Healthy Thanksgiving side dishes
When you think of the holidays, specifically Thanksgiving, you think of cooking, cooking, and more cooking. Creating a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner usually requires hours of preparation and the end result is a delicious, high-calorie meal that definitely gets added to your cheat day.

This year it’s time to change things up. Spend less time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day and more time with family by trying these yummy and healthy Thanksgiving side dishes that you can easily make ahead before the big day!


Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

Active Time: 30 min | Total Time: 2 hr 20 min

Turkey Day isn’t complete without some fluffy bread! Preheat your oven to 375° and get to baking this delicious sweet potato spoon bread. A cross between cornbread and soufflé, spoon bread is a traditional Southern dish that’s even more savory with cooked spinach, fresh corn, and chopped bacon or ham. This particular recipe serves 10 to 12 people and is a wonderful make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish. Make it early in the morning, wrap it in foil, and reheat at 350° whenever you want!


  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  •  2 1/4 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal, plus more for dusting
  •  1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  •  1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  •  3 cups boiling water
  •  1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  •  1 1/2 tablespoons mild honey
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  •  Scant 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  •  1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  5 large egg whites, at room temperature


Vegetable roast

Broccoli, Shiitake, and Red Onion Roast

Active Time: 25 min | Total Time: 45 min

Bring a gorgeous pop of color to your dinner table with this easy recipe for Thanksgiving. A broccoli, shiitake, and red onion roast combines nutritious vegetables with savory seasonings of salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar to create a scrumptious plate that’ll satisfy your appetite and diet! With very little cook time and preparation, this recipe serves up to six and is a no brainer if you’re looking to add in your portion of veggies for the day!


  • One 1 1/4-pound head of broccoli
  •  1/2 pound large shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded
  •  1 small red onion, sliced crosswise 1/3 inch thick
  •  Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Brussel sprouts for make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta

Active Time: 30 min | Total Time: 1 hr

Any food with “caramelized” in the name is guaranteed to make your mouth water, and this Thanksgiving side dish recipe is no exception! Indulge in caramelized Brussel sprouts with pancetta and your taste buds will come to life. The saltiness of the pancetta mixed with the sweet and tart flavor of sun-dried tomatoes is balanced out with thinly-sliced shallots. This dish serves up to 10 people and is a great appetizer option!


  • 3 pounds brussels sprouts
  •  6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •  6 shallots, thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
  •  2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  •  Kosher salt
  •  1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped


Sweet potatoes with apple butter

Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter

Active Time: 15 min | Total Time: 1 hr 45 min

Channel all of the classic Turkey Day vibes with a healthy Thanksgiving side dish of sweet potatoes with apple butter. The best part about this recipe is just how simple it is. No skill is required with this yummy dish because all you need to do is bake and mash. It’s a great option for a bigger party because this recipe serves up to 10 people and can easily be adjusted to serve even more. Remember to season with salt at the end for a savory addition to an otherwise sweet treat! 


  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes
  •  6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  •  1/2 cup apple butter
  •  Salt


Tricolor roasted carrots

Tricolor Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Active Time: 25 min | Total Time: 1 hr

Preparing a memorable meal for Turkey Day doesn’t always require tons of ingredients and tons of time. Bring it back to the basics with a tricolor roasted carrot and parsnip recipe that serves 8 to 10 guests. This make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish is as convenient as it is appetizing with butter, oil, and sugar seasoning. With each carrot and parsnip comes a blend of fall colors like red, orange, yellow, and cream, making this side dish a beautiful display for Thanksgiving.


  • 3 1/2 pounds parsnips and multicolored carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise if large
  •  2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  •  2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •  Pinch of sugar
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper


Squash gratin for make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish

Squash Gratin with Poblanos & Cream

Active Time: 45 min | Total Time: 2 hr

If you’re feeling a little adventurous and have some extra time to kill for your Thanksgiving dinner prep, this squash gratin recipe is a must-try! This specific recipe is for one big gratin garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds, but you can also make individual dishes for a personalized touch. Make sure your oven is piping hot at 400° and bake that butternut squash until it’s deliciously tender. The final product is a creamy poblano mixture with squash and tasty cheeses that serves a whopping 12 people. Keep in mind that this is a make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish that can be refrigerated overnight for your convenience!


  • 6 large poblanos (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  •  2 large butternut squash (4 pounds total)—peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  •  1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped thyme
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  •  3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  •  1 teaspoon coarsely chopped oregano
  •  1/2 cup heavy cream
  •  3/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  •  8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  •  8 ounces farmer cheese (see Note)
  •  Toasted pumpkin seeds, for serving


Celery slaw for Thanksgiving

Celery Root, Apple, & Fennel Slaw

Total Time: 45 min

Most Turkey Day dinners are full of heavy meats and rich flavors, which is why it’s a wonderful idea to include a light and refreshing accompaniment to cleanse your palette. This celery root, apple, and fennel slaw is a sweet and crunchy delight that you can’t help but love. It’s easy to prepare, serves up to 8, and is a healthy Thanksgiving side dish.


  • 1 pound celery root, peeled and julienned, preferably on a mandoline
  •  1/2 cup sugar
  •  1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  •  1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  •  1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  •  1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
  •  1 tablespoon drained prepared horseradish
  •  2 Braeburn or Lady apples, cored and julienned, preferably on a mandoline
  •  5 celery ribs, thinly sliced, plus 1/2 cup lightly packed celery leaves
  •  1 small fennel bulb—halved, cored, and julienned, preferably on a mandoline
  •  1/2 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  •  2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano
  •  Pepper


Kale salad for healthy Thanksgiving side dish

Savory Kale Salad

Active Time: 30 min | Total Time: 1 hr 30 min

Take an ordinary salad and give it a unique twist with this savory kale salad recipe. Nutty chipotle-yogurt dressing, roasted pumpkin, almond butter, and pepitas will have you and your guests (this recipe serves 10) reaching for seconds of this healthy Thanksgiving side dish. If you’d like to check one thing off your Turkey day to-do list, make the dressing for this salad beforehand and refrigerate it for up to 5 days!


  • One 3 1/2-pound sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  •  1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  •  1 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  Kosher salt
  •  Pepper
  •  1/2 cup pepitas
  •  1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt
  •  2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •  1 tablespoon almond butter
  •  1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  •  1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  •  1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  •  15 ounces baby kale
  •  1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  •  4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled


Gluten-free green bean mushroom casserole

Gluten-Free Green Bean Mushroom Casserole

Active Time: 10 min | Total Time: 1 hr 10 min

Cooking a casserole is almost a right of passage for Thanksgiving dinner, so of course, this gluten-free green bean mushroom casserole had to make it on the list! Perhaps one of the tastiest parts of this make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish is the Panko-style fried onion rings that glisten on top. While this dish is full of healthy veggies and a gluten-free flour blend, it also has chile powder, salt, and pepper to give it a kick of flavor that’ll rock your socks off! In a little over an hour, you’ll have a dish for 8 people to munch on with their turkey.


  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 3/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Butter or gluten-free cooking spray, for greasing
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup crushed gluten-free rice cereal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly into rings
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • Pepper
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder 


Vegan stuffing for Thanksgiving side dish recipe

Simple Vegan Stuffing

Active Time: 15 min | Total Time: 1 hr 45 min

Just because you follow a vegan diet doesn’t mean you can’t participate in enjoying traditional Turkey Day dishes like yummy stuffing. This simple vegan stuffing recipe serves up to 8 and uses healthy ingredients like whole-grain bread, green lentils, vegan butter, and white onions that mesh together to create a delicious accompaniment. 


  • 1 large loaf whole-grain bread
  • 3/4 cup uncooked green lentils
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or vegan butter (or a mix of both)
  • 1/2 cup white onions (diced)
  • 3/4 cup celery (diced)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (plus more for cooking lentils)
  • 1 batch flax egg
  • 3/4 tsp dried sage

Thanksgiving To-Go Dishes at Grossmont Center

Whether you’re looking for just a little help on your Thanksgiving dinner or are choosing to completely forego cooking this year, Grossmont Center has got you covered. With a wide variety of restaurants spread throughout the mall, there are plenty of choices for to-go orders. Just make sure to double-check these places are open on the actual day of Thanksgiving. Otherwise, you may need to pick up the day before. Take a look at these Grossmont Center restaurants to start planning for your Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanksgiving is a time for food, but most importantly, family. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying those around you by preparing these simple and healthy Thanksgiving side dish recipes! As you begin your prep work, visit Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Target for all of your tasty ingredients!

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