12 Show-Stopping Thanksgiving Sides

November 20, 2014 | | | | | |

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12-Easy-and-Impressive-Thanksgiving-side-dishesT-1 WEEK UNTIL THANKSGIVING, PEOPLE. Let’s get down to business.

If you’re on bird duty this year, Godspeed. You should probably review this post on turkey roasting tips to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered. In case you were wondering, I’m dry-brining this year, and I’m pretty ecstatic about it. I tried to share my brining excitement with my roommate last night, but he kept saying, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” followed by, “I’m sure you’ll do great!”

(No turkey for Logan.)

Anyhoo, today I want to discuss the most important part of the T-Day feast—Let’s here it for the sides!! (Please read that statement to the tune of “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.”) Below, you’ll find a list of my favorite fall side dishes, all of which would be excellent additions to your holiday table. I’m hoping at least one of them will tickle your festive fancy and rock your world next Thursday.

Just a heads up, you should probably start practicing what I like to call “the humble smile.” Think gracious and coy with a touch of “it was nothing, really!” The compliments on your domestic prowess are going to be out of control, and you don’t want to seem overly smug…

12 Show-Stopping Thanksgiving Sides:

Sweet-potato-gratin-with-pancetta-parmesan-and-sage-61. Sweet Potato Gratin with Pancetta, Parmesan and Sage. I actually remember taking my first bite of this glorious gratin last fall. I was wearing my favorite sweater with embroidered Eiffel Towers and listening to “Wrecking Ball” when I took a small forkful from the casserole dish. The layers of tender sweet potatoes, infused cream, Parmesan and crispy pancetta…MIND BLOWN. I shouldn’t have been left alone with it.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-92. Three Cheese Cauliflower Gratin. If it’s good enough for Dana Cowin, it’s good enough for you.

Cream-Cheese-Mashed-Potatoes-Thanksgiving-Sides3. Mashed Potatoes with Cream CheeseLet’s be clear, a Thanksgiving dinner without mashed potatoes is blasphemous. May I suggest dressing yours up with some cream cheese and garlic-infused olive oil?

kale-salad-with-quinoa-cranberries-and-toasted-almonds-404. Kale Salad with Quinoa, Cranberries and Toasted AlmondsI know kale salad isn’t the most traditional of T-Day sides, but sometimes you need a little greenery on the table, no? Since this is the salad that made me a kale convert, I feel confident that it will go over well even with the superfood haters. (It’s all about massaging the kale. And then putting cheese on it.)

Hasselback-Sweet-Potatoes-with-Sage-and-Parmesan-105. Hasselback Sweet Potatoes. These bad boys are so festive! More importantly, they’re ridiculously dank and shockingly simple. The slicing is the only time consuming aspect of the recipe (you can do it!), then you just brush the potatoes with a maple and cayenne spiked olive oil and pop them in the oven. Fancy fanned taters in 1 hour!

farro-with-chipotle-glazed-acorn-squash-kale-pepitas-feta6. Farro with Chipotle Glazed Acorn Squash, Kale and Toasted PepitasA hearty grain salad with leafy greens, caramelized winter squash and good kick of heat, this is one of those dishes that just screams “FALL SEXY.” It can be served at room temp, so feel free to prep it in the morning, and then finish it with cheese and pepitas right before serving. Brace yourself for the fangirling.

Kabocha-Squash-Quinoa-Bake-with-Brussels-Sprouts-and-Pancetta-77. Kabocha Squash Quinoa Bake with Brussels Sprouts and PancettaFor those of you looking to steal the show with a more progressive side dish, this quinoa bake is for you. It’s the ultimate sweet and savory casserole, and it can be prepped in advance and then baked 25 minutes before serving (aka while your turkey is resting and you’ve finally freed up some oven real estate). Do it.

Shaved-Brussels-Sprout-and-Cauliflower-Salad-with-Pomegranate-Walnuts-Pecorino8. Shaved Brussels Sprout and Cauliflower SaladThis seasonal salad is a fabulous way to lighten and brighten your T-Day spread. If you use a mandolin, it can be ready in about 10 minutes flat, and there’s no actual cooking involved. This means you’ll have extra space in the oven/on the stovetop and more time to drink cocktails. Thank God.

Farro-risotto-with-prosciutto-parmesan-and-brussels-sprouts-129. Farro Risotto with Prosciutto, Parmesan and Brussels SproutsThis stuff is ridiculous. Yes, like any risotto, this recipe requires a little love and a lot of stirring, but the end result is beyond worth it. Also, “I have to stir my risotto,” is an excellent excuse to finagle some alone time on T-Day. Your free hand can be used to hold booze.

mashed-sweet-potatoes-with-goat-cheese-and-pepitas10. Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese, Sage and PepitasThe sweet and tangy flavor combo here is foolproof, people, and I imagine a drizzle of gravy on top would be a truly magical Thanksgiving treat. Don’t worry, if you aren’t in the mood to spoon the mashed potatoes back into their skins, you can serve them in a regular bowl or casserole dish. The sweet potato boats are pretty cute though…

Roasted-Root-Vegetable-Salad-with-Herbed-Goat-Cheese-and-Arugula-511. Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Herbed Goat CheeseThis, friends, is the most delightful and hearty of fall salads. It totally works as a vegetable side dish, but it would also be an excellent start to your Thanksgiving meal (for those fancypants that do appetizers on T-Day), OR served as a light T-Day lunch (for those of you that don’t end up eating dinner until much later than anticipated).

12-Foolproof-Fourth-of-July-Recipes-Skillet-Cornbread12. Skillet CornbreadAhhhh the joys of sweet, buttery cornbread. Enough said.

autum-sangria-with-apples-pomegranate-blackberries-10I thought I’d leave you with a glamour shot of Autumn Sangria with Apples, Pomegranate and Blackberries because booze is my favorite Thanksgiving side, and I plan to make this sangria as my signature cocktail next Thursday. You should consider doing the same.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! In case you need more T-Day inspiration, check out the badass sides from my fellow Food Network bloggers below. (I also made you a Pinterest board.)

Virtually Homemade: Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus with Goat Cheese
Feed Me Phoebe: Healthy Stuffed Mushrooms with Creamed Kale
The Heritage Cook: Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans (Gluten-Free)
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: 100 Healthy Holiday Side Dish Recipes
Devour: Winning Thanksgiving Side Dishes
The Lemon Bowl: Stuffed Acorn Squash with Chorizo and Farro
The Mom 100: Lentils and Carrots with Dried Apricots
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Maitake, Leek & Bacon Dressing
Weelicious: Vegan Whipped Coconut Sweet Potatoes
The Cultural Dish: Pumpkin Risotto
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Sweet Potato Biscuits
Red or Green: Cheese Ball with Everything Spice
Swing Eats: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Thyme and Rosemary
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Baby Lima Beans Salad with Bell Pepper and Pomegranate
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Scalloped Sweet Potatoes and Apples | #FallFest
Dishin & Dishes: Stuffin Muffins
FN Dish: Colorful Thanksgiving Vegetable Sides — Fall Fest

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  1. hlapla1 on November 21, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Your link for the sangria is broken which is basically the most important link on the page D:

    • Serena_Wolf on November 21, 2014 at 10:27 am

      THANK GOD you let me know, as it is definitely the most important recipe in this post. Fixed.

  2. Jamie Lynn on November 20, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    These sides look amazing and it’s so hard to choose which one I want to add to our feast this year!!! But i’m pretty sure there’s no denying that Sweet Potato Gratin-do you think that this would be ok if prepared the day before and reheated for dinner???

    • Serena_Wolf on November 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Girl, that gratin is a game changer–I’m excited for you! You can 100% prep the whole thing the day before, but if you can, I would wait to bake it until just before dinner. That way the top will be fabulously crispy, and the potatoes won’t turn to mush!

      • Jamie Lynn on November 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm

        Thank you!!! Happy Thanksgiving!! My favorite holiday as well and the first time my husband and I are hosting! My menu is completely mapped out on a spreadsheet (I cook every year regardless of where we eat)-this gratin has been added! I can’t wait to smell it, AND eat it!

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