There’s one truth that any Thanksgiving aficionado can tell you: The best part of Thanksgiving dinner has nothing to do with the turkey. Why settle for meat that’s usually dry as a bone (unless you rely on some never-fail turkey tips) when a selection of scrumptious sides awaits your taste buds?
That’s right, other than dessert (we’re team pie every time), side dishes are the true stars of this feast. They give us the opportunity to sample all sorts of flavors and textures, from creamy root vegetable gratin to refreshing pear and blue cheese salad. We make it a point to make more side dishes than it seems possible to finish. Because guess what? They get finished every year no matter how many we make. It’s also nice to have leftovers in the fridge all week.
Of course, these aren’t just any sides. They’re recipes from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. No one is better at putting a gourmet twist on home cooking, and these memorable Thanksgiving recipes (paired with must-have kitchen tools and/or ingredients) are no exception.
A version of this article was originally published November 2018. It was updated in October 2021.
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Garlic Mashed Potatoes
If you aren’t a big gravy fan, these rich, creamy garlic potatoes are a must-have on your Thanksgiving table. This recipe calls for olive oil instead of butter, which will make it much easier to make sure these potatoes are evenly mixed.
Get the recipe from Certified Pastry Aficionado.
Like a savory version of a shortbread cookie, these Parmesan-thyme crackers are the ultimate addition to your Thanksgiving appetizer tray.
Get the recipe from Dishing Up Delights.
Roasted Pear & Blue Cheese Salad With Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Inspired by Garten’s seasonal salad, this fresh dish is a welcome counterpart to the heavier sides on the table at your Thanksgiving feast. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up an oven-safe casserole dish before making this side dish. We — and Garten — recommend Le Creuset’s.
Get the recipe from Foolproof Living.
Caramelized shallots and Thanksgiving turkey are the perfact pair. These are quick and easy to make, but deliver big on flavor. And if you want your shallots to taste like Garten’s, you’ll need a Lodge cast-iron skillet.
Get the recipe from Leite’s Culinaria.
There are biscuit people, and there are roll people. If you’re a biscuit person, these flaky, buttery, herbed bites of bliss will become your new favorite. And if you don’t already have a stand mixer, might we suggest picking up a KitchenAid mixer before Thanksgiving?
Get the recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.
Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
The crispy golden top; the buttery, creamy interior; the garlic and herb flavor — these mashed potatoes have it all. So, dust off that food mill because it’ll come in handy for this dish.
Get the recipe from The Bitten Word.
Creamed Spinach Gratin
Our favorite thing about this spinach gratin is how quickly it comes together. You could even make it the day before, then pop it into the oven 20 minutes before Thanksgiving dinner while your turkey is resting. Then, serve it in a large baking dish.
Get the recipe from Ezra Pound Cake.
Baked Fontina Cheese Dip
You know what would be delicious dunked in this baked fontina cheese dip? Roasted sprouts and squash, freshly baked rolls, stuffing muffins and pretty much everything else on your Thanksgiving table. Add a dab of tart cranberry sauce to perk things up, and you and your guests will be in pure heaven.
Get the recipe from Dinner Then Dessert.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts become a holidayworthy dish when they’re roasted with crisp bits of pancetta and served in a chic serving dish like this one from Etsy.
Get the recipe from A Kitchen Muse.
Grown-Up Mac & Cheese
Made with smoky bacon and a blend of cheeses, this creamy macaroni is begging to be served alongside your turkey. And if you don’t already have a baking rack, you’ll need it to make this side dish.
Get the recipe from Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases.
Caramelized Butternut Squash
Perfect butternut squash is all in the technique. Roast it, turning occasionally, in brown sugar and butter. The two form a glaze around the squash until it becomes golden-brown and caramelized. The kind of knife you use to cut the butternut squash is important, too; and we recommend the Mac Mighty knife.
Get the recipe from The Egg Farm.
Root Vegetable Gratin
A variety of seasonal root veggies impart a mix of textures and sweet-and-savory flavors to this creamy gratin.
Get the recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
Potato, Fennel & Gruyère Gratin
Is there anything better than a bubbling, crisp-around-the-edges potato gratin? One made with fennel and created by Ina Garten, of course!
Get the recipe from Scrumpdillyicious.
When baked with plenty of cheese, cauliflower tastes creamy and downright indulgent.
Get the recipe from The Brook Cook.
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