Thanksgiving is approaching, which means one thing — if you haven’t decided what to bring to your family’s table, you’re running out of time.
Perhaps you were banking on serving Stove Top until a sister-in-law agreed to bring “the real thing” over. (Sigh.) Or maybe you had plans to go all out for a dish but realized that preparation should have started days ago. If you’re here right now, it’s for a reason — you’re looking for ideas.
The good news is that since Thanksgiving is all about food, there’s no side dish that’s necessarily “wrong.” Some people celebrate with sweet potatoes. Others feel as if mac and cheese is essential.
Some families just need a basket of rolls to feel complete. Even if you experiment with a dish, it could turn out to be a holiday favorite for years to come. The only thing you shouldn’t bring to Thanksgiving is a competitive turkey. Unless it’s a Tofurkey brought over for dietary reasons, trying to one-up someone’s main dish typically won’t win you many friends. The best Thanksgiving spreads have a little something for everyone.
The holiday is all about sharing, and having too much food is all part of it. While it’s polite to bring a dish, you should also take some Tupperware along with you. That food can create a bunch of future lunches. That’ll help you save you money for holiday presents, and control your waste. If your dish completely disappears by the end of the night, consider it to be a win.
Here are some ideas that won’t take up too much time or use up too many appliances.
Extra-Sharp Mac and Cheese
It’s an instant hit. Kids will like it, along with every adult at your dinner table — whether they admit it or not. This recipe from FiveHeartHome includes freshly grated extra-sharp cheddar and takes only 10 minutes of stove time. You’ll need whole milk, macaroni (or shells, if you’re feeling adventurous), cheddar, salt, and pepper — along with garlic powder and dry mustard powder. if you want to add a little more pizzazz.
Gussied-Up Mashed Potatoes
If someone else already signed up for mashed potatoes, don’t worry — there are plenty of ways to make yours different (like maybe sprinkling a little bit of cheese and bacon to flavor it up). Otherwise, you can just follow this recipe from Real Simple. All you need for this creamy one-pot dish are 4 pounds of yellow potatoes, 4 cups of half-and-half, unsalted butter, sour cream, and some kosher salt. It couldn’t be easier.
Sweet and Salty Carrots
Carrots don’t have to be a total bore. (And honestly, pro tip: Eating some vegetables and making them a big part of your Thanksgiving dish will make you feel a lot better Friday morning.) This recipe from Deliciously Sprinkled utilizes an Instant Pot, but if you don’t have one yet, you can improvise by cooking them in a regular pot. You’ll need butter, salt, brown sugar, and cinnamon to make this very flavorful dish.
Lemon Butter Broccoli
Broccoli is another great vegetable side that’s fairly easy to make. One of the easiest recipes comes from Allrecipes, using water, lemon juice, butter, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. These items are combined in one pot that’s used to cook the broccoli. The final result can be served either hot or cold.
Spicy Creamed Corn
Corn on the cob is more of a summer tradition, but corn in general is wonderful year-round. This particular dish, which uses just a slow cooker, won’t do your diet any favors — which is why it’s the perfect thing to bring to Thanksgiving, the one and only day where calories are just a myth. This recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen primarily uses corn, cream cheese, Velveeta, butter, heavy cream, and jalapeños, which give it a bit of a kick.
Green Beans With Bacon
Want to make those veggies more enticing? Consider adding bacon. (Just be considerate, in case there are any vegetarians in the group — if so, you might want to make a meatless portion for them.) This recipe from One Pot will take around 30 minutes but will taste like it took a lot longer. You’ll also need oil, onions, garlic, and butter to complete this recipe, along with a pinch of Italian seasoning.
Thyme Scalloped Potatoes
Potatoes don’t just have to be mashed, you know. These scalloped potatoes, which can be made in just an Instant Pot (or a pressure cooker), will be a total crowd-pleaser. The recipe, which comes from Joanie Simon, will take just 40 minutes to assemble and cook. You’ll need white cheddar, heavy cream, vegetable broth, dried thyme, a few simple spices, and, of course, potatoes.
Think cauliflower is boring? Think again. All you’ll need to make this quick little side is a baking sheet. Even though your turkey might be in the oven, these only need to take up some space for about 10 minutes. Tori Avey suggests chopping up your cauliflower, drizzling it with olive oil, and then sprinkling some paprika and salt on top. Voilà! Once they bake, you have a side dish.
Honey Barbecue Instant Pot Cocktail Meatballs
Oftentimes, people don’t eat much in order to prep for the big meal. But sometimes that big meal happens around 6 or 7 at night. That’s why appetizers are such an important idea, especially if you’ve got people in your family who tend to get hangry. These Instant Pot meatballs from Wine and Glue take just 30 minutes to prepare and are perfect for up to 20 guests.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Many of you might just open up a can, but making your cranberry sauce fresh is actually a lot easier than you might assume. This recipe from One Pot uses orange juice, water, sugar, fresh cranberries, and cinnamon. If you’ve never been a fan of it before, maybe you don’t know what it can actually taste like with just a few more steps.