I’ll Have a Side with That: Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Introduction: In this article, Gena Philibert-Ortega searches old newspapers to find recipes for delicious side dishes for your Thanksgiving feast. Gena is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.

There is a great variety of side dishes people serve with their Thanksgiving meal. Looking through these dishes it’s obvious that in some cases it’s a regional favorite, and in others it’s a common dish most people prepare for their annual feast. For example, here are some favorites from New England:

Photo: a New England Thanksgiving dinner, featuring popular side dishes
Photo: a New England Thanksgiving dinner, featuring popular side dishes. Credit: Alcinoe; Wikimedia Commons.

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

So, what are some of the most popular sides throughout the country? Not in any particular order they are:

  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Hashbrown Casserole
  • Brown Gravy
  • White Gravy
  • Turkey Gravy
  • Rolls
  • Crescent Rolls
  • Biscuits
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Corn
  • Creamed Corn
  • Broccoli Casserole
  • Cornbread Dressing
  • Dressing
  • Stuffing
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Side Salad

Which one of these is a common food on your Thanksgiving table? Any that you avoid at all cost?

Let’s Make Some Thanksgiving Food!

Ready to start cooking? My guess is that these popular sides are familiar to you, but maybe you’d like to try a new recipe this year. Why not search newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, for a different take on an old favorite?

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

I love mashed potatoes with gravy, and when there are leftovers (if there are leftovers) I try to use them to make a Shepherd’s Pie. But if you need more ideas for those cold leftover potatoes, you may be interested in these 1916 recipes. They just might give you some ideas for something different. Potato Doughnuts anyone?

Potato recipes, Plain Dealer newspaper articles 7 May 1916
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 7 May 1916, page 74

Need some gravy for those potatoes? This 2009 newspaper recipe uses turkey fat, turkey drippings from the roasting pan, and a turkey stock that you can make ahead of time (that recipe is also part of this article). This entire article includes quite a few Thanksgiving Day staples, and overall, it’s a great article to save for future reference.

Thanksgiving recipes, Advocate newspaper article 19 November 2009
Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 19 November 2009, page 56
Turkey stock recipe, Advocate newspaper article 19 November 2009
Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 19 November 2009, page 56
Turkey gravy recipe, Advocate newspaper article 19 November 2009
Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 19 November 2009, page 56
Herbed bread dressing recipe, Advocate newspaper article 19 November 2009
Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 19 November 2009, page 56

GenealogyBank Tip: Did you know that you can save articles to your GenealogyBank account? This feature, called “My Folder,” is a great way to save articles you find. To save to My Folder, once you locate a newspaper article that you’re interested in click on the folder with the plus sign found in the upper right corner. You can then give the article a title and description. It is now saved in your My Folder for future reference.

GenealogyBank screenshot showing the “My Folder” feature
GenealogyBank screenshot showing the “My Folder” feature


Biscuits or rolls? Which does your family prefer? I remember my great-grandmother making biscuits, and I would love to have those again. However, I must admit that I buy rolls to save time. If you have the time and want to try an old-fashioned recipe, you might be interested in this one from Mrs. Booker, who was a cook for an Ohio governor.

Dinner rolls recipe, Columbus Dispatch newspaper article 2 February 1972
Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio), 2 February 1972, page 33


What vegetables grace your holiday table? I usually make a Brussel Sprout dish that features bacon and blue cheese, and the old favorite: Green Bean Casserole.

If you’re ready for something new, try Broccoli Casserole. If you aren’t a broccoli fan, this 1981 recipe for Elsie Kratzer’s Broccoli Casserole can also be made with asparagus.

Broccoli casserole recipe, Plain Dealer newspaper article 26 April 1981
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 26 April 1981, page 277

This Los Angeles Times food column, reprinted in the Huntsville Times, features a Creamed Corn recipe from Southern California’s Gulliver’s Restaurant which is a good example of how, sometimes, vegetables aren’t the healthiest of dishes.

Creamed corn recipe, Huntsville Times newspaper article 8 February 1989
Huntsville Times (Huntsville, Alabama), 8 February 1989, page 90


Whether your family calls it stuffing or dressing, they both use similar ingredients. If you want cornbread to be the basis of your stuffing/dressing you might be interested in this Mushroom Cornbread Stuffing (Dressing) from 2018.

Cornbread stuffing recipe, Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper article 14 November 2018
Las Vegas Review-Journal (Las Vegas, Nevada), 14 November 2018, page 31

It’s That Time Again

What are you serving this Thanksgiving? Are you trying a new recipe? I’d love to hear about what you’re cooking in the comments below.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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