Can anyone else believe that Thanksgiving is in two days? I’m not really sure where November went. Scratch that, I’m not really sure where 2021 as a whole went. It was just Spring and now we’re full blown into the holiday season. This whole concept of time as an adult is definitely trippy and life moves too fast. Regardless of whether or not you’re still confused as to why the weather feels like winter but your mind is laying on a beach, the turkeys are running for their lives trying to avoid their fate.

Most families have their once a year menus lined up and ready to be prepped. Some families like to switch it up year after year while others opt for the more convenient take out and delivery menus that are widely available now. Everyone has a celebration method though and it’s perfect for you. There are so many classic recipes that can make an appearance. Also, since we’re over a fifth of the way to 2100, there’s more than enough classic inspired twists on food blogs all over the Internet to choose from as well.

While there is a good sized sliver of a debate out there regarding which main dish is the correct one, today we’re going to look at the underdogs of Thanksgiving. It isn’t turkey, ham, or pizza. What makes the Thanksgiving meal so special is the sides. Because if you do it right your plate is 10% main dish, 70% side dishes, and 20% dessert. Why it’s called a main dish at that point is beyond me, but let’s stick with the Thanksgiving food pyramid to dive into the meat of the meal. Here are the rankings of 10 classic Thanksgiving side dishes. According to me. The Restless Professional. You may feel differently and I guess that’s fine. You do you. I’m doing me. There are definitely others, but for the sake of space, my sanity, and my health, sticking to the more common options:

  1. Macaroni and Cheese
  2. Mashed Potatoes
  3. Stuffing
  4. Green Bean Casserole
  5. Gravy
  6. Cornbread
  7. Sweet Potato Casserole
  8. Candied Yams
  9. Brussel Sprouts / Asparagus
  10. Cranberry Sauce

I dare you to name a meal where macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes are not excellent choices. These are classic 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and I will die on this hill. If my entire Thanksgiving plate was mac n’ cheese with mashed potatoes I would be thrilled. That’s also the reason why I have a gym membership I try to remember and use occasionally. Moving off the best side dishes of all time all of the time, we have stuffing. A true Thanksgiving specialty and boy does it deliver. Make it savory, make it sweet, make it in the bird, whatever floats your boat. It’s creamy, it’s flavorful, it’s filing, it’s perfect, thus a top three nominations.

Rounding out the top half of the list we have green bean casserole and gravy. If you had told me when I was little that Thanksgiving would make me enjoy eating green beans I would not have believed you. Add enough butter, cream, and crunch, though, and I’m 100% here for it. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know how much nutritious value it actually carries. I don’t care. I will eat it all. Gravy is probably the most controversial item on this list. Is it a side or a condiment? Make it good enough and you can eat it on it’s own or literally on anything else that’s been cooked. Therefore its boost up to side as it will enhance everything on your plate.

Cornbread is another one of those sides that is very easy to incorporate all year round. Sweet versus not is always the concern, though, and if it’s not the one you were hoping for it’s a big letdown. Sweet potato casserole is one of the most curious items on this list. Sweet potatoes, by nature, are Mother Nature’s gift to vegetables everywhere. But for whatever reason adding large amounts of sugar and butter to them is not my cup of tea. It’s sweet on sweet on fat and my stomach can’t handle much more than a small spoonful.

To tie up this list we have candied yams rocking a hard 8th position. What on Earth is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? I haven’t a clue and yet people will lose their minds over a yam. If you candy sweet potatoes you might as well not show up. Brussel sprouts and asparagus, regardless of how they’re cooked, just deserve that almost bottom spot. They’re not bad … they’re just not desirable especially with the previous 7 on display. Then we have the cranberry sauce. Which I just don’t get. You take a fairly bitter fruit, smash a bunch of them together, add sugar, and it still tastes tart? This is the only meal where cranberries aren’t used as a garnish of flavor and are a main dish. There must be a reason and so it gets my last spot.

What side dishes do your traditions tend to stir up? All of this list, some of this list, none of this list? The majority of this list will have a place at the table when my family sits down to an early dinner on Thursday. If you don’t agree with my rankings, let’s discuss it over some macaroni and cheese and settle it. 

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!


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