Let’s be honest: Turkey’s great, but Thanksgiving is about the side dishes. Some of us wait all year for stuffing and potatoes (sweet and regular), mac and cheese — and even cranberry sauce. To say nothing of rolls.
We’ve assembled some of our finest recipes, new and old, to round out your meal. These supporting players are so good, you’d be forgiven if you forgot about the turkey.
A classic rendition here — creamy and cheesy, tender and crisp — is a must on many Thanksgiving tables. Millie Peartree’s recipe skips the canned soup but still satisfies, and lets you use just about any mushroom.
For many families, a potato dish on the Thanksgiving table is nonnegotiable. You may have a beloved recipe, but if you don’t, may we recommend this one from Alexa Weibel? Roasted garlic gives it deep flavor, while crisp garlic chips provide a little bite.
This recipe from Julia Moskin is a welcome spot of green amid the Thanksgiving starches. It comes together quickly, and its bright flavors and bold crunch are just the thing to counter all those potatoes and stuffings.
Inspired by a snack J. Kenji López-Alt had in Xi’an, China, this dish deserves a prominent place on your Thanksgiving table. The potatoes themselves are good. The spice blend, to which Sichuan peppercorns lend their spicy tingle, while anise and fennel add their warmth, is superb.
In the same family as collard greens, mustard greens are a little more tender and peppery than their cousins. Here, Vallery Lomas cooks them down simply, with onions, garlic and stock. Liquid smoke, optional here, adds smokiness without the traditional addition of meat. What’s not optional? Savoring the pot likker, the liquid the cooked greens left behind.
Recipe: Braised Mustard Greens
Hashweh means “stuffing” in Arabic, and this one, a staple of Arab American Thanksgivings, is used to fill just about any poultry that can be stuffed. Built on calrose, jasmine or basmati rice, it’s studded with tender beef or lamb and fried nuts for contrast. Make it for Thanksgiving, or bookmark it for a weeknight. As the reporter Reem Kassis writes, “it’s a meal in its own right.”
This recipe for boiled yuca, doused in mojo, came from the journalist and cookbook author Von Diaz’s grandmother. It’s a glorious vianda, or starchy vegetable, especially popular among Puerto Rican and Cuban homes, and it’s as at home on the weeknight table as it is in the Thanksgiving spread.
Recipe: Yuca con Mojo
Some may argue that there’s no place for salad at Thanksgiving. They’ve never met this salad from Eric Kim, which is bitter, tender-crisp and salty in all the right ways. The ingredient list is minimal, as is prep. And what you get is full of flavor and texture, not just a salad but a green bean moment.
Yewande Komolafe pairs lightly sweet roasted carrots with yaji, a warming spice mix ubiquitous across West Africa. Making your own is easy (requiring just peanuts, paprika, ginger, onion and garlic powders, and salt) and smart, as it’s brilliant applied on all manner of roasted vegetables.
Here’s a secret: Brussels sprouts are kitchen chameleons. Boiled, they’re suboptimal and can veer mushy. But this recipe from Susan Spungen harnesses two of its best states, roasted and raw. The roasted bites add tenderness, while the raw adds crunch. All are finished with an acidic vinaigrette.
There’s just one step in this Martha Rose Shulman recipe: Throw everything in a food processor and blitz. That’s it. Save the leftovers to toss into yogurt.
Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation, so often because they’re boiled past recognition. When roasted, they are something else entirely, crisp on the outside, tender on the inside with just enough char. With thousands of five-star ratings, Mark Bittman’s brussels sprouts with garlic couldn’t be any better — or easier.
Passed down through her family for generations, Millie Peartree’s can’t-miss, extra-cheesy mac and cheese skips the roux and starts with a milk and egg base for extra silkiness. As one commenter put it, “You won’t find a richer, crispier, creamier, cheesier mac & cheese recipe.”
No one has to know you didn’t toil over these rolls from Erin Jeanne McDowell. A long, slow rise gives them their strength and structure. Bake them in the half-hour before you’re ready to serve your meal: You’ll want to eat these warm out of the oven.
Recipe: No-Knead Dinner Rolls
Brown butter and butternut squash are a match made in side heaven, as this recipe from Ali Slagle proves. Roasted in a hot oven, the squash gets nice and crisp at the edges before being drizzled in a brown butter vinaigrette. Skip peeling the squash here, for a little bit of bite and a lot of ease.
Yes, there are two mac and cheeses on this list. But mac and cheese is important. This one from Eric Kim was inspired by Stouffer’s, and in Eric’s words, is “voluptuous and molten,” a killer combo. Don’t skip the Velveeta, which makes the sauce extra creamy and, with its sodium citrate, prevents it from breaking. Science! (Need a third mac?Alexa Weibel’s vegan macaroni and cheese gets its silky sauce from cashews and almond milk, and some deep flavor from nutritional yeast.)
Recipe: Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese
21. Cranberry Sauce
Even if you don’t love cranberry sauce, you can’t deny how joyful it is, its ruby hue shining brightly amid those lumps of beige on your Thanksgiving plate. Add a little pep to your plate with this recipe from Sam Sifton.
Recipe: Cranberry Sauce