Thanksgiving Side Dishes (and for Vegans, Vegetarians) - Dr. Axe

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25 Thanksgiving Side Dishes (Plus Vegan- and Vegetarian-Friendly Recipes)


Thanksgiving side dishes - Dr. Axe

Thanksgiving is a day full of family, friends, football and, most importantly, food — turkey, pies and an array of Thanksgiving side dishes.

If your Thanksgiving menu seems stuck on buttery potatoes and candied yams, it might be time for some Thanksgiving health tips and holiday inspiration.

That’s why these Thanksgiving side dishes will be welcome additions to your table. Not only are they delicious, but they’re made from real, whole food ingredients.

You won’t catch any “cream of” soups or bags of stuffing here. If you’re looking to shake up your traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you’re sure to find a few favorite new Thanksgiving side dishes here.


1. Warm Autumn Salad

When the weather turns cold, you can heat up your salad with this warm autumn salad recipe. Full of fall flavors like butternut squash, apples and Brussels sprouts — plus topped with goat cheese — this is sure to be a hit to start off Thanksgiving dinner.


2. Arugula Salad with Pecorino

What do you get when you combine beets, arugula, walnuts, onion and pecorino romano cheese? A delicious, refreshing and nutritious salad to enjoy with family and friends.

3. Roasted Beet Salad

Speaking of beets, you can’t go wrong with a traditional roasted beet salad. This version includes pear, goat cheese and honey for a balance of sweet and savory, along with some secret surprise ingredients that really make this one a unique winner.

4. Massaged Kale Salad, with Pine Nuts & Dried Cherries

Few greens are as good for you as kale, and it plays the starring role in this Thanksgiving side dish. The nuts and cherries provide a burst of flavor in your mouth, with the olive oil and lemon juice keep it tasting light as you eat the big meal.

5. Candied Pecan Butternut Squash Salad

Butternut squash is an autumn staple, and you should definitely add it to your Thanksgiving feast. This salad combines the gourd with candied pecans, black rice, maple syrup, avocado oil and a homemade dressing for a true delight.

Vegan Thanksgiving Side Dishes

6. Maple Glazed Rosemary Carrots

Ready in less than a half hour, these maple glazed rosemary carrots will have your guests salivating. Best of all, they’re gluten-free and vegan-friendly!

7. Baked Asparagus with Portobello Mushroom

Looking for a fresh take on asparagus? This recipe has you covered and makes for an excellent Thanksgiving side dish. Topped with a homemade dressing and combined with portobellos and quinoa, everyone will be reaching for seconds.

8. Healthy Green Bean Casserole

This green bean casserole is better the original and uses some interesting swaps. Pumpkin seeds, gluten-free crackers and salt get blended, and along with the creamy goat cheese, this casserole comes together.

9. Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

This healthy Thanksgiving recipe is sure to be a new holiday favorite. You won’t find gobs of butter or marshmallows in this one.

Instead, you’ll get a gluten-free Thanksgiving side dish that’s naturally sweetened with vanilla and coconut milk. The pecan oat topping is good enough to eat solo, but trust me, you’ll love it even more with a bite of sweet potatoes.

10. Roasted Beets with Balsamic Rosemary Glaze

Beets, rosemary, balsamic vinegar and avocado oil — that’s all you need to make a terrific side dish this Thanksgiving. Best of all, these beets are ready in less an hour.

11. Lemon Garlic Green Beans

If you aren’t too keen on green bean casserole but still want to enjoy string beans, zest them up with some lemon and garlic for a classic side that goes great with all your Thanksgiving favorites.

12. Sweet Potato Fries

Let’s face it: Fall is sweet potato time. If you can never have too many fries, this recipe will satisfy your craving while also providing a nutritional bump compared to fried, starchy fries we know all too well.

13. Vegan Mac and Cheese

It may sound like an oxymoron, but you really can have mac and cheese without any animal products. It’s true! Instead of actual cheese, this recipe calls for butternut squash, onion, coconut cream, mustard, arrowroot, turmeric, nutritional yeast and gluten-free pasta … and it’s all ready in less than an hour!

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Side Dishes

14. Homemade Gluten-Free Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Eating gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to skip out on mac and cheese. There are no blue box blues here. Instead, you have a homemade baked version made with actual cheese, milk and cauliflower!

Making this is almost as fast as the boxed version, but it tastes a whole lot better.


15. Sweet Potato Latkes

This recipe is intended as a game day snack, but I think the flavors are just perfect for a Thanksgiving side dish. Grated sweet potato, parsnips, onion, and arrowroot or tapioca starch make up the bulk of the latkes, with your choice of two options provided.

This one’s perfect for munching on while waiting for the rest of your Thanksgiving dinner.

16. Mashed Faux-tatoes

Mashed potatoes without the potatoes? That’s right. This cauliflower-based version, mixed with chives and garlic, is a delicious take on traditional mashed potatoes.

17. Healthy Roasted Acorn Squash

Thanksgiving falls right in the middle of peak acorn squash season, making it a perfect side dish for the holiday. This healthy recipe combines the squash with coconut yogurt, granola, dates and nut butter for a delicious side and is ready in just 35 minutes.

18. Butternut Squash Bake

Speaking of squash, this butternut squash bake is another way to eat seasonally. This one take a little longer — an hour or more — but it’s a simple seven-ingredient recipe that’s well worth the wait.

19. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Pecans

Roasted Brussels sprouts with apples and pecans will have you wondering why you ever avoided this tiny green cabbage. It’s a healthy macronutrient dish and a showstopper at holiday time, and it’s also perfect any fall or winter month.

Roasted Brussels sprouts - Dr. Axe
Photo: Roasted Brussels Sprouts / Dr. Axe

20. Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Using almond and coconut flour, this pumpkin bread recipe remains gluten-free while scratching that pumpkin itch. The cinnamon and maple syrup combined with the pumpkin and pumpkin puree make for a side that can double as a dessert.

21. Acorn Squash Soup

It’s common to include soup among the array of Thanksgiving side dishes, and this acorn squash soup fits the meal perfectly. Ready in just over an hour, it combines a host of flavors, including coconut oil, butternut squash, carrots, onion, garlic, apple, grass-fed butter, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and, of course, acorn squash.

22. Hasselback Potatoes

If you want a more traditional potato side, this recipe does the trick. Utilizing sweet potatoes, avocado oil, goat cheese, hazelnuts, rosemary, thyme, maple syrup, chives and garlic, these are sure to leave people wanting more.

Traditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes

23. Cornbread Stuffing

Thanksgiving without old-fashioned stuffing just isn’t right — but neither is eating out-of-the-box stuffing or a grain festival. Instead, try what I eat every Thankgiving: my wife Chelsea’s gluten-free cornbread stuffing!

Made with real, healthy and delicious ingredients, this homemade stuffing deserves a place at this year’s dinner.

24. Cranberry Sauce with Pecans Recipe

This cranberry sauce recipe with pecans can be served next to a Turkey main or even as a delicious dessert. It’s sweetened with honey and free of refined sugars.

25. Giblet Gravy

Last but not least, the gravy! While giblets aren’t particularly useful for eating (except for the liver), they are fantastic for making giblet broth and, you guessed it, gravy.

They add a complex, tasty chicken flavor naturally. Because they’re part of the chicken’s body, giblets also add extra nutritional benefits like vitamins and minerals you wouldn’t get from a pre-made, preservative-rich gravy.

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