Crowd-Pleasing Thanksgiving Side Dishes

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Everything Thanksgiving dinner is like your favorite music playlist but instead of songs it is side dishes.

The turkey is the star but those side dishes are what make the meal. Often, these dishes only come out at Thanksgiving. That means you’ve waited all year to savor the stuffing and yams but there are a lot of potential new favorites that deserve a shot at your table. Consider these crowd-pleasing

Thanksgiving side dishes:

Instant Pot Risotto with Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes or yams are a time-honored Thanksgiving classic. You should always make the family favorite recipe but you might want to put your Instant Pot to use whipping up this delicious risotto featuring sweet potato as the star. It might end up replacing your old sweet potato dish!


1 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
Kosher salt
1/2 c. dry white wine
3 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 c. grated sweet potato
(from 1 large 12-oz sweet potato)
1/4 c. fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving


1. Press Sauté on an electric pressure cooker, adjust to medium, and heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir in rice and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and toasted, 4 to 6 minutes.
2. Add wine and cook until absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir in broth and sweet potato; press Cancel. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure (12.0) 5 minutes. Use the quick-release method to release the pressure, then open the lid. Stir risotto until liquid has been absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet on medium-low. Stir in sage and cook 2 minutes, then add garlic and fry, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sage and garlic to a paper towel–lined plate, then transfer oil into a small bowl and stir in lemon zest.
4. Divide risotto among bowls and top with lemon oil, sage, garlic, and Parmesan if desired.

Salt-Baked New Potatoes

Like yams and stuffing, mashed potatoes always make their way onto the Thanksgiving dinner. There is nothing special about mashed potatoes beyond how fantastic they taste with turkey gravy. You might want to try a variation on the potato theme with these baked new potatoes. Very simple to prep and make. The kicker is the drizzle of mustard.


4 c. kosher salt
2 lb. small new potatoes
2 tbsp. coriander seeds
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
2 tbsp. olive oil
Chopped chives
Grainy mustard


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, in an 8- by 12-inch roasting pan, spread 2 cups kosher salt in a single layer. Arrange new potatoes atop salt in a single layer.
2. Sprinkle with coriander seeds and fennel seeds; cover with another 2 cups kosher salt. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes.
3. Remove potatoes from pan with tongs, and brush away excess salt. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with chopped chives. Serve with grainy mustard on the side.
Pumpkin and Cauliflower Casserole
Another “must-have” Thanksgiving tradition is the pumpkin pie for dessert. There is a wide array of variations on the pumpkin pie but they are all for dessert. Along comes this special side dish that incorporates pumpkin flavors along with cauliflower. It counts as a veggie side dish that might not have any leftovers.


1 c. fresh, whole-wheat bread crumbs
1/2 c. hulled and roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
3/4 c. crumbled goat cheese
1 pumpkin
1 head cauliflower
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 clove garlic
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground pepper
1 1/2 c. half-and-half


1. Assemble the vegetables: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 1 1/2-quart casserole or baking dish and set aside. Combine the bread crumbs, pumpkin seeds, butter, and half the thyme in a medium bowl, stir in the goat cheese, and set aside. Slice the pumpkin quarters into 1/8-inch-thick pieces and repeat with the cauliflower quarters. Combine flour, garlic, mustard seeds, salt, cumin seeds, pepper, and remaining thyme in a small bowl. Spread 1/3 of the pumpkin in the bottom of casserole and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the flour mixture. Repeat with 1/2 of the cauliflower and 2 teaspoons of flour. Continue layering with the remaining pumpkin, cauliflower, and flour, finishing with pumpkin on top. Pour the half-and-half over the entire casserole, place on a baking sheet, and bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes.
2. Sprinkle topping: After initial 30 minutes of baking, sprinkle bread-crumb mixture over casserole. Return it to oven and bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 more minutes. Serve hot.
Double-Corn Spoonbread
There is a lot of debate as to what was served on the very first Thanksgiving but it is a safe bet that corn was part of the meal. Corn has long been a stable food of many cultures and this side dish takes the corn flavor to a whole other level. They call it spoonbread because that is how you have to serve it.


1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. stone-ground cornmeal
1 1/2 tbsp. margarine or butter
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 green onions
1 1/2 c. corn kernels
3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease shallow 1 1/2-quart casserole.
2. In 4-quart saucepan, heat water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and half of milk to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in cornmeal in slow, steady stream. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until mixture is very thick and pasty, whisking frequently.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in margarine until melted. Continue whisking and add remaining milk in slow, steady stream. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time, then baking powder.
4. Stir in green onions, corn, Parmesan, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until mixed. Transfer to prepared dish and spread in smooth, even layer. (Casserole can be cooled, then covered and refrigerated, up to 4 hours before baking.)
5. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Garnish with green onions.

These recipes might have your family asking, “Can you make these every day?”