Thanksgiving is my husband’s favorite holiday, so last year I hosted my first true Family Thanksgiving with 10+ guests, and this year will be our second.
Last year, I was working full-time with a 6 month old baby. And I like to think I nailed it… But more on that later!
As hostess, I am responsible for cleaning and decorating, which is an awesome alternative to ruining the holiday with a lackluster turkey.
The trade-off was perfect, but I couldn’t expect to completely opt-out of cooking. Nor did I want to. I love cooking most things, but the time it takes just isn’t always at my disposal. I knew I needed some foolproof Thanksgiving side recipes.
These recipes all have a few things in common which make them foolproof. They:
- can be made ahead or take less than 30 minutes from start to finish!
- are an upgrade from pre-fab cardboard food
- make the table spread look super pretty and fresh
my novice family Thanksgiving spread 2016
Best Supporting Cast
The Turkey might be the star of the show, but everyone is looking forward to a side (or two, or three!). There are a handful of sides and desserts that simply can’t be ignored. And they can’t disappoint!
There are MILLIONS of recipes online, and I’ve gambled on some crappy ones in the past. But Thanksgiving Dinner is not the time for a disappointing meal. I spent years carefully crafting my repertoire of winning recipes.
These are my guaranteed crowd pleasers. I’m talking FOOLPROOF Thanksgiving sides.
Family will be in awe at these contributions and hosting has never been easier with these dishes. They take the stress out of cooking and get a gold star for being extraordinary!
The best part about Thanksgiving is debatable, but most people agree it is the company. Family, friends, or what have you. You shouldn’t have to waste prime conversation time in the kitchen, which is a huge struggle when you’re hosting a giant dinner party.
So your appetizers should be available before people arrive, and they should be easy to eat while saying some overdue Hellos and catching up with loved ones.
My fave – Spinach and Artichoke Dip
This amazing recipe is our favorite thing ever. My husband discovered it several years ago and was committed because Chef John’s video is easy for him to follow lol. And I can agree with that! But what’s better? it is seriously THE BEST SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP.
I make this for every occasion possible. The only downside is that restaurant dip will never satisfy me again….
Out of all the potlucks and parties I’ve brought this to, it is devoured almost immediately every time….. Sad, but true. And a great sign!
Autumn Appropriate – Baked Brie with Raspberry Preserves (in Puff Pastry)
Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue in its full form, but I could eat this every day. Hopefully you’ve had it before, but if you haven’t this recipe is the most straightforward and least problematic. There are so many variations, and I’ve been burned with ones that had improper timing or proportions, etc….
Can’t live without:
Green Bean Casserole
I love this dish, and this is the simplest from-scratch recipe out there. It is soooo easy, despite not using canned crap.
AND… you can make it the day before (that’s my favorite part). There is just too much to do the day of. There are too many things that need to be done on the day, so I love getting this necessity out of my way.
Another necessity that can be made ahead? Umm… yes please. Sadly I did not use this recipe last year, but I wish I had. The one I tried was interesting. Let’s just say it didn’t impress… So I spent the last year searching for a winning solution and save my hub’s holiday!
These are creamy and better than any I’ve ever had in someone’s home. It’s amazing how simply you can make the best mashed potatoes. They are so festive in the sense that they are ultra creamy, carby goodness.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Yes, those are angels you hear singing…. This makes any greens-hating guru go wild. Nothing makes an underappreciated veggie steal the show quite like FRESH SPRINKLED BACON.
I love this recipe, like love it. Brussels Sprouts are already awesome, but they can use a little boost to convince the non-believers… This recipe is like magic because it will make them disappear!
Technically, Cranberry Orange Sauce, was the first Thanksgiving Recipe that I attempted as a loving wife lol. It’s supposed to be the simplest on the menu, and I can agree with that!
Unlike the others, this dish is one that kinda totally NEEDS to be made at least a day in advance. (Okay, you could make it that morning, but why? It needs to cool and it gets better overnight.)
This recipe is an easily elevated alternative to plain old cranberry sauce, and everybody loves it!
I love these yams. I should have known to trust this same source for my mashed potatoes… ahhh these girls know their way around potatoes.
They are so perfect and FRESH! No canned yams needed. No weird ingredients. Just normal butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and mini ‘mallows. These can also be made ahead and left in the fridge overnight.
This salad deserves its own month, but I’m including it here because it’s perfect for Thanksgiving day too… It might actually be THE BEST THANKSGIVING SALAD. But you be the judge!
What do I love about this salad? It’s crazy easy, crazy delicious, and obnoxiously impressive for some reason. Don’t waste your time on a house or caesar salad. Go for gold and get this Goat Cheese, Pear, and Pecan Autumn Salad. Thank me later!
Last but not least,
This is obviously a dessert, but not on Thanksgiving. It’s a staple!
If you’re asking me, the right Pumpkin Pie recipe has a little bit of orange zest in it. Maybe it’s the Floridian in me, but it kicks it up a notch on the fresh factor. That AND a little black pepper make this pie hard to resist.
Now I know I ignored a few traditional staples… But frankly, I don’t care for glazed carrots and Stovetop Stuffing is too good. I haven’t graduated to homemade stuffing yet… Maybe when I master the bird!