15 Thanksgiving Side Dishes You Should Skip

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, family gatherings, and delicious food. While the turkey takes center stage on the Thanksgiving table, some side dishes don’t hit the mark despite their appearances on dinner tables year after year. Here are 15 of the worst Thanksgiving side dishes we can’t get on board with.

Canned Cranberry Sauce

Canned cranberry sauce is a staple on many Thanksgiving tables, but its jelly-like consistency and overly sweet taste often leave much to be desired. It’s common for the can-shaped sauce to keep its form even when removed from the tin. Making your cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries is better for a more flavorful and natural alternative.

Sweet Potato Casserole With Marshmallows

Sweet potatoes are a delicious and nutritious Thanksgiving side dish, but when they’re smothered in marshmallows and topped with brown sugar, they become more like a dessert than a side dish. Stick to roasting or mashing the sweet potatoes for a healthier option.

Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole has been a Thanksgiving staple for decades, but the canned green beans and canned cream of mushroom soup make for a less-than-appetizing combination. The added fried onions on top may add some crunch, but they also add unnecessary calories.

Jell-O Salad

Jell-O salad, or congealed salad, combines Jell-O, fruit, and occasionally additional ingredients like marshmallows or cottage cheese. While it may please some family members, its unique texture and flavor may not appeal to everyone. Opt for traditional fruit salads for a healthier and more delicious side dish.

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Glazed Carrots

Carrots are a healthy and tasty side dish that provides essential nutrients like vitamin A, fiber, and potassium. Glazing carrots with brown sugar or honey may enhance their sweetness, but they also add unnecessary amounts of added sugar. Roast or steam carrots to preserve their natural flavors and maximize their nutritional value. 

Creamed Corn

Creamed corn is another classic Thanksgiving side dish, but it’s often made with canned creamed corn and heavy cream, making it high in fat and calories. Opt for a healthier alternative by using fresh or frozen corn and substituting the heavy cream with a lower-fat option like almond milk.

Boiled Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are tiny cabbage-like vegetables. Boiling them can lead to a less-than-ideal, mushy texture. Alternative cooking methods can elevate their taste and appeal. For instance, you can roast or sauté the sprouts with aromatic garlic and drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil. 

Jellied Turkey Gravy

Turkey gravy is a Thanksgiving essential, but the jellied variety takes it a step too far. The strange texture and unnatural appearance can be off-putting, leaving guests wondering if it’s a side dish or a science experiment. Stick to traditional, smooth gravy for a more flavorful option.

Store-Bought Rolls

Homemade rolls are a staple of any Thanksgiving feast, but store-bought rolls don’t have the same warm and comforting feel. They can also be loaded with preservatives and artificial ingredients. If time is an issue, choose frozen dough you can bake at home for a fresher alternative.

Canned Cornbread

Cornbread is a popular side dish in southern cuisine, and it often makes its way onto Thanksgiving tables as well. However, canned cornbread mix can produce an overly dense and dry texture. Making cornbread from scratch is easy and results in a much more flavorful option.

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Instant Mashed Potatoes

Instant mashed potatoes made from a box may be convenient, but they don’t compare to homemade ones made from scratch. They often contain added preservatives and lack the creamy buttery taste of traditional mashed potatoes.

Creamed Spinach

Spinach may be a healthy side dish, but it becomes more indulgent when mixed with cream and cheese. A simple sautéed spinach or a spinach salad with a light vinaigrette dressing is a better and healthier alternative.

Boxed Stuffing Mix

Upgrade your Thanksgiving stuffing by making it from scratch. Ditch the bland boxed mix and explore a world of flavor possibilities. With aromatic herbs, fresh ingredients, and your culinary creativity, create a stuffing that bursts with rich, savory goodness. 

Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia salad is a classic dish with canned fruits, fluffy marshmallows, and a creamy dressing. This salad is high in sugar and lacks significant nutritional value. If you want healthier options, try fresh fruit salads or roasted vegetables. These choices will satisfy your taste buds while providing wholesome goodness. 

Creamed Onions

Creamed onions are a traditional Thanksgiving side dish in some households, but their strong onion flavor and thick sauce may not appeal to everyone. Roasting or caramelizing onions can enhance sweetness and make a more enjoyable side dish.

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