Sure, turkey may get all the attention on Thanksgiving, but let's get really honest with each other: It's all about the sides. Turkey is turkey is turkey, but the dishes you have to go with the bird are what make or break a Thanksgiving dinner.
So as you finalize your dinner menu, please consult our definitive list of traditional sides, ranked from worst to best. And when in doubt, just choose pie (we did not rank pies here because pie always wins. Always.)
13. General Vegetables
Carrots? Corn? We mean, they're fine. Regular old green beans? It's just...whatever. C'mon, this is Thanksgiving, this isn't regular old Thursday night dinner. Let's put a little imagination into it. Let's get festive. We'll eat our veggies, but don't make them so disappointing.
The only reason yams isn't No. 13 is because sometimes they're prepared with marshmallows on top.
11. Cranberry Sauce (Homemade)
Cranberry sauce is all but required at Thanksgiving dinner, but does anybody ever eat it? From our experience, it's usually just a decoration of sorts—a festive bowl of berries that looks good in your spread, but will inevitably be passed over by everyone. Don't waste your time making it by hand.
If you can get good cornbread that isn't too moist and isn't too dry and doesn't fall apart when you pick it up. If you can get a good butter, that isn't just your run of the mill margarine, it has to be something special (maple butter?). If you can do this, cornbread is perfect. But there are just too many variables here.
9. Cranberry Sauce (Canned)
See No. 11, but adjust for the novelty factor.
8. Brussels Sprouts au Gratin
We love Brussels sprouts. We just prefer our Brussels sprouts with bacon, which knocks this dish down a few spots. Sidebar: Kids may not be too amped on this one. Because kids don't know anything and probably can't tell the difference between Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
7. Mac and Cheese
It's important to note that we're not talking Kraft here (it's also important to note that there's anything wrong with Kraft. It's delicious.) Mac and cheese is a staple. If you do something special with it (make it spicy with jalapenos! Add chicken or bacon for protein!), it can add to a meal.
6. Butternut Squash
Forget pumpkin spice, butternut squash is the trend food this fall. And there are endless ways to prepare it: Straight up, in a soup, in a salad, in a casserole. Glazed or roasted, steamed or stuffed.
5. Green Bean Casserole
Super-underrated. Just make sure it's extra creamy and has plenty of those fried onions on top.
4. Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potato are fine. We prefer regular potatoes. We say potato, you say poh-tah-toh. But we love sweet potato casserole because it's actually sweet. Maybe it's all the brown sugar you add. Maybe it's the melted butter and pecans on top. And it's not technically a dessert, so you can still have pie and not feel bad!
3. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
So creamy and fluffy and melt in your mouth delicious. And there is nothing more crucial to a Thanksgiving dinner than the gravy. If you are serving low quality gravy, you might as well just cancel Thanksgiving altogether.
2. Dinner Rolls
The big upset of the Thanksgiving sides gauntlet. You probably forgot about dinner rolls, huh? That's because dinner rolls are so custom at Thanksgiving dinner, that you only notice them if they're not there. Or if they're not the right rolls. The right rolls, for the record, are Pillsbury Crescents. (Suitable substitute: Biscuits.)
C'mon. Did you expect anything else to be here? This was always just a race for No. 2. Stuffing is the bomb.
Ugh, is it Thanksgiving yet? We want stuffing.