21 Healthy Thanksgiving Sides (Yes, They Taste Amazing)
Four-Cheese Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese
This creamy casserole is on a mission to prove that healthy Thanksgiving sides and mac and cheese can be one in the same. This light version of a Southern side swaps in whole grain macaroni, fat-free milk, and four flavorful cheeses, but butternut squash is the true star. The squash is roasted then mashed into the sauce for a low-calorie burst of fall flavor.
Spicy Green Beans with Herb Salad
This healthy Thanksgiving side dish is full of flavor thanks to anchovies, garlic, and a fresh herb topper. To make the herb salad, toss together fresh parsley, dill, cilantro, and mint with a simple olive oil dressing. Just before serving, scatter the herbs over the garlicky green beans.
Brown Butter-Sage Cornmeal Muffins
Yes, we know, “butter” is in the recipe name, so how can this be a healthy Thanksgiving food? Because each muffin contains only a half tablespoon of butter—just enough for maximum nutty flavor and decadent, flaky texture. Buttermilk keeps the fat content low, and there’s only 1 tablespoon of sugar in the entire recipe. (Translation: Each 167-calorie muffin has only 3 grams of sugar.)
Related: 4 Tricks to Eat Less Sugar
Sausage-Stuffed Honeynut Squash
Sweet honeynut squash is the star of this healthy side dish recipe. If you can't find it in your local market, butternut squash is a great substitute. Fill the squash with homemade sausage stuffing that's loaded with chopped cauliflower, pistachios, spinach, and tart dried cherries.
Test Kitchen Tip: Make the balsamic reduction topping up to one day ahead of serving.
Gluten-Free Harvest Rice Stuffing
Gluten-free friends, you no longer have to pass on stuffing. The trick is subbing basmati rice in for bread to keep the dish wheat-free and lower in calories. The sweet rice packs in sausage, butternut squash, apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries in this healthy Thanksgiving recipe.
Blue Cheese-Garlic Potatoes
These simple spuds are no more difficult than regular mashed potatoes but do have a more intense flavor. Blue cheese, sliced garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes give the healthy Thanksgiving side dish a spunky kick. Opt for olive oil in lieu of butter for a heart-healthy twist.
Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup
Start your Thanksgiving feast with a light, flavorful soup. (Serve it as either a healthy Thanksgiving appetizer or side.) Pureed harvest veggies—butternut squash, carrots, and leeks—fill the vitamin-rich soup. A splash of crème fraîche takes the creaminess to the next level.
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Taste the essence of autumn in one healthy bite. Cranberries and walnuts flavor these twice-baked sweet potatoes that clock in at a less than 160 calories per serving. Plus, this healthy sweet potato recipe for Thanksgiving can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Easy and nutritious options? Now that’s something to be thankful for.
Two-Tone Green Bean Salad with Hazelnuts and Parmesan
Cranberry-Pear Chutney-Topped Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes, cranberries, and pears—it doesn't get any more Thanksgiving-y than this. Roast the spuds to enhance their sweetness, then top the healthy sweet potato recipe for Thanksgiving with a naturally sweet-tart chutney for loads of flavor and fiber in less than 170 calories.
Winter Slaw with Kale and Cabbage
Double Cranberry Sauce
With the natural sweetness of cranberries, dried fruit, pomegranate juice, and molasses, there's no need for sugar in this healthy Thanksgiving recipe. (Want to juice a pomegranate? It’s possible.) Hints of orange zest and cinnamon bring more holiday flavors.
Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled Prosciutto
Serving healthy Thanksgiving vegetables is simple thanks to this make-ahead side dish. Precook the nutrition-packed sprouts a day ahead, then chill. All that’s left to do before dinner is to sizzle up the prosciutto in a skillet (⅓ ounce per person provides ample flavor without extra fat), add the shallots, then toss with Brussels sprouts.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Mushrooms and Bacon
The combo of sweet and salty never goes out of style. Here, silky sweet potatoes combine with savory mushrooms, salty bacon, and a sprinkling of golden raisins to make a memorable Thanksgiving side dish that's full of vitamin A, fiber, and other nutrients.
Savory Spaghetti Squash Muffins
Spaghetti squash in muffins may sound odd, but stick with us. These healthy thanksgiving “rolls” are a bountiful blend of earthy roasted squash strands, eggs, a bit of flour and buttermilk, and plenty of fresh chives. Spicy cheese tops these protein-rich rolls.
Spiced Rice with Pickled Quince and Pomegranate
Try something new this Thanksgiving! This flavorful rice side dish is packed with spices including cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. Toss the cooked rice and homemade pickled quince with pomegranate seeds, toasted pistachios, and fresh mint. As one reviewer raved, "This is delish".
Herbed Bread and Cherry Cranberry Stuffing
Spicy Cranberry Sauce
Slather this jewel-color cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving turkey, on a cracker, or, heck, on sweet potatoes. Fresh cranberries, jalapeño jelly, and undertones of orange make this fruit sauce irresistible. But the best part may be that this healthy Thanksgiving side dish takes only 20 minutes to prep.
Honey-Flax Sourdough Bread
Mushroom Salad with Soy Vinaigrette
Put a new twist on your mushroom side dish for Thanksgiving. Dress up thinly sliced mushrooms with a quick Thai chile and soy vinaigrette. At just 161 calories per serving, you can indulge in this flavorful holiday side dish and still have room for dessert.
Buttered Sweet Pea Rice
You won't believe this buttery rice clocks in at just 212 calories per serving. Toss basmati rice with almonds, butter, and a homemade chili-garlic sauce. Finish the dish with shelled sweet peas and chopped sugar snap peas.
Test Kitchen Tip: Can't find fresh shelled sweet peas? Frozen baby peas are a great substitute.