America's Best Regional Side Dishes for Thanksgiving
FiveThirtyEight took a look at what Americans typically eat for Thanksgiving. Yes, there's turkey and taters and pumpkin pie from sea to shining sea. But there are also some interesting regional preferences that emerge, specifically surrounding side dishes. Mac & Cheese, for example, is big in the Southeastern part of the United States. Cornbread in other parts of the South, including Louisiana and Texas. Squash is common in the Northeast. Salads are popular in the West. Our Thanksgiving side dish recipes cover them all. But we've taken a look at the outliers; these are some of the best regional Thanksgiving recipes. No matter where you live, you'll love them!
Here's one from wild mushroom country, the Pacific Northwest. It's made with egg bread, hazelnuts, fresh herbs, and shiitake, crimini, and dried porcini mushrooms. "The stuffing of the Pacific Northwest," says Christine. "You can fill your turkey with this stuffing, or bake it separately."
Here's a Southwest-style corn pudding with smoky poblano peppers. "This dish transforms frozen corn into a decadent and richly flavored dish with just a bit more work than setting a pot of water to boil," says Ashley Baron Rodriguez. "In our family, a warm bowl of corn is always on our Thanksgiving table. A Thanksgiving table without corn is not complete in my mind."
Minnesota is wild-rice country. Here, wild rice mix combines with ground sausage, water chestnuts, and sliced mushrooms. "This recipe was given to me by a friend, and it has been a family tradition ever since," says MARJK. "No need to stuff the turkey. This dressing can be made the day before Thanksgiving and heated in the microwave 10 minutes before serving!"
Roasted jalapeno peppers and chopped fresh cilantro give these mashed sweet potatoes Southwestern flair. "This recipe is inspired by the Jalapeno Sweet Potato Soup at Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas," says Terri Harnish.
"Good south of the mason-dixon beans," says SURFWENCH. "Made for Thanksgiving and got rave reviews. Smelled yummy cooking too. This recipe would work well for collards or kale or other greens. Don't skimp on vinegar, gives a nice bite."
Cranberries and maple syrup are about as New England as it gets. Here they join together with brandy, a little brown sugar, and a dash of lemon juice. "This was delicious," says FrackFamily5CAtoCT. "Tart and sweet."
Cornbread, biscuits, aromatic veggies, cream of chicken soup, and seasonings are mixed with cooked chicken or turkey meat. "A truly 'Deep South' cornbread dressing," says Kim Benton. "My mom's, of course!"
Sweet potatoes are topped with a sugar-and-spice mixture and butter, then slowly simmer on low until tender, syrupy, and delicious. "Excellent," says NEEDGREATRECIPES. "This is how sweet potatoes are supposed to be. Y'all, with 'southern' sweet potatoes, they are supposed to be saucy, juicy or runny. So, don't try to boil or get rid of the brown sauce, if you want, just pour some or all of the sauce off. I have eaten sweet potatoes for years and they are supposed to be SWEET, SAUCY and MUSHY or mashed."
Sourdough bread gives a Bay Area sensibility to this stuffing, along with rubbed sage, herbs de provence, dried apricots, and pecans. "This savory stuffing is a little tangy and a little sweet," says Chef John. "And it's so easy to make that you won't have to wait for a holiday to enjoy this dish with your family."
Bottled Alfredo pasta sauce is the secret ingredient in this creamy, flavorful mac and cheese with a crunchy crumb topping. "DELICIOUS!" raves pologirl287. "I've served it twice since making it for Thanksgiving, and I always get asked for the recipe. I use stuffing for the crunchy topping."
Green bean casserole is big in the Midwest. "No cans here!" says Auriel. "Fresh mushrooms, onion, and herbs with frozen green beans, sour cream, and cheddar cheese make this a delightfully tasty twist on the traditional casserole. I developed this recipe, longing for a 'no cans' version of the classic dish. I made this one year for my husband's family at Christmas time, and now they ask for it every year! My husband asks me to make it for dinner throughout the year."
Check out our collection of Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes.