43 Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes You Can Make Ahead for an Effortless Holiday
Cut down on Thanksgiving Day craziness and free up space in your oven by making some dishes ahead of time. From Green Bean Casserole to Scalloped Potatoes, all of these classic Thanksgiving side dishes come with tips to prep them ahead of time. A quick reheat is all they’ll need before making their way to your dinner table.
Honey-Glazed Roasted Delicata Squash
Tangy cider vinegar, sweet honey, crunchy pine nuts and fresh mint come together to make an amazing glaze in this healthy roasted winter squash recipe. If you use delicata, the whole squash—including the gorgeous skin—is edible.
Roasted Cauliflower with Banana Peppers
Don't be tempted to jam all the cauliflower onto one sheet pan in order to make fewer dirty dishes. Spreading it out on two pans ensures that it gets golden brown.
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Parmesan & Marcona Almonds
Chef Fabio Viviani, of Siena Tavern in Chicago, shines a bright light on Brussels sprouts with this side dish. In this Brussels sprouts salad recipe, the sharpness of the sprouts gets tamed with honey, toasted almonds and shaved Parmesan cheese. It comes together in about 20 minutes--you can thinly slice the Brussels sprouts with a knife or mandoline, but it's overkill for weeknights. A food processor with a slicing blade will give you pro results. Or grab a bag of shredded Brussels sprouts from your supermarket.
Bitter Greens Salad with Soppressata & Pecorino
This bitter green salad turns the bland lunch salad on its head with its Mediterranean flair. Quickly charring radicchio and toasting dried oregano adds complex flavor, and slightly spicy soppressata pairs especially well with the sweetness of marinated cherry peppers. Pecorino Romano has a tangier, saltier taste than Parmesan, so just a bit provides the salad with plenty of nutty, sharp flavor. This salad can easily be made into a main course or served as a substantial side dish.
Greens-&-Gruyère Mini Quiches
This mini quiche recipe uses classic Provençal flavors--garlic, oil-cured olives, anchovies, caramelized onions--to season these very-green egg cups. They keep well, perfect for breakfast on the fly, but the flavors are sophisticated enough to serve for brunch. If you frequently make mini quiches, consider investing in silicone mini muffin tins; they make popping these out a dream!
Farro Salad with Arugula, Artichokes & Pistachios
Precooked farro makes this dish come together in no time. And you can make it in the same bowl you serve it in, minimizing cleanup!
Baked Stuffed Onions
Perfect with Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing, these baked onions are stuffed with a savory combination of mushrooms, breadcrumbs and capers.
Vegan Pumpkin Soup
This vegan pumpkin soup, filled with spices and creamy cashews, can make an easy weeknight dinner or be elevated to a vegan main dish worthy of a holiday dinner by serving it in a hollowed-out freshly roasted pumpkin.
Kale Salad with Cranberries
This easy holiday salad gets its flavor from a sweet citrus dressing that's infused into the kale by massaging the greens and the dressing together with your hands. We like a mix of kale for this recipe, but any type of kale will work.
Balsamic-Parmesan Sautéed Spinach
Tender spinach with a hint of garlic, Parmesan cheese and sweet balsamic vinegar makes a quick and flavorful side dish. The sturdy leaves of mature spinach hold up best during cooking.
Smothered Cabbage with Ham
Use up your leftover ham in this comforting one-pot dish made with cabbage and potatoes. The simple flavors get brightened at the end with a splash of cider vinegar. Serve alongside roast chicken or pork.
Creamy Cremini Mushroom Soup
Reduced-fat sour cream and low-fat milk make this soup creamy without all the fat. The pudgy brown mushrooms called cremini are generally firmer and richer-tasting than common white mushrooms.
Cauliflower Casserole with Mixed-Seed Crust
The cheesy-seedy crust that tops this healthy cauliflower casserole recipe evokes everything bagels. Serve on Thanksgiving as an easy make-ahead side dish.
Meringue-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole
This lightened-up take on the classic Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole is spiked with crushed pineapple and toasted pecans. We top it with an airy, slightly sweet meringue. You can pipe the meringue to make it look fancy or simply spread it neatly with a rubber spatula.
Beer-Braised Cipollini Onions
Creamed pearl onions have long been a staple Thanksgiving side dish, but this lighter, sweet-and-savory cipollini onion recipe may send that traditional recipe to the back of your file for good. For a fruity (and gluten-free) twist, use your favorite hard cider instead of beer.
Roasted Butternut Squash & Pear Quinoa Salad
This roasted vegetable and fruit salad gets infused with flavor from quinoa that's cooked with fresh ginger, garlic and a hit of turmeric. An easy make-ahead twist for your Thanksgiving spread!
Fig & Walnut Wild Rice Dressing
This gluten-free dressing (or stuffing, if you prefer) leans on a blend of brown and wild rice for a complex nutty flavor. Look for dried Mission figs in the bulk aisle or with the packaged dried fruit in your grocery store. You can swap in dried cherries or cranberries if you can't find dried figs.
Slow-Cooker Dinner Rolls
These dinner rolls are baked in the slow cooker, then browned under the broiler for a couple minutes for a crisp crust. The results? Billowy, crusty, decadent rolls to serve with your Thanksgiving meal.
Roasted Carrots with Calimyrna Fig Dressing
Whole roasted carrots make quite a statement on your Thanksgiving table when they're topped with a port wine-and-fig dressing. In this recipe, we like dried Calimyrna figs because they're a tad less sweet than Mission figs and taste slightly nutty as well.
No-Sugar-Added Sweet Potato Casserole
Instead of loading up this comfort food side with tons of brown sugar and marshmallows, we have turned to sweet spices, vanilla and inherently sweet dried fruit to enhance the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes. A topping of pecans and pepitas replaces traditional marshmallow topping to keep it healthy and add texture and color for a beautiful casserole.
The Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce
This is our go-to recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. It's simple (just five ingredients!), is lightly sweet without being too sugary and has just the right amount of zesty flavor from orange peel. Plus, it's so easy—it goes from stove to table in just 20 minutes!
Crispy Potato Stacks with Fresh Sage
These cute little stacks are everything you want in a potato side dish: tender in the middle, devilishly crispy on the outside, and seasoned with sage and butter throughout. For best results, use a mandoline to slice the potatoes extra-thin.
Rainbow Slaw with Beet Greens
A touch of cumin and cinnamon give this colorful, healthy slaw recipe a hint of the Middle East. Plus, it'll add a pop of color to your Thanksgiving table!
Easy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
This quick mashed potato recipe has just 5 ingredients and is Thanksgiving-ready in 20 minutes. Using sweet potatoes for this classic side dish adds color to your plate along with a little sweetness and a boost of Vitamin A.
This healthy stuffing recipe is easy to make and goes with almost anything. If you like, make it vegetarian by substituting a pound of minced shiitake mushrooms for the chorizo and using mushroom or vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Now everyone can enjoy classic Thanksgiving favorites, like this dairy-free green bean casserole. We make a homemade vegan cream of mushroom soup using almond milk for the creamy base that's combined with fresh green beans. Top it off with classic french-fried onions (we have a vegan recipe for that, too!) for a side dish everyone will devour.
Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
Make this classic comfort food side dish in an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, to get the potatoes soft and tender in a jiff! This easy, 5-ingredient recipe is perfect for the Thanksgiving because it's all done in one pot and doesn't take up any extra oven or stove space.
Vegan Scalloped Potatoes
These scalloped potatoes are surprisingly rich and creamy even though they're made with no dairy (milk, butter or cheese)—vegan comfort food at its best. We use almond milk, herbs and spices to make a flavorful sauce and finish the dish with a crunchy almond topping. This makes a satisfying side dish if you're cooking for dairy-free or vegan diets.
Roasted Brussels Sprout & Butternut Squash Salad
Serve this hearty and healthy fall salad with roasted pork tenderloin, chicken or salmon, or with your Thanksgiving meal. All of the vegetables are roasted on the same pan, so this recipe is easy to prep, and it tastes great warm or at room temperature so it's perfect for holiday buffet tables and potlucks. Cranberries add a sweet-tart edge, while the maple-tahini dressing provides depth.
Instant Pot Sweet Potato Casserole
Use any multicooker or electric pressure cooker to make this classic Thanksgiving side dish. The sweet potatoes get perfectly tender and almost caramelized while cooking under high pressure, plus using your multicooker saves stovetop and oven space.
Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes with Spinach
Classic scalloped potatoes get a burst of color, heartier texture and a healthy update with the addition of chopped spinach. The greens in this side dish also create a nice contrast to the creamy, velvety potatoes.
Glazed Haricots Verts with Pickled Shallot-Walnut Relish
Skip Grandma's mushroom-soup-drenched casserole this year and cook this fresher green bean side dish with a tangy shallot and walnut relish instead. If you can't find white balsamic vinegar, use apple-cider vinegar (instead of regular balsamic vinegar) instead.
Hasselbacks Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows
These hasselback sweet potatoes are like mini marshmallow-topped sweet potato casseroles drizzled with sage-infused butter. The hasselback technique, slicing the potato but leaving it whole, makes for a tender potato with a crispy top—the best of both worlds.
Green Bean Casserole Salad
Trying to lighten up your green bean casserole? Try this quick and easy salad version, which combines fried shallots, croutons, mushrooms, green beans, and chopped chard leaves for a lighter take on a Thanksgiving classic.
No-Sugar-Added Cranberry Sauce
Most cranberry sauce recipes add tons of sugar to mask the tart taste of the cranberries. In this simple cranberry sauce, we lighten things up by skipping the sugar and opting for a healthier combination of dates and apple cider which adds just enough sweetness without overpowering the cranberry flavor.
Easy Scalloped Potatoes
In this easy scalloped potatoes recipe, sliced potatoes are roasted in the oven before being mixed with a simple, creamy stovetop sauce and sprinkled with Cheddar cheese. A few minutes under the broiler turns the dish golden and crispy.
Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
These healthy mashed sweet potatoes owe their kick to the chipotle peppers. Want it spicier? Add another tablespoon to your mash. You can even use chipotle chile powder to punch up the heat—use a couple teaspoons instead of the full 3 tablespoons of chipotles in adobo.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Buttermilk
These garlic mashed potatoes are extra creamy, thanks to the addition of both butter and buttermilk. To prevent the potatoes from getting gummy, be sure not to overmix them in Step 2. Mashed vegetables tend to get cold easily; keep all tools—the ricer and bowl—warm by running under hot water before using.
Roasted Carrots with Homemade Marshmallow Fluff & Toasted Coconut
Can we get a drumroll, please, for the marshmallow fluff recipe you've been waiting for? This dish may look like regular oven-roasted carrots, but when you add the homemade marshmallow "fluff" it immediately goes in the direction of sweet potato casserole.
Mashed Celeriac with Herbs
Celeriac is a delicious low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes. Pureeing the steamed celeriac in a food processor ensures a smooth, light and fluffy texture.
Parsnip Mash with Olive Tapenade
Nutty parsnips make for a tasty mashed-potato substitute. For the best parsnip mash, puree the root veggie in a food processor instead of using a ricer, as parsnips are woodier than potatoes.
Kale-Butternut Squash Gratin
This colorful gratin dish livens up any holiday plate. Creamy melted Gruyère is comforting, while a blend of cumin, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper lends a warm, spicy note.
Creamy Mashed Rutabaga with Bacon
Rutabagas have tough skin and are often enclosed in wax to prevent them from drying out. Cut away the wax (or boil for 1½ minutes and wipe off) and skin with a sharp chef's knife instead of using a vegetable peeler. Whole milk adds a smooth, creamy texture to this mash.