and made extra crispy.
Baked Sweet Potato: Baked potatoes are a classic, but who can resist baked sweet potatoes! Just pop them in the oven and load them up with toppings like butter, green onion, chives, and sour cream.
Cabbage Steaks: If you’ve got cabbage lovers around the table, this is a deliciously unique side. Just don’t forget the roasted red pepper tahini to drizzle on top!
Sautéed Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Don’t want to take up more oven space during Thanksgiving? Whip up these stovetop sautéed vegetable side dishes!
Sauteed Cabbage: When sauteed, cabbage becomes beautifully caramelized and sweet! But the onions and garlic make it even better.
Sauteed Carrots with Bacon Dijon Dressing: I love carrots at Thanksgiving. But when I’m not making my honey-glazed recipe, this version with a bacon Dijon dressing is SO good.
Garlic Sauteed Spinach: Fresh spinach leaves become perfectly wilted with a savory, garlicky aroma. Don’t overlook an easy Thanksgiving side dish such as this — it only takes 10 minutes!
Green Beans with Shallots and Lemon: Green beans are a classic for Thanksgiving. But give it some oomph with shallots, fresh lemon juice, and zest!
Fried Cabbage: The crispy bacon and Dijon mustard give this fried cabbage some big flavor enhancements.
Casserole Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Stuffed Mushrooms: These are stuffed with the best cheesy, herby, and garlicky filling, then baked until golden with crumbled pecans on top!
Comforting and hearty, there’s nothing like a good ol’ casserole dish (or one-pan recipe). Especially if you have a larger crowd. Plus, these casserole dishes make batch prepping easy. Just pop them into the oven to warm up on the big day.
Healthy Green Bean Casserole: This healthy green bean casserole skips the canned soup. Instead, it has layers of fresh green beans, a creamy homemade mushroom sauce, and it’s topped with crispy shallots for the perfect crunch.
Scalloped Potatoes: This one is admittedly a bit decadent. The potatoes are rich, cheesy, and super flavorful. If that sounds like your jam, this side dish is one to indulge in.
Lighter Turkey Casserole: If you’re doing an alternative main this year but still want some turkey flavor, this is a great casserole idea. Chopped turkey is tossed with wild rice, peas, and a simple mushroom gravy sauce.
Air Fryer Thanksgiving Side Dishes
An air fryer comes in surprisingly handy during Thanksgiving, especially if you have a smaller gathering. Plus, it’s a great way to keep your oven and stovetop free for other recipes.
Air Fryer Baked Potato: Made in the air fryer, these baked potatoes have a crispy skin, and soft and fluffy insides. They’re the perfect base for adding your favorite toppings!
Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts: While roasted Brussels sprouts are a staple recipe, I love that the edges on these sprouts is even crispier!
Air Fryer Broccoli: This is the best way to get crispy-tender broccoli in under 10 minutes. Just toss the florets with a simple seasoning and then pop them into the air fryer.
Air Fryer Carrots: They’re crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and seasoned just right.
Air Fryer Green Beans: The best part (in my opinion) is that the air fryer adds that addictively crispy touch to them. So the end result is tender-crisp green beans with toasted edges. Delicious!
Salad Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Aside from cooked greens on the table, don’t forget to make a big bowl of salad. It helps to add a light and fresh bite in between everything else.
Waldorf Salad: Oh yes, a simple (and classic) fruit and nut salad tossed in a tangy-sweet, creamy dressing. There’s a reason why this salad is super popular for Thanksgiving, it’s so refreshing!
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad With Cranberries And Apples: If you’re not roasting Brussels sprouts, this salad needs to be on your table. It’s a simple mix of Brussels sprouts, red apples, and cranberries – tossed in a homemade lemon vinaigrette.
Spaghetti Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Crispy Shallots: Have a spaghetti squash on hand? Whip up this easy side dish with leftover Brussels sprouts and crispy shallots. It’s tender and crispy, all in one dish.
Broccoli Salad: You can never go wrong with bringing a big bowl of broccoli salad to a dinner party. It’s a classic for a reason!
Classic Potato Salad: There’s a reason why this potato salad is requested every holiday season! It’s my mom’s secret special recipe.
German Potato Salad: Baby red potatoes are gently tossed with a tangy and savory bacon Dijon dressing that makes this hard to stop at one bite.
Roasted Red Pepper and Chickpea Salad: This roasted chickpea salad ticks all the boxes for unique, flavorful, and loaded with fresh veggies. All you need to do is prep some roasted chickpeas prior to making it!
Massaged Kale Salad: Even though this salad is simple, it’s surprisingly flavorful and will add a fresh, vibrant green touch to your menu.
Kale Salad With Apples and Chicken: Tossed with crisp apples and chicken, this kale salad screams autumn flavors. You can also remove the chicken since you’ll have turkey instead.
Cozy Soup Thanksgiving Side Dishes
I think we can all agree that a bowl of soup never fails to warm your soul. So let’s bring those same vibes to your Thanksgiving dinner! And don’t worry, these recipes aren’t too heavy and will complement any dish on the table.
Potato Leek Soup: If you can grab some leeks at this time of year, you won’t want to skip this potato leek soup. It’s got a ton of flavor and adds a cozy vibe all around.
Beet Soup: Not only is this soup perfect for adding a bright pop of red to the table. But it’s such a delicious way to enjoy beets this season.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup: Light and comforting, this cauliflower soup is perfect for serving on the side and a sneaky way to add in more veggies.
Sweet Potato Soup: In addition to casseroles and mashed sides, you can turn sweet potatoes into a velvety, and delicious soup.
More Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas
- Thanksgiving Menu (a complete list!)
- Unique Thanksgiving Desserts
- Gluten-Free Gravy
- Thanksgiving Game Plan and Timeline
- Delicious Paleo Thanksgiving Recipes
I hope you, your friends, and your family enjoy all these Thanksgiving side dishes! If you make anything from this list, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the recipe in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community.
25+ Easy & Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes
- ¼ cup melted butter , or ghee
- ¼ cup milk, dairy or dairy-free
- salt and pepper , to taste
- parsley , finely diced
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on high heat.
- Peel the sweet potatoes with a hand peeler.
- Dice the potatoes into chunks and place them into the pot. Cook the potatoes for 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
- Drain the potatoes over a colander.
- Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash them with a hand masher or electric beater.
- Then, pour the butter and milk into the mixture and continue mixing until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Scoop the mashed sweet potatoes into a bowl, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve!
- To create a more creamier consistency, use a food processor, hand mixer, or stand mixer to blend.
- To make it dairy-free, you can swap butter for ghee as well as use any type of nut milk.
- My favorite peeler is a Y peeler. It’s the best for peeling potatoes!
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Originally posted November 2020, but updated to include new information for your benefit!