Turkey gets a lot of attention on Thanksgiving, but it’s the side dishes that steal the show (and make you have to loosen your belt). Turkey is a relatively lean protein, but it’s the heavy, creamy, cheesy side dishes and buttery desserts that can add up to thousands of calories, fast. The average American eats 4500 calories on Thanksgiving! Give yourself, and those you love, lighter options by making sure your spread includes plenty of green vegetables and healthier fare.
Here are 20 of our favorite vegetable side dishes for Thanksgiving, including everything from Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, to soups and salads with lots of wow-factor. Not only are these veggie dishes easier on your waistline, they’re easier on your wallet. Most of these recipes can serve a crowd for just a couple of dollars.
Green Bean Casserole
We created a lighter version of the classic green bean casserole with mushrooms and crispy onions, and we think it tastes even better than the original! Make the crispy onions part of your repertoire to serve on top of meats or other veggie dishes. Get the recipe.
Green Beans with Lemon and Thyme
A great way to lighten up your holiday feast is to replace creamy, cheesy vegetable casseroles with with more refreshing fare. Lemon and thyme pair beautifully with green beans and have only 42 calories per serving. Get the recipe.
Roasted Cauliflower Mash
This twist on mashed potatoes is made with a non-starchy veggie, and no cream or butter — yet, it’s every bit as yummy as traditional mashed potatoes. Only 46 calories per serving. Get the recipe.
Glazed Yams with Cinnamon and Nutmeg
Say goodbye to sticky, sugary marshmallows. By making a few substitutions to this classic dish, we’ve made it healthier without sacrificing the flavor. It is naturally sweetened with honey and orange juice, and sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg. Get the recipe.
Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Grapes
Be prepared to share this recipe with your guest, because they will ask you for it! And it’s so simple. Tho two ingredients are unexpectedly delicious together, and it’s a welcome way to add a little bit of fruit to your feast. The Brussels sprouts take on a nutty, sweet flavor when they caramelize, and the roasted grapes burst in your mouth. Get the recipe.
Rosemary Roasted Yams
With so many things to cook on Thanksgiving Day, this is one dish that will save you tons of time (and money!), and make a big impact on dinner guests. Simply roasting yams or sweet potatoes with rosemary is any easy way to prepare them that will make your whole house smell delicious. Get the recipe.
Cauliflower Pumpkin Casserole
This combination of cauliflower and a cheesy pumpkin sauce has all the comfort of a casserole without the fat! Sharp cheddar and Dijon mustard give the sauce tons of flavor. Get the recipe.
Blistered Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to bring out the wonderful flavor of Brussels sprouts. This simple recipe uses only light seasonings, and then lets the sprouts shine. A garlic and balsamic glaze makes a dramatically flavorful sauce to drizzle on top. Get the recipe.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Feta
Butternut squash is a sophisticated alternative to traditional sweet potatoes. Creamy feta cheese and tangy cranberries, and an unexpected touch of cinnamon make this a wonderful side dish to complement any festive meal. Get the recipe.
Roasted Green Beans with Garlic
It only takes three ingredients to “wow” any crowd with a fresh, roasted green beans dish that’s full of flavor and light on calories. It’s so good, it might just become your go-to side dish for the whole year. Get the recipe.
Roast Sweet Potatoes with Figs and Goat Cheese
Roast up some sweet potatoes, toss them with juicy fall figs, sprinkle a touch of goat cheese on top and you’ve got yourself a side dish that’s perfect for your Thanksgiving table. If fresh figs aren’t available, you can rehydrate dried figs by simmering them in a little bit of water mixed with balsamic vinegar. Get the recipe.
Caramelized Carrots with Curry Spice
Plain carrots transform into an irresistible side dish with the help of cilantro and three simple spices. Less than 50 calories per serving! Get the recipe.
Give kale (or chard!) a place in your Thanksgiving lineup with this recipe for veggie-lovers. We gave simple, braised kale a ton of flavor with onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper. This is a vegetarian dish that you’ll want to have in every bite you take…piled onto a piece of turkey, scooped up with mashed potatoes, and mixed into a forkful of stuffing. Get the recipe.
Roasted Winter Vegetables
Why roast just one vegetable, when you can make it a party with winter squash, parsnips, sweet potato, carrots, beets, and sweet onions? Get the recipe.
Give cauliflower a little love this Thanksgiving with this simple, flavorful dish that’s spiced with a touch of curry. If curry powder seems like an exotic flavor in a more traditional menu, you can substitute cumin, paprika, or even garlic powder. Get the recipe.
Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese
Salad deserves a place on your Thanksgiving table, but it had better be delicious or it will get passed over like burnt dinner rolls! Surprise everyone with this pretty salad that will have people reaching for seconds. Get the recipe.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts
With juicy pomegranate seeds, sweet roasted cauliflower, hazelnuts, and a cinnamon-spiked dressing, this colorful salad is a real attention grabber. It is festive enough for a family celebration, and healthy enough to be your favorite new lunch recipe. Get the recipe.
Sweet Potato Salad
Crunchy apple, fresh herbs, and a lightly sweet homemade vinaigrette give this sweet potato and arugula salad a refreshing flavor that will be right at home next to turkey and stuffing. Get the recipe.
Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger
Soup is a perfect appetizer to satisfy a hungry Thanksgiving crowd while the turkey is still roasting. This silky butternut squash recipe made with ginger will be a hit. Get the recipe.
Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
Savory pumpkin soup is a wonderful way to start a holiday meal. This recipe gets extra protein and fiber from red lentils, but all you’ll care about is how good it tastes. Get the recipe.