Top 5 Worst Thanksgiving Side Dishes: Please, Please, Do NOT Pass the Ambrosia Salad

greenjellosaladyuck.jpg
Photo by Chris
Some foods should never make it to the Thanksgiving table.
Picture it: You're sitting around the Thanksgiving table with your entire extended family, and everyone is dressed nicely, behaving themselves and getting along. It's a Norman Rockwell holiday to the T. The turkey is perfectly browned, the gravy is thick, the biscuits are fluffy, the green beans are crisp and the stuffing is moist and juicy. Everything seems ideal as you pass the serving dishes around the table.

Then suddenly, without warning, you find yourself in possession of the most repugnant bowl of green frothy something you've ever laid eyes upon. There are brown flecks suspended throughout it, and wispy strands that almost resemble ... hair? And what sort of naturally occurring food is that sickly shade of light chartreuse? You move to pass it on, but then...

"Don't forget to take some Jell-O salad," Aunt Edna yells from across the table.

You stop mid-pass, grudgingly lift the serving spoon and scoop a mound of sickeningly sweet goop onto your already full plate, and it splashes ever so slightly onto your turkey and stuffing.

Perfect, you think. This is the worst food ever.

But you're wrong. There are so many Thanksgiving sides more offensive than green Jell-O salad with pecans. You've been warned, friends.

cannedcransauce.jpg
Photo by tastesbetterwithfriends
Not an option.
5. Canned cranberry sauce
To be perfectly honest, I kind of like canned cranberry sauce. However, I am able to look at this -- the only food I can think of that retains the shape of a tin can even days after it's been slid out of the can -- objectively and determine that it's pretty bad. It's mostly sugar with a little bit of cranberry flavor and then a little more sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. I get that Thanksgiving is a day to throw caution to the wind and eat whatever you want, cholesterol be damned, but there is absolutely zero nutritional value in jellied cranberry sauce, whereas cranberries themselves are packed with antioxidants. Do yourselves a favor and look up a cranberry sauce recipe that uses actual cranberries. And, if you must, get a can of the gelatinous stuff for the day after Thanksgiving, since we all know nothing spreads better on a leftover sandwich than a slice of cranberry gel.

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Photo by Joshin Yamada
Oh, birdseed! I love birdseed!
4. Wild rice stuffing
Generally speaking, I enjoy rice. I also enjoy bready stuffing, especially when it's been cooked inside the turkey. Wild rice stuffing, though? I just can't get behind that. I'm all for healthy options even on a gluttonous holiday, but wild rice stuffing takes it too far. Does rice ever need to be mixed with raisins and celery and nuts and sage? Something about these flavors together just doesn't work. If I'm going to eat stuffing (which of course I am), I want it to be buttery and moist and packed together from the juices of the turkey. I want it to pair well with gravy and not be chewy like wild rice. I want it to be super-fattening. You can keep your spa stuffing. I'll take mine with butter, thanks.


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61 comments
BobbyFreshpants
BobbyFreshpants topcommenter

You could always make the green bean salad fresh!? I suppose that goes against everything American these days though. Need that fast food.


Chris Whatley
Chris Whatley

Ambrosia salad is more iconic than the Astrodome!

jennytulltx
jennytulltx

I like 80% of those things - the canned cranberry sauce not so much.  But all the rest are just fine.  So shaddup!

Devin Gregoire
Devin Gregoire

well I haven't read Houston Press in years. Now I feel justified. 3 of those are have to haves.

David Clarke
David Clarke

Who doesn't like candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows???

Debbie Niday Lonon
Debbie Niday Lonon

Even when we used to have Thanksgiving dinners at work as a "bring a dish", I ALWAYS passed on the exact items you mentioned in your story! Stick to the REAL foods without the sweet concoctions!

Debbie Niday Lonon
Debbie Niday Lonon

I TOTALLY agree with you...and shared to my own timeline :)! Thank YOU for a great article in truth!

Laurin Marchand Guadiana
Laurin Marchand Guadiana

Oh, Kaitlyn Steinberg, how wrong you are. I enjoy all of these except for the wild rice stuffing. These dishes ARE Thanksgiving. Take them away, and what do you have left? Some (probably) dry turkey. I hope my family doesn't take tour advice and they keep making these classic side dishes.

Wendy Klotz
Wendy Klotz

You're fucking nuts. These are all delicious!

Ben Boven
Ben Boven

I like how you already posted this.

H Newcomb
H Newcomb

Bake the sweet potatoes, slide in a few pats of butter (homemade if possible), nothing more needed. Make your own dressing by mixing up a batch of cornbread mix, blend in some salsa if you want, or homegrown rosemary, or chopped homegrown green onions, or whatever blend of savory seasonings you wish, spread on a cookie sheet and bake till brown, remove, cool, cut into cubes, fix as you would any dressing (usually by pouring in some pan drippings from the turkey until it's the consistency you wish). Trim and cut some farmer's market green beans to desired length, saute in the homemade butter, just before done sprinkle with nutmeg and white pepper to taste, toss in slivered almonds if you wish.

Wesley Burnham
Wesley Burnham

People will eat the most disgusting shit in the name of being thankful.

Adrian Vargas
Adrian Vargas

We always have canned cranberry green bean casserole and we love jello salad the beauty of it you can make it any color you want

Maria Elba Olvera
Maria Elba Olvera

I like and I always make gree n bean casserole, can cranberry sauce and sweet potato. I will continue making it as long as family I cook it for wants it.

Alethea Drexler
Alethea Drexler

I'd take wild rice over dressing any day. Glob of soggy bread sticking in my throat? No, thanks.

Maggie McDougall Gutierrez
Maggie McDougall Gutierrez

Same here, what is thanksgiving without candied yams, canned shaped cranberry sauce & green bean casserole???...they have always been on the thanksgiving menu in my family and I will continue the tradition ;)

Josette Arvizu
Josette Arvizu

Call me crazy, but I love ambrosia salad. I know it's gross, but I

Mandy Mace Burnett
Mandy Mace Burnett

The author would hate thanksgiving at my house. 3/5 are staples every thanksgiving!

Jessica Jdub Wallace
Jessica Jdub Wallace

My sister and I finallky told our mom that she ruined our childhood by forcing us to eat her nasty ass green bean casserole! I remember literally just swallowing it.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

This. E'ry Thanksgiving and I thought I hated the holiday. I certainly understood the quantities of Jameson's consumed. Thankfully, I married into a WONDERFUL Creole family with holiday traditions that involves nary a box or can. Yay!

Adrian Taylor Barnard
Adrian Taylor Barnard

LOL! I ask people how they like the food and I expect an honest answer. My family wouldn't lie to spare my feelings so...

Adrienne Byard
Adrienne Byard

Sounds like someone had shitty cooks in the family.

Annie Schwartz
Annie Schwartz

Yeah, but it's pretty rude to complain about food that people make for you. So you can't only go off of the fact that you've never had a complaint.

Kathy Stabe
Kathy Stabe

My mom's is basically the same. I think she uses fruit cocktail and adds mandarin orange slices. I don't like it tbh, but everyone else does. I'm going to try the Southern Living one with mostly fresh fruit.

LosNix
LosNix

Two humble suggestions:

1. Google Alton Brown's green bean casserole... Awesome stuff.

2.Mashed sweet potatoes topped with crisp, diced bacon and some crumbled blue cheese, baked at 375 for fifteen minutes. You're welcome :)

Adrian Taylor Barnard
Adrian Taylor Barnard

I like ambrosia, never put jello in it either. Mine is tropical fruit and coconut mixed with Cool Whip. Never had a complaint.

Kathy Stabe
Kathy Stabe

My mom's ambrosia salad has never contained Jello. There was actually an ambrosia salad recipe in this month's Southern Living that looks great. It doesn't have the Cool Whip either. I'm making it this year.

clcutts
clcutts

I agreed with cannned green bean casserole but it  is awesome with fresh green beans and a homemade mushroom gravy. 

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Green bean casserole is a classic, you should get your head checked.

Marianne3
Marianne3

Ah, memories of....Ann Criswell. I remember Alison Cook, when she was provocatively good and writing for Houston Press, wondering aloud how a food critic at a major metro daily could recommend food like these items above. It was a classic piece of new food journalism.

Not_impressed
Not_impressed

@BobbyFreshpants Exactly!  We always make fresh green bean casserole with real mushrooms and fried onions and it turns out great!

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

And you see how that turned out...

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Um, me. Sweet potatoes? Fine. Candy? Delightful. Marshmallows? If we must. But never the three should meet. Especially if the sweet potatoes are pureed down like baby food. Ick.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

You are more than welcome to my share of the grass seeds.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@MadMac I want to do Thanksgiving with your family! I was actually thinking of getting takeout from Ragin Cajun this year haha

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Adrienne Byard I have awesome cooks in my family! But I have a small family, so we often doubled up with others who were maybe more traditional than we were. These dishes also pop up at office parties and potlucks, not just the family table. Unfortunately.

hebrides
hebrides

@LosNix

 Bleu cheese and sweet potatoes...that combination, really?

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

You can have my shar. I would not cheat you of it.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@MadMac Is that Atlantic Shar? Kidding.. :)


MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

That retirement package and dental plan will domesticate the best o' us.

Marianne3
Marianne3

@damian58 @Marianne3  

 Ah you're right! It was Lisa Gray. 

And if recall correctly,  Ann Criswell moved to become the editor at My Table, where she had developed a large fan base for casserole recipes

hebrides
hebrides

@adriennebyard @Marianne3 @damian58 

Right, though you could argue that Criswell and Byrne-Dodge are culinary doppelgangers, and also for a while Byrne-Dodge was pretending to be a food journalist at Houston Post, though eventually it came out that she was being paid for producing a column that was unmarked advertorial.

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