Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

Filling, Fabulous Accompaniments

These Thanksgiving side dish recipes are the crown jewels of the Thanksgiving meal. Know how the Thanksgiving dinner table practically groans under the weight of all that food? Well, it's the side dishes that do most of the covering of the table top, and we're here to make sure you cover it extremely well.

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Apples

bowl of candied sweet potatoes and other side dishes

I'm telling you, Thanksgiving side dish recipes don't get any better than this. My grandmom made her candied sweets this way, my mom makes it this way, and I'm happy to report that I proudly carry on the tradition.

  • 8 to 10 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1-1/2 to 2 lbs apples (e.g. about 5 medium gala apples)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 cups orange juice
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp butter


  1. Boil sweet potatoes for about 40 minutes until soft. Let cool until can handle them easily.

  2. While potatoes cook, make sauce. In a small saucepan, mix cornstarch with a little of the orange juice to make a paste. Mix the paste with rest of orange juice and 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook sauce for approximately 15 minutes, until thickened and syrupy, stirring occasionally. Taste the sauce; if too flat, add a bit more lemon juice.

  3. While sauce cooks: peel, core, and slice apples. Once the sauce is thickened, add the apple slices to the syrup and turn off the stove. Allow the apples to soften a bit in the sauce while you finish preparing the sweet potatoes.

  4. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut each in half lengthwise. Arrange sweet potatoes in 13" x 9" baking dish.

  5. Spoon apple slices evenly over the sweet potatoes. Spoon remaining sauce over the apples and sweet potatoes.

  6. Sprinkle very lightly with nutmeg.

  7. Dot with butter.

  8. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until apples soft and food is heated through.

Macaroni & Cheese

Remember what I said about my family's candied sweet potato recipe? Ditto for our mac and cheese Thanksgiving side dish recipe: from Grandmom to Mom to me…and now to you!

  • 16 oz macaroni (1 box)
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 6 Tbsp butter (4 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp)
  • 3-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 16 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (save about 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top)
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
  • paprika
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13" x 9" baking pan.

  2. Cook macaroni according to directions on box.

  3. Make the sauce. Make a roux by melting 4 of the 6 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and sprinkling the flour in, stirring constantly. Next, slowly add milk, stirring. Continue to stir occasionally and cook until thickens. Add salt and pepper. Stir in cheddar cheese, except for about 1/2 cup.

  4. Spread macaroni in the buttered pan. Pour sauce evenly over macaroni. Sprinkle grated mozzarella across top. Stir all ingredients together well. Smooth the top.

  5. Sprinkle the following evenly across the top, in this order: the remaining grated cheddar cheese, bread crumbs, paprika. Dot the surface with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into small pieces.

  6. Bake 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees F, until light golden brown. Note: this makes enough to fill 13" x 9" baking pan; cut recipe in half for 8" x 8" pan.

Mustard Carrots

Plain boiled carrots as a Thanksgiving side dish recipe...not so good. Mom's carrots glazed with a brown sugar and mustard sauce...scrumptious!

  • 1 lb of baby carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup prepared mustard
  1. Bring water to a boil. Add the carrots, bring back to a boil, and cook until tender.
  2. Make the sauce: Combine the brown sugar, butter, and mustard in a small saucepan. Simmer until sauce thickens.
  3. Drain carrots. Place in bowl and pour sauce over. Mix to coat well.

Collard Greens

side dish of collard greens

Greens are one of those vegetables that conjure up all kinds of good feelings for me: visions of Grandmom's kitchen, a backyard garden, and a sense of invigorated health all rolled into one.

In my grandmother's day, fatback was the meat seasoning of choice. For this Thanksgiving side dish recipe, I use smoked turkey instead. I throw in a chicken wing or two to give the greens the sheen they used to get from fatback.

  • 2 lbs collard greens (or a mix of greens such as mustard and collard)
  • 1 smoked turkey wing
  • 1 or 2 chicken wings
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper, freshly ground
  1. Put smoked turkey wing and chicken wings in large pot with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Fill a sink with water and wash the greens thoroughly, dipping them in and out. Change the water several times. Drain the leaves.
  3. Remove spiny ends of greens and discard blemished leaves. Cut into 2" pieces.
  4. Add the greens to the pot of simmering water. Cover and cook approximately 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. If greens are naturally sweet, omit sugar. Cook for approximately another 10 minutes until greens are tender.

Return from Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes
to Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

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