This week, we offer five favorite Thanksgiving side dishes that are true classics, from the perfect stuffing and classic sweet potatoes to a make-ahead pumpkin pie and dead simple cranberries. Read on and you’ll find it’s hard to go wrong with these crowd-pleasing favorites.
Ciabatta Stuffing with Chorizo, Sweet Potato, and Mushrooms
This award-winning stuffing from the wonderful recipe sharing site Food52 is a hearty, savory take on this most traditional of Thanksgiving side dishes.
Technically a dressing since it’s made outside the bird (as most should be), it’s excellent with ciabatta but adapts well to big chunks of country bread. Fresh sage and rosemary give it a lovely fragrance, mushrooms lend some earthiness and the chorizo (or any sausage you choose) makes it filling enough to serve on its own — and as leftovers all weekend long.
Bacon Braised Green Beans
Add bacon to anything and it’s sure to be a hit with both the kids and the adults. Sweet, smoky, crispy bites of bacon with wilted onions, sliced garlic and still-firm fresh green beans make this recipe from Emeril Lagasse’s cookbook, “Emeril 20-40-60,” a simple, winning Thanksgiving side dish. Better yet, you can prepare it entirely on the stovetop while the turkey rests on the sideboard.
Reviewers on The Food Network recommend cooking the bacon first, removing it from the pan while you saute the beans, then sprinkling it on top at the end so it stays crispy.
“One of our Thanksgiving staples,” said one reviewer. Added another, “I’ve made these beans many times now and my son has asked for them for Thanksgiving … it’s easy and never lets you down!”
Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole
Oh, don’t turn up your nose, foodies. You know sweet potato casserole is delicious, tiny marshmallows and all.
Cooking Light offers a slightly lightened version of the classic dish, with freshly roasted sweet potatoes, toasted pecans, a few tablespoons of butter, vanilla and, of course, mini marshmallows on top.
Reviewers of the recipe rave about it!
“I hosted Thanksgiving last year and this recipe was to die for,” one cook said. “I could eat the entire pan myself. It’s like dessert, only healthier.”
“This is the best sweet potato casserole I’ve ever had,” wrote another, who recommended making it the day before and storing it the refrigerator. “We had it as part of our Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone loved it. The kids especially liked the marshmallow topping.”
Cranberries with Port and Orange Zest
Fresh cranberries are so much more delicious than those weird jellied cans full of sugar. Gorgeous ruby in color, with a bright tartness that cuts through all the heavy things on the table, this is one Thanksgiving side dish that deserves an upgrade.
And it’s so easy, too. In this recipe from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, printed in Food & Wine Magazine’s “Southern Thanksgiving” feature, the only ingredients are cranberries, sugar, port wine, orange zest and a pinch of salt.
Perfect Pumpkin Pie
One thing to love about this simple, delicious pumpkin pie, the last Thanksgiving “side dish” on our list, is that most of it is done well in advance.
In the recipe from King Arthur Flour, mixing the filling a day ahead helps the flavors meld — flavors of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
“Pumpkin pie filling is basically a custard,” the recipe’s authors note. “The eggs in the filling will continue cooking as the heat from the edge of the pie moves toward the center, which is why it’s important to remove the pie from the oven before the center is completely set. Leaving it in the oven too long will cause the eggs to overcook, tightening the proteins and causing the pie to crack in the center.”
In case you’ve missed it, be sure to check out our recent helpful posts, “How to Find the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey“, and “4 Creative Ways to Spice-Up Your Thanksgiving Turkey”.
For more great ideas for Thanksgiving side dishes and tips on how to make this year’s holiday one to remember, download our FREE Ultimate Turkey Guide (click the link below).
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