Roast turkey may be the signature dish for Thanksgiving, but everyone knows that what really completes the meal is the sides. Brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce… these are the components that truly turn this meal into a holiday. But, which Thanksgiving side dish is the most popular? The answer might surprise you — or maybe not.
We took a look at Google searches for the dozen most common Thanksgiving accoutrements over the past 30 days to see what dishes people are scrambling to learn more about and presumably to find recipes for this Thanksgiving season. Here, they're ranked from low to high in the number of searches.
12. Glazed Carrots
Glazed carrots may not be a standard on every table, and their last-place ranking reflects that. Though this vegetable adds a lovely sweetness and bright color to any plate, a similar function can be fulfilled by more time-honored favorites such as sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, making these carrots an easy side dish to ditch.
11. Candied Yams
A sugary addition to any plate, candied yams are the simpler alternative to the more popular sweet potato casserole. If you’re trying to make an easy Thanksgiving dinner, try out this basic recipe featuring just five ingredients.
10. Creamed Spinach
Creamed spinach is a versatile dish that can go along with any sort of protein, including the Thanksgiving Day turkey. Though this dish is cheesy and actually pretty fattening, it feels a little less decadent thanks to the many vitamins and minerals in fresh spinach.
9. Creamed Corn
Unlike its close cousin corn pudding, creamed corn has become a Thanksgiving staple. Its sweetness and creamy texture make it an easy sell for kids who don’t like to eat their vegetables, making it a classic holiday dish for many families filled with picky eaters.
8. Sweet Potato Casserole
How can you say no thank you to a dish that has marshmallows in it!? Sweet potato casserole emerged from the South to become a bona fide Thanksgiving classic, thanks to its perfectly seasonal blend of sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and pecans.
7. Green Bean Casserole
Whether you go with the old school canned version of green bean casserole or decide to class this dish up with an all-fresh version, there’s no way to go wrong with this traditional dish, and its popularity reflects that.
6. Brussels Sprouts
Though this divisive vegetable may elicit groans and complaints from the younger set at Thanksgiving, when perfectly roasted and doctored up with bacon and some maple syrup, these mini cabbages go from “I’ll pass” to “pass them here.”
5. Cranberry Sauce
Whether you like the gelled canned cranberry sauce (with the ridge marks intact) or you prefer to make your own, this dish wholly embodies the late fall season. With its stunning deep red color and its perfect tartness, cranberry sauce is necessary to round out any Thanksgiving plate.
Oh, the humble roll. So simple and yet so integral for Thanksgiving. What other dish will be able to soak up gravy that has spilled over? What other dish will serve as a perfect palate cleanser between the macaroni and cheese and the turkey? None but the roll.
3. Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese may not be what you would consider to be a classic Thanksgiving side dish, but for kids and people who don’t like fall foods, it’s an absolute must. Few things are more comforting than a hearty homemade mac and cheese, complete with melty cheeses and a crunchy topping, making it a totally suitable addition to your Thanksgiving spread.
Stuffing is a quintessential cold weather food, and while it doesn’t get much play outside of the holiday season, it really should. Hearty seasonings such as sage and more butter than anyone actually wants to think about help to give stale bread a new life and pack in endless flavor with every bite, giving turkey a much-needed boost.
1. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes were far and away the most popular Thanksgiving side dish, and there’s good reason for it. While this dish is a staple side for many families throughout the year, the role it plays on Thanksgiving (holding gravy, balancing out a bite with turkey and cranberry sauce) make it a favorite that nobody can turn down.