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DIY Thanksgiving Sides

By Madison DeHaven

Thanksgiving week is here, and everyone knows the food tends to take the spotlight during this holiday. There will most likely be turkey or ham or both, but to me, these have never been the most exciting dishes. It’s really what accompanies the meat that will make or break a great Thanksgiving dinner. So why not make your family and friends drool over a homemade side dish?

In my family, Thanksgiving dinner typically includes five basic side dishes: a casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, biscuits, and dessert. Below are a few recipes with creative and healthy twists on these classic sides.

The Casserole

Green bean casserole comes to mind. Take the traditional route with this light recipe  from Budget Bytes. Topped with panko and parmesan cheese, this recipe swaps out the usual cream soup for fresh mushrooms and vegetable broth. This takes about an hour to make and, as the title of the blog suggests, is pretty budget-friendly.

1 -Green-Bean-Mushroom

If green beans are a little too basic for you, a sweeter fall vegetable may be more appetizing. This butternut squash casserole by Ezra Pound Cake looks like the perfect comfort food for a fall dinner. It’s actually meant to be a main entree, so for the vegetarians out there, it’s a great meatless alternative to turkey and gravy.



The only stuffing I’ve ever seen at Thanksgiving dinner has come from a bag. However, this quinoa stuffing  from Self was a hit at my family’s Christmas dinner last year. Dried cranberries and apricots add a bit of sweetness to the savory vegetables and quinoa. It’s a nutritious alternative to the usual boxed stuffing and is relatively easy to make.


For something a little closer to the traditional recipe, this herbed stuffing  from Savoring Spoon is a quick and simple option. Featuring a blend of rosemary, sage and thyme, it’ll definitely satisfy that craving for a warm,bready stuffing.


No Thanksgiving would be complete without a side of bread to soak up the extra gravy. Store-bought Hawaiian rolls are a staple at my family’s dinner, but nothing is better than homemade biscuits.

Can’t get enough pumpkin? Not a fan of pumpkin pie but still want to be festive? These pumpkin sage biscuits by Sweet Peas and Saffron are just what you need. The recipe uses Greek yogurt and a small amount of butter, making them a lighter alternative to your basic biscuits. Even better, they take just over a half hour to make so they’re perfect if you’re running short on time.


Not into pumpkin? I’m sure your family will forgive you eventually, especially if you bake them these sweet potato biscuits  from Slim Pickin’s Kitchen. They’re definitely on the sweeter side, made with cinnamon and maple syrup, so you could even have one (or a few) for dessert.


Mashed Potatoes

Sure, sure, you can find some pretty tasty powdered potato mix at the grocery store. You could even add a bit of seasoning and say they’re homemade. That wouldn’t be any fun though. So grab some whole potatoes and get to mashing!

Try substituting the usual buttery flavor for garlic and rosemary, with this garlic-rosemary mashed potatoes recipe from Learnvest. This recipe is super quick, inexpensive and doesn’t involve any dairy products.


For potatoes with more bite to them, try these cheddar and chive smashed potatoes  from Good Housekeeping. With sour cream and sharp cheddar cheese, they’re everything you’d want from a baked potato except, you know, smashed.

8-cheddar chive smashed potatoes


After stuffing ourselves with scrumptious casseroles, stuffing, biscuits and potatoes, there may not be any room left for dessert. To satisfy your sweet tooth, skip the pie and try these smaller bites instead.

Pumpkin pie is a classic fall dessert, but it’s not always everyone’s favorite. Skinny pumpkin pie cannolis are a clever alternative to the heavy dessert. This recipe from I Wash… You Dry, doesn’t actually use pumpkin pie or cannolis. Rather, a pie crust rolled into the shape of a cannoli is filled with a light pumpkin pie mousse. Yum!

9-pumpkin pie cannoli

Cherry and apple pies can still be a bit heavy, but this plum and apple tart  from Julia’s Album is a lighter option if you’re craving a fruity dessert. This recipe uses a store-bought dough, so the only preparation needed is for the fruit. You could even swap them out for other fall fruits, like cranberries or pears.

10-Fruit pastries


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