Is your stress spiking at the mere memory of meal planning past Thanksgivings? Rest assured, you’re not the only one who’s ever burned the bird or simply is not into cooking. But if you’re looking to redeem yourself this year, wow your family, and shut down any negative comments from your monster-in-law before she even gets a chance to open her big mouth, these easy but impressive Thanksgiving vegetable side dishes are sure to do the trick — and they’re delicious, too!
True, impressive is usually synonymous with difficult. Thankfully, these vegetable side dishes really are easy, even though they look like something you might see on Martha Stewart’s holiday table — if you were invited. But since you’re not, and because Martha herself won’t be doing any of the cooking for your family, these impressive Thanksgiving sides are the next best thing.
From make-ahead veggies wrapped in bacon-y goodness to crisp autumn salads featuring the best seasonal fruits, this list is where it’s at.
1. Make-Ahead Bacon Wrapped Green Beans
If you plan to go all out with your Thanksgiving spread this year, make-ahead dishes like these bacon-wrapped green beans by The Cafe Sucre Farine will make day-of prep just a little bit easier. And this isn’t your mom’s green bean casserole. The long, fresh green beans in this recipe get wrapped in neat bundles with bacon topped with brown sugar and rosemary. Yum!
2. Boiled Corn On The Cob
Corn has changed a lot over the last 400 years. But according to historians, the native plant did make its appearance at the first Thanksgiving feast — though they for sure weren’t simmered in a mixture of milk, butter, and brown sugar like this boiled corn by Damn Delicious that takes the traditional corn side dish to the next level.
3. Garlic Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Why do Brussels sprouts get so much hate? Oh, yes, because they’re usually boiled to death and bland. When done right, Brussels sprouts are actually pretty damn good. So big shout out to eatwell101 for doing just that with this recipe and further proving that a golden crust of parmesan can make almost any food taste amazing.
4. Roasted Beet and Walnut Dip
Don’t get so wrapped up in the idea of a side being a traditional side that you bypass this gorgeous roasted beet and walnut dip recipe by Simple Bites. Just look at that color! Pop this in the center of piles of pita bread and freshly sliced root veggies for a brilliant spin on a Thanksgiving side dish.
5. Bourbon Sweet Potato Rounds
You can’t very well have a Thanksgiving meal without sweet potatoes! Or you shouldn’t, anyway — they’re amazing. Instead of the standard marshmallow-covered sweet potato casserole, though, shake things up this year with Recipe Runner’s bourbon sweet potato rounds. They’re refreshingly easy to throw together, but they pack a punch of both flavor and aesthetics.
6. Cheesy Root Vegetable Gratin
The word gratin literally means grated in French. While these root vegetables aren’t exactly grated, you get the point. Once you get the hang of your mandoline, slicing up the sweet potatoes, parsnips, and beets in this root gratin by Spoon Fork Bacon is a cinch. All that’s left to do is line them in neat little rows, add in the creamy, cheesy mixture, and bake.
7. Pistachio Stuffins (aka Stuffing Muffins)
Want to make sure your little one tries the stuffing this year? Put it in muffin form! Leisure Fan Club’s Kirby Mekler has figured out a recipe no one can resist: her grandma’s Ritz cracker and pistachio stuffing in a delightfully familiar (and bite-size) shape. Stuffins… who knew, right?
8. Honey-Roasted Parsnips
Can you really go wrong with a recipe that only has four ingredients? Honestly, it’s things like these honey-roasted parsnips from The Family Food Kitchen that make us grateful for the internet. You’ll also win major points for originality here, because how often do people make parsnips as a standalone dish? Probably a lot more once they taste this delightful recipe.
9. Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Classics are classics for a reason, and mac and cheese is proof. This year, set yours apart from the rest with this seasonal spin courtesy of Pumpkin ‘N Spice. Thanks to the addition of pumpkin and two types of cheese, it’s oh-so-creamy — while a seasoned breadcrumb topping adds a savory crunch.
10. Harvest Farro Salad
Traditional Thanksgiving dishes like stuffing and mashed potatoes are heavy, making salads a welcome lighter side dish at any feast. Sure, you could dump bagged salad into a pretty bowl and call it a day (totally OK, btw!) but give this impressive-looking harvest farro salad by The Healthy Maven a try. Not only does the roasted butternut squash give it rich flavor, but it also gets tossed in a pomegranate molasses dressing and topped with the bright arils that pop against the bed of greens. Now that’s something to be thankful for!