Thanksgiving Sides, Ranked

12. Green Beans (Casserole)

Poor green bean casserole, so often on the Thanksgiving buffet but so often untouched. There is something about the mix of creamy, soupy texture and beans that just doesn’t sit well. At least compared to the rest of side dish lineup.

11. Green Beans (Other)

It’s a tragedy that green beans’ reputation at Thanksgiving is so tied up with the aforementioned casserole, because they can be so much more. Like these spicy, gingered beans. Or these with crispy potato chips. Or these with country ham and pecans. What I’m saying is, just experiment with the beans this year guys. 

10. Cranberry Sauce

Another side dish whose placement on this list suffers because of its reputation, cranberry sauce gets a bad rap because so much of it is basically canned Jell-O. And slices of canned Jell-O are not exactly the sort of food that gets a place of honor at the Thanksgiving table. But if you are one of the lucky few who has had the real stuff, then you know that it can provide a little bit of tart, red magic to what can, if you aren’t careful, become an overly beige meal.

9. Roasted Carrots (or other root vegetables)

Even if you don’t love them, these are an important part of any balanced Thanksgiving meal. It can’t be all mashed potatoes and stuffing. I mean, it could, but I’d feel pretty bad about myself the next Friday.

8. Corn Bread

There’s plenty of good corn bread out there, but why, when you could just have biscuits?

7. Collard Greens

Cooking those greens down so long that they practically melt will bring everyone back for seconds.

6. Brussels Sprouts

Do they have pancetta on them? Oh, they do not? Moving right along then.

5. Gravy

It’s hard to tell what, exactly, gravy is. Is it a condiment? Is it a side unto itself? Is it something that could be used as a currency in the imaginary country where I get to design the economic system? Yeah, probably that last one.

4. Biscuits

Never mind the family bonding time, one of the happiest moments of Thanksgiving is catching a flaky biscuit hot out of the oven. Even if there are no bakers in the family and you’re forced to make them out of a can, you can’t go wrong. Hit them with a little honey butter and you might as well just forget about the rest of the meal altogether.

3. Mashed Potatoes

It’s true that mashed potatoes have a lot of Thanksgiving side credibility, which shoots them up into the top three, but they can also be one of the most diverse things at dinner—almost a blank canvas for whatever you want to put in them. Also, anything made with at least a stick of butter is a proven winner.

2. Sweet Potatoes

Whether you take your Thanksgiving sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top or not, they are really just dessert in disguise. And that alone makes them worthy of a spot towards the top of the list.

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