Farro Stuffing with Butternut Squash, Red Onion, and Almonds
Side dishes shine during the holiday season, so don't settle for sub-par accompaniments. From bright, flavorful veggies to creamy mashed potatoes, we've got everything you need to make a great plate.
First up is this nontraditional stuffing, in which earthy flavors and starchy comfort come from whole-grain farro, not bread. You can assemble up to 2 days ahead. Take out of the fridge, let stand at room temperature 45 minutes, then bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
A mix of colorful root vegetables may be your star side. Peeled, prechopped butternut squash saves time, but pieces tend to be irregular and small—we prefer peeling and cubing it yourself.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate and Pine Nuts
For a bit of showmanship, bring the whole cauliflower to the table, and then "carve" and dress with the vinaigrette, pomegranate arils, pine nuts, and parsley.
Sweet Potato Stacks with Sage Browned Butter
Holiday sweet potato sides can lean toward too-sweet territory; a dose of salty, nutty Parmesan balances the flavor in these adorable, delicious stacks. Get the kids to help by having them stack the slices and cheese in muffin cups as you follow behind with the browned butter. Use small potatoes so the slices will fit into the muffin cups. Make sure to slice the potatoes on the thin side, about 1⁄4-inch thick, so they’ll cook through (insert a toothpick in the center of each stack to test for doneness). You can also alternate with slices of baking potato or parsnip for pretty white and orange layers.
Skillet Green Bean Casserole
We've shortened (and lightened) this holiday classic by bringing everything together in one pan and using the stovetop and broiler rather than baking.
Grapefruit, Endive, and Arugula Salad
Tossing the endive leaves in the vinaigrette first softens their bitter edge. You could also sub thinly sliced fennel or chopped Romaine hearts.
Potato and Leek Gratin
A mandoline will slice the potatoes quickly and to the same thickness, though a sharp knife will also work. Instead of being buried in cream, the potatoes and leeks are simmered in and drizzled with milk so the potatoes get wonderfully crisp and tender and the cheeses form a melty, golden crust. The result is a rich, rustic potato side with contrasting flavors and textures—a bit of crunch to round out the stuffing, sauces, and mashes on the plate. Reheat leftovers in the oven until crisped and warmed through, and then serve with eggs and a side of fruit for breakfast.
Sausage and Chestnut Dressing
Chestnuts bring rich, nutty flavor without adding much fat or many calories, as would pecans or walnuts. You can find whole roasted chestnuts in the baking aisle.
Baked Mac and Cheese
We added a surprise ingredient, canola mayonnaise, to make things extra creamy.
A fresh, crisp salad balances the lineup of heavier, rich side dishes. You can follow a recipe or just compose one with pretty cuts of your favorite vegetables and herbs tossed with a light vinaigrette. Make this salad a day ahead if you want the flavors to absorb into the cauliflower a little more. Just hold off on adding the cheese until right before serving.
Green Beans with Dried Cranberries and Hazelnuts
Every plate needs a little green on it. Blanch the beans ahead, and store in the refrigerator to eliminate a task from the Thanksgiving Day prep list.
Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Gastrique
The gastrique, a tangy-sweet glaze, is Thanksgiving worthy but also simple enough to pull off on a weekday.
Classic Corn Bread Dressing
This is the quintessential Thanksgiving side dish in the South. It is made from crumbled corn bread, with no added French or sourdough bread to cut it, so the texture is unique. Loads of aromatics give this dressing its flavor; don't be tempted to use less.
Cheesy Potato Casserole
Rather than using sodium-loaded canned soup, we made our own creamy sauce to update this dish.
Supersavory Wild Rice Pilaf
The fluffy pilaf will soak in all the delicious juices from your plate making it the perfect side dish.
Sweet Potato Casserole
No Thanksgiving table is complete without this sweetened vegetable. Our modern twist on the classic sweet potato casserole is a fragrant vanilla bean streusel.
Shaved Apple and Fennel Salad with Crunchy Spelt
Simply put, apples and fennel are right together—the flavors are so complementary. We love the way the paper-thin slices intertwine and then get interrupted by bright hits of parsley. Canola oil may seem like an odd choice, but we wanted to keep the flavors clean and straightforward; you can always use olive oil if you'd like the vinaigrette to assert itself.
Southern Corn Bread Dressing Squares
The original recipe is made with two sticks of butter, but we lightened it by saving most of the butter for the crispy top. Look for stuffing mixes free of additives, unhealthy fats, and sugar, such as Arrowhead Mills, Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods 365.
Roasted Broccoli with Pistachios and Pickled Golden Raisins
Some version of broccoli, usually laden with cream and cheese, lands on many a Thanksgiving table. But this dish, with its beautifully balanced flavors, is much lighter—and vegan.
Mom's Smashed Mashed Potatoes
To keep potatoes warm until the meal is ready, place them, loosely covered, in a heatproof dish or bowl, and set them (without submerging them) in a larger pot of hot water over very low heat. They'll stay warm without scorching on the bottom.
Cheesy Sorghum and Shaved Squash Pilaf
Long, slender ribbons of butternut squash make for a beautiful and unusual presentation; just be gentle when stirring so you don't break all those gorgeous pieces. Try to grab a squash with a long neck—that straight surface works best for ribboning. If you can't find sorghum, you can use farro.
Smoked Barley, Beet and Grapefruit Salad
This CL–perfected stovetop technique makes smoking food easier than ever (though the salad is still tasty if you choose not to smoke the grains), and smoke is such a fun flavor to apply to unexpected ingredients like barley. A sweet vinaigrette, earthy beets, and the intense citrus twang of grapefruit balance the robust smoky hit of the grains for a memorable salad. To make sure you're getting the whole-grain version of barley, look for hulled, and skip past pearled.
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pickled Rye Berries
Something rather lovely happens when you soak the chewier whole grains (such as rye or wheat berries) in a pickling brine; the tangy notes make the chew that much more enjoyable.
Leek and Pancetta Potato Rösti
Maximum surface area means more crunchy bits in this rösti, essentially a large potato pancake, perfect for the hash brown lovers in your family. If making ahead, cool on a wire rack, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Reheat in an ovenproof skillet at 350° for 10 minutes or until recrisped.
Sautéed Green Beans with Miso Butter
Supersavory miso elevates crisp beans beyond their humble goodness.
Sautéed Green Beans with Spice-Glazed Pecans
Beat the last-minute cooking frenzy by making the glazed pecans up to 3 days in advance and storing at room temperature in an airtight container; double the ingredients for an appetizer guests can munch on before the meal.
Turn up the volume on classic glazed carrots with exotic cardamom and fragrant fresh ginger. If you can find multicolored carrots, use them for a lovely presentation, as we did in the photo. The parchment paper lid slows moisture loss just enough to form a beautiful glaze.
Caramelized Onion and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
You can respond to cries of "It's not Thanksgiving without mashed spuds!" by taking this classic to the next level: Think garlic-infused olive oil and sweet caramelized onions.
Linguiça Sausage Stuffing with Mushrooms
This twist on a classic sausage and sourdough stuffing uses smoky Portuguese linguiça in place of crumbled pork sausage. Kielbasa or any smoked sausage would also work.
Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Chive Sour Cream
These potatoes deliver the best of both worlds: creamy, starchy center and crisp, golden edges. To smash, place the back of a wide spatula over each potato, and then press with the heel of your hand.
Sautéed Haricots Verts with Bacon Breadcrumbs
Slender haricots verts get delightfully browned and crisp in the pan. A bacon breadcrumb topper makes them an instant crowd-pleaser.
Apple-Sage Stuffing Cups
The muffin cups give you crispy edges and a tender interior in half the time, though the stuffing won't hold its shape like a traditional muffin. Presliced bread and prechopped onion and celery save time.
Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan
Far from its overcooked cafeteria-line incarnation, cauliflower takes well to sophisticated flavors and roasts wonderfully. The high heat of this recipe makes cooking fast, but is also necessary for the pretty and tasty browning of the cauliflower's surface. If you want a crunchier texture, add a tablespoon or two of panko at the end with the Parmesan and lemon.
Sausage, Apple, and Fennel Corn Bread Dressing
There's something incredibly comforting about this dressing―the fluffy corn bread combined with sweet apples and smoky spiced sausage just warms you to the core. It's great with turkey and all the trimmings, or reheated for a post-Thanksgiving snack.
Butternut Squash and Leek Gratins
A crunchy browned cheese topping conceals a hearty, sweet squash-and-onion combination here. Serving individual gratins in single-serving ramekins makes for a more impressive presentation than one large casserole, and the individual servings cook faster as well.
Ranch Mashed Potatoes
Add tangy zest to a mild-flavored classic with this recipe. It has the quintessential rich-and-creamy texture of mashed potatoes, while adding visual appeal with skin-on red potatoes and taste appeal with sour cream, buttermilk, and herbs.
Winter Jeweled Fruit Salad
In Mexico, copas de frutas (fruit cups) are popular street food. They typically consist of fresh fruit sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder and are the inspiration for this jewel-colored fruit salad. Jicama (pronounced HEE-kah-mah), also known as a Mexican potato or turnip, tastes like a cross between an apple and a potato and adds crunch to the salad.
Citrus Green Beans with Pine Nuts
Citrus gives a common side dish an unexpected, but delightfully delicious, makeover. The dish is light and refreshing so it won't bog down your plate.
Roasting kale is amazing—the leaves turn from a dusty dark green to dark emerald with brown-tinged curly edges that crunch. This vegetable side is delicious served hot from the oven; the leaves lose their crisp texture as the dish stands.
Wild Rice Dressing with Roasted Chestnuts and Cranberries
The nutty, almost smoky flavor of wild rice pairs beautifully with game birds and other poultry. Bright bits of dried cranberries, fresh herbs, and sliced carrot give this side dish definite curb appeal.
Haricots Verts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Haricots verts are tiny, fresh French green beans. If you can’t find them, substitute regular fresh beans, which you’ll need to cook a few minutes longer. You can also use white wine vinegar instead of Champagne, if necessary.
Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Braise the Brussels sprouts and toast the bread-crumbs up to a day ahead. Before serving, add cooked, crumbled bacon to the toasted breadcrumb mixture, and then sprinkle the mixture over the sprouts. Broil 3 minutes or until golden and thoroughly heated.
Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots
You don't need butter and cream to make wonderfully creamy mashed sweet potatoes. Heart-healthy olive oil adds flavor and silkiness without saturated fat.
Sausage and Sourdough Bread Stuffing
Lots of tastes and textures to sample as you travel around your plate—that's our idea behind having lots of sides. Start the journey with this rustic stuffing.
Brussels Sprouts with Honey-Glazed Pearl Onions and Capocollo
The salty richness of bacon, ham, or other cured meats round out the bitterness of Brussels sprouts, turning the oft-reviled veggie into something transcendent. The addition of sweet pearl onions and honey just adds another dimension on top of that. The flavor of capocollo, made from pork shoulder, is very similar to prosciutto or Serrano ham; you can substitute either if necessary.
Maple-Pecan Sweet Potatoes
You can make this dish up to two days ahead. Simply bake the potatoes and assemble. Then refrigerate and bake just before serving.
Buttery Lemon Broccolini
If you want to get a jump on this recipe, cook the Broccolini four minutes, plunge it into ice water, and refrigerate. Separately prepare the compound butter, and chill it. Then finish cooking the Broccolini in the skillet, and toss it with the butter just before serving.
Buttermilk-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Be sure to purchase a crumbly wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano for this super quick potato side dish. The salty flavor will give just the right bite to these melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes.
Peppery mustard greens and slightly bitter escarole combine with raisins and pungent garlic for a tasty green veggie side. If you can’t find mustard greens or escarole, you can make this dish with fresh spinach.
Fontina-Stuffed Potato Skins
Bake potatoes up to two days ahead, and fill with stuffing. Cover and refrigerate. Before serving, let them stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and bake.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples
We tested with Fuji apples and love the sweet-tart contrast with the bitter Brussels sprouts. Leave the red skin on for a pretty contrast, or peel the apple, if you prefer.
Bulgur with Dried Cranberries
Serve this lemony bulgur--an American interpretation of Middle Eastern tabbouleh—instead of the more familiar and expected stuffing.
Classic Herbed Bread Dressing
Refer to our recipe for Homemade Turkey Broth, or you can substitute fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth to prepare this recipe, but reduce the added salt.
Soft Polenta with Wild Mushroom Sauté
This is an easy and versatile side dish. The polenta is topped with a quick sauté of wild mushrooms (or use exotics, like shiitake and oyster, if wild are not available). If you replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth, this side dish can serve four as a vegetarian entrée. Garnish with sage sprigs.
Gratin of Cauliflower with Gruyère
Gruyère's nutty, earthy flavor is a nice match for subtle cauliflower, and crisp breadcrumbs add texture. Substitute broccoli for the cauliflower, if you prefer. You can prepare all the elements for the dish a day ahead, if necessary. Refrigerate the sauce, the cauliflower, and the breadcrumb mixture separately, and simply assemble before baking.
Smashed Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Chives
If you want to make the potatoes ahead, chill them and reheat just before serving, adding extra liquid to desired consistency. Stir in the chives just before serving. For a nice presentation, sprinkle additional chives over the top.
Brussels Sprouts with Currants and Pine Nuts
Peel away the outer leaves from trimmed fresh Brussels sprouts, reserving the leaves and centers. This technique shortens the cook time and makes a nice presentation.
Risotto with Champagne and Radicchio
This recipe sounds, looks, and tastes sophisticated. With an elegant balance of flavors―tart Champagne, salty Parmesan, bitter radicchio, and sweet onion―it will impress at any meal, whether a weeknight family dinner or a fancy New Year's Eve buffet.
Wild Rice Stuffing
It seems like just about every family has a signature stuffing (or dressing) recipe, based on one of a wide variety of grains. This recipe uses nutty wild rice, along with tart-sweet dried fruit and plenty of classic sage, creating an inspired side that might just become a new tradition in your home.
Green Beans with Bacon
About 15 minutes is all it takes to put together this flavorful―and healthful―dish. It's got all the meaty flavor of bacon and tender crunch of fresh green beans with only 46 calories and 1.11 grams of fat per serving.
Sourdough Stuffing with Pears and Sausage
Completing the triumvirate of stuffing styles, this bread-based version takes advantage of sourdough's tangy chewiness for structure and taste, while adding the unexpected flavors of earthy mushrooms, subtly sweet pears, and licorice-like tarragon.
Camembert Mashed Potatoes
Soft, mild camembert cheese adds the same creaminess to mashed potatoes that butter and cream do, but it also brings in a sophisticated tangy, distinctly cheesy flavor. Any young, soft cheese can be used in this recipe―try your favorite brie, or even a creamy chévre.
Sautéed Carrots with Sage
You can easily double, triple, or quadruple this small-yield recipe to feed more hungry holiday dwellers. A few simple ingredients turn carrots into a star side dish.
Browned Butter Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes laced with bourbon, butter, and cream—what could be better?
Romano-Topped Brussels Sprouts
Simple roasted Brussels sprouts get a big flavor boost from one simple addition: salty pecorino Romano cheese, which punctuates the traditional fall veggie dish with meaty umami notes. You can also use subtler Asiago or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if you prefer. Quarter the larger sprouts so they are about the same size as halved smaller ones, and spread them in a single layer in two different roasting pans so they brown nicely and evenly.
Sautéed Broccolini with Tomatoes
This speedy, simple stovetop dish saves you oven space and can be prepared at the very last minute and then brought to the holiday table. Roma or plum tomatoes are the best choice this time of year.
Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Walnuts
Here’s a crowd-pleasing side that’s easy on the pocketbook: just 67 cents per serving! If money is no object, consider finishing with a flourish of white truffle oil.
Mushroom and Leek Stuffing
This delicious yet budget-friendly dish comes to $1.15 per serving. Look for a poultry herb blend in the produce section—one package contains all the herbs you need. Slice leeks and swirl them around in a big bowl of water to wash.
Sausage and Apple Stuffing
Sweet Italian sausage, chopped fresh fennel, and apple combine with tangy sourdough for a classic Thanksgiving stuffing.
Prepare polenta through step 2 up to two days ahead. Before serving, let the dish stand at room temperature one hour, cut polenta into triangles, and toast them at mealtime. Pork sausage gives them a wonderfully familiar, stuffing-like flavoring.
Mashed Potato Soufflé
Who knew instant potato flakes could be the basis of such an amazing dish? It's really something of a faux-fflé--technically not a soufflé, but you get the same puff-tacular results without even having to whip egg whites.
Make-Ahead Layered Salad
Pre-chopped veggies and pre-cooked bacon and eggs help you pull this charmingly retro dish together in a flash. Typical layer dips and salads are loaded with cheese, sour cream, and refried beans, making the saturated fat and calorie numbers quite high. However, this salad is packed with protein and nutrient-dense veggies that deliver just as much flavor as your favorite bean dip. You can assemble the salad, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Eat it straight out of the bowl, or scoop it out with chips or lettuce cups.
Easy, Cheesy Potato Gratin
Refrigerated presliced potatoes slash tons of prep and cook time. The combo of Gruyère and Parm-Regg cheeses is delicious, but you can use all one type if you prefer.
Quick Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole
This side is ridiculously easy and goes into the oven in only 10 minutes, thanks to sweet canned yams. To boost flavor and add richness, we counter the canned spuds with luscious crème fraiche; chunks of almonds bring big crunch.
Green Beans with Sherried Mushroom Sauce
Here's a faster, fresher take on green bean casserole that's done all on the stovetop--one less thing to try to work into oven rotation on the big day. Although we use fresh beans and make our own creamy sauce, we've kept the French-fried onions (arguably the best part of traditional green bean casserole). To speed prep, you can purchase bags of fresh, pretrimmed green beans from the produce section.