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Just 27 Genuinely Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes That Pack Maximum Flavor With Minimal Effort

Raise your hand if you know that sides are the best part of the meal.

You signed up to bring a side dish to your Thanksgiving celebration. You panicked. You totally put it off due to the sheer anxiety of *cooking for others*, and the clock is ticking... 👀

If you've found your way here, fear not! We're here to save the day with easy, delicious, and crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving sides that'll totally impress your family and friends. From the creamiest-ever mashed potatoes to the MVP of all green bean casseroles, we'll make sure you don't show up at your Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) empty handed this year.

1. Ultimate Mashed Potatoes

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There's nothing fussy about this tried-and-true recipe for the best-ever mashed potatoes, and you won't find any "secret" hacks or mind-blowing tricks here. This is just a very good, very simple way to make a big ol' batch of everyone's Thanksgiving favorite — no frills necessary.

Recipe: Ultimate Mashed Potatoes | Shop This Recipe

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2. Brioche Stuffing

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Brioche is an enriched bread, meaning it's made with fat, sugar, and dairy. As a result, it's deliciously buttery (with a touch of sweetness), so it's no surprise that torn, store-bought Brioche can be easily transformed into the most heavenly homemade stuffing ever. This beginner-friendly stuffing is also the best dish to make-ahead and finish up just before the big meal — bake for 30 minutes, as directed, then toss it in your oven the day-of, uncovered, until it's piping hot with gorgeously crunchy bits.

Recipe: Brioche Stuffing | Shop This Recipe

3. Roasted Delicata Squash And Farro Salad

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Salads definitely deserve a prominent spot at your Thanksgiving table, but with all those other crowd-pleasing sides and family heirloom dishes, that salad better be top-notch. I'm pleased to report that this one is certainly worth drooling over, and for how simple it is to put together, it's shockingly elegant. Since the skin on delicata squash is paper-thin and tender, you won't have to spend time meticulously peeling anything, which gives you the opportunity to do other, more important things...like, drinking cocktails and chilling out.

Recipe: Roasted Delicata Squash And Farro Salad | Shop This Recipe

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4. Spicy Southern Hot Corn

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IMO, corn is a necessity on any Thanksgiving table, and this zesty, slightly spicy, one-skillet dish might just be the ultimate way to serve it. The entire thing comes together in just 30 minutes, and let me tell you — the hardest thing you'll have to do is wait five minutes before diving in so you don't completely burn your mouth on all that hot, melty cheese. Serve this one with Thanksgiving dinner, or set it out with tortilla chips for a pre-dinner app. Either way, your guests will love you forever.

Recipe: Spicy Southern Hot Corn | Shop This Recipe

5. Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin

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Brussels sprouts have had a major glow-up in recent years, and I'm admittedly thrilled about this. Sure, they're delicious when roasted until perfectly tender, but smothering them with a gooey, nutty cheese sauce and baking them until bubbly and golden brown feels...correct for a Thanksgiving meal. I've never met an "au gratin" anything that I didn't like, and this one's no exception.

Recipe: Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin | Shop This Recipe

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6. Sausage And Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Based on how truly impressive this dish looks, you'd be shocked at just how little effort it takes to make it. If you can sauté vegetables and roast some squash until tender, you're more than capable of making this dish, and I promise your friends and family will think you've been taking secret cooking classes to cook up something this stunning.

Recipe: Sausage And Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash | Shop This Recipe

7. Pumpkin Mac ‘N’ Cheese

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I'll admit that we, as a society, are guilty of putting pumpkin on too many things...but mac 'n' cheese is one dish that is seriously enhanced by the addition of this Fall fave. Trust me, after you try this, I'm positive you'll agree with me. The one-two punch of creamy pumpkin purée (that forms the most luscious sauce ever) and tender chunks of roasted pumpkin make this mac 'n' cheese anything but basic. And, considering it's pretty much virtually impossible to mess this one up, anyone is capable of making this crowd-pleasing dish.

Recipe: Pumpkin Mac ‘N’ Cheese | Shop This Recipe

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8. Slow Cooker Collard Greens And Ham Hocks

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Commenters are objectively obsessed with this recipe, and it's easy to see why. Not only is it the most incredibly delicious way to eat a mound of greens, but the entire dish comes together in a slow cooker, making this the easiest side dish you could cook for a crowd. If you can't get your hands on ham hocks, commenters suggest swapping them for smoked turkey necks (which add a similarly-meaty flavor to the final product).

Recipe: Slow Cooker Collard Greens And Ham Hocks | Shop This Recipe

9. Apple Brie Crostini

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You'll be the Thanksgiving Hero when you show up to your gathering of hungry, hungry guests and whip up these snackable, sweet-and-savory bites faster than someone can say "I'm starving." You can make these crostini ahead of time by arranging the sliced baguette and brie cheese on a sheet pan, and when it's time to serve, simply bake, top with apples, honey, and nuts, and watch them disappear immediately.

Recipe: Apple Brie Crostini | Shop This Recipe

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10. Garlic Parmesan-Stuffed Mushrooms

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These vegetarian-friendly stuffed mushrooms were made to be munched on by guests while they sip on a festive cocktail or drink of choice. In fact, for a low-effort app you can serve piping hot just before dinner, make these up to Step 5 the day before, refrigerate them, then bake them off the day-of. The only possible complaint you could receive about this dish is the fact that they're gone so quickly, so if you want to prepare a double batch, you should absolutely go for it.

Recipe: Garlic Parmesan-Stuffed Mushrooms | Shop This Recipe

11. Honey-Roasted Carrots

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There's nothing tricky about this traditional side dish — just combine three ingredients (carrots, honey, and melted butter) and roast for sweetest, most tender carrots you've ever tasted. A touch of honey brings out the natural sweetness of this classic root vegetable, so don't be surprised if guests go back for seconds. Commenters recommend trying this out with baby carrots, if you'd like, but you should feel free to use whatever type of carrots you can easily get your hands on.

Recipe: Honey-Roasted Carrots | Shop This Recipe

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12. Classic Deviled Eggs

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Sometimes the classics really do beat the variations, and I think deviled eggs are the perfect example of this. Here's my PSA on deviled eggs, in general — don't overcook your hard-boiled eggs. Set a timer for yourself and don't let 'em boil for a minute longer than called for in this recipe, and you'll be rewarded with a creamy filling that's anything but chalky. Trust me on this one!

Recipe: Classic Deviled Eggs | Shop This Recipe

13. Skillet Cornbread

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Is it bread? Is it a dessert? Is it a bonafide side dish? IDK, but I'll take at least two slices. When it comes to cornbread, using a cast-iron skillet is the only way to go for a moist crumb and golden brown crust. Your guests will happily smother this homemade cornbread in butter and/or honey, but if you want to get ~fancy~ without very much work at all, mix some room-temperature, salted butter with a drizzle of honey for the easiest, most-impressive honey butter.

Recipe: Skillet Cornbread | Shop This Recipe

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14. Twice-Baked Loaded Potatoes

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Growing up, no spread of Thanksgiving appetizers or munchies was complete without a platter of creamy, cheesy twice-baked potatoes, and this loaded variety is worth drooling over. I love cooking these easy apps for large groups since they're naturally gluten-free, and if you need a quick vegetarian starter, omit the bacon and you're good to go.

Recipe: Twice-Baked Loaded Potatoes | Shop This Recipe

15. Easy One-Pot Mac ‘N’ Cheese

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Look, one-pot pastas can be polarizing. If you've ever tried one and wound up with a mushy pot of...starch, you're probably skeptical. But I promise you — mac 'n' cheese made in one pot is a total game-changer. Cooking the macaroni directly in milk creates a thick, velvety sauce without the need to make a roux from flour and butter, so while this side dish is incredibly tasty, it's also as beginner-friendly as it gets.

Recipe: Easy One-Pot Mac ‘N’ Cheese | Shop This Recipe

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16. Slow Cooker Creamed Corn

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Slow cookers deserve a medal for the service they provide us on big holidays like Thanksgiving, as evidenced by this creamy, corny side dish that you can make with less than five minutes of actual work. If you're in a rush, commenters recommend popping all the ingredients in an Instant Pot and cooking for 15 minutes. That said, whether you do this one low 'n' slow or hot 'n' fast, the likelihood you'll have any leftovers is very, very minimal.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Creamed Corn | Shop This Recipe

17. Lemon Green Beans

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If the rich decadence of a classic green bean casserole isn't your jam, give this recipe for tender, lemony green beans a try. The brilliant addition of both lemon juice and zest gives this classic side dish a needed hit of brightness, which plays beautifully with some of the other, heavier side dishes you'll likely be eating. Bonus: to make this recipe vegan-friendly, replace the chicken stock with veggie stock.

Recipe: Lemon Green Beans | Shop This Recipe

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18. Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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Between sweet potato pie and sweet potato casserole, I'm a firm believer that sweet potatoes don't really get enough of a chance to shine in a savory way on Thanksgiving — but whipping up these creamy, garlicky mashed sweet potatoes can totally change that. The best part of this recipe? Once you boil the sweet potatoes, skin-on, the peels will come right off without the need to meticulously peel each one by hand.

Recipe: Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes | Shop This Recipe

19. Gluten-Free Wild Rice Stuffing

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Though it's hard to completely replicate the savory deliciousness that is a traditional stuffing (or dressing...depending on where you fall in that debate), this gluten-free dish comes remarkably close. Baking the wild rice in a mixture of sweet and savory ingredients, like sausage, dried cranberries, and tender veg, allows each grain to puff up with all that goodness. In fact, the final results might be even closer to traditional stuffing than you'd imagine.

Recipe: Gluten-Free Wild Rice Stuffing | Shop This Recipe

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20. Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower

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I think cauliflower is the sneakiest vegetable of all, and when mashed like potatoes and loaded with cheese and chives, it's remarkable just how similar they are to legit mashed potatoes. If you'll have kids or picky eaters at your Thanksgiving this year, I have a feeling this might be the most crowd-pleasing vegetable you serve at your table.

Recipe: Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower | Shop This Recipe

21. Vegan Mac ‘N’ Cheese

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This plant-based spin on a Thanksgiving classic is a dish that everyone — vegan or omnivore — will thoroughly enjoy. Making the vegan "cheese" sauce couldn't be simpler, either. If you A) know how to boil vegetables and B) own a blender, you can make this vegan mac 'n' cheese for your entire family without very much work at all.

Recipe: Vegan Mac ‘N’ Cheese | Shop This Recipe

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22. Scalloped Potatoes

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I find making scalloped potatoes incredibly fun. Anyone else? The only slightly time-consuming part is peeling and slicing each potato, but once you've finished that step, this luxurious dish practically makes itself in your oven. Definitely don't skip the fresh parsley at the end — the earthy notes of thyme would work particularly well with this dish, too, so feel free to use whatever fresh herbs you have access to.

Recipe: Scalloped Potatoes | Shop This Recipe

23. Cornbread Stuffing

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This recipe starts with baking a batch of homemade cornbread...but I have a super-secret shortcut for you: If you're in a rush, just go ahead and buy store-bought cornbread. Since it tends to be a bit dry, it actually works perfectly in this recipe (since you'll be rehydrating it with chicken stock, anyway), and you'll save a whole lot of time.

Recipe: Cornbread Stuffing | Shop This Recipe

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24. Bacon And Onion Roasted Potatoes

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Commenters "absolutely love this dish," and TBH, I do, too. I mean, it's virtually impossible to not love something that's smothered in bacon, but this recipe is proof that you don't need to cook with a pantry-full of ingredients to make something utterly delicious.

Recipe: Bacon And Onion Roasted Potatoes | Shop This Recipe

25. Lentil & Roasted Vegetable Salad

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There's nothing more autumnal than tender roasted veggies, and this salad puts a whole sheet pan of 'em to very good use. It's also...dare I say...packed with good-for-you ingredients and tastes even better on Day Two, so this is the perfect salad to make in advance and forget about until it's time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Recipe: Lentil & Roasted Vegetable Salad | Shop This Recipe

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26. Roasted Garlic Parmesan Brussels Sprouts

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I dare you to tell me you know someone that isn't a fan of garlic and parmesan. I'm not sure that it's actually possible to dislike that flavor combo, and I know it's impossible to not love it on these perfectly crisp brussels sprouts. For even crunchier results, I highly recommend using panko breadcrumbs, but if conventional breadcrumbs are all you have on hand, these sprouts will still be seriously delish.

Recipe: Roasted Garlic Parmesan Brussels Sprouts | Shop This Recipe

27. Ultimate Green Bean Casserole

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It's true. I saved the best for last. While making this comforting classic with canned soup is superbly easy, it can't compare to making your own base with fresh mushrooms, garlic, and onions. It's a total umami bomb, and once you realize how quick it is to make this homemade version, you may never go back to the shortcut method.

Recipe: Ultimate Green Bean Casserole | Shop This Recipe

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