It's an argument for the ages. Stuffing vs. cranberry sauce. Sweet potatoes vs. green bean casserole. What's the best Thanksgiving side dish? We all have our own opinions, and it's no surprise that when Googling "most popular Thanksgiving side dishes" you find a plethora of hot takes.
There was also a controversial list of Thanksgiving side dishes published last year by Mental Floss, which in which General Mills examined recipe searches to determine the most popular dishes in each state. There were the old favorites (Colorado loves cranberry sauce, Illinois liked mashed potatoes) and some strange ones (West Virginia likes buffalo chicken dip, and Wisconsin and Arizona inexplicably serve shrimp at Thanksgiving), so the study ranges from understandable to maddening to downright mind-boggling. So instead of driving a wedge between you and your loved ones due to endless arguments over Thanksgiving foods, we present the dishes most frequently mentioned on recipe websites across the internet (in no particular order, because let's just agree all Thanksgiving foods are delicious). No playing favorites here, but if you don't have these dishes, it's simply not Thanksgiving.
Preferably mashed, of course, but you can serve 'em up other ways, too. Here's a buttery, creamy mashed potatoes recipe from Delish, but you can also go the cheesy, garlicky smashed potatoes route or even fry 'em up into balls or add beer cheese. Honestly, there's no bad way to cook a potato. Three of the New York Times cooking section's most popular Thanksgiving recipes are potato-related: a mashed potato casserole, potato gratin and cheddar mashed potatoes.
As with potatoes, there's a Thanksgiving-preferred way for green beans to be consumed: the casserole, of course. Crunchy onions required. But you can also free your green beans from the confines of a casserole: bake them and cover them in cheese, or give yourself the casserole flavor without the mushy casserole part by adding crunchy onions to fresh green beans. Or keep it simple.
Not to be confused with the other kind of potato, there are plenty of ways you can prepare sweet potatoes as well. Another of NYT Cooking's most popular recipes is one for candied sweet potatoes from the Harvey House cookbook, and one of AllRecipes' recent popular recipes is for a quick-and-easy cranberry sweet potato casserole, but some would argue it's not a sweet potato casserole if it doesn't have marshmallows, like this recipe from Delish. Want to keep it simple? Here's a baked sweet potato recipe.
Brussels sprouts are all the rage lately. So keep it trendy by cooking them creamed, roasted, pan-friend or braised.
You could ask every single person you know about their favorite gravy and they would probably all give you separate answers, that's how many ways there are to make gravy. The most common way on Thanksgiving is to make a turkey gravy with the drippings from your Thanksgiving bird, but you can also make a vegetarian-friendly gravy with mushrooms.
As if you weren't getting enough carbs on Thanksgiving, bread is a must. What better way to soak up all that gravy? Cornbread is a must, or you can bake a classic loaf of bread yourself. If you'd like to go the biscuit route, you've got plenty of options: cheddar, buttermilk and more. And you can never go wrong with rolls.
Save the arguments about dressing vs. stuffing: it's all great, whether you bake it inside your turkey or out. The most popular recipe currently on AllRecipes is a "stuffing of champions" calling for celery and onions. You can make it with cornbread or in a Crock-Pot or even with tamales.
Some would argue the ideal cranberry sauce is the kind that's still shaped like the can when you dump it onto a plate, but if you'd like to labor over it (or not labor over it - here's a slow cooker recipe) there are plenty of options for flavoring: maple walnut, ginger pear, pineapple and more.
Butternut squash just tastes like autumn, doesn't it? NYT Cooking has a popular recipe for cooking up the squash with pecans and currants, or honey roast it with cranberries and feta. Butternut not for you? Mix it up with a summer squash casserole.
You need more vegetables to balance out all those carbs. Bake your corn in a casserole or add cheese to it, because that makes everything better.