20 Easy Thanksgiving Sides

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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.

The photo collage shows the easy Thanksgiving side dishes -- potatoes, stuffing, and green beans.

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!

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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
Italian Sausage Stuffing
This classic Italian sausage stuffing is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish but tastes great with any special dinner all winter long. Make it up to one day ahead for an easy addition to your menu.
5 from 43 votes
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A baking dish filled with homemade sausage stuffing sits next to a striped towel.

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 Sweet Potato Casserole
This delicious make ahead sweet potato casserole with pecans is the perfect holiday side dish. Split the recipe into two 8x8-inch pans and serve one for Thanksgiving and freeze one to be served later at Christmas.
4.34 from 63 votes
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A baking dish filled with the finished sweet potato casserole with pecan topping.

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.

Make Ahead Mac and Cheese
This easy baked mac and cheese recipe is the perfect side dish or dinner fix. Topped with plenty of crunchy breadcrumbs and perfectly cooked pasta, it will be your go-to recipe at the holidays.
4.62 from 39 votes
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A blue baking dish filled with mac and cheese with bread crumb topping. A serving spoon has removed a portion to show the creamy elbow noodles.

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.

Cranberry Sauce with Grand Marnier
Freezer-friendly cranberry sauce with Grand Marnier has a delicious burst of orange flavor from the orange juice and liqueur. Serve it for Thanksgiving or split the batch and save half for Christmas morning cranberry cinnamon rolls.
5 from 56 votes
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A pot of fresh cranberries is cooking with a wooden spoon to stir.

Microwave Applesauce

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.

Microwave Applesauce
This easy applesauce is made right in the microwave in just minutes. Mix in your favorite apple pie seasonings or simply use the brown sugar and cinnamon combination.
5 from 41 votes
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A serving of applesauce with a spoon.

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.

Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
This is the creamiest, fluffiest mashed potatoes recipe you'll ever find. It's the perfect make ahead side dish for a busy holiday dinner. Use the Keep Warm setting and the potatoes will be ready when you are!
5 from 54 votes
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A silver Crockpot has finished mashed potatoes that are sprinkled with fresh chives and two pats of butter.

Crockpot Stuffing

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.

Crock Pot Stuffing
Make ahead Crock Pot stuffing can be prepped up to 24 hours in advance and then just cooked before serving to save space in your oven during busy holiday dinner prep. Serve the golden brown, crispy stuffing straight from the slowcooker on the buffet table to keep it warm for hours.
5 from 34 votes
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A scoop of golden brown Crock Pot stuffing is served on a small white plate. The slowcooker power knob is seen in the back.

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.

Crispy Crockpot Green Bean Casserole
Classic green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving side dish essential. When you need to feed a crowd and your oven is full with other things, you can make a crispy Crockpot green bean casserole that stays hot and crunchy for your guests with these tricks.
5 from 43 votes
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A serving of crispy green bean casserole is in a blue dish with a fork.

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 Scalloped Potatoes
Easy cheesy scalloped potatoes bake right in the slowcooker and still get a golden brown crispy edge to them thanks to the aluminum foil trick we use. Serve these for a delicious holiday meal or special Sunday dinner with a glazed ham, pulled pork, or roast chicken.
5 from 52 votes
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A slowcooker has an aluminum foil lining and is filled with baked scalloped potatoes with fresh chives sprinkled over the top.

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.

Crock Pot Creamed Corn
Sweet creamed corn is an easy holiday side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. This hands-off recipe lets you dump everything into the slowcooker and focus your attention on prepping the rest of your meal. The smooth cream cheese and butter sauce clings to the whole corn kernels giving it the perfect texture.
5 from 42 votes
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The white ruffled bowl has creamed corn made in the Crock Pot. Fresh chives are sprinkled over the top.

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.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes
Need baked sweet potatoes for a side dish or to mash for a Thanksgiving side dish recipe? When you're busy in the kitchen and need an easy way to cook sweet potatoes, pop them into your slow cooker so you can focus on other tasks.
5 from 22 votes
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A slow cooker pot has several sweet potatoes in it ready to bake.

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.

Slow Cooker Acorn Squash with Apples and Raisins
This easy side dish is perfect for Thanksgiving or other fall dinners. Pop the acorn squash and apples into the crockpot and enjoy a sweet side dish with turkey or pork.
5 from 42 votes
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A sliced open acorn squash has been filled with red dried cranberries and a spoonful of brown sugar.

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.

Crock Pot Corn Casserole
Classic corn casserole cooks in a slowcooker for a hands-off side dish for your holiday meal. Sweet Jiffy cornbread mix with canned corn and shredded cheese makes a delicious addition to a cozy family dinner.
5 from 45 votes
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The spoon is scooping out a serving of Jiffy cornbread corn casserole out of the Crock Pot bowl.

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:

Wild Rice Pilaf
This easy wild rice pilaf is the perfect holiday side dish for Easter or Christmas but would be right at home for a special dinner on a busy weeknight. Loaded with fresh vegetables and savory herbs, it is the perfect partner for turkey, ham, beef, or seafood.
5 from 49 votes
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A white bowl is filled with wild rice pilaf, chunks of carrots and celery are peeking out.

Roasted Gnocchi

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.

Roasted Gnocchi
This roasted gnocchi with butternut squash and fresh sage has a simple browned butter sauce that pairs perfectly with salty parmesan cheese. 25-minute sheet pan recipe that makes a great side dish or vegetarian main dish for the holiday.
5 from 41 votes
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A platter filled with roasted gnocchi, butternut squash, and parmesan cheese shavings with ripped fresh sage sprinkled over the top.

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.

Old Fashioned Squash Casserole
Turn ordinary fresh zucchini and yellow squash into a decadent side dish for a special meal by pairing them with a touch of cream, shredded cheese, and crispy bread crumbs. This is the perfect side dish for grilled fish or chicken when your garden is overflowing with squash!
4.99 from 51 votes
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A white bowl is filled with sliced zucchini squash covered in cheddar cheese and bread crumbs.

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!

Grated Zucchini Gratin
Use up the leftover grated zucchini after making zucchini bread to make this quick and easy cheesy gratin side dish for dinner. Mix and match your favorite shredded cheese and seasonings, bake with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs until hot and bubbly, and serve warm. This makes 4 "just a taste" servings or 2 generous side dish servings.
5 from 1 vote
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A white baking dish has baked zucchini gratin with breadcrumbs on top.

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.

Cheesy Cornflake Potatoes
This easy cheesy potato casserole has a crispy cornflake topping. Otherwise known as "funeral potatoes," it is a popular holiday side dish or church potluck recipe.
4.98 from 46 votes
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The funeral potatoes recipe has been baked and a spoon has scooped out a serving from the baker.

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.

Chicken Salad Chick Grape Salad
This copycat of the famous Chicken Salad Chick Grape Salad recipe is the perfect dish to bring to a potluck or serve as a sweet side dish for Easter or a festive brunch. The sweet and creamy dressing is made with cream cheese and brown sugar and topped with crispy pecans for awesome crunch.
4.95 from 54 votes
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A big blue bowl is filled with a creamy grape salad with cream cheese, covered in brown sugar and pecans.

Pistachio Fluff

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.

Pistachio Fluff Fruit Salad
This light and creamy pistachio fluff fruit salad makes a great holiday side dish or no bake dessert. Top it with chopped pecans for color and crunch.
5 from 43 votes
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A large serving bowl of pistachio fluff has chopped pecans sprinkled over the top and a blue napkin on the side.

Snicker Salad

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!

Snicker Salad
Snicker salad is right at home on your holiday table. Is it a side dish or is it a dessert? No one knows for sure, but no matter what it is a tasty part of your holiday meal.
4.77 from 34 votes
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A bowl of Snicker Salad next to marshmallows and green apples.

Ambrosia Salad

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!

Pineapple Marshmallow Salad
This sweet pineapple ambrosia salad made without mayo can be served as a no bake dessert or holiday side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. Stir it together in just minutes and it is ready to serve.
5 from 39 votes
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A serving of pineapple ambrosia has a spoon for serving.

Thanksgiving Vegetables

Once you've picked all your favorite Thanksgiving sides, it is easy to fill in the blanks on your holiday menu by adding a few of the best easy Thanksgiving vegetables:

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:

The photo collage shows several easy Thanksgiving side dishes next to a photo of a gravy boat that says "Oh Good Gravy."

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