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The Foreword

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The Foreword

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The Foreword

A Ranking of Classic Thanksgiving Dishes

(Los Angeles Times)

It has been a long year, but Thanksgiving finally came and went. Thanksgiving is a time of year to give thanks and spend time with your family. Across the nation, families gathered around a table and spent quality time together, shared thanks, reflected on the past year, and most importantly: ate. So what are some of the most popular dishes that you must have for your Thanksgiving spread, and what should you avoid at all costs? I have the answer.


  1. Stuffing

Stuffing is a controversial side dish. Some love it, others don’t, I despise it. Not only is it a basic, bland dish that adds little to the overall dinner, but it is also a health hazard! Due to the raw eggs that are often added to the mixture, there is a risk of salmonella (and other bacteria) not being killed off when cooking the stuffing inside the turkey. This bacterial risk as well as the overall nonnecesity of the side puts it rather low on my list. 

“Our Favorite Buttery Herb Stuffing” | How Sweet Eats
  1. Turkey

Although turkey is seen as a Thanksgiving tradition, to me it just doesn’t make the cut. Turkey is in fact the face of Thanksgiving, which gives it some weight, however, the alternatives are just as good if not better, and on top of that easier to make. You could make chicken, salmon, or lamb as your meal’s centerpiece. Turkey is a good choice, but to me, it is just not the best. 

“Perfect Turkey” | AllRecipes
  1. Rolls

Although rolls are also a delicious addition to any meal, it is not a necessity by any means. There are so many side dishes to a Thanksgiving meal that bread isn’t essential to make a perfect Thanksgiving meal. 

“Classic Dinner Rolls” | AllRecipes
  1. Gravy

Traced back to the first-ever Thanksgiving dinners, gravy began as a way of using every part of the animal. Now it has become a staple for Thanksgiving meals. Though it seems to be a bit of an afterthought, it is a useful addition to the table. When the turkey and mashed potatoes are too dry, you can always count on gravy to save the meal. The only downside of this sauce is that it can be easily spoiled if it is not watched carefully. But if done correctly, gravy can be a delectable garnish.

“Perfect Gravy” | Delish
  1. Mac & Cheese

Mac and cheese is a relatively new addition to the Thanksgiving family but has grown to become a favorite among many. Though it is a beloved side, it is hard to define it as a uniquely Thanksgiving dish. It is eaten on so many other occasions, any other day of the year that one can’t put it into the box of an “iconic Thanksgiving dish.” 

“Baked Mac and Cheese” | Jo Cooks
  1. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are a great addition to the sides of your Thanksgiving meal. Although it is not the most noticeable of the additional foods on the table, it is delicious. It adds a perfect taste of sweetness to your savory Thanksgiving meal. You could even make it sweeter by adding marshmallows on top of it if you have a sweet tooth!

“Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes” | EatingWell
  1. Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are quintessential Thanksgiving food; one that some may consider the main dish. It is one of the easiest and most popular entrees. Mashed potatoes are one of the only Thanksgiving items that comes in an “instant” version, making it easily accessible to those of all cooking abilities. After turkey, mashed potatoes rank as the most popular Thanksgiving dish as of 2020.

“Best Mashed Potatoes” | Delish
  1. Cranberry

One may not think that a sweet fruit sauce would work so well with chicken or mashed potatoes, well they would be wrong. Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce is not a Thanksgiving at all. It adds a tasty sweet and tart contrast to the salty main dishes. It is an easy-to-make side that takes at most three simple ingredients, making it as accessible and cheap as it is delicious.

“Homemade Cranberry Sauce” | Sugar Spun Run
  1. Pumpkin Pie

Not one negative thing can be said about pumpkin pie. Not only is it a delicious dessert that can be made with only a handful of ingredients, but it is also a fall staple. Whether you buy it premade or bake your own, it is undeniably delicious. No matter how big a meal you ate on Thanksgiving day, there is always room for a slice (or two!) of pumpkin pie. 

“Pumpkin Pie Recipe” | Tastes Better From Scratch
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