Let's face it. Turkey gets the most attention on Thanksgiving, but it's the side dishes we all look forward to! This year, if you're having Friendsgiving in place of or in addition to your typical Thanksgiving gathering, consider making just side dishes, appetizers and desserts – and leave the complicated turkey at the market. Ask your friends to bring their favorite fall dish for a potluck celebration. Or if you're looking for something new, try one of our staff's recommended dishes!
Apple Sausage Cornbread Dressing
This is the dish I most look forward to every Thanksgiving. I've changed the recipe over the years to reduce the butter, increase the apples and use reduced-fat sausage when I can find it, making it slightly healthier! – Heather Bailey
1 8"x8" pan of cornbread (make the day before and leave uncovered so it's slightly stale), crumbled into big pieces
8 ounces pork sausage
⅓ cup butter
2 large Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.
- Cook the sausage in a large skillet. Break it apart so you get small pieces. Remove from the skillet and drain the pan of grease.
- Melt the butter and cook the diced onions and apples until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Remove skillet from the heat and add seasonings. Mix to incorporate the seasonings.
- Add sausage and cornbread crumbles to apples. Drizzle broth over the mixture, then gently fold until cornbread is moistened.
- Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Or if you can fit the dish in the oven with your turkey, a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Sweet Broccoli Salad
While you can make this anytime of the year, there’s nothing I enjoy more on Thanksgiving. It’s decadent texture and sweet bite make eating broccoli a lot more enjoyable (granted, it’s covered in sugar). It’s easy to whip up and even easier to eat. It can serve as many – or as few – as you like. – Jordan Craven
2 to 3 heads of fresh-cut broccoli
¼ red onion
¼ Vidalia onion
½ pound of thick-sliced uncured bacon
1 cup of mayonnaise
½ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ cup dried cranberries
- Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place bacon on a baking rack. Roast for 20 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked. Blot with a towel to remove excess grease.
- Cool the bacon until it becomes crisp, then crumble into small pieces.
- Cut washed broccoli into bite-sized pieces, and chop onions into even smaller pieces.
- Combine broccoli, dried cranberries, onions and bacon into a bowl and mix together.
- In a separate bowl, add the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar and mix until completely smooth. This might take a bit of elbow grease, as the sugar can be difficult to get smooth.
- Stir the dressing and broccoli mixture together. Place in the fridge to let it chill.
- Finally, serve the broccoli salad – letting the compliments roll in!
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
What’s better than a baked sweet potato? A twice-baked sweet potato (trust me.) The combination of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg gives this dish more flavor than just your average sweet potato. Just don’t forget the mini marshmallows! If you prepare sweet potatoes in halves, this side can serve up to 16 guests. – Margaret Smith
8 medium sweet potatoes, washed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups mini marshmallows
¼ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and place sweet potatoes on top.
- Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 1 hour until sweet potatoes are soft.
- Remove from oven and allow time to cool.
- Split potatoes open, remove inside flesh with a spoon and transfer it into a saucepan. Keep sweet potato skins on the baking sheet.
- In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix together butter, salt, sugar and spices.
- Combine mixture with sweet potato flesh in the saucepan over medium heat. Fold together until smooth.
- Take mixture off heat and spoon back into sweet potato skins.
- Sprinkle dried cranberries and place mini marshmallows over sweet potatoes.
- Place baking sheet back into oven and cook for another 12-15 minutes.
- Remove, serve and enjoy!
Dessert-Appetizer Fruit Tarts
Yes, this is a thing. Serve up a tray of these when the traffic slows on dinner, but before the pies roll out. (These also work well as a mid- to late-morning treat for anyone who’s on food prep for the day.) They’ll take about 30 minutes, start to finish. Serves 6. – Eli Pacheco
For the shells
1 cup raisins
4 tablespoons raw honey
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries
For the filling
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 cup mixed fruit
1 tablespoon almond slices or walnuts (optional)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Blend coconut oil, raisins and raw honey in a blender until it forms a paste. Add rolled oats.
- Blend until it resembles dough texture.
- Press dough into muffin pan lightly greased with coconut oil. Shape into small pie shells.
- Bake for 12 minutes, or until shells’ edges are lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Fill shells with yogurt first, then add fruit and nuts (optional). Serve as soon as possible.
Cranberry Apple Crisp
With just one crust and a hearty serving of fruit, this is a treat you don't have to feel too guilty about! It's a great change-up from traditional Turkey Day desserts, since the cranberries and apples strike a perfect balance between sweet and tart. (But a scoop of vanilla ice cream is the best way to tip the scales.) – Kara Robertson
1 premade pie crust
½ cup salted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup water
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
6 granny smith apples – peeled, cored and sliced
2 cups fresh cranberries
For the topping:
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup oats
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup cold butter (salted)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- For the topping, mix granulated and brown sugars, oats, flour and cinnamon in a medium-size bowl. Mash cold butter into the oats mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a medium or large saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste.
- Add water, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce temperature and let simmer 2 minutes.
- Pour cranberries and apples in sugar mixture and simmer for 5-6 minutes more.
- Pour cranberry and apple mixture into the pie crust. Gently top with sugar and oat mixture, making sure to spread the topping to the edge of the pie pan.
- Bake 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F then continue baking for 35-45 minutes, until cranberries bubble.