Easy Thanksgiving side dishes help round out your Thanksgiving dinner for a feast everyone will love. Get the best mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and more all in one spot.
Plan a simple Thanksgiving menu that is padded with these easy Thanksgiving side dishes that are easy to prep or make ahead.
Many of the items can be saved in the fridge and just baked before serving for easy last-minute prep for your holiday feast.
Family friendly recipes that even the kids at the table are sure to enjoy help keep Thanksgiving cooking easier for the head chef!
- How to Choose Easy Thanksgiving Sides
- 1. Lean on Make Ahead Recipes:
- Italian Sausage Stuffing
- Make Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole
- Make Ahead Mac and Cheese
- The BEST Cranberry Sauce
- Microwave Applesauce
- 2. Use a Crock Pot / Slowcooker
- Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
- Crockpot Stuffing
- Crockpot Green Bean Casserole
- Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes
- Crock Pot Creamed Corn
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes
- Slowcooker Acorn Squash
- Crock Pot Corn Casserole
- 3. Easy Prep and Bake Recipes
- Wild Rice Pilaf
- Roasted Gnocchi
- Old Fashioned Squash Casserole
- Cheesy Zucchini Gratin
- Cheesy Cornflake Potatoes
- 4. Easy Side Dishes to Stir Together
- Creamy Grape Salad
- Pistachio Fluff
- Snicker Salad
- Ambrosia Salad
- Thanksgiving Vegetables
- More Thanksgiving Ideas
- 💬 Comments
How to Choose Easy Thanksgiving Sides
Cooking the Thanksgiving dinner can be complicated because you're trying to time so many different dishes, cooked at different temperatures, all while getting everything to the table hot all at the same time.
It's no wonder some home cooks get frustrated trying to figure out the meal plan.
Over the years, I've learned some great tricks for making easy side dishes for Thanksgiving that will help you have less stress at go time.
1. Lean on Make Ahead Recipes:
Any prep you can do in advance of Thanksgiving morning is going to save time spent assembling the recipe, washing more dirty dishes and opens up precious counter space.
Here are some of my very favorite make ahead side dishes that are perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner or for prepping a side dish for a Thanksgiving potluck:
Italian Sausage Stuffing
My mom's classic Thanksgiving stuffing recipe has crumbled Italian sausage, celery, and onions tossed with Italian bread croutons.
You can prep it in advance and keep it in the fridge to bake before serving or you can just prep the different elements for an easy last-minute stir together.
The day before:
- Brown the sausage
- Saute the celery and onion mixture
- Make the Italian bread croutons
Make Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole
This sweet potato casserole can be made and frozen ahead of time for easy baking at the last minute.
I like to thaw it in the fridge overnight and just let it hang out there until it is time to pop it in the oven.
Make Ahead Mac and Cheese
If mac and cheese isn't on your Thanksgiving table, can you even call yourself a southerner? We think not.
My favorite baked mac and cheese recipe only takes 15 minutes to bake and you can prep the whole thing in advance.
The BEST Cranberry Sauce
This is the only cranberry sauce I make, once you try it you'll agree.
You can make it ahead 3 - 5 days in advance if you need to. Simply store it in the fridge.
Cinnamon apples always are a special treat when they're served fresh and warm.
You can make my 10-minute applesauce a few days before and store it in the fridge. Just reheat in the microwave for a minute before putting it on the table.
2. Use a Crock Pot / Slowcooker
Making Thanksgiving sides in a Crock Pot is not only easy, but it helps keep the food warm for a flexible amount of time while the fussy dishes in the oven finish what they need to be ready.
I love that these recipes let you just dump the ingredients into the slowcooker and are mostly hands-off until dinner time:
Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
Slowcooker mashed potatoes is the most brilliant way to keep this Thanksgiving side warm on the buffet table.
Definitely perfect if you're hosting an open house-style feast.
This make ahead Crock Pot stuffing recipe is an easy way to take my oven-baked sausage stuffing and cook it outside of your oven to save space.
My method still makes crispy golden brown edges on the stuffing which will soak up all that delicious gravy.
Crockpot Green Bean Casserole
YES, You can actually have crispy green bean casserole even with a slowcooker!
Stir the entire green bean mixture together and let the Crock Pot do its thing.
Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes
You can still get that gorgeous golden brown edge on these Crock Pot scalloped potatoes if you use my awesome aluminum foil trick.
Crock Pot Creamed Corn
Skip the canned cream corn and this year make my easy Crock Pot creamed corn from scratch! With just 5 minutes of prep, this is a hands-off side to add to your meal.
Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes
Make slow cooker sweet potatoes and then simply serve them with brown sugar and butter for stuffing the tops!
This is much easier than a traditional sweet potato casserole, you could even turn it into a "Top your own Sweet Potato" bar with mini marshmallows, chopped pecans, or a buttery streusel topping.
Slowcooker Acorn Squash
With sweet apples and dried cranberries, you'll love the brown sugar and butter slow cooked acorn squash.
The whole dish cooks in the Crock Pot and is ready when you are.
Crock Pot Corn Casserole
If you've never tried this easy Crock Pot corn casserole, you will love the mix of cornbread flavor and sharp cheddar cheese with sweet corn kernels all throughout.
3. Easy Prep and Bake Recipes
Even if you can't fully make ahead an easy side dish, you can often prep some of the ingredients in advance for an easy all-in-one side dish that gets put into the oven.
I love these easy recipes because I can just serve them in one simple serving dish.
Wild Rice Pilaf
Prep all the veggies in advance and this wild rice pilaf will be even easier to cook on Thanksgiving day.
Need a gluten-free side dish to serve? This delicious wild rice pilaf can even be made vegetarian friendly if you need it to:
My roasted gnocchi recipe includes several different vegetable variations but the basic butternut squash, parmesan cheese, and fresh sage version would be just perfect as a Thanksgiving side dish or even a thoughtful vegetarian main dish.
Old Fashioned Squash Casserole
Cheesy squash with buttery breadcrumbs, watch your family fight over this side.
You can slice the squash, pre-shred the cheese, and then the rest of the dish comes together in a stovetop skillet which leaves more room in the oven for other dishes.
Cheesy Zucchini Gratin
If my squash casserole looks like it is too much, this 3-ingredient zucchini gratin is even easier!
You can mix the entire gratin together in advance, cover it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Just bake and serve!
Cheesy Cornflake Potatoes
Can't get enough of crispy potatoes for the holiday? This is a fun variation for a potato casserole.
You can prep the cornflake topping and assemble the potato mixture separately. Store them in the fridge and then just scoop into a casserole dish and bake.
4. Easy Side Dishes to Stir Together
The last bunch of easy side dishes I always use for holiday meal planning fall into the sweet and creamy category.
These simple chilled fruit salads are so popular because they can work as a fruity side dish or as a simple no-bake dessert.
It's Thanksgiving, go ahead and put them right on the dinner table and let your family decide how they want to enjoy them!
Creamy Grape Salad
With brown sugar and crispy pecans, this creamy grape salad is a perfect holiday side.
You can prep the cream cheese dressing the day before and then just ask a holiday helper to slice the grapes and stir it together.
For a boost of color and sweetness, your family will love this easy whipped side dish.
You can make it the day before, but it is easy to stir together while the turkey is cooking.
While many people would say that Snickers means dessert, I say it's Thanksgiving and this for sure counts as a side dish.
This sweet recipe tastes the very best the day it is made but it earns the counter space you'll need to prep it. It would be the perfect side dish to hand to a younger holiday helper, they'll love chopping the candy bars!
While more traditionally served at Christmas or Easter, the bright citrus flavor of this fluff salad would actually be a great complement to the rich turkey sides.
This is a dump and stir recipe if ever there was one. It's one of my mom's favorites!
More Thanksgiving Ideas
Now that you've got your easy Thanksgiving side dishes all picked out, what about the rest of your meal plan?
Don't miss my other easy Thanksgiving recipes for your family feast: