50 Unique Thanksgiving Side Dishes That Will Stand Out on Any Table
Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving are the ideal times to try out some fun, new recipes. While there are tons of traditional Thanksgiving classics that are never to be messed with, such as baked mac and cheese, turkey, or stuffing (and yes, even pumpkin pie), we also love the idea of pushing tradition aside and trying something unexpected, that will hopefully bring in new traditions — especially at a Friendsgiving celebration when the "rules" are a little more loosey-goosey anyway. Unique Thanksgiving sides are an especially great way to experiment — not because mashed potatoes are boring, but because if something really flops, it won't spoil the dinner the way a ruined turkey could.
Not that you have to worry about flops here: from exciting salads to creamy soups and so much more, these Thanksgiving dishes recipes will be so good, they might make you forget about the turkey altogether. So whether you're in the mood to try something new or you just can't stomach your aunt's hefty green bean casserole another year, these unconventional recipes are sure to reinvigorate your Thanksgiving spread and appetite. From a refreshing take on cornbread to vegan-friendly dishes like sourdough stuffing, there's a unique Thanksgiving side dish idea here for everybody.
— Additional reporting by Haley Lyndes and Naomi Parris
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole With Bacon and Pecans
Give the classic sweet potato casserole a makeover with this buttery bourbon sweet potato casserole with bacon and pecans. Rich bacon pecans are layered on top of hearty potatoes, meaning your taste buds will get the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: 30-Minute Butternut Squash and Cider Soup
If you're looking for a light but festive appetizer for your Thanksgiving table — or a unique side to make with the seasonal veggie — try this easy 30-minute butternut squash and cider soup.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Butternut Squash Lasagna
Butternut squat is a traditional Thanksgiving side, but lasagna? Not so much. This creative butternut squash lasagna will surprise the whole family with its complex and savory flavor, thanks to mushrooms, Swiss chard, mozzarella, and parmesan.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Pumpkin and Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes
Scalloped potatoes are a classic, and this recipe incorporates pumpkin, which makes it that much more perfect as a Thanksgiving side dish. With every bite of these pumpkin and cheddar scalloped potatoes, you'll get notes of sweet pumpkin puree and creamy cheddar cheese.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Ina Garten's Make-Ahead Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
If we didn't have you at "goat cheese" and "mashed potatoes," get this: these rich and velvety spuds are made with just a few staple ingredients and can be prepped up to three days ahead of time. You can thank culinary queen Ina Garten for this genius make-ahead goat cheese baked mashed potatoes recipe.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Twice-Baked Acorn Squash With Maple Butter and Pecans
You've heard of twice-baked potatoes, but have you heard of twice-baked acorn squash? These cute little cups are filled with all the best flavors of the season along with creamy maple butter and crunchy pecans. Make these twice-baked acorn squash with maple butter and pecans for a fall dinner or as a unique Thanksgiving side dish.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Slow-Cooker Sweet Potatoes With Thyme and Blue Cheese
If you have a slow cooker, these slow-cooker sweet potatoes with thyme and blue cheese will be your new favorite Thanksgiving side dish. Blue cheese lends a sharp, pungent tang to the naturally sweet potatoes, and the thyme gives a fresh, earthy flavor to this tasty recipe. Even better, since these are made in a slow cooker, you can set it and forget it — giving you more time to focus on other important Thanksgiving prep.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Brussels Sprout, Beluga Lentil, and Cranberry Holiday Salad
Fresh, light, and bright, this brussels sprout, beluga lentil, and cranberry holiday salad will be a gift to your taste buds. Nutritious kale, brussels sprouts, and glossy black beluga lentils provide its wholesome base, while dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and clusters of clementine wedges are a festive nod to the season.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Slow-Cooker Corn Pudding
You can never have enough corn (especially on the Thanksgiving table!), and this slow-cooker corn pudding recipe will prove why. With sweet corn, sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar, and more, it's effortlessly rich and hearty.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Buttery Herbed Mashed Potatoes
Cream, fresh herbs, garlic, and crème fraîche work together to make these buttery herbed mashed potatoes the best of all time. Feel free to add as much gravy as you please.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Wild Rice Stuffing With Mushrooms
Wild rice might not be quite as popular a stuffing base as cubes of a crusty boule or tender cornbread, but don't discount it quite yet. Made with wild rice, brown rice, mushrooms, and just enough butter and olive oil to make it crave-worthy, this wild rice stuffing with mushrooms is a worthy contender for your holiday table this year.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Cinnamon Butter Baked Carrots
This cinnamon butter baked carrots dish looks like something you'd see at a restaurant, but it will be the easiest thing you make this Thanksgiving. Carrots are left whole, drizzled with a fragrant and simple mixture of butter and cinnamon, and baked until perfectly tender. They're sure to disappear — even at the kids' table.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Curried Pumpkin Soup
Rich in flavor yet light on the butter and cream, this curried pumpkin soup is an easy seasonal starter or side dish that can be stored in the fridge and reheated when you need it. This particular pumpkin soup has a twist with the addition of ginger, curry powder, and coconut milk.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Green Bean Casserole With Bacon and Fried Onions
Want a gussied-up version of green bean casserole with zero extra work? Try this creamy and crunchy green bean casserole with bacon and fried onions.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Pumpkin Cornbread Drop Biscuits
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Grilled Garlic Parmesan Corn
While corn on the cob may be a primarily summer treat, this holiday is all about experimenting. Make this grilled garlic parmesan corn as a unique Thanksgiving side dish for your Friendsgiving or on the holiday itself. The buttery taste combined with the Parmesan cheese and hint of basil makes for the perfect veggie side.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Crispy Salt and Pepper Smashed Potatoes
Normal mashed potatoes are always good, but change things up with these salt and pepper smashed potatoes. They're crispy and smooth at the same time, which is why they will be everyone's favorite dish after just one bite.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Slow-Cooker Sausage Stuffing
A few hours in the slow cooker brings out an unbelievable depth of flavor from rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, and, of course, juicy sausage in this make-ahead slow-cooker sausage stuffing. While it hangs out in the slow cooker and makes your kitchen smell dreamy, you can prepare the rest of your feast in bliss.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Steamed Carrots With Olive Oil and Lemon
Want a super-simple dish? Look no further than these steamed carrots with olive oil and lemon. They're tasty, delightful, and one of the easiest Thanksgiving side dishes on the menu.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Sweet Potato Casserole With Butter Pecan Crumble Topping
You've seen — and may love — sweet potato casseroles with marshmallow topping. But give this deliciously easy, irresistibly crumbly, sweet potato casserole with butter pecan crumble topping a chance, and your Thanksgiving just might change for the better.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Pull-Apart Garlic Butter Bread Wreath
Almost everyone loves garlic bread, and it's even better when it's festive and easy to eat! This pull-apart garlic butter bread wreath is prefect for sharing and for avoiding a crumbly mess, whether presented as a Thanksgiving side dish or appetizer.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Slow-Cooker Creamed Corn
If corn is a non-negotiable on your Thanksgiving dinner table, give this slow-cooker creamed corn a shot. Not only is it easy to make, but it will also make everyone's mouth water.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Bacon Green Bean Bundles
Sneak in vegetables and bacon at the same time by making these tasty bacon green bean bundles. They're rich in flavor and have plenty of good-for-you nutrients, too!
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Butternut Tabbouleh
With fresh mint, parsley, dried cranberries, and feta, this butternut tabbouleh pairs fall flavors with some unexpected twists — making it a great option for a unique Thanksgiving side dish. Even better, with veggies and whole grains, it packs tons of fiber and other important nutrients.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Pimento Cheese Creamed Spinach
Full of cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream, this Pimento Cheese Creamed Spinach couldn't get any richer. The flavors will balance out your Thanksgiving turkey and other sides perfectly.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Creamy Cheesy Cornbread
When is cornbread not the perfect side dish? This creamy cheesy cornbread is great on its own or can be eaten with other Thanksgiving sides, like gravy or cranberry sauce.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Harvest Roasted Vegetables
Looking for a healthier Thanksgiving side dish that will still steal the show? These harvest roasted vegetables are exactly what you're looking for. Flavorful, in-season, and nutritious make the perfect combination.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Cheesy Mashed Potatoes With Gruyère and Caramelized Onions
These cheesy mashed potatoes with gruyère and caramelized onions will change the way you see mashed potatoes forever. Top it off with some fancy herbs and watch as this Thanksgiving side dish becomes the crowd favorite.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: French Onion Scalloped Potatoes
With a creamy homemade roux and a crunchy French onion topping, these French onion scalloped potatoes are a rich (and easy) side dish to make for Thanksgiving.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: White Cheddar Cauliflower Gratin
Swap out the potatoes for some healthy healthy cauliflower in this mouthwatering recipe for white cheddar cauliflower gratin. If your family doesn't care for veggies but you'd like to get some more on your Thanksgiving table, this is a perfect way in.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Loaded Corn Casserole
Take your basic corn casserole up a notch with all the fixings in this loaded corn casserole recipe. This easy Thanksgiving side dish combines the best of a creamy casserole and cornbread to satisfy both cravings in one.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Stuffing Muffins
Savory, comforting, and craveably carb-heavy, these stuffing muffins are flat-out adorable. Not sold on the cute factor? No matter; stuffing muffins are also pre-portioned, easier to serve, have more of those delectable crispy edges, and if — and that's a big if — you have leftovers, they're easy to pop in the freezer to keep fresh for days down the line.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Cranberry Baked Brie
Give your Thanksgiving feast a touch of elegance with cranberry baked Brie. It also works well as an appetizer, if you can't wait until the main course to enjoy.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Pomegranate-Glazed Carrots With Whipped Goat Cheese
This fancy pomegranate-glazed carrots with whipped goat cheese recipe is just as good as it sounds, and is a major upgrade from the soggy, flavorless carrots you may be used to eating on Thanksgiving.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
If your family loves having mac and cheese on the Thanksgiving table, but you want to give it a seasonal twist, try this recipe for butternut squash mac and cheese. Just be warned; this side dish will go fast.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: 5-Ingredient Tahini-Thyme Brussels Sprouts
Give your go-to sprouts new life with this easy recipe for tahini-thyme brussels sprouts. They're a creative and nutritious side dish for Thanksgiving that even the anti-veg will love.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Baked Parmesan Creamed Corn
After making this unique side dish for Thanksgiving, you'll want to eat this ooey-gooey baked parmesan creamed corn with every meal.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Cranberry Relish
Canned cranberry sauce is a classic, but if you want to showcase the real flavor of this holiday fruit, try this recipe for cranberry relish. With just four ingredients, it mixes fresh cranberries, apple, orange, and sugar to make a must-have Thanksgiving condiment that's refreshingly tart.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Rice Pilaf With Cranberries and Pears
When it comes to carbs for your Thanksgiving dinner table, think beyond bread and potatoes. Try this nutritious rice pilaf with cranberries and pears that offers a pop of tart sweetness and fruity flavor.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Deep-Fried Stuffing
If your family is the type that loves fried food, this recipe for deep-fried stuffing is for you. You can also use leftover stuffing to make this as a fun next-day meal.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese
What's better than plain Brussels sprouts? Brussels sprouts mac and cheese. Cheesy, savory, and full of different textures, this Thanksgiving side dish is sure to be a win.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Instead of serving plain roasted acorn squash this Thanksgiving, try this ntritious quinoa stuffed acorn squash as a non-traditional Thanksgiving side.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Garlic Bacon Sautéed Green Beans With Roasted Mushrooms
Did someone say garlic and bacon in the same sentence? These garlic bacon sautéed green beans with roasted mushrooms give the classic Thanksgiving vegetable tons of complex, savory flavor.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Baked Asparagus Fries
Roasted asparagus is a great Thanksgiving side dish on its own, but when you turn this veggie into fries, it'll really impress. For a fun, unique Thanksgiving side dish this year, try these backed asparagus fries.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Simple Garlicky Vegan Sourdough Stuffing
Boxed stuffing has a quintessential Thanksgiving taste, but once you try this upgraded garlicky vegan sourdough stuffing, you'll never go back. This recipe includes leeks, mushrooms, soy sauce, and sourdough bread, to give it tons of umami flavor.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Brussels Sprouts Gratin With Butternut Squash
Instead of making separate Brussels spouts and butternut squash dishes, combine the two classics to make a one-and-done unique Thanksgiving side. An easy way to do it is with this cheesy Brussels sprouts gratin with butternut squash recipe.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Chopped Autumn Salad With Apple Cider Dressing
This chopped autumn salad with apple cider dressing is sweet, tangy, and savory, with crunchy apples, pears, and candied pecans, plus savory bacon and feta cheese. Just a few minutes of easy chopping yields a healthy Thanksgiving side anyone will love.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
Stuffed with Italian sausage, apples, mushrooms, and spices, this sausage stuffed acorn squash side dish will be the unexpected hit of Thanksgiving dinner.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Blistered Green Beans With Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions
Caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, a splash of sherry vinegar, and a toasted almond topping give unexpected flavor and texture to these simple blistered green beans. Make these for an easy, dairy-free green you can feel good about eating.
Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish: Smashed Broccoli
Smashing any vegetable is basically guaranteed to make it amazing, and smashed broccoli is no different. This viral recipe is beloved on TikTok, and it will be equally appreciated on your Thanksgiving table.