I Tried Making 5 ‘Easy’ Thanksgiving Side Dishes And My Family Absolutely Loved Them

by Angela Andaloro

i tried

Making a whole Thanksgiving meal is a lot for one person to tackle. Whenever possible, my family likes to split the responsibility among everyone.

That means if you’re looking for a seat at the adult table, you have to show up on Turkey Day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with a side dish.

Now I understand how making a side dish for your whole family to eat and undoubtedly critique can be a daunting task. First things first, check with your family to see what everyone else is making. If two dishes are the same or too similar, you’re opening yourself up to unnecessary comparisons. Worse, your dish might not even make it out of the kitchen, and that’s all kinds of wasteful.

Once you know what everyone else is doing, consider whether or not there are any staples your family loves that are missing from the current menu. Everyone always appreciates the person who remembered mashed potatoes when everyone else forgot. You can also dig up some family recipes that haven’t been used in a while to give everyone a throwback they’d love on Thankful Thursday.

If all of those are covered, you’re free and clear to find a simple recipe that you can make stress-free while still impressing everyone in the room. I scoured food blogs and Pinterest to find the best simple side dishes for your Thanksgiving feast.

When picking recipes, don’t forget to adjust the measurements depending on the number of people you’re expecting. Your scrumptious dish might disappoint if there isn’t enough for everyone. Once you’ve got all those factors accounted for, you’re ready to dive in.

These five simple but scrumptious Thanksgiving side dishes are sure to please even the biggest critics in your family. Plus, they’re pretty quick to throw together, so you’ll still have plenty of time to catch the parade and football. Check them out!

McCormick's Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce

McCormick's Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce
Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

Anything you can just throw in a slow cooker is a gift from the heavens. The fact that this recipe is straight from McCormick means you know it’s legit. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (12 oz.) package fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 seedless orange, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

The recipe calls for throwing everything in a 4-quart slow cooker and putting the cover on. Mine’s a little bigger, but it still works just the same.

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

Cook this for 3 hours on high, stirring every hour. It might look like it’s going to evaporate down to nothing, but I promise it won’t.

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

After the third hour, cook uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes to allow it to thicken, then enjoy!

Parmesan Duchess Potatoes

peeling potatoes
Angela Andaloro for LittleThings // Nat_Tanut Chanrungrueangsri for LittleThings

Mashed potatoes are wonderful, but Striped Spatula‘s Parmesan Duchess Potatoes dresses them up a bit. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 4 tbsps. unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tbsps. melted for brushing the potatoes
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsps. shredded Parmesan, divided
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus additional to taste
  • Pinch grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 3 egg yolks

boiled potatoes
Angela Andaloro for LittleThings // Nat_Tanut Chanrungrueangsri for LittleThings

First up, boil and drain your potatoes, then let them sit for 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings // Nat_Tanut Chanrungrueangsri for LittleThings

Once the potatoes are ready, mash them. You’ll want them super smooth to make piping easier. Stir in melted butter, cheese, salt, egg yolks, pepper, and nutmeg.

Super important note: Refrigerate for 15 minutes to 24 hours so the mixture is firm. It’ll make all the difference.

side dishes potatoes
Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

As my blobs might indicate to you, I forgot the refrigeration. Still, piped out they look pretty good. Once you pipe them, you’ll want to freeze them for another 15 minutes.

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

Bake for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Mine ended up a little more melted than I’d hoped, but they were still so delicious.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

cut chicken
Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

I’ve made CompleteRecipes’ Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole before, so I was excited to get it going. Here’s what the recipe requires:

  • 2 cups diced rotisserie chicken (or any other cooked chicken)
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1½ cups shredded cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ to ¾ cup crushed corn flakes
  • 2 tbsps. butter, melted

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

The best part of this recipe, in my opinion, is truly how easy it is. Once you’ve got all your ingredients together, toss them in a baking dish and mix!

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

As you combine everything, it’ll start to look gooey and delicious.

corn flakes
Angela Andaloro for LittleThings // Nat_Tanut Chanrungrueangsri for LittleThings

Then top the casserole off with crushed corn flakes and drizzle with melted butter. It needs only 30 to 35 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F.

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

You’ll know it’s done by the out-of-this-world smell and golden crispy corn flakes.

Corn Soufflé

Corn Soufflé
Angela Andaloro for LittleThings // Nat_Tanut Chanrungrueangsri for LittleThings

When I mentioned I was looking for delicious, easy sides to a friend, I heard nonstop raving about this corn soufflé. I was a little intimidated at first, because I’ve seen every TV show where someone screams or drops something in a kitchen and ruins a soufflé, but it was actually super easy. The recipe comes from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

You’ll need:

  • 1 (15 oz.) can corn, with liquid
  • 1 (15 oz.) creamed corn, with liquid
  • 1 (8.5 oz.) box Jiffy corn muffin mix, unprepared
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup melted butter

Here’s the best part: You just mix everything in a bowl and then pop it in the oven at 350 degrees F!

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

You’ll know it’s ready when it’s golden and the center is set, about 50 to 60 minutes. It lived up to its reputation and then some!

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

Last but not least, we need some healthy greens on the table. Who said they can’t be yummy, too? The recipe is courtesy of Skinny Taste. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 16 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil spray
  • ½ tbsp. butter
  • ⅓ cup chopped shallots
  • 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup fat-free milk
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese, divided

brussels sprouts
Angela Andaloro for LittleThings // Nat_Tanut Chanrungrueangsri for LittleThings

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the prepared Brussels sprouts into your chosen dish, greased with olive oil (spray olive oil works best). Put in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, you’ll make the cheese sauce in a nonstick pan. Melt butter, then add the shallots. Sprinkle flour to make a roux, whisking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add milk and stir until incorporated. Let it thicken on medium-low heat for 4 minutes before adding Parmesan, thyme, and half of the Gruyere. Once the sauce is nice and thick, pour it over the Brussels sprouts. Sprinkle the remaining Gruyere on top.

Angela Andaloro for LittleThings

Bake for 15 minutes until it’s golden and melty. Then enjoy!

These delicious recipes are here to remind you that cooking doesn’t have to be a huge production. You can find things that you’re comfortable making, don’t require tons of fussing, and taste like you spent hours in the kitchen. Now go forth and be the star of your Thanksgiving feast!