23 Thanksgiving Side Dishes That Travel Well

updated Nov 1, 2023
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Credit: Kelli Foster

If your Thanksgiving involves hopping on the train or settling in for an hour-long car ride, fret not — there are plenty of side dishes that can stand up to the journey. Whether you’re lucky enough to have access to precious oven space or you need a dish that can be prepared in advance and ready to hit the table as is, we have plenty of options that travel well. From fresh slaws to pillowy dinner rolls, these are the sides we reach for when hitting the road for Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving Slaw

Swap the leafy greens for more hearty shredded cabbage, and you won't have to worry about this festive slaw wilting anytime soon. Plus you'll be the person that remembered to bring something green to Thanksgiving.

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Roasted Delicata Salad with Warm Pickled Onion Dressing

This seasonal recipe proves you don't need greens to bring a fresh salad to the table. Serve this roasted squash salad warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

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Roasted Cabbage Slaw with Hazelnuts & Lemon

Classic slaw gets a holiday-worthy upgrade by quickly cooking the shredded cabbage under the broiler for a more mellow flavor. Assemble this dish at home, then serve at room temperature.

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Canadian-Syrian Thanksgiving Stuffing

Like most stuffing recipes, this smoky-sweet version — mixed with roasted chestnuts and golden raisins — comes with big make-and-take potential.

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Gluten-Free Cornbread and Mushroom Stuffing

For your friends who are avoiding (and even for those who aren't) gluten, this big-batch stuffing mixed with toasted cornbread, wild mushrooms, and pecans can be assembled or even cooked in advance, then reheated before dinner.

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Cranberry Sauce

When you won't have access to the stovetop or oven, opt for a sweet, tart cranberry sauce. It comes together fast, and there's no reheating necessary.

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Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole

If you're in charge of the mashed potatoes this year, give the classic side a twist by making it into a casserole. This recipe lends itself to being made in advance and reheats like a dream.

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Smashed Potato Casserole

A make ahead-friendly recipe for creamy mashed potatoes baked in a casserole and topped with lots of Parmesan cheese.

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Sour Cream Balsamic Sweet Potatoes

Kick up classic mashed sweet potatoes with a tangy twist. Prep and cook as directed, then stir in the sour cream and balsamic vinegar just before serving.

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Stovetop Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Pecans

This is the traditional sweet potato side that will make everyone around the table swoon. Pack the cooked sweet potatoes and maple pecan drizzle separately, then combine them right before they hit the table.

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How To Make the Creamiest Mashed Cauliflower

You won't have to worry about this lighter (yet still super-creamy) alternative to mashed potatoes getting clumpy or gluey on your car ride. Perk it up with a couple pats of butter before serving.

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Broccoli Rabe and White Bean Gratin

Think of this gratin as a two-for-one deal. Not only does it deliver the rich creaminess you expect from this kind of side, but it can also be made in advance and popped in the oven before dinner — even if you're an hour's car ride away.

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How To Make Green Bean Casserole with Frozen Green Beans

Because you know everyone will be vying for those fried onions on top, hold off on adding them until right before setting the casserole on the table. It will ensure they stay extra crispy.

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Baked Polenta with Greens, Artichokes, and Gruyère

If you're one of the lucky ones who has access to oven space before dinner, this is the magical veggie-heavy casserole to bring to dinner. Hiding under a layer of shingled polenta rounds is a mess of winter greens and artichokes mixed with melted Gruyère. Make the filling ahead, then slice and bake the polenta upon arrival!

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Wild Rice and Kale Casserole

The hearty grains of wild rice and tough kale that make up this creamy casserole know how to hold their bite and stand the test of travel. Pre-bake this dish and rewarm it when you arrive.

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Glazed Carrots

When you want to keep your Thanksgiving side dish ultra-traditional, hit the road with these citrusy glazed carrots. If you cover the dish in foil before your car ride, they'll still be warm when you arrive.

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Stovetop Steam-Fried Green Beans and Mushrooms

When green beans are on your list, but you want something lighter than the classic casserole, this bean and mushroom medley is a welcome choice. It can be prepped and cooked in advance, and just needs to be reheated on the stovetop before serving.

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Smoky Creamed Kale

A hint of smoked paprika and earthy kale leaves make this your modern-day solution to the classic creamed spinach side dish. The sturdy leafy greens keep their shape without getting soggy during your trip. Gently rewarm before serving.

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How To Make 1-Hour Dinner Rolls

These classic, pillowy dinner rolls travel like a true champ, and more carbs are always welcome around the Thanksgiving table, right?

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How To Make Skillet Cornbread

When oven space is a precious commodity or even off limits, a classic soft and sweet cornbread is the side to bring along. No reheating required, and it will earn you rave reviews all around.

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Herbed Yogurt Biscuits

If you're on board to bring the bread this year, consider swapping out the standard dinner rolls for these herbed biscuits. Keep them covered with a warm kitchen towel so they arrive fluffy and ready to enjoy.

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Buttery Cheddar Herb Rolls

These pillow-soft dinner rolls are scented with herbs and have cheese both kneaded into the dough and sprinkled on top. You'll definitely be the most well-liked guest if you bring these.

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Herbed Olive Oil Fantail Rolls

Pack these fancy-looking rolls and your family and friends are sure to rave about it. This bread absolutely deserves plenty of attention for its flaky texture and pronounced tanginess. Don't forget to warm them in the oven just before dinner.

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