Ah, Thanksgiving — the holiday that celebrates family, friends and blessings — and food. So, so much food. The holiday where we haul out our pants with the elastic waistband, ‘cause, food. While there will always be dishes you’re unwilling to leave off your table (Grandma’s cornbread stuffing for me), consider changing it up a bit with these 11 unique Thanksgiving side dishes.
Unless all of your guests are like my dad and don’t understand why you would ever want to change tradition — I’m still not sure he’s over the year I did an all-Italian Thanksgiving dinner — they’ll likely love the variety, mixed in with the classics.
1. Keto baked brie en croute
Basically, en croute means something delicious has been wrapped in a crispy pastry and baked. So it’s even more delicious. We dare you to try this keto baked brie en croute and not consider going on the keto diet. It’s two layers of melty, gooey brie, wrapped in prosciutto, smothered with cranberry sauce and then wrapped again in a low-carb heaven of pastry crust.
2. Greek stuffed acorn squash
Any vegetarians at your Thanksgiving dinner table will love you for this little gift, and the carnivores will also give you praise as they feast upon these individual bites of joy. Stuffed with white beans, quinoa, feta cheese, greens and more goodness, this Greek stuffed acorn squash from Some The Wiser is almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
How about introducing your Thanksgiving guests to a colorful side dish with some unlikely, and maybe even unknown, ingredients? This millet, lentil and pomegranate salad from PopSugar is the perfect combination of crunchy, fruity deliciousness. It’s guaranteed to become a new favorite, not only for the taste, but also for the fact that it won’t contribute to your Thanksgiving food coma.
4. Butternut squash “mac” and cheese
Mac and cheese has come a long way since my days of boxed Kraft mac and cheese with the unnatural orange glow. This butternut squash mac and cheese is cheesy and noodley enough to get the kids on board, while the combination of rich cheeses and butternut squash is sophisticated enough to satisfy the adults at your table. It is guaranteed to be a Thanksgiving side dish hit across the generations.
5. Sweet potato noodles with garlic and kale
I love sweet potatoes in all of their amazing varieties. Sweet, salty, spicy — you name it and I’m in. This is a whole new take on your sweet potato side dish. And not only is it delicious, it’s healthy and gorgeous on your Thanksgiving buffet. These sweet potato noodles with garlic and kale from Love & Lemons are going to become a regular in your favorite dinner side dish rotation.
6. Cheesy cauliflower mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes are most likely a must-have Thanksgiving side dish at your table. However, if you’re looking for something truly unique, or if you just want fewer carbs at your Thanksgiving table, these cheesy cauliflower mashed potatoes with Swiss chard from Grateful will make both goals deliciously attainable.
7. Thanksgiving salad with arugula and cranberries
Let’s face it, most guests don’t come to Thanksgiving dinner looking forward to the salad. So, if you’re going to serve a salad, it needs to be exceptional. This Thanksgiving salad from Grateful, with cranberries, goat cheese, carrots and walnuts, is just what your taste buds ordered.
8. Onion, fennel and mushroom soup
When my Uncle Bob, a professional chef, was still alive, we had a soup luncheon every year after Thanksgiving. I think it was a chance to creatively use up your leftovers, as well as eat a meal that felt lighter and healthier than what had preceded it. This mouthwatering onion, fennel and mushroom soup from Saveur definitely would have been a hit with the crowd.
Pies of all sorts have earned their place on the Thanksgiving buffet, and I would never advocate their removal. However, I do love the idea of these pumpkin pie popsicles from Marla Meridith for a fun change of pace. Who cares if it’s cold outside — these are a totally new way to enjoy a classic favorite.
10. Healthier Red Lobster cheddar biscuits
Indulge this Thanksgiving without giving up on the flavor you crave. These healthier cheddar biscuits combine that flaky, buttery texture and melty cheese without quite so much fat, carbs and guilt to weigh you down. Plus, they’re gluten-free.
11. Goat cheese cheesecake with honey cinnamon apples
As previously stated, pies are still perfect for Thanksgiving. But let’s just say you want a sweet, apple dessert that is guaranteed to knock your guests’ socks off. This is the one. With this goat cheese cheesecake from Food Faith Fitness, you get to turn your favorite charcuterie board into a savory dessert. And your guests get to reap the benefits.
If you’re looking for a simple unique side dish that packs a ton of flavor, try a blend of locally-grown mushrooms. Check out our video below.