A Definitive Ranking of Thanksgiving Side Dishes

by Jennifer Valdez

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and you know what that means — time to strap on that apron and put on those oven mitts. And while we all know that this most glorious of holidays is nothing without a golden turkey roasting in the oven or a table brimming with homemade desserts, it's also important to give credit to what really brings the meal together — Thanksgiving side dishes.

Whether you're the master chef this holiday or it's your first time contributing to the Thanksgiving meal, it's good to know what side dishes people prefer and which ones will likely be left over. Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to make a butternut squash, and one does not simply throw together a green bean casserole. So although I can't give you a step-by-step play on how to make America's Top Thanksgiving dish, I can tell you which ones people are mostly likely to get excited about.

You definitely want to have variety at your Thanksgiving dinner, but there are certain foods that have people coming back for seconds, guaranteed. With so many options on the table, it's hard to choose a favorite, so I took the privilege of researching the most popular side dishes for the holidays. Here is your Thanksgiving guide to side dishes, ranked from good to best (because let's be serious, there's no such thing as a bad side dish, especially this time of year).

12. Confetti Corn

OK, so no one really gets too excited for confetti corn, but it does add a nice bit of color to your plate.

11. Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving turkey would not be the same without it, but as a stand alone side dish, cranberry sauce might just be a little too sweet for some.

10. Wild Rice

You can never have too many grains. Wild rice isn't the most exciting dish on your Thanksgiving table, but at least you know it's something everybody will like.

9. Rice Casserole

Rice casserole isn't quite as delicious as, say, mac 'n cheese, but it's still a solid contender. It's really just a fancier version of pasta and cheesy goodness.

8. Roasted Butternut Squash

Squash is typically not a favorite, but butternut squash brings a whole different flavor to the table. It's like squash's crazy cousin who went off to do amazing things. I would sit at a table with that any time.

7. Brussels Sprouts

Personally I'm not a fan of Brussels sprouts, but there are others who go crazy for this dish. So congratulations, Brussels sprout lovers, you're not alone.

6. Dinner Rolls

If you're going to fill up on carbs this Thanksgiving, don't forget to pick up a bag of dinner rolls from the bakery. Oh, and don't forget to lather on the butter.

5. Mashed Potatoes

Nom nom nom. Thick and creamy mashed potatoes. Homemade mashed taters have become a must-have at Thanksgiving, so get your mixing pot ready, because everyone's coming back for seconds.

4. Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet mother of potatoes! Whether it's topped with pecans or mini marshmallows, this sweet dish is always a Thanksgiving favorite.

3. Mac 'n Cheese

Who doesn't love some good old mac 'n cheese? Especially when it's homemade. This dish is always good, even if it does feel a little safe.

2. Green Bean Casserole

How do you get kids to eat their veggies? Put them in a casserole. Green bean casserole is veggies done right. It's creamy with the right amount of crunch, and it has greens! What more can we ask for?

1. Stuffing

No surprise there. You can't have a turkey without the stuffing. And quite frankly, I think some people would prefer the stuffing over the turkey.

Images: How Sweet It Is; Joshua Bousel, Iowa Corn, Seth Anderson, Steve Johnson, EBarney, Nomadic Lass, Gail, Jellaluna, Fimb, Pelican, Meal Makeover Moms, JeffreyW, Lotherington, Ernesto Andrade, Maggie Hoffman, tinybanquet, Greatbritishchefs/Flickr