Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or attending as a guest, you likely need to make a side dish. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner in my mind includes a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls, green bean casserole, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and of course pumpkin pie. I’ve tried to deviate from these a few times and found that some people are seriously committed to their traditional feast. With that said, if you want to up your side dish game but keep your head in tact, try one or more of these side dish recipes—they retain that traditional Thanksgiving ethos while adding that extra spice to the classics.
You can tailor this recipe to suit your preferences (for example, get rid of mushrooms if you do not like them or have already used them in your green bean casserole and find that mushrooms in one dish is plenty). I love how it incorporates cranberries and pecans—two traditional Thanksgiving staples—into one of the ultimate Thanksgiving dishes: stuffing. The variety of flavors and textures come together to create a fantastic side dish.
- • 8 cups bread cubes (any type of bread works; you can also use store-bought stuffing cubes)
- • ½ cup butter
- • 1 cup fine, diced celery
- • 1 cup fine, diced onion
- • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning blend (oregano, thyme, parsley, etc.)
- • ½ teaspoon salt
- • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
- • 16 oz. ground Sage sausage
- • 1 large egg, beaten
- • ½ cup fresh cranberries (can substitute with Craisins)
- • ½ cup chopped pecans
- • Optional: ½ cup fresh (or canned) sliced mushrooms
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease 9x13-inch baking pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the bread cubes.
- In a frying pan, melt butter.
- Add onion and celery, cook until tender.
- Set aside and use the same pan to cook sausage.
- In the bowl with bread cubes, combine bread cubes with cooked vegetables and sausage.
- Add chicken stock, seasonings, egg, cranberries, pecans, and mushrooms (if desired).
- Mix gently and place in baking pan.
- Bake 65-75 minutes or until golden brown on top.
There are many possibilities with the potato—funeral potatoes, twice or triple baked, potato truffle, etc. Personally, I’m a fan of the twice baked potato because it is nearly impossible to mess up and can be tailored to your preferences (my brother likes to add bacon, for example).
- • 6 medium potatoes, baked
- • ½ diced onion
- • 2 cloves garlic, minced
- • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- • ¾ cup sour cream
- • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (for garnishing)
- • 4 green onions, chopped for garnishing
- • Optional: chopped, cooked bits of bacon mixed in or for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 375
- After fully baking, cut a large oval opening into each potato.
- Remove the oval piece and scrape insides into a large bowl.
- Save the empty potato skins for re-stuffing.
- Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, sour cream, and cheese to hot potatoes.
- Add bacon (optional, can also be used as a garnish)
- Combine ingredients and stuff back into the empty potato skins.
- You can put the ovals you cut out back on like little “hats” or you can garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, and bacon.
- Bake at 375 degrees for another 15-20 minutes.
The Dinner Roll
The dinner roll is a classic, but you can really impress people with a couple extra ingredients. Just be sure to make extras because at our house, if the rolls are ready early, they are half eaten by the time dinner actually rolls (pun intended) around.
- • 12 Rhoades dinner rolls, thawed (you can use a homemade recipe, too)
- • 1 package onion soup mix
- • ½ cup butter, melted
- • ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 365 degrees
- Mix melted butter, onion soup mix, and cheese together.
- Add one tablespoon to the top of each thawed roll and bake at 365 degrees for 15 minutes or until the rolls start browning
- Use a baking sheet with sides—sometimes the butter will run off the pan onto the oven and you’ll have the smoke alarms going off.
The Green Bean Casserole
Okay, don’t get me wrong—I like my traditional Campbell’s mushroom soup green bean casserole as much as the next person, but it’s time to step it up to a mean green bean game. It’s like moving from the family station wagon to a Mustang where the station wagon will always be good and comforting but the ‘Stang puts the “class” in “classic.”
- • 2 pounds fresh green beans, cut
- • 8 fresh mushrooms, sliced
- • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- • 2 cloves garlic, minced
- • 4 tablespoons butter
- • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- • 1 cup half and half
- • 1 cup chicken broth
- • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- • 1 teaspoon salt
- • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- • Optional: chopped, cooked bits of bacon
- 1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
- Blanch the green beans approximately 5 minutes, submerge in cold water, and set aside.
- 2. In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, flour, panko bread crumbs, and salt. Toss to combine.
- 3. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Bake onions approximately 30 minutes tossing 2 to 3 times during baking. Bake until golden brown, remove from oven, and set aside.
- 4. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.
- 5. In a skillet (cast iron is preferable), melt butter. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
- 6. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute.
- 7. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
- 8. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ of the onions and all the green beans. Top with the remaining onions (and bits of bacon if desired).
- 9. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
The Sweet Potatoes
Anytime I think about sweet potatoes, I need to know that marshmallows will be involved because, obviously. For this recipe, think about Seva Kitchen’s poutine (OMG, yum!) but as a delicious marshmallow-y sweet potato version. Adults and kids alike will love this.
- • 4 sweet potatoes (cut in ¼ inch fries or purchase frozen sweet potato fries)
- • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- • 4 tablespoons butter
- • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
- 1. Bake the sweet potato fries at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender/fully cooked.
- 2. In a medium saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter, cream, vanilla, and salt to a boil stirring until sugar is dissolved. Keep warm.
- 3. Toss fresh baked fries in combined cinnamon and sugar coating evenly. Place fries in a baking pan and cover with mini marshmallows. Bake until tops of marshmallows are golden brown.
- 4. Drizzle brown sugar mixture over the fries/marshmallows and serve.
about the author…Ashlynn is wife, mom of three littles, and Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Rocky Mountain College. She is an introvert who is uncharacteristically social and loves family, learning, travel, animals, and all things Montana.