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The Best Thanksgiving Sides

The Best Thanksgiving Sides

Thanksgiving and side dishes go together like turkey and naps. 

Thanksgiving is a time to hit the pause button and show appreciation for all we have. One of the things I’m most thankful for is Thanksgiving dinner. That got me thinking about what the best Thanksgiving side dish was. I wanted to be objective, so I turned to the most credible source available—the internet. 

With some help from Google, I found what I considered to be five authoritative Thanksgiving side dish rankings: Statista, Mashed, Thrillist, Farmville (VA) Herald, and Food Network.

With the Major League Baseball MVP awards fresh in my mind, I couldn’t think of a better system to base the Best Thanksgiving Side vote on. The MVP is voted on by 30 members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (one from each Major League city) and uses a weighted score system. Each ranks their top ten players in each league with points awarded on a 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. The player with the highest point total in each league wins the award.

Bust out your turkey trousers and let’s see which dish rules the roost as the Best Thanksgiving Side:


5. Cranberry Sauce

There's a reason why Food Network Kitchen puts the word "perfect" in the title of this delicious recipe, and while we don't like to brag, this cranberry sauce really is the perfect Thanksgiving side. The secret lies in adding lemon (or orange) zest to the cranberry mixture — not only does it infuse the sauce with a lovely citrusy flavor, but it's also a quick and easy way to elevate the dish without needing to buy a ton of extra ingredients. Talk about something to be grateful for!

From Food Network. Get the Recipe for the Perfect Cranberry Sauce


4. Gravy 

Too many people board the gravy train without realizing that gravy is merely a side dish to your favorite side dish. It’s a support side, one that is savory and delicious, but also one that you wouldn’t want to eat by itself. Gravy is also genius at masking bad-tasting food, which is probably a good thing, depending on who is cooking. 

From Thrillist


3. Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of the finest foods to ever grace the dinner plate. If you have any sense at all, you skip the boxed stuff on this special day and serve up an ooey-gooey, melty casserole dish of goodness that is sure to be a hit with all of your lactose-tolerant dinner guests. The best parts of mac and cheese are always the slightly-burnt corners and the melty pockets of cheese. If mac and cheese is one of your favorite Thanksgiving foods, it’s probably also your favorite food in general. You don’t like to branch out a lot, but who needs to when you know exactly what it is that you like?

From Farmville Herald


2. Mashed Potatoes

It’s hard to deny the appeal of the majestic spud, especially when it is mashed and creamed to fluffy perfection. We are all blessed that we have the opportunity to have our tongues swaddled in a blanket of velvety potato innards. And if we’re being honest, there are very few foods that can be pummeled to death in the kitchen and still turn out incredible. Mashed potatoes are resilient: no matter how hard you mess up, they usually manage to bounce back. You can make them completely vegan and plant-based. Even bad mashed potatoes are still pretty good. That can’t be said for anything else on the Thanksgiving table—turkey and pie included. 

From Thrillist


1. Stuffing

When it comes to sides, there's nothing better than stuffing. It's simultaneously soft, moist, and savory. Likewise, it's one-of-a-kind, and the real side that proclaims: It's Thanksgiving; sit down and dig in. Stuffing is simply the side that needs to be there. It probably depends on where you're from in the States as to what you would define as good stuffing, or even if you would call it stuffing at all. But, regardless if you're making stuffing or dressing, there are still some rookie stuffing mistakes that you want to avoid while trying your hand at this Thanksgiving recipe. 

From Mashed

There, you have it. The Best Thanksgiving Sides ranked. My personal fav, stuffing, won a hotly contested battle edging out the ever-popular mashed potatoes. I can’t get enough of my mom’s stuffing. I load up my plate during dinner. I take seconds (or even thirds). I eat it hot, cold, with or without gravy, on a sandwich—you name it, I’ve tried it. 

Did your favorite side make the list? Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that side dishes play an important part in the Thanksgiving tradition.

The Voting








Mashed Potatoes



Macaroni and Cheese






Cranberry Sauce



Green Bean Casserole



Dinner Rolls



Sweet Potato Casserole



Candied Yams/Sweet Potatoes



Brussels Sprouts



Others receiving votes:

Cornbread (8), Pie (5), Dinner Salad (5), Roasted Vegetables (4), Goat Cheese Crostini (2), Squash (1)


Jason is a Partner and the CEO at Revel, a B2B marketing agency. He is a diehard baseball fan who loves his Detroit Tigers. Family vacations often revolve around seeing games in different MLB ballparks around the country – they’ve been to 21 so far and counting. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.