38 Essential Vegetarian Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

updated Nov 1, 2023
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Turkey or not (there are plenty totally impressive turkey alternatives!), we all know that the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is the side dishes. And I have really great news when it comes to sticking with vegetarian Thanksgiving sides: Nearly all of the most crowd-pleasing side dishes are naturally meat-free. From the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes to the stuffing to the cranberry sauce, casseroles, and everything in between, we’ve got 38 can’t-miss vegetarian sides for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Vegetarian Vegetable Sides

From mashed potatoes to green beans to Brussels sprouts and everything in between, this line up has all the heavy hitters.

1 / 16
Air Fryer Butternut Squash
For crispy and tender butternut squash in a fraction of the time, use your air fryer.
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2 / 16
Cinnamon Butter Bath Sweet Potatoes
Take your pick between serving up the cubed potatoes with plenty of the cinnamon-kissed butter over top, or mash them with some of the cooking liquid.
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3 / 16
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Garlic
Take your standard roasted Brussels sprouts routine (olive oil, salt, pepper) from good to memorable by adding two ingredients you probably already have around: lemon and garlic.
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4 / 16
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
The fall time casserole we know and love gets dairy-free makeover, and a grown-up upgrade with homemade crispy shallots. The number of pans required to make it? Just one.
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5 / 16
Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Swap out the traditional scalloped potatoes at your table this year with something a bit more colorful. This sweet potato version is made fragrant with fresh thyme and ground nutmeg, and decadent with heavy cream and Gruyère cheese.
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6 / 16
Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole
While most mashed potato recipes need to be made soon before serving, this casserole actually taste better when made in advance. You can assemble it up to two days ahead of time and bake it when you’re ready.
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7 / 16
Honey-Mustard Brussels Sprouts
The best part about this side dish is that you most likely have the ingredients for the sauce in your pantry already. Whole-grain mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, and soy sauce is all it takes.
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8 / 16
Lemony Green Beans with Almond Breadcrumbs
These light, bright green beans are made texturally interesting, thanks to a healthy sprinkle of nutty, crunchy breadcrumbs just before serving.
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9 / 16
Golden Mashed Potatoes
The surprise ingredient in this side dish is rutabaga, which lends a golden hue and a full, rich flavor to your usual mashed potatoes.
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10 / 16
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Milk & Vanilla Bean
This creamy side dish is nutty and rich, thanks to coconut milk, and just sweet enough due to a bit of brown sugar and vanilla bean paste.
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11 / 16
The Creamiest Mashed Cauliflower
Cauliflower mashes up into a wonderfully creamy side dish. Want to give it a little extra oomph this Thanksgiving? Stir in a spoonful of crème fraîche just before serving.
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12 / 16
Stovetop Steam-Fried Green Beans and Mushrooms
These green beans are sautéed to give them some caramelization then hit with a little broth so that they steam and become perfectly tender.
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13 / 16
Stovetop Rustic Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Red-skinned potatoes make for a garlic-packed mash that you can make pretty quickly on the stovetop.
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14 / 16
Sweet Potato and Leek Soup

Maya Feller's original recipe calls for yam, but sweet potato is used instead and it still boasts complex flavors that's rich and hearty.

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15 / 16
Parmesan-Thyme Mushrooms
Just 15 minutes and a handful of ingredients are all you need to bring these hearty Parmesan mushrooms to the table.
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16 / 16
Vegan Roasted Broccoli Soup

Cauliflower and potatoes give this plant-based soup its creamy texture.

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Easy Vegetarian Sides

Need a side that’s guaranteed to please the table *and* easy to whip up? These are the sides that deliver.

1 / 12
Green Beans Almondine

Crisp-tender beans are combined with sliced almonds and buttery shallots for an easy, delicious side.

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2 / 12
Roasted Delicata Squash
Delicata squash is easy to love. It requires minimal prep (no peeling necessary!), it’s surprisingly easy to slice, and its flavor is delightful: nutty and slightly sweet.
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3 / 12
Classic Sage Stuffing
This is bread stuffing in its simplest form, and that’s exactly why it’s so great. The lack of fancy additions to the mix makes it one that will always find a welcome place at the Thanksgiving table.
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4 / 12
Carrot Fries
These extra-crispy oven-baked carrot fries are sweet, crunchy, and fun to dip.
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5 / 12
Potato Dough Rolls
Relying on instant mashed potatoes makes these incredibly tender rolls a snap to put together. Since they’ll be such a hit with vegetarians and omnivores alike, it wouldn’t hurt to make a double batch.
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6 / 12
The Best Cranberry Sauce
This is one of those classic recipes that you may find yourself bringing to the table every year after you make it once.
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7 / 12
Gluten-Free Cornbread and Mushroom Stuffing
This is a stuffing for everyone at the table. It’s gluten-free and vegetarian yet incredibly rich and savory, thanks to a mix of sautéed mushrooms.
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8 / 12
Broccoli Rabe and White Bean Gratin
This isn’t one of those heavy, extra-creamy gratins that usually graces the Thanksgiving table. Instead, it’s hearty and wholesome, thanks to the beans and greens, and it’s hit with only a splash of whole milk.
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9 / 12
Everything Bagel Stuffing
Everything bagels are too tasty and too packed with flavor to be limited to breakfast. Here they are used as the base in this quirky stuffing that’s flecked with scallions and enriched with a touch of cream.
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10 / 12
Thanksgiving Lentil Salad
A hearty recipe for lentil salad with butternut squash, red onion, and kale tossed in a roasted garlic vinaigrette.
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11 / 12
10-Minute Garlic Broccolini

An easy recipe for sautéed Broccolini with garlic and red pepper flakes that's perfect even as a Thanksgiving side dish.

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12 / 12
Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes
When you cook sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot, they become irresistibly tender in about half as much time as baking them in the oven.
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Fancy Vegetarian Sides

Each of these sides has a little something extra that makes them feel like an extra-special addition to the table.

1 / 10
Sautéed Oyster Mushroom
Oyster mushrooms have a mild flavor with a tender, meaty texture.
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2 / 10
Roasted Beet Salad

Roasted beets mixed with arugula, pumpkin seeds, and crumbled feta makes for the perfect holiday side salad.

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3 / 10
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples, Hazelnuts & Brown Butter Dressing
This raw Brussels sprouts salad has incredible depth of flavor, thanks to the brown butter that’s whisked into the dressing, which lends nutty richness further complemented by the buttery hazelnuts.
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4 / 10
Wild Rice Pilaf with Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries
This herb-flecked pilaf will bring a pop of color to your side dish spread, and it’s hearty enough to step in as a main for any vegetarians at the table.
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5 / 10
Herbed Olive Oil Fantail Rolls
These pretty rolls are surprisingly simple to make, thanks to a forgiving yeasted dough that’s enhanced with olive oil and yogurt.
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6 / 10
Baked Polenta with Greens, Artichokes, and Gruyère
This casserole is hearty enough to be a main dish for vegetarians, but it also makes a great side dish. Slicing a tube of cooked polenta into thick rounds instead of cooking it from scratch also means it’s easy to assemble.
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7 / 10
Pumpkin Risotto
This stunning, orange-hued risotto is guaranteed to be a hit at the Thanksgiving table. Just be sure to make it right before eating, as it’s not a dish that sits well.
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8 / 10
Fig Cranberry Sauce
The rich sweetness of dried figs is a wonderful contrast to the cranberries, while a splash of whiskey really makes it feel like a cranberry sauce that’s dressed up for the holidays.
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9 / 10
Roasted Butternut Squash with Orange Tahini, Walnuts, and Za’atar
A citrusy tahini sauce, toasted walnuts, and savory za'atar lend big, bold flavor to this simple sheet pan of roasted butternut squash.
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10 / 10
Thanksgiving Panzanella

Toasted bread and roasted vegetables come together with hearty kale, lots of fresh herbs, and a piquant brown butter dressing.

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