We know — Thanksgiving isn’t complete without the stuffing and mashed potatoes. But there are a lot of other great sides out there that can enhance the overall experience of the day.
We asked several top chefs what their go-to sides are for Thanksgiving. Some had traditional recipes passed down from their families; others were new spins on old classics; and still yet, a few were completely out-of-the-box.
Here are a few of the most creative and delicious sides to make the World Series of Eating (aka Thanksgiving) a bit tastier.
“Growing up, there were a lot of chestnuts in the Fall so I love braised chestnuts as a Thanksgiving side. It goes so well with roasted turkey. The trick is to use a really good chicken stock.”—Chef Wolfgang Puck
“I always love sourdough stuffing! I prefer sourdough over traditional white bread for both the taste and nutritional benefits. I make it with chicken broth, herbs, and load it up with all the veggies rather than using canned soup that most traditional recipes call for. This not only packs in extra flavor but tons of nutrients. It’s a great way to sneak in more veggies into a classic comfort food.” —Dr. Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS, director of nutrition for Freshly.
“My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is all of the sides. It is super hard to choose just one, but if I really had to decide, it would be dressing, which is basically stuffing that isn’t in the bird. In New Orleans, where I’m from, we usually make dressing with seafood and holy trinity (onion, bell peppers and celery). My favorite combination for a dressing is corn bread with shrimp and mirliton, a.k.a. Chayote. This is always a staple on my Thanksgiving table.”—Chef Nini Nguyen, Bravo’s “Top Chef”
“Whipped rutabagas! I just remember waking up in my house on Thanksgiving and smelling turnips cooking. My mom would whip in a lot of butter and they were by far the most decadent dish on the menu. People think that turnips take long to cook because they are so hard. One of the reason they are hard is because they are coated in wax so they keep longer. They actually cook pretty quick. You can usually find them fresh without wax at your local Farmer’s Market or Whole Foods.”—Thomas Harkins, executive chef, Bank & Bourbon and Loews Philadelphia Hotel
“I make a parsnip and pear purée that is beautiful with turkey! Smooth and creamy, rich with parsnip flavor, which I love, and sweet from the pears —it’s the ultimate side dish. I grew up on parsnips; my mom always roasted them with carrots and potatoes and I love them roasted, in homemade chicken soup and pureed to velvety smoothness.”—Chef Jamie Gwen (get the recipe here!)
“Stuffing is a must-have. Turn stuffing into a three-day project to save yourself time on the big day. Two days out, cut up your bread and let it dry out. The day before, make the stuffing and bake it off and cool completely. Wrap in plastic and store in the fridge. Day of, simply unwrap the plastic, cover with foil and warm up in the oven beforehand. Warming up means lower temp too, which your oven is likely at for roasting the turkey.”—Dana Murrell, principal chef at HelloFresh