The Most Popular Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

What’s a meal without a side dish? Side dishes complement your entree. They balance flavors and make meals more enjoyable. They add more nutritional value to food and make meals more filling.

We have side dishes all the time. But we probably have the most on our table when family gathers for annual Thanksgiving and other holidays. We often have a whole spread fit for a banquet, then take leftovers home to be eaten as healthy snacks.

8 of the Most Popular Side Dishes in the US

Side dishes are often made from grains, starches, and vegetables. They can be cooked in many different ways. Indeed, there’s a wide variety of side dishes, from simple potato dishes to elaborate quiches.

With the holidays nearing, we searched for the most popular ones served during Thanksgiving. Aside from the turkey stuffing, here are what families spread on the table for their holiday feast:

1.     Mashed potatoes

1 cup = 210g

for every 100g: Calories 83kcal, Protein 1.91g, Fat 0.57g, Carbohydrates 17.57g, Dietary Fiber 1.5g, Sugar 1.48g, other nutritional values

Mashed potatoes are economical, easy to cook, and versatile. No wonder they’re among the most popular side dishes in the country. To prepare this dish, you just mash boiled potatoes, add milk or cream, butter, and season with salt.

2.     Macaroni and cheese

1 cup = 230g

for every 100g: Calories 220kcal, Protein 8.58g, Fat 10.22g, Carbohydrates 23.17g, Dietary Fiber 1.2g, Sugar 2.52g, other nutritional values

Ask children what their fave food is and majority of them will say mac and cheese! Even adults find comfort in this rich and creamy side dish. In fact, it’s been in the list of top 10 comfort foods for years now.

It’s so popular that stores are lined with boxed mixes or microwaveable packs of mac and cheese. Homemade ones are the best and healthiest though.

3.     Cornbread

1 loaf = 69g

for every 100g: Calories 326kcal, Protein 4.2g, Fat 10.14g, Carbohydrates 53.62g, Dietary Fiber 1.2g, Sugar 27.54g, other nutritional values

Cornbread goes best with chili, but it still makes a great side dish for barbeque, pork, chicken, and turkey. The sweetness of the cornbread perfectly complements these spicy and savory dishes.

Although each family will have their own secret recipe for cornbread, most use these ingredients: cornmeal, flour, milk, butter, egg, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Keep in mind that cornbread has lots of carbs so eat this side dish in moderation.

4.     Yams

1 cup = 136g

for every 100g: Calories 116kcal, Protein 1.49g, Fat 0.14g, Carbohydrates 27.48g, Dietary Fiber 3.9g, Sugar 0.49g, other nutritional values for unsalted baked yam

Candied, boiled, mashed, baked, fried – you probably have had yams in a hundred different ways. These naturally sweet tubers are familiar side dishes during special occasions.

Low in calories and rich in fiber, yams aid better digestion and supports metabolic activity. They make you feel full without filling you up with extra calories.

5.     Broccoli rice and cheese casserole

1 cup = 228g

for every 100g: Calories 106kcal, Protein 4.14g, Fat 3.49g, Carbohydrates 15.11g, Dietary Fiber 1.9g, Sugar 1.22g, other nutritional values

A staple side dish in the South, this casserole is the perfect one-pot dish for family gatherings. It’s economical, easy to make, and evokes childhood memories of cozy family dinners. Most importantly, it’s very healthy with broccoli being rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate.

This casserole is best made with fresh broccoli, but frozen ones will do fine as well. For the soup base, you can use mushroom soup, chicken soup, or vegetable broth. Make it creamier with milk and sour cream. You can also substitute potatoes for rice. Don’t forget to top it with cheese or crumb topping.

6.     Butternut squash

1 cup = 170g

for every 100g: Calories 71kcal, Protein 1.18g, Fat 3.53g, Carbohydrates 11.76g, Dietary Fiber 2.4g, Sugar 2.35g, other nutritional values for butternut squash (seasoned with pure olive oil, sea salt, spices)

Butternut squash is a common variety of winter squash. It’s packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, calcium, and iron. It aids in digestion, helps maintain blood pressure, and keeps skin and hair healthy.

As a side dish, it’s usually flavored with salt, pepper, and other seasonings, drizzled with olive oil, and roasted in the oven. You can take this side dish to another level by whipping some Spiced Butternut Squash and Veg Tagine for Thanksgiving.

7.     Collard greens

1 cup = 133g

for every 100g: Calories 49kcal, Protein 2.65g, Fat 2.66g, Carbohydrates 5.49g, Dietary Fiber 3.9g, Sugar 0.39g, other nutritional values for fresh collards sautéed in butter

Called the soul food of the South, these loose leaf cabbages are part of culinary traditions in the South. Don’t be fooled by their humble place in history; these nutritional powerhouses are rich in vitamins and minerals. In fact, it contains more calcium than kale.

Collard greens are usually sautéed with onion and garlic in oil or butter. To stay true to tradition, add any smoked meat you like, and simmer in vegetable stock for a few hours.

8.     Sweet potato pie

1 cup = 203g

for every 100g: Calories 260kcal, Protein 3.26, Fat 15.06g, Carbohydrates 29.03g, Dietary Fiber 1.9g, Sugar 16.59g, other nutritional values

Don’t you just love the smell of the kitchen while this lovely pie bakes in the oven? The aroma of cinnamon and vanilla seems to welcome the holidays.

The sweet potato pie is another staple in many Thanksgiving tables. While there’s a trivial debate on whether it is a side dish or a dessert, we can’t discount the fact that it goes well with turkey and other meat dishes.

But, if sweet potato isn’t your thing, you may want to try this Keto Pumpkin Pie recipe as an alternative.

Comparison of Caloric Content of Side Dishes

To help you watch your weight, here’s a chart that shows which of the side dishes we’ve mentioned contains the least number of calories. Of course, these values are just approximate averages. Actual values would depend on the ingredients and the manner of cooking. For a more accurate comparison of all nutritional values, use the interactive comparison tool in calorie-charts.info.

Choose Side Dishes That Don’t Put Health Aside

Whether a side dish is healthy or not depends on the ingredients you use and the way you cook them. To stay healthy, use fresh ingredients that are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Avoid using too much fat, sugar, and salt when you cook them.

Start planning your holiday banquet now, and check out recipes for new side dishes. While you’re at it, check these tips on how to cut onions without crying. You’re going to need lots of these bulbs for stuffing and side dishes.

Enjoy the holidays!