14 Cheap & Easy Thanksgiving Dishes

a high angle view looking into a green casserole dish of green bean casserole with a scoop taken out.
Photo: Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

It's no secret that people want to save money without sacrificing flavor during the holidays. With these Thanksgiving dishes, you can tick both boxes without any added stress. Thanks to a few smart swaps and simplified sides, you can make this Thanksgiving the easiest (and cheapest!) menu yet — and no one will be the wiser. Whether you're still planning your Turkey Day menu or just looking for a few recipes to supplement your traditions on the cheap, these are the best cheap and easy dishes to add to your holiday table.

01 of 15

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

There are many reasons to love these mashed potatoes. For one, they are suitable for all your dinner guests whether vegan, lactose intolerant, or allergic to dairy. They're also secretly a brilliant, budget-friendly alternative to the traditional dairy-laden mashed potatoes. Swapping in a combination of olive oil and starchy cooking water creates a silky, creamy mash without any of the butter (which has never been more expensive!)

02 of 15

Quick Yeast Rolls

quick yeast rolls baked in a cast iron skillet
Richard Hubbard

One of the best tips for saving money is to make your own versions of store-bought favorites from scratch. Rather than buying bread or a tube of dough, you can make these Quick Yeast Rolls with ingredients you probably already have on hand. If you've never made bread before, this is a great beginner recipe and doesn't take all day to make either. Be warned: the dough will be quite sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour — this will change their texture from light and airy to dense. Grease two spoons with cooking spray or dust with a little flour and use them to portion and scoop the dough into your baking dish.

03 of 15

Butternut Squash Soup

slightly less than overhead view of butternut squash soup served in a bowl
Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

If you're going with a smaller bird this year to stick to a budget, a seasonal soup starter is one of my favorite ways to bulk up any menu for pennies on the dollar. This simple butternut squash soup is rich and full of flavor despite calling for only a handful of wallet-friendly ingredients. For even more fall flavor, one reviewer suggests tossing in some spices like cinnamon and nutmeg (about 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon each) and a small apple.

04 of 15

Sausage Balls

a high angle view of a bowl full of golden-brown sausage balls
Meredith Food Studio

If you're going with a lighter main meal than usual, you also might want to opt for a heartier appetizer to keep guests' hunger at bay (especially if they arrive early while you're still finishing cooking!). Rather than a pricey charcuterie board, try these crowd-pleasing Sausage Balls made with just 3 simple ingredients (hint: one is biscuit mix). If oven space is tight, trying making them in the air fryer instead of the oven, or make them ahead like reviewer ta2oedgrl did. "The first time I made them was for a potluck, I made them the night before and popped them into the oven in the morning to warm them up. They were a big hit!" Tip: add a little poultry seasoning mix (or some dried sage) to the Sausage Balls to really give them a Thanksgiving vibe.

05 of 15

Easy, Speedy Corn Muffins

corn muffins
lutzflcat

Your guests will never guess that muffins this tasty started with a box of mix and a can of creamed corn. Unlike most Thanksgiving cornbread or corn casserole recipes, this one doesn't require copious amounts of sour cream, milk, or butter — pricey ingredients that can cause your grocery bill to multiply quickly. You can make them as muffins, or, for a more family-style presentation, bake in a 9x13-inch pan for about 40 minutes, as creator Marcy suggests.

06 of 15

Homestyle Turkey, the Michigander Way

roasted turkey on a rack
bd.weld

Of course you can find cheaper alternative main dishes, but if your family is anything like mine, they demand turkey on Thanksgiving. There are, however, ways to save money on the turkey itself, including getting an entire turkey for free. Once you've procured your bird, some recipes will call for intricate brines or tons of pricey butter and fresh herbs or citrus to roast with. Rather than opting for one of those, go for this super simple dry brine that packs in maximum flavor with minimal effort. Or, try this Homestyle Turkey, which supplements butter with broth made with budget-friendly bouillon cubes. Both methods yield that picture perfect turkey to make every dollar spent worth it.

07 of 15

Best Green Bean Casserole

a high angle view looking into a green casserole dish of green bean casserole with a scoop taken out.
Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Sticking to a budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice traditions, and this classic casserole is proof. Made with canned (or frozen) green beans and cream of mushroom soup, this green bean casserole tastes exactly like your childhood favorite. "This recipe has that classic flavor you think of when you think of a green bean casserole, and the added cheese is a really nice touch," raves Hiram Wigant.

08 of 15

Bread and Celery Stuffing

overhead view of Bread and Celery Stuffing on a platter with a serving spoon
Rita

Another Thanksgiving classic, simplified. Of course you can use whatever spices you like, but poultry seasoning blends have all of the ones you'd typically want, for the same price as one individual dried spice. Hot tip: ask your store or local bakery if they sell day-old loaves. Typically they come at a massive discount, and they'll save you time when making stuffing like this one, which calls for dried or stale bread.

09 of 15

Quick and Easy Spinach Casserole

With shortages popping up left and right, your grocery may run out of or mark up traditional Thanksgiving items. If green beans are in short supply, give this comforting 4-ingredient casserole a shot. It tastes like your favorite steakhouse-style creamed spinach meets a green bean casserole, down to those perfect fried onions on top. Put this on the table and we guarantee no one will be asking where the green beans are... because they'll be too busy complimenting the chef!

10 of 15

Honey Roasted Carrots

a high angle, close up view of honey roasted carrots in a white rectangular baking dish.
Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

"Best tasting carrots I ever had." Carrots may not be a staple of Thanksgiving, but they might just be after you taste these. Shockingly simple, they taste so much better and more sophisticated than the sum of their parts, caramelized and sweet. If your grocery store is running low on sweet potatoes, try swapping these carrots into your menu. P.S. You can also used frozen carrots, as one reviewer suggests. "I had to use what was on hand, frozen carrots. Last minute dinner guests. I wouldn't change a thing on this recipe."

11 of 15

Mom's Baked Macaroni and Cheese

close up view of Baked Macaroni and Cheese in an aluminum baking pan
mikamccall

If macaroni and cheese is a non-negotiable on your family's Thanksgiving table, take a tip from Mom with this recipe. Technically, it's from creator Courtnay's mom, who has the genius hack of using a can of Cheddar cheese soup instead of having to build a cheese sauce from scratch. To make it extra rich, reviewer shariberry suggests using two cans of soup and mixing in additional dairy. If you have them on hand, try adding 1 to 1 1/2 cups of milk and about a 1/2 cup of sour cream, plus seasoned breadcrumbs on top, if your family prefers a crispy top.

12 of 15

Air Fryer Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Mayo

These aren't your traditional Thanksgiving Brussels sprouts; these are so much better. Using the air fryer for side dishes is a brilliant way to free up oven space and take stress out of your holiday. Here the appliance works in your favor, turning the typically soggy, boring Brussels into crispy, tasty little nuggets. The maple-mustard mayo isn't necessary if you're on a tight budget and don't have those ingredients on hand; you could also drizzle with a little honey and your favorite spices before cooking for a flavor boost.

13 of 15

Easy Mushroom Rice

This hearty casserole may not be a traditional Thanksgiving side dish, but it has all the comforting, familiar flavors of one. With just a few pantry pulls and a little butter, you can serve up this savory, satisfying rice without breaking the bank. A can of French onion soup is the shortcut to big flavor in a flash and, of course, feel free to swap in fresh mushrooms for canned if they're in your budget.

14 of 15

Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cake

high angle looking at two plates, each with a slice of pumpkin cake on them, topped with frosting

Who said Thanksgiving has to have pie? No one! So feel free to get creative at dessert and make something your whole family will love! While a simple pumpkin pie might not break the bank, this two-ingredient cake is as easy as dessert gets. And the best part? Unlike most desserts, this one actually tastes better made in advance. Recipe creator Chickentarian writes, "Plan ahead, [it] tastes best after chilling," and suggests pairing with a simple cream cheese frosting (though Cool Whip would also work in a pinch!) And if you're looking for more easy Thanksgiving desserts, check out this list.

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