5 Thanksgiving Sides That Need to Go Away

Photo by OctopusHat
The Pilgrims knew how to feast, man. Back in the day, they had it all -- wild turkey, venison, lobster, chestnuts, pumpkins, plums and even freaking seal. These guys set out the perfectly laid plan: Come together as a community and give thanks while gluttonously* feasting on locally sourced meat, poultry and seafood served with fresh, seasonal produce.

*The gluttony may or may not have been involved back then, but it has become an integral part of my Thanksgiving plan.

So I wonder, how -- with all of the history, all the years of practice and all the hours spent pinning random pretty pictures on Pinterest in the middle of the night -- did we manage to mess this one up? We may have finally figured out how to do the turkey justice and make a mean stuffing, but there are still tons of godawful sides that sneak their way into our feast, year after year.

This Thanksgiving, my wish is for all the....shit, we don't wish on Thanksgiving, do we? Okay, how about this: I'm going to lay out another perfectly laid plan for you guys, just like our ridiculously hatted forefathers.

See also:
- Top 5 Under-$25 Wines for Thanksgiving
- The Mayo Clinic's 10 Tips for Choosing and Prepping a Turkey
- A Very Costco Thanksgiving: Feeding 8 People for $80 (Plus the Cost of Pie)

DO NOT serve the following shitty shit at your Thanksgiving feast:

Photo by Brandy
Stop right there...
5. Anything with Marshmallows

Take ambrosia, for instance. Someone must have been seriously high when they came up with this one. Let's just take a look at what it is:

Ambrosia (n): a dessert (?) made of canned fruit, coconut and mini marshmallows mixed with sour cream or mayonnaise...and sometimes Cool Whip or Jell-O. Do I even need to comment? High people can't even possibly want to eat that.

But it doesn't stop there. Can we talk about the completely unnecessary addition that we continue to make to poor, innocent little sweet potatoes? "Those mashed sweet potatoes are delicious, Herb; now throw on some marshmallows and flambé the shit out of it!" It's like we refuse -- REFUSE -- to make anything simple.

Let's just do ourselves a favor and reserve the marshmallows for hot chocolate, S'mores, and that game where you see how many marshmallows you can stuff into your mouth before they start to get lodged down your throat and you have to be rushed to the E.R. at 3 a.m. on a Saturday, shall we?

4. Candied (insert delicious vegetable that you just ruined here)

Again, why must we over-sweeten every goddamn side at this goddamn feast? Do you think the pilgrims did this? Do you?!

Candied yams, candied ginger, candied cranberries, candied pecan. People even make candied carrots. I have an idea: Why don't you just cook the carrots alone, as carrots, and then eat them -- as fucking carrots? A little butter, some salt and a dash of black pepper. Boom. No tooth decay.

Candied turkey is the only natural progression, so I'm going to try to stop us all here.

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My Voice Nation Help

If it's got brown sugar on/in it, it's dessert. Period. And cream of mushroom gelatinous goo is not food.

del.martinis topcommenter

Hate ambrosia!  It's ruined the word almost!  And hate anything with jello!  And don't get the need for macaroni and cheese at Thanksgiving!


I was under the impression that canning was a foodie-approved hobby to use up your garden produce and not waste anything, but I've noticed that you rarely, if ever, see canned vegetables in a recipe. Here's my take on Thanksgiving: don't mess with it. Stop trying. By all means, give us some variety for the Xmas feast, but Thanksgiving is what it is. You may add a new dish or two if you like. But the core of it is 1) turkey 2) dressing 3) mashed potatoes and 4) yes, the green bean casserole. I want the grean bean casserole. And the cranberry sauce, of course, and dinner rolls, and lots of gravy. Lots and lots and lots of gravy.


I would have to say Broccoli Cheese Rice casserole should also go away. Just talking to my mom this week about the same boring Thanksgiving sides people fix every year.


@EatingOurWords - @airbilo is on a tirade after reading the T-Giving sides post. Don't mess with a man's jello or green bean casserole.


I have to agree with the whole list above. Basically the only Thanksgiving food I like at all is stuffing (and turkey skin -- i can take or leave the turkey meat). That's why I like to eat in the Chinatown or Little India on the holidays -- way tastier than the traditional Turkey dinner. :-)

Kylejack topcommenter

Ambrosia is the most white people food ever, and I love it.

WestSideBob topcommenter

I understand the distaste for classic Three Can GBC.  However ... Y'all linked to Alton Brown's recipe for GBC which uses fresh beans and looks incredible.  Can't wait to try it out.

FattyFatBastard topcommenter

 @WestSideBob I did this recipe a few years ago, doing everything from scratch.  It was a hassle and at the end of the day, it didn't taste like nostalgia.


Like it or not, if you like GBC, it needs to be done thew old-fashioned way, and that means using the cans.


YES.  This.  Nasty-ass GBC with canned ingredients disgusts me (my mother uses frozen green beans, which is a slight step up).  But my husband loves it.  I plan to make it myself with fresh beans and mushrooms, make my own bechamel sauce and crisp-fry some shallots to sprinkle on top.

MadMac topcommenter

@WestSideBob That's a good plan. Most of the featured items here were divised for the day when one WOMAN cooked the entire meal and then, later, for cheap/lazy family members to celebrate. I take the ham in another direction as well, with yellow mustard and prunes.

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