My Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Thanksgiving is definitely the best holiday for food. The turkey is the traditional protein and there are several dishes that are considered staples. These are some of the sides my family has enjoyed sharing with our friends and/or colleagues over the years. 


1. Corned Beef Spread 

This stuff is absolutely amazing. I look forward to my mom making this. It’s great on almost any kind of cracker and also on rye bread. When you go to the deli for the corned beef, ask the person behind the counter to cut it for sandwiches. 

There was one time I took it to a work party and we ran out of crackers so people started putting it in cups and eating it with spoons like it was ice cream.

2 packages of cream cheese 8 ounces each, softened
5 ounces of corned beef chopped (we usually use 8 ounces of deli sliced corned beef) 
6 green onions chopped 
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 
1 teaspoon Accent 

You can reserve some of the corned beef and onions for garnish. 

Mix cream cheese, onions, Worcestershire sauce, and Accent together. 

Add the corned beef last.

Best if served at room teperature. 

2.  Macaroni and Cheese 

Where my family lives now, macaroni and cheese is a Thanksgiving staple, but you won’t find it on our table on Thanksgiving. 

We usually have it on Good Friday as our meatless casserole, but this is another quick and easy potluck go-to. You just want to make sure you have access to a microwave oven for a quick reheat to melt the cheese. 

One pound of elbow macaroni 
One package of Kraft Deli Deluxe Cheese 
6 green onions chopped 
1 can diced tomatoes 
Butter 
Salt and pepper to taste 

Cook the elbow macaroni using the package directions. Drain. 

We use a round 3 quart Corningware dish. If you use a square pan, the corners will dry out too much. Coat bottom and sides with non-stick spray. 

Layer using macaroni, green onion, tomato, the liquid from the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Dot with butter and cover the layer with the slices of Deli Deluxe. We can do about three layers in our dish. 

We microwave it for about 6 minutes and stir. Continue for about another 5 minutes or until it is heated through and the cheese is melted. 

My great grandmother used to bake it in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

Note: There is no milk. Different cheeses can be used as long as it will melt and cover the pasta. Seasoned tomatoes have been used with nice results. 

3. Cucumbers and Sour Cream 

This one is a little complicated because half of my family likes them one way and the other side prefers them another way. 

The version I like is my mom’s version: 

Peel and grate your cucumbers 

Put them in a bowl and salt liberally to sweat the cucumbers. 

Pick up the cucumbers and squeeze them to get any remaining liquid out. 

Stir sour cream into the cucumbers and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

For my dad’s version, instead of sweating them, you add water and vinegar, put in a small amount of sour cream and sugar to taste. 

We’ve never been sure exactly how much sugar to put in it because either my aunt or my dad did the taste testing. I’m guessing the goal is a sweet and sour kind of taste, but it’s not exactly consistent. My dad likes to put them over his mashed potatoes. 

4.   Green Jell-O/“Seafoam” 

Put simply, this is a Jell-O salad. The base is lime Jell-O with canned pears and the juice of those pears with cream cheese and Cool Whip. The website allrecipes.com has a recipe that is similar to the one we use. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/14197/sea-foam-salad/

Added bonus for those of us in the nostalgia mindset: it’s very close in color to Nickelodeon slime! 

These are the foods I look forward to enjoying during the holidays. Green Bean Casserole and Sweet Potato Casserole didn’t come into the picture for us until my sister in law joined the family. 

About Karen Flieger 31 Articles
I was born in the late 1970’s, spent my childhood in the 1980’s, and my pre-teen and teen years in the 1990’s. I graduated from Kennesaw State University in 2001 with a B.A. in English. I collect various forms of media (books, music, movies, and television shows) as well as plush toys, dolls, and Funko figures.