10 Overlooked Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Oct 9, 2019 | Cooking Tips

Thanksgiving is only a few short days away and I feel like I am pretty much obligated to write posts about it at this point. Today, with that in mind, we are going to look at 10 Overlooked Thanksgiving Side Dishes. There are some items on this list that you may feel aren’t overlooked at all, potatoes for example. For those more common items, we are going to look at a few easy ways we can make them more interesting and tastier.

From greens to squash, corn on the cob to carrots, and sweet potatoes to salad, this is…

10 – Greens

Greens like beet greens, collards, and swiss chard make a great yet rarely seen Thanksgiving side dish. What’s more is that they are very good for you, fairly easy to prepare, and delicious when prepared correctly.

The way I like to prepare greens like these is to slice them very thin and fry them with onion and a little garlic, for about 5 minutes. Then add in some stock or water. For one bunch of swiss chard or collards, I would say about 1 cup of liquid. Cook the greens for about 10 minutes or until they are tender. Season with salt and pepper, and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a tablespoon of butter.

9 – Corn on the cob

Yes, I know that it is a little late in the year for corn on the cob. But, luckily Canadian Thanksgiving, (aka Thanksgiving) is early enough in October that you can still generally find it. If it was good enough for the natives and the settlers it’s good enough for me.

Try husking the corn, drizzling it with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasting it in a 400°f oven for 20 – 25 minutes.

8 – Squash

I think we should all be eating more squash. It’s so delicious! There loads of ways that you can prepare squash but the easiest and most appealing visually is to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds then cut it into slices, skin on. Then, drizzle it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and maybe some thyme then roast it for around 45 minutes or until it is tender.

What I love about the technique is that it will work for just about any type of squash and it looks really cool.

7 – Brussels Sprouts

Boiled Brussels Sprouts should be a thing of the past. When Brussels Sprouts are boiled they get mushy, are often way overcooked, and they lose so much flavour.

I have two favourite ways to cook Brussels Sprouts. The first, which is probably starting to sound familiar is to cut them in half, drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper then roast them on 400°f for 35-45 minutes.

The second way I like to cook Brussels Sprouts is to pan roast them. Essentially, I cut them in half, heat up a heavy skillet, add a bit of oil (bacon fat works well), then cook them over medium heat. Start with the cut side down and cook until they get a deep dark brown colour. Then flip them, add in 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water or stock, put a lid on the pan and cook them until tender. Sometimes I don’t even steam them. These are really great with bacon. To finish them, I squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over them.

6 – Carrots

You probably serve carrots as a Thanksgiving side dish, but I’m guessing they are probably just boiled. Now, even though carrots are delicious roasted and I suggest you try roasting them I am actually going to suggest a different way to cook them.

Start with your carrots sliced or however you like to cut them (it is best to cut them a little thick for this). Put them in a pot and put water in the pot so they are just covered. It’s very important that you don’t add too much water here. As soon as the carrots are covered with water, stop. Now, add in 2-3 sprigs of thyme, 1-2 tbsp of honey, 1-2 tbsp cider vinegar, 1-2 tbsp butter, and salt and pepper. Bring the water to a boil, don’t cover the pot, then turn the heat down to medium. Cook the carrots until they are tender, but also until the liquid has pretty much all evaporated. The idea is that that all the water is being cooked off as the carrots cook and what is left at the end are delicious glazed carrots.

5 – Dressing

Let’s just start off by saying that the difference between stuffing and dressing is very simple. Stuffing is dressing that has been cooked inside a turkey. That is all.

I’ve never been a big fan of dressing but I can appreciate well made one. There are a lot of ways that dressing can be improved upon. Use fresh herbs rather than dried. Use butter, bacon fat, or turkey drippings to lubricate the dressing rather than oil. Use a good quality sourdough or brioche bread. Cook onions and garlic before adding them to the rest of the dressing mixture. Adding dried fruit like dried cranberries, or chopped dried apricots will add a nice pop of sweetness into the dressing.

The point I’m trying to make here is that dressing is pretty straight forward and we don’t have to complicate it to make it even better than it is. Changing a few ingredients, adding in a few and a good dressing becomes the star of the show.

4 – Green Beans

Green beans are delicious but often are just boiled to death like Brussels Sprouts. If you are going to boil them, only do so for 4-5 minutes. Just until they are tender. The green beans should still be green when served. If they turn a gross olive colour they are overcooked.

Though they can be boiled. and that’s okay, I prefer to toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a little paprika (smoked or sweet), then I roast them on 400°f for about 20 minutes. Once they come out of the oven I finish them with a little lemon juice.

You may be starting to see a pattern here with roasting vegetables. There are two reasons for this. Roasting vegetables makes them really delicious. It enhances there natural sweetness and they get so good. Also, your oven is on anyway and you’ve likely only got four burners on your stove. How much stuff do you really want to try to cook on four burners?

3 – Salad

Think about how often you see a salad on the table at Thanksgiving. My guess is probably never. Salads are a great way a get a few extra vegetables into the meal and they are versatile enough that they can be made to match the rest of the meal.

My favourite way to make a salad is to take lettuce, toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it on 400°F for 20 minutes. Just joking! I wanted to see if you were still paying attention.

2 – Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be roasted, boiled, baked, or made into a casserole. For me, if I’m serving mashed potatoes, I generally don’t want another mashed or mushy item. So, I find roasted sweet potatoes, a great addition to the Thanksgiving table.

Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges, toss them with…you guessed it, olive oil, salt and pepper (you can add paprika or fresh herbs) then roast the sweet potatoes on 400°f until tender inside and crisp on the outside.

1 – Potatoes

You are probably going to have mashed potatoes as a Thanksgiving side dish and why wouldn’t you? They are delicious and everyone loves them. But maybe it’s time to rethink the same old potatoes that have been on the table year after year.

First of all, heat up butter and milk before adding it into the potatoes. This will keep the potatoes hot for longer. Speaking of dairy, sub the regular milk for cream for richer mashed potatoes. Buttermilk or sour cream will give the potatoes a nice fresh flavour, especially when combined with fresh parsley or chives. Whole garlic cloves can be added to the potatoes while cooking mashed with the potatoes to give them a mild garlic flavour.

Regular russet potatoes can be substituted for red potatoes or baby potatoes. Mash them with the skin on for more texture and colour.

The point is that there are a lot of ways that mashed potatoes can be way better than just mashed potatoes.


All I really hope you take from this is the idea that the same side dishes we serve every Thanksgiving can be updated with a few minor tweaks. This allows the person cooking dinner a little creative freedom while still delivering the meal that everyone is expecting.

If you are looking for a cool turkey idea to match with your new side dishes check this out.

On a personal note

On a personal note, most of you know that my wife and I are expecting our first child. We found out yesterday that the doctors are going to induce my wife today. So, because of this big change happening in our life I’m going to be taking a little time off of the blog. Probably for about two weeks. This means that this is the last past until probably around the 28th of October.

I hope that you all have a great Thanksgiving and that I see you all back here in a few weeks. Thanks everyone!


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