Turkey steals the Thanksgiving show, and for good reason. It’s a giant bird that people think has a magic power to put them to sleep even though it probably doesn’t. It’s practically designed to be consumed on a day Americans celebrate by watching sports and eating between 3,000 and 4,500 calories in a single meal.
But true Thanksgiving heads know the meal is defined by its sides. Each plays a role, but facts are facts—some are better than others, no matter how you prepare them. And even though you should include as many as possible on your plate, it’s important to prioritize. Here’s our 2019 ranking of Thanksgiving sides.
Carrots are probably the most overrated vegetable. Maybe it’s because they make their way into every hearty meal. Or maybe it’s just because they’re orange sticks with no flavor. Save these for snowman building season. Or cake.
10. Dinner Biscuits/Rolls
Excellent rolls can make push a good meal over the top, but bad rolls are still pretty good. It’s a high ceiling-high floor situation. They’re best for sopping up and housing leftovers, anyway.
9. Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is delicious, but this ranking is more a reflection of its Thanksgiving status. On a holiday filled with so much starch, you don’t really need a pasta dish with creamy cheese. You’ll take some, sure, but you don’t need it.
8. Brussel Sprouts
Sprouts are making a comeback, in part because people have realized you can season them to taste. They can beat sweet or savory—just roast or fry ‘em to a crisp and let the flavors around them take over. Even the picky kids at your table won’t pass these up if they’re seasoned well.
Another versatile starchy vegetable, corn is great in all forms—steamed, grilled, creamed, on the cob. And you really can’t go wrong with how you prepare it. Easy to handle, easy to eat.
Is gravy a side? We’re not sure, but no Thanksgiving meal is complete without it. Pour this on everything, especially your leftover sandwiches.
5. Green Beans
Green beans sneak into the Top 5 because they’re a Thanksgiving staple. Everyone was forced to eat green beans before they got up from the table at one point in their life. Fortunately as you get older, these get better. Green beans are great in all forms and flavorings.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Mash these up and layer them with marshmallows. Bake them whole. Do whatever you want, really—just include them on your Thanksgiving table. It’s the law.
3. Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is maybe the only Thanksgiving food where the canned version is unquestionably superior to the alternative. Seriously, save yourself some prep time and just drop it out of the can like dog food. Your guests will not care (and if they do, kick them out).
Everyone has a different version of stuffing, and guess what? They’re all good. Your stuffing is the best stuffing. And it’ll also taste great on that leftover sandwich.
1. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are the absolute pinnacle of side dishes. We didn’t want to get into prep for the other sides, but if you don’t mash your potatoes on Thanksgiving there’s something wrong with you. Break out the hand mixer for some extra fluff, season with garlic/butter/salt/thyme to taste and watch them disappear.