Thanksgiving dinners often live or die by the side dishes guests bring, so don’t downplay your role in the evening’s meal. We’ve been at meals where someone’s small dish of greens proves more popular than the turkey, stuffing, or mashed potatoes, and everyone leaves talking about how they need to get the recipe for whatever that magic dish of vegetables was. If you’re reasonably adept in the kitchen, that could be you with one of these recipes.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

A good soup is a versatile dish. It can stand on its own as a full meal or can be adapted to a sit down appetizer just as easily. We recommend cooking this as an appetizer for your Thanksgiving, as a Thanksgiving that’s just soup would be kind of sad, but one that starts with a small, delicious bowl is perfectly in the holiday spirit. It’s a creamy, rich way to get yourself ready for the meal to come. Recipe


Garlic Butter Potatoes

If that name doesn’t tell you exactly why this dish is worth cooking, then there’s not much else we can do for you. Garlic, butter, and potatoes are such a natural trio we’re not even sure why people bothered inventing other recipes. According to the recipe, these have an interesting accordion look to them too, so you and your Thanksgiving associates can pretend you’re not eating what amounts to french fries at your gluttonous display of patriotism. There’s cheese on them too, so not only are they pretty much french fries, but they’re cheese fries. Recipe


Truly Delicious Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a surprisingly polarizing food for people of every age, though we suspect that might be because they’re basically a vegetable caricature. It’s recipes like this one we think will pull them from their place as lowly green punching bag. There are only three simple steps and you’ll be in the kitchen for less time than it takes to get pizza delivered. This is a dish you could conceivably start and complete as your guests are walking in the door. It also means your Thanksgiving table won’t be limited to varying shades of brown and yellow, which is a goal you should have for every meal, not just federally recognized holidays. Recipe


Macaroni and Cheese

We never really thought of mac and cheese as a Thanksgiving option, but that could be because almost every recipe that doesn’t involve Kraft ends up looking and tasting like a light brown sponge. This recipe solves that problem by making a liquid cheese sauce though, meaning we get our the creaminess we love from the boxed stuff while still giving us credit for the adult process of cooking our own food. It’s the perfect combination of a childish appetite and grown-up responsibility. Recipe


Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms

Some of our favorite Thanksgiving nights have been ones that lasted for longer than it takes to eat a big meal. For holidays like that, having some finger food prepared is a great move. Sausage-stuffed mushrooms are an easy crowd pleaser. They’re not so heavy anyone’s appetite will be spoiled, but they’re not so light that it’s like not eating anything at all. It’s also an hors d’oeuvre we forget about until someone brings it out, so this is partially us reminding ourselves that we love this appetizer. And since it’s easy, you can multiply the recipe to fit any Thanksgiving, no matter how big or small. Recipe


Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole

Slightly more effort goes into this dish than your normal easy slow cooker recipe, but Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a green bean casserole, so between that and our love for the humble Crock Pot, we decided this was worth the extra time. And it really isn’t that much extra anyway. All you’re doing is making a sauce and sauteeing some mushrooms before throwing everything in the slow cooker. As soon as you do, you can get right back to binging Netflix or vegetating or whatever else you were up to in the first place. Recipe


Mini Garlic Monkey Bread

Everyone loves garlic bread, everyone loves eating with their hands, and everyone loves when a bread plate is put out for people to pick at before the meal, which means this appetizer does a lot of things right for a lot of people. And that’s just for the people eating them. If you end up making them, you’ll be putting about ten minutes of effort into a dish that looks like something that’d get you through the first round of Chopped. Your fellow diners will be impressed and everyone will have buttery garlic deliciousness to whet their appetites. Everyone wins. Recipe


Roasted Cauliflower

No matter how much some people try and ignore it, cauliflower stubbornly sticks around. All we can do at that point is try and turn it into something most people will eat. To that end, roasting it draws out a surprising amount of flavor from the normally boring vegetable. That’s the main reason we’re including it here. This isn’t the most delicious meal on the list, but it’s one of the more surprising. Cauliflower skeptics would do well to give this dish a shot, if only because it shows drowning cauliflower in cheese isn’t the only way to make less adventurous people eat it. Recipe


Blackberry Cobbler

A good Thanksgiving dessert is the perfect example of why dessert exists. Delicious meals deserve to be followed by small, sweet dishes, and a pie or cobbler is just the thing to do it. A blackberry cobbler is a little unexpected, as most people would be breaking out the apple pie right about now, but blackberry is just as satisfying while still feeling seasonally appropriate. Not that we’d disparage apple pie, because it’s amazing, but the deep purple of blackberry is more visually appealing. If there’s someone on the fence about dessert, one look at this cobbler’s color is going to make a compelling argument for why they’re not completely full. Recipe


Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie

Plenty of people have touted the excellence that is Thanksgiving leftovers, but we’re sad to say we haven’t been using them to their full potential. We’ve been making simple sandwiches when we could have been incorporating leftover bits into larger meals. There’s nothing extravagant here. Turkey is already plentiful, while the filling is made with things you probably already have on hand. If you don’t, the ingredients are all among the cheapest things at the grocery store, so it’s not like you’re breaking the bank trying to reconstitute all that extra turkey. Recipe

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