Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it brings with it a whole host of delicious foods, including delicious Thanksgiving side dishes!
What makes a great Thanksgiving side dish? Many would argue that variety trumps taste when it comes to this holiday. After all, once you dive into your turkey and dressing, you’ll want something different from that sweet potato casserole or green bean soup.
They don’t necessarily have to be savory or salty either, as many families prefer traditional Thanksgiving desserts for their Thanksgiving meal. All they really need is to fit into that ‘special kind of Thanksgiving flavor.’
But how many side dishes constitute too much? Some families like to keep it simple with only two or three choices. Others go all out, offering six or seven different dishes.
If you’re planning on making a ton of recipes for your Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t know where to start, here are 25 delicious options to get you started.
These Are the Most Delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes of 2021
Thanksgiving dinner is known for its traditional dishes, but that doesn’t mean that people have been coming up with new culinary ideas in the hundreds of years since the holiday was first celebrated.
New and unique culinary options abound, which means that if you’re looking for something different to serve your family and guests, then you’ve come to the right place.
These 10 Thanksgiving side dish recipes are guaranteed to take your holiday meal from traditional to incredible and know that they are also the most popular recipes of 2021 as well.
1. Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Thanksgiving dinner is notorious for being one of those nights of the year when anyone that’s even a little bit self-conscious about their weight will abandon any form of social stigma, mixing in mash potatoes with bread and pies like there’s no tomorrow.
That being said, it should come as no surprise that one of the most surprising Thanksgiving side dishes available is a type of dinner rolls, but not just any dinner roll, a pumpkin dinner role!
In order to make these dinner rolls, you’ll need some yeast, lukewarm milk, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, all-purpose flour, butter, and pecans stalks for decoration.
As for giving the rolls that extra Thanksgiving flavor, you’ll need salt, ground cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cloves, and nutmeg.
The recipe is quite easy to follow. Once you’ve combined the yeast with the lukewarm milk, add in brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, and all-purpose flour.
You’ll then mix in butter and let it rest for about 20 minutes before kneading it together. From there you’ll transfer the dough into an oiled bowl and allow it to rise until doubled in size, which will take about one hour.
After that comes time to roll out the dough so that you can cut out dinner role shapes before allowing them to rise again. Finally, decorate them with pecans stalks for decoration just before baking.
It’s dishes like these that make many people mad at their families for talking throughout Thanksgiving dinner, rather than letting them enjoy the fruits of their labor.
If you don’t like this particular dinner roll recipe, there’s also another one available that is similar in its ingredients but has a pumpkin flavor to it as well! The only downside is that it will take longer to prepare and bake than this version.
That being said, these dinner rolls are sure to please your palate and anyone else you serve them to!
2. Thanksgiving Sides – Pecan Pie Cheesecake
This particular recipe is one of those Thanksgiving sides that you’ll leave for dessert after you’ve stuffed yourself with turkey and potatoes stuffing.
In order to make a pecan pie cheesecake that can feed 12 people (it won’t since people will want seconds), you’ll need to have the ingredients to make both the base of the cheesecake, the delicious creamy filling, and the sweet caramel and pecan topping.
To make the cheese cake’s base, you’ll need graham crackers, toasted pecans, light brown soft sugar, and some melted butter.
As for the cheesecake’s filling, you’ll need some full-fat cream cheese, some full-fat sour cream, corn starch, sugar (granulated and soft brown), a bit of vanilla bean paste, and a couple of eggs.
Last but not least comes the pecan cheesecake’s filling, and you’ll need some heavy cream, butter, some golden syrup (or corn syrup), vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, powdered sugar, a bit of water, and, of course, the roasted pecans.
While it may look like a complex recipe, this cheesecake is actually very simple to make. All you’ll be doing is mixing together the graham crackers with some butter and pecans before baking them for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
After that comes the creamy filling, which will require combining cream cheese, sour cream, corn starch, sugar (granulated and brown), vanilla paste, eggs, heavy cream, golden syrup or corn syrup, water, salt, and powdered sugar.
The last step is to mix it all together – the base along with the creamy filling so that you can pour them over each other in layers before baking it at 180 degrees Celsius for an hour.
Afterward, all you have to do is wait for it to cool before adding the sweet and sticky caramel and pecan topping, which you can do using a baking sheet.
This particular cheesecake has been described as an absolute dream of a Thanksgiving dessert! It’s creamy, custardy, and flavorful – everything one looks for in a cheesecake.
3. Best Thanksgiving Sides – Sweet Potato Bites with Cranberry Balsamic Glaze
If we were to rank the most used food ingredients during Thanksgiving, cranberries would probably take 4th place right after turkeys, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins, so the next recipe incorporates cranberries in the form of a balsamic glaze.
In order to make these sweet potato bites with cranberry balsamic glaze, you’ll need two sets of ingredients: one for the sweet potato bites, and one for the cranberry glaze.
To make the potato bites, you’ll need a large chopped sweet potato, onions, a few cloves of garlic, rinsed and drained white beans, quick oats, eggs, spring rosemary, and spring thyme, some salt, and a sprinkle of pepper.
As for the sweet glazing, you’ll need cranberries (both fresh or frozen will do), some apples that were peeled and diced, the zest and juice from one big orange, some maple syrup, and some balsamic vinegar.
As for how to prepare it, you’ll need to bake the sweet potatoes in some 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celsius) for about half an hour before mashing them. You can either mash them by hand or use a food processor’s blitz function.
After that comes combining all of the ingredients for the potato bites – both sweet potato and white beans, quick oats, onions, garlic, rosemary and thyme spring leaves, eggs, salt pepper, and some water into one big bowl before shaping them into little balls.
Once they’re shaped into little balls, what you’ll need to do is place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper before popping them in the oven until they get slightly golden brown.
The next part consists of making the glaze – you’ll be combining all of the ingredients, except for the balsamic vinegar, into a saucepan. The last step is to gently cook it on medium heat until it becomes thicker and turns darker in color.
Once it’s done cooking, what you’ll need to do next is coat each sweet potato ball with some cranberry glaze before baking them for 10 minutes so that the glaze gets sticky enough to stick to each bite.
All there’s left after that are plating them up, garnishing with some micro herbs if desired before serving!
It’s one of the best Thanksgiving sides to try out if you have a sweet tooth, and you’ll guests will definitely fall in love with them, taking many bites out of your sweet potatoes bites.
4. Thanksgiving Dinner Sides – Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl
Since we’ve already pointed out that for those of you that are particularly interested in their weight, Thanksgiving is just one (very) big cheat day, we decided that it would be ok if we also included a recipe that’s a bit on the healthier side.
That being said, if you’re looking for some Thanksgiving dinner sides that won’t make you feel guilty next time you step on the scales, try out this recipe for keto pumpkin cheese swirls.
Like some of our other recipes, the ingredients are divided into two parts: the ones for the crust and the ones for the cheesy filling.
To make the crust, you’ll need some blanched almond flour and melted butter, and for some extra taste, you’ll have to add cinnamon, erythritol (we avoid added sugar as much as possible), and vanilla extract.
As for the cheesy filling, you’ll need to have some softened cream cheese, more powdered erythritol, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract, eggs, some pumpkin puree, and a pinch of pumpkin spice.
To start, you’ll need to mix the almond flour with all of the dry ingredients for the crust. Next, in a separate bowl, you’ll have to blend together with your wet ingredients before mixing them together.
Once they’re mixed together, all there’s left is pouring the creamy filling onto the crust before popping it into your oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 Celsius) for around 25 minutes.
Finally, after letting it cool off completely and chilling in your fridge overnight, what you’ll need to do is decorate it however you want – we recommend using some melted dark chocolate or sugar-free dark chocolate syrup for that.
This Thanksgiving side is perfect if you want something healthy but still festive enough for when people visit you for Thanksgiving, plus it’s also great for those of you that are on the keto diet.
5. Vegetable Sides for Thanksgiving – Curried Pumpkin and Lentil Soup
Many people stuff themselves with turkey, and there are plenty of recipes out there that incorporate sausages or bacon inside the turkey filling as well, but that doesn’t mean that Thanksgiving is only about eating meat.
If you’re looking for some vegetable sides for Thanksgiving, you could go ahead and try this recipe for curried pumpkin and lentil soup, since it has the best of both major greens: fruits and vegetables!
If you want to impress your guests with this recipe, you’ll need to have the following ingredients: olive oil, chopped onions, garlic cloves, curry powder, salt, black pepper, rinsed red lentils, a pumpkin that’s been peeled, deseeded, and then chopped (butternut squash will also do), sweet potatoes, carrots, vegetable stock, milk, lime juice, sweet chili sauce, and some cilantro.
Once you’ve prepared the vegetables, all there’s left to do is pour a bit of olive oil in a large saucepan and put it on medium heat.
After letting the onion start getting translucent, add the garlic, stir well so that they get coated with oil too before adding in your spices – curry powder plus salt plus black pepper.
Add the rinsed red lentils to this mixture when you stir well so that they also get coated by the spices before proceeding to add in both chopped pumpkins puree along with sweet potatoes and carrots (cut into small cubes).
Mix everything together before pouring in some vegetable stock, add in some milk (or substitute for yogurt if you want) followed by squeezed lime juice and sweet chili sauce.
Finally, after letting it all simmer for about half an hour or so with a lid on your saucepan, your curried pumpkin and lentil soup are ready to eat!
The dish is absolutely delicious and makes for a great source of vegetable fiber before the main course that is filled with meat arrives.
6. Thanksgiving Vegetable Side Dishes – Creamy Keto Cauliflower Soup
We already mentioned soups, non-meat recipes, and keto recipes, so it should come as no surprise that our next entry is one of those Thanksgiving side dishes that combine the best of all 3.
The keto cauliflower soup can be made using some roasted cauliflower, heavy cream (cream cheese or coconut milk will also work), chicken stock, and bacon.
The creamy base is what you’ll need to make first before proceeding with the rest of the cooking process, so go ahead and put all ingredients (including cauliflower) in your blender or food processor.
Carefully blend everything together until smooth while ensuring that there are no lumps in your mixture.
Once it looks like a smooth cream, you can heat up some olive oil in a saucepan before pouring your mixture into it – this should be followed by chicken stock which you’ll have to pour very slowly into the saucepan so that it mixes evenly.
After letting it simmer for around 10 minutes, check if the consistency looks right – add more stock if needed.
Next comes boiling bacon strips for 5 minutes along with the addition of some salt and pepper afterward.
Your keto-friendly cream soup is ready to be eaten with a spoon or two, plus your bacon bowl!
7. Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Pumpkin Cake with Mascarpone Cream and Sugared Pecans
Just like one of our previous entries, it seems that roasted pecans take center stage yet again, resulting in one of the best Thanksgiving side dishes to have ever graced the dinner table.
The pumpkin cake with mascarpone cream and sugared pecans itself is quite large if you use the ingredients according to the recipe, as it should be more than enough to feed 12 people, and that’s why we will divide the ingredients based on the cake’s components:
To make the layer cake, you’ll need all-purpose flour, pumpkin puree, powdered sugar, sunflower oil, eggs, baking powder, and baking soda, and to give it that extra flavor you’ll need salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, all freshly ground.
The next set of ingredients are for the sugared pecans, and besides the aforementioned roasted pecans, you’ll also need egg whites, water, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Last but not least is the all-important mascarpone cream, and you’ll need some full-fat mascarpone, sifted powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla bean paste.
To make the pumpkin cake layers, you’ll need to whisk together all of the dry ingredients (sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda) while combining the wet ingredients (pumpkin puree, sunflower oil, eggs).
Whisk everything until smooth before pouring it into your pan and placing it in an unheated oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the time’s up, take it out and let it cool down completely before starting on the next step which is making your mascarpone cream.
Use an electric mixer to mix together sifted powdered sugar with mascarpone cheese – use around 1 cup of powdered sugar plus half a cup of mascarpone cheese.
Add some heavy cream (you can use some cream that you’ve whipped beforehand if you want) and your vanilla bean paste.
If the mixture is too thick, feel free to add in more heavy cream until it’s of a spreadable consistency.
To start on the sugared pecans, beat together egg whites with water before adding vanilla extract, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Be sure to beat for at least 5 minutes so that the ingredients mix completely together while also ensuring that the mixture becomes fluffy enough.
Add in some chopped roasted pecans before folding them into your mixture little by little while taking care not to overmix everything else.
To make this, simply use an electric mixer to mix together some sifted powdered sugar with half a cup of mascarpone cheese, while also adding some heavy cream until the mixture becomes spreadable.
All that’s left for you to do is to assemble everything accordingly so that you have a layer of sugared pecans topped by a layer of pumpkin cake before repeating the process one more time and ending up with a glorious-looking three-layer cake.
8. Most Popular Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Mini Pumpkin Pies
The best way to start off Thanksgiving dinner is with some appetizers and the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes that really open an appetite are usually finger food, like these mini pumpkin pies.
To make the mini pie crusts, you’ll need equal parts almond meal and oat flour, melted syrup, and some melted coconut oil.
As for the creamy pumpkin filling, you’ll need some canned pumpkin and some canned garbanzo beans, maple syrup, corn syrup, cornstarch, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and some coconut whipped cream, although the latter is completely optional.
To begin, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit before mixing together all of the ingredients for your crust.
The mixture will be somewhat sticky so use your hands to form it into some small tart shells that you can then bake in your oven for 10 minutes or until nice and browned.
While they’re cooling down, place all of the ingredients (pumpkin puree, coconut whipped cream) for the filling in a blender or food processor before adding some water and processing them completely.
Stir in some corn syrup with maple syrup along with some pumpkin pie spice, salt, vanilla extract, and garbanzo beans (which act as an emulsifier).
Pour this creamy filling into your mini pie crusts with some help from a spoon or pastry bag.
The final step is to decorate the mini pumpkin pies with some coconut cream right before serving them up alongside your other Thanksgiving side dishes.
9. Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes – Pumpkin Spice Granola
Whenever you hear of granola, you most likely think about breakfast, but by preparing the granola in a certain way you can easily turn it into one of those Thanksgiving side dish recipes that work well as a dessert.
That’s precisely how the recipe for pumpkin spice granola came to be, and you’ll love munching it down both during Thanksgiving dinner, as well as the morning after.
To make the granola, you’ll need a small baking pumpkin, old-fashioned oats, coconut flakes, egg whites, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and a dash of vegetable oil.
To begin, you’ll need to preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit before halving and roasting the pumpkin until it becomes completely tender.
Take out a small bowl and whisk together egg whites with water before adding some salt, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and vegetable oil.
After stirring everything together nicely for a minute or so, pour in the oats as well as some coconut flakes while continuing to stir.
The final step is to spread this mixture into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper before putting it into your oven for at least one hour where you should then let it cool down completely.
When ready to serve up the granola alongside other Thanksgiving side dishes, simply break it apart into chunks and enjoy!
10. Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Pumpkin Chowder with Fried Sage
Continuing the trend of serving soups as easy Thanksgiving side dishes, we would like to showcase another pumpkin-based recipe called the pumpkin chowder with fried sage.
It not only looks and tastes good but the way it smells is bound to open anybody’s appetite, no matter how much of a hardcore meat-eater they are.
In order to make this chowder, you’ll need to have some wild rice mix, coconut oil, diced onions, stalks of celery, garlic cloves, vegetable broth, and cashews as the main ingredients.
As for what gives the chowder the flavor, you’ll need bay leaves, salt, dried thyme and rosemary, and some nutmeg.
To make the chowder, you’ll need to cook the rice in vegetable broth before sauteing some onions and celery in coconut oil.
Stir in garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and nutmeg to season it up before adding some water and stirring everything together for a few minutes to let it simmer.
Throw in the bay leaves as well as some cooked pumpkin cubes (which should be about one cup).
When the pumpkin cubes are tender, add in some cashews and allow to simmer for about ten minutes before serving it up alongside other Thanksgiving side dishes.
More Delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes
The previous 10 recipes were some of the most popular ones of 2021, but that doesn’t mean that all the other classic dishes are outdated.
On the contrary, if you went to a Thanksgiving dinner and tasted something that managed to stick with you, but can’t remember the actual recipe, checks out these other 15 recipes since they were just as popular in past years.
11. Delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Root Vegetable Gratin with Gruyere
If you ask us, root vegetables are totally underrated. There’s just something so homegrown and delicious tasting about them, especially when they’re prepared just right!
That’s why we loved this root vegetable gratin from Wholistic Woman so much! They show you how to combine parsnips, sweet potatoes, celery root, thyme, and parsley with heavy cream and Gruyere cheese to really tie everything together.
12. Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Bacon and Brussel Sprouts
We’ve honestly always loved Brussel sprouts, but we know that they get a bad rap. In our house, we’re actually the only ones who would originally eat them! Getting the kids to even look at them was a struggle until we found this game-changing recipe from Jaime Loves Stuff.
They show you how to make roasted Brussel sprouts with bacon so that the sprouts take on some of that delicious familiar flavor. Even our kids couldn’t resist these ones!
13. Thanksgiving Sides for Thanksgiving – Monkey Bread Stuffing
Just in case you’ve never had monkey bread, it’s like a pull-apart recipe that’s great for sharing. We actually make sweet or dessert monkey bread most often, but we love those so much that we were completely intrigued by this stuffing version from Country Living!
We made it last year and we’re happy to report that it tastes just like traditional stuffing, so you’re still getting that great flavor. It just serves a little differently and our kids thought it was a lot of fun!
14. Foccacia With Roasted Squash – Best Thanksgiving Vegetable Side Dishes
Do you like to make sure you serve some type of bread with your meal every year but you’ve done so many years of just plain bread and butter that you’re kind of over that idea and looking for something new?
In that case, we wonder if you’d prefer to combine your bread dish and one of your vegetables to make an awesome side to your entrée! Check out how Food and Wine made a version of focaccia bread that features scrumptious roasted squash.
15. Cheesy Baked Butternut Squash – Thanksgiving Sides
We love squash so much that, if our families wouldn’t protest, we’d probably make every vegetable side dish we serve a squash dish! We also, however, love cheese and cream-based dishes, since Thanksgiving is one of the few times of year that we’ll eat just about anything in any calorie count without guilt.
Imagine our excitement, then, when we came across this cheesy baked butternut squash recipe from Diethood! It’s basically satisfaction on a plate.
16. Roasted Root Vegetable Salad – Best Thanksgiving Sides
Were you pretty interested in the idea of making a side dish that’s heavy in root vegetables, but the recipe we showed you earlier on was a little bit too heavy on cheese for your liking? In that case, here’s a light, more subtle tasting alternative for you!
Spicy Perspective guides you through the process of making a shockingly tasty root vegetable salad out of baby new potatoes, gold and red beets, sweet potatoes.
17. Celery Root and Apple Slaw – Vegetable Sides for Thanksgiving
Coleslaw is the kind of thing that some people like to serve all year round and others prefer to save until summer but if you ask us, slaw is the perfect opportunity to adjust the recipe just a bit for the season so you can always enjoy it! This celery root and apple slaw from Gourmand In The Kitchen is the perfect example of what we mean. It’s like a little refresher on the edge of your plate between heavier dishes.
18. No-meat Braised Collard Greens with Porcini Mushrooms – Vegetable Sides for Thanksgiving
When it comes to skimping on vegetables and serving side dishes that are mostly comprised of carbs, we’ve definitely been guilt in the past. There are just so many bread and potato recipes that we get distracted by! One thing we never skip out on, however, is the collard greens!
Some people put meat in their greens but we have vegetarian family members, so we skip that part and replace the meat with mushrooms so there’s still a lot of flavors, just like The Culinary Tribune did here!
19. Spinach and Feta Mashed Cauliflower – Thanksgiving Dinner Sides
Mashed potatoes are a staple at our Thanksgiving dinner table, but what if you have someone present who’s on a strict diet and would rather keep the carbs and butter to a minimum?
Then perhaps you’d prefer this mashed cauliflower recipe from Closet Cooking instead! We’ve actually made this one and we swear we like this dish just as much as the potatoes thanks to the spinach and feta.
20. Cauliflower and Pecan Stuffing – Best Thanksgiving Sides
Are you intrigued by the idea of replacing classic elements of your Thanksgiving dinner with cauliflower because you want to keep things healthy and you like the way the veggie takes on flavor, but you’d rather keep the potatoes and replace something else?
Then perhaps you’d prefer to make some cauliflower stuffing instead! We can’t get over how fragrant and delicious this cauliflower stuffing recipe from Living Well, Spending Less is!
21. Peach Stuffing Thanksgiving Side
In our family, there’s always one person who loves to bring a small helping of stuffing that contains a really unique ingredient. They spend most of dinner trying to convince everyone around them to try it… and they’re always right, because it’s always delicious!
This year, maybe you can be that person too by making this delectable stuffing recipe from Martha Stewart that, believe it or not, features actual peaches!
22. Quinoa Sweet Potato and Cranberry Stuffing – Thanksgiving Sides
Perhaps one of your family members is a total stuffing lover but just found out that they’re gluten-free and you want to make sure they’re not disappointed at the dinner table on Thanksgiving?
Then we have a feeling this quinoa-based stuffing recipe will be a useful one for you! Huffington Post guides you through the process of making a quinoa stuffing with sweet potato and cranberry for extra flavor.
23. Sweet Potato Pone – Best Thanksgiving Side Dish
Are you still thinking about the idea of serving a type of fancy bread with your meal but nothing we’ve shown you so far has quite grabbed your attention?
In that case, we present to you this delicious alternative that’s a perfect blend of sweet and savory: sweet potato pone! Popsugar shows you how to make it from mashed sweet potato, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
24. Mini Sausage and Riced Stuffed Pumpkins – Thanksgiving Side Dish
Have you been most intrigued by the side dishes that are stuffed even though they’re not your main stuffing dish? We like sides that blend lots of different flavors in one place for maximum taste advantage.
That’s why we were so excited to try these roasted mini pumpkins stuffed with sausage and rice from Taste of Home. We were not disappointed!
25. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Grapes and Walnuts – Best Thanksgiving Sides
We’ve already shown you one delicious Brussel sprouts recipe but what if bacon isn’t an option for you because you’re having vegetarian guests? In that case, here’s a meat-free alternative that’s just as tasty! Puddingstone Post guides you through the process of roasting your Brussel sprouts with red grapes and walnuts for a veggie dish that’s packed full of flavor.
Delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes: Closing Thoughts
Our list of delicious Thanksgiving side dishes has come to an end, and we hope that at least one of the 25 entries was enough to satisfy your curiosity (and later your stomach).
If you aren’t sure what you should be cooking up on Thanksgiving 2021, these dishes are definitely worth both looking into and trying out.
Just like every year before, there’s no shortage of good food to be served alongside each other on Thanksgiving day, but that doesn’t mean that everybody agrees on the same recipes.
We recommend at least having a peek at all of them if you want to branch away from your family’s usual routine since they probably aren’t aware of all 25 options!
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you can use this list as a general knowledge reference but we do not support the verbatim re-distribution of each individual entry.
For those who want to save this article for future reference, be sure to bookmark it and share it with your friends as well!