Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes: The Perfect Complements To Your Turkey

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Father Project

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Father Project

healthy Thanksgiving side dishes

If you're looking for healthy Thanksgiving side dishes to complement turkey or another main dish, you don't have to sacrifice taste to plan nutritious meals.

Healthy Thanksgiving side dishes are those that contain whole foods as ingredients — without added sugar, high-fat, processed meats, fried foods, artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or other artificial ingredients.

Vegetable dishes make excellent healthy Thanksgiving side dishes, as well as Fall-themed soups, whole grains, fruits, and foods rich in heart-healthy fats.

Try the healthy Thanksgiving side dishes below to make this holiday season one to remember!

Learn how to avoid weight gain after a feast so you can enjoy it without feeling guilty or worrying about adding extra pounds!

8 Great Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Replace traditional mashed potatoes with a mashed sweet potato recipe that's packed with vitamins, fiber, and heart-healthy fats!

Ingredients

  • 5 large sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup of almond milk or another milk
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh thyme leaves or chopped parsley for a garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Use a fork to poke holes into the sweet potatoes.
  • Place them on the baking sheet and roast until tender (about 60 minutes).
  • Scoop the cooked sweet potato flesh out of the skins (or keep the skins on for extra fiber) and place them in a food processor.
  • Add olive oil, milk, rosemary, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Process the mixture until creamy. You can also mash the mixture with a potato masher if you prefer a chunkier consistency.
  • Season the mixture to taste.
  • Transfer it to a bowl and garnish with thyme.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Servings: 4

Green Beans with Sliced Almonds

Forgo creamy green bean casserole by choosing this healthier green bean almond recipe!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces of green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water nearby.
  • Drop the beans into boiling water and blanch them for 2 minutes.
  • Drain the beans and immediately immerse them in ice water.
  • Drain them again and transfer the beans to a dry towel.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add almonds to the dry skillet and toast them until golden brown (about 2 to 3 minutes).
  • Remove the almonds from the pan and set aside.
  • Add oil to the pan and turn down the heat if necessary. Add the shallots and salt and sauté the mixture for about 2 minutes.
  • Add in the green beans and sauté the mixture for 2-4 more minutes, until the beans are tender and warmed through.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, add garlic and lemon juice, and toss to coat.
  • Season the beans to taste with salt and pepper and transfer them to a serving dish.
  • Sprinkle the beans with sliced almonds, serve, and enjoy!

Servings: 4

Butternut Squash Soup

Warm up on a cool Thanksgiving Day with a flavorful, satiating butternut squash soup recipe!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 3-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 3-4 cups of vegetable broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley and toasted pepitas for serving

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add in the onion, salt, and several grinds of pepper.
  • Sauté the mixture until soft (about 5-8 minutes).
  • Add the squash and cook until it softens, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add in garlic, sage, rosemary, and ginger. Stir the mixture and cook it for 30-60 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add 3 cups of broth.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, cover it, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook until the squash turns tender (about 20-30 minutes).
  • Let the mixture cool slightly, and pour the soup into a blender. Blend it until smooth.
  • If your soup is too thick, add additional broth and blend it again.
  • Season the soup to taste and serve it with parsley and pepitas.
  • Enjoy this tasty, healthy Thanksgiving side dish!

Servings: 6

Pear, Arugula, Roasted Pumpkin Seed Salad

This autumn salad recipe will make your mouth water, and it's as delicious as it is nutritious!

Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients

  • 2 pears, sliced
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup of sliced fennel
  • 1/3 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds

Instructions

  • Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a jar and shake well before serving.
  • Arrange the salad ingredients on four plates and drizzle each with olive oil.
  • Serve and enjoy this recipe with turkey and other healthy Thanksgiving side dishes!

Servings: 4

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Turkey-Stuffed Acorn Squash

If you're seeking satiating, healthy Thanksgiving side dishes, this Fall-themed turkey stuffed acorn squash recipe won't let you down!

Ingredients

  • 1 large acorn squash or 2 small squashes, cut in the half
  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 1/2 large yellow onion or one small onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/2 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cut the bottom and top of the squash to flatten those surfaces.
  • Cut the squash vertically in the middle.
  • Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds.
  • Brush both halves of the squash with olive oil. Season them with garlic salt and pepper.
  • Place the squash in the oven and roast it for 50-60 minutes.
  • Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet.
  • Add the turkey, season it with salt and pepper, and cook the mixture until the meat is cooked through.
  • Remove the meat from the pan and add additional olive oil.
  • Add onions and dried thyme and cook the mixture until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the celery, apple, and cranberries. Cook the mixture for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Return the meat to the pan and add chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Cook the mixture for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the breadcrumbs and cheese.
  • Stir the mixture and check the seasonings.
  • Stuff the squash with the meat stuffing.
  • Place it in the oven and bake the squash for 15 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Servings: 2

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This festive shaved Brussels sprouts salad recipe is loaded with nutrients and flavor!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of shaved Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra oil for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of roasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup of grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/3 cup of chopped chives
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts.
  • Place them in a medium bowl and toss them with olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts, cranberries, pecorino cheese, chives, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Let the salad sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Taste it and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
  • Top the salad with an additional drizzle of olive oil if you'd like.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Servings: 4

Thanksgiving Wild Rice Pilaf

This colorful, mouth-watering wild rice pilaf recipe is always a hit as one of the best healthy Thanksgiving side dishes!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of wild rice blend
  • 1 small leek, chopped and rinsed
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/3 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, plus another 1/3 cup for a garnish
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock or water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 splash of water or 2 teaspoons of olive oil

Instructions

  • Heat a large skillet or pot over a medium-low flame.
  • Add a splash of water or a drizzle of olive oil, plus the chopped leeks.
  • Sautee the mixture with a pinch of sea salt until translucent.
  • Stir in the grated carrots, thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes.
  • Add the wild rice mix and stir.
  • Add in the chopped bell peppers and 1/2 cup of cranberries.
  • Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half.
  • Add the vegetable stock or water. Stir the mixture and taste for seasoning. Add more salt if desired.
  • Bring the rice mixture to a simmer, cover it with a tight lid, and cook it over a low flame for about 50 minutes.
  • Turn off the flame but don't remove the lid.
  • Allow the rice to sit covered for 10-15 minutes and continue cooking.
  • Discard the bay leaves and woody sprigs from the herbs.
  • Use a fork to gently fluff the rice.
  • Serve this dish warm or cold, garnished with the remaining cranberries and fresh herbs.

Servings: 4

Cranberry Blackberry Sauce

Choose this cranberry blackberry sauce recipe to complement your turkey this Thanksgiving or as a naturally sweet dessert!
Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 pound of blackberries
  • 1/4 cup of aged balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of date syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 sprig of rosemary (optional)
  • Orange peel zest
  • 1 sprig of basil with blossoms for a garnish

Instructions

  • Add the cranberries and blackberries to a medium pot with balsamic vinegar, date syrup, vanilla, and a rosemary sprig.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook it over a medium flame until the cranberries begin to burst (about 6 minutes).
  • Remove the mixture from the flame and adjust the sweetness to your taste.
  • Allow the mixture to cool completely before serving it, garnished with fresh basil.
  • Serve and enjoy one of the best healthy Thanksgiving side dishes!

Servings: 6

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Erin Coleman B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Father Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results and health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on healthy Thanksgiving side dishes.

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Father Project

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