20 Healthy Thanksgiving Sides

Braised greens with crispy garlic and miso butter
Photo: David Malosh

Thanksgiving dinner isn't typically about wellness, and that's okay. But with a few easy swaps and modifications, it can also still be a balanced meal. These easy Thanksgiving side dishes, from roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta to green Thanksgiving salads, are all healthy while still being delicious.

01 of 20

Beet-and-Apple Salad

Beet-and-Apple Salad
David Malosh

For his salad, George Mendes uses fresh horseradish and Gegenbauer cider vinegar, a rare Austrian import. This version calls for jarred horseradish and supermarket apple-cider vinegar.

02 of 20

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

Spoon bread, a cross between corn bread and soufflé, is a Southern classic. Robert Stehling likes to add cooked spinach or fresh corn and chopped and sautéed bacon or ham to his plain sweet potato version.

03 of 20

Broccoli, Shiitake and Red Onion Roast

Broccoli, Shiitake and Red Onion Roast

It's not hard to eat your broccoli when it's roasted to be crisp-tender and studded with umami shiitake mushrooms. The finishing touch is a splash of balsamic vinegar.

04 of 20

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
© Petrina Tinslay

Bacon and brussel sprouts are a classic combination. Take that dish up a notch by using the slightly more delicate notes in pancetta, an Italian salumi made of salt-cured pork.

05 of 20

Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter

Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter
© Lucy Schaeffer

Rather than going the marshmallow-topped route, take sweet potatoes in a savory direction by boiling them and mashing with apple butter.

06 of 20

Leek Salad with Persimmons and Almonds

Leek Salad with Persimmons and Almonds

Here, Hugh Acheson creates a salad based on butter-braised leeks, a French favorite.

07 of 20

Chunky Cranberry Sauce

Chunky Cranberry Sauce
David Malosh

Gary Vaynerchuk prefers "real cranberry sauce" with chunks of whole fruit over the smooth canned-and-jellied kind.

08 of 20

Gingered Green Beans

Gingered Green Beans
© Petrina Tinslay

Scott Conant makes his crisp-tender beans with ground ginger, since freshly grated ginger invariably creates unappealing little chunks.

09 of 20

Tricolor Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Tricolor Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
© TINA RUPP

This gorgeous, lightly sweet salad is terrific with roasted chicken and great for a buffet.

10 of 20

Potato-Leek Focaccia

Potato-Leek Focaccia

This perfect savory focaccia is delicious with or without a light brushing of white truffle oil.

11 of 20

Kale & Apple Salad with Pancetta and Candied Pecans

Kale & Apple Salad with Pancetta and Candied Pecans

Kale is a marvelous green for salads because it's hearty enough to handle hefty ingredients like nuts and meat, plus it doesn't wilt as it sits on the table. When chef Ryan Hardy makes this kale salad for Thanksgiving dinner at Montagna at the Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, he deep-fries the pecans, but it's quicker (and less messy) to toast them in the oven.

12 of 20

Mashed Winter Squash with Indian Spices

Mashed Winter Squash with Indian Spices

Fragrant Indian spices—coriander, turmeric and black mustard seeds—are a wonderful accent for creamy mashed butternut squash. The squash can be roughly smashed until chunky, or thoroughly mashed until smooth.

13 of 20

Maple-Ginger-Roasted Vegetables with Pecans

Maple-Ginger-Roasted Vegetables with Pecans
© Frances Janisch

When roasting winter vegetables, Melissa Rubel Jacobson says be sure to chop them about the same size, so they cook at the same rate. And toss them at least once while they're in the oven, so they brown evenly.

14 of 20

Ginger-Roasted Winter Squash

Ginger-Roasted Winter Squash

For winter squash that is crispy on the outside and moist within, Melissa Perello halves each one, roasts it until soft, then cuts it into wedges and roasts it some more.

15 of 20

Squash Gratin with Poblanos & Cream

Squash Gratin with Poblanos & Cream

At Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's Tavern in Los Angeles, chef Julie Robles makes this vegetarian gratin in individual dishes with a topping of candied pepitas (pumpkin seeds). This version is for one big gratin garnished with plain toasted pumpkin seeds.

16 of 20

Roasted Cauliflower with Green Olives and Pine Nuts

Roasted Cauliflower
© Fredrika Stjärne

Roasting cauliflower caramelizes the florets, making them supersweet. Tossed with crunchy pine nuts and salty olives and capers, this dish is perfect with roasted chicken or steamed fish.

17 of 20

Cranberry, Ginger and Orange Chutney

Cranberry, Ginger and Orange Chutney
© Con Poulos

This chunky cranberry chutney is super-fresh-tasting because the cranberries are simmered briefly and the orange sections are added near the end of cooking.

18 of 20

Roasted Beets and Charred Green Beans

Roasted Beets and Charred Green Beans
Eva Kolenko

Chef Kristen Kish's beets and haricot verts salad offers acid, char, and crunch. It's a well-balanced addition to any heavy Thanksgiving meal feast.

19 of 20

Brussels Sprouts and Arugula Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Brussels Sprouts and Arugula Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Johhny Miller

Make like Food & Wine Culinary Director Justin Chapple and do something new with Brussels sprouts this year.

20 of 20

Braised Greens with Crispy Garlic and Miso

Braised greens with crispy garlic and miso butter
David Malosh

Greens are good for you, sure, but the addition of umami-salty miso makes them a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving plate.

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