Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones, share meaningful moments, and enjoy delicious food. However, cooking for Thanksgiving can be hectic, especially if you have children in the house.
If you have little ones at your table this holiday season, you know that not every dish will be a hit with their picky palates.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of kid-friendly side dishes for Thanksgiving; They are sure to please even the most discerning of young eaters.
In this blog post, we will share some creative and kid-friendly Thanksgiving side dishes recipes that will earn rave reviews at your dinner table.
These dishes are not only tasty but also simple to prepare, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of your loved ones.
19 Kid-Friendly Side Dishes for Thanksgiving
1. Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
Broccoli is not typically kids’ favorite but cooked in a creamy, cheesy casserole; chances are you’ll be scraping the bottom of the dish.
It’s easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time. Here’s how to make it: steam broccoli for 5-7 minutes, drain the excess water, and mix with a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.
Pour the mixture into a casserole dish, sprinkle breadcrumbs and extra cheese on top, and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly.
2. Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Mustard Dip
Kids love finger foods, and what could be better than sweet potato fries? Slice sweet potatoes into thin sticks, toss them in olive oil, salt and cumin, and bake them in the oven for 30-35 minutes until crispy.
Serve with a kid-friendly dip of honey mustard – perfect for both kids and adults.
Discover More: Best Side Dishes to serve with Sweet Potato Soup
3. Veggie Stuffing
Stuffing is a Thanksgiving classic, but kids’ imagined texture may be off-putting. Instead, try a veggie stuffing with carrots, celery, onions and mushrooms for a nutrient boost.
This dish can be customized with different herbs and spices and can be made in a slow cooker, instant pot, or oven. If you want to add some protein, try tossing in some cooked and crumbled turkey sausage.
4. Roasted Carrots with Cranberry Glaze
Adding color to your Thanksgiving table has never been more natural. Roasting carrots brings out their natural sweetness and makes them tender, while a cranberry glaze gives them a tangy, flavorful twist.
Toss sliced carrots in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper and roast in the oven at 400°F for about 25-30 minutes until they are caramelized.
Whisk together honey, cranberry sauce, and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and brush the glaze onto the carrots, and roast for an additional 5-10 minutes.
5. Classic Mashed Potatoes with a Twist
Take the classic mashed potatoes recipe and incorporate a twist. Mash potatoes together with roasted garlic, shredded cheddar cheese, and fresh chives, and serve garnished with bits of bacon on top.
It’s a delicious, savory spin on an essential Thanksgiving side dish.
6. Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple, but this dish takes them to the next level. The sweetness of the potatoes is balanced by a crunchy pecan and brown sugar topping that even the pickiest of eaters will love.
Plus, it’s a great make-ahead dish that you can pop in the oven right before serving.
7. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? This version incorporates butternut squash, which not only adds a pop of color but also provides a healthy dose of vitamins A and C.
Kids won’t even realize they’re eating something nutritious, and adults will appreciate the sophisticated yet comforting twist on a classic dish.
8. Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casserole is a classic Thanksgiving side dish, but it’s not always the most kid-friendly.
This version ditches the canned cream of mushroom soup and fried onions in favor of a homemade mushroom cream sauce and crispy shallots. The result is a dish that’s both healthier and more flavorful than the traditional version.
9. Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows
If you have a hard time getting your kids to eat vegetables, this dish might be the answer.
Mashed sweet potatoes get a sweet and creamy upgrade with the addition of marshmallows. It’s like having dessert for dinner, and it’s sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike.
10. Cranberry Sauce
While it’s not technically a side dish, cranberry sauce is a crucial component of any Thanksgiving meal.
This homemade version is tart and sweet with a touch of orange zest. It’s a great way to introduce kids to new flavors and textures, and it’s so easy to make that you’ll never go back to the canned stuff.
11. Mac & Cheese
Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? This easy-to-make dish is perfect for serving on Thanksgiving Day as an alternative to heavy dishes like gravy and cranberry sauce.
12. Green beans almondine
A simple combination of green beans and crunchy almonds makes this dish a winner in the eyes of any child.
Soft, sweet and oh-so-delicious – cornbread is the perfect vehicle for all of the delicious fixings served up on Thanksgiving Day.
14. Roasted Brussels sprouts
Tiny green vegetables like Roasted Brussels sprouts may not sound like something your kids will love, but roasting them in garlic and olive oil makes them absolutely delicious!
15. Baked apples
Filled with cinnamon, nutmeg and butter, these juicy apples make for a wonderfully sweet side dish that both kids and adults can enjoy.
16. Garlic mashed cauliflower
A healthier alternative to mashed potatoes, this dish combines the flavors of garlic and Parmesan for a delicious side dish.
Explore More: Kid-Friendly Easter Side Dishes
17. Maple roasted acorn squash:
The perfect combination of sweet maple syrup and savory seasonings makes this an easy-to-make dish that kids are sure to enjoy!
18. Baked potato wedges
Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these potato wedges make a great side dish for Thanksgiving.
19. Corn on the cob
What kid doesn’t love corn on the cob? It’s fun to eat and filled with lots of flavors – perfect for any Thanksgiving table!
kid-friendly pasta side dishes for Thanksgiving
1. Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese is a classic favorite; this dish is sure to please any kid.
Simply boil macaroni noodles until al dente, then combine with shredded cheese and a splash of milk into a baking dish. Bake until golden and bubbly for an easy side that everyone will love.
2. Roasted Potatoes
Roasted Potatoes are Another crowd-pleaser; potatoes are easy to make with just about any flavor combination you can imagine.
Cut potatoes into cubes, season with salt and herbs of your choice, then bake on a sheet pan in the oven until crispy on the outside and tender inside.
3. Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Not only are sweet potatoes incredibly good for you, but they’re also delicious.
Boil sweet potatoes in their skins until soft, then peel and mash with butter, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg for classic mashed sweet potatoes.
4. Stuffed Shells
Kids of all ages will enjoy these creamy stuffed shells made with ricotta cheese and herbs.
Simmer jumbo pasta shells in boiling water until al dente, then stuff each shell with a mixture of ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and herbs. Bake or sauté until golden brown for a restaurant-worthy side dish.
Learn More: Mouthwatering Side Dishes for Stuffed Shells
5. Baked Ziti
Perfectly cooked ziti noodles mixed with a creamy sauce is sure to be a hit at the Thanksgiving table. Make this dish even easier by using pre-made sauce and baking it until bubbly and golden.
6. Mini Lasagna Rolls
Bite-sized lasagna rolls are just as delicious as traditional lasagna and much easier to make. (Recipe)
Simply take lasagna noodles, spread with a mixture of ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, herbs and cheese, roll up the noodles like a jellyroll, then bake until golden brown.
7. Baked Parmesan Garlic Bread
Nothing says kid-friendly more than cheesy garlic bread!
Simply slice bread into thick slices, top with butter, parmesan cheese, minced garlic and seasonings, then bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Pasta Salad
A light side dish that can be as simple or complex as you want. Start with boiled pasta, then mix in the vegetables and cheese of your choice, along with a light dressing like olive oil and lemon juice, for a delicious side dish the kids will enjoy.
9. Roasted Carrots
An easy and nutritious way to get the kids excited about vegetables. Simply toss carrots with melted butter, chopped herbs, salt and pepper, then bake until tender-crisp.
10. Cheese Stuffed Shells
Mini shells filled with creamy ricotta cheese are sure to make any kid happy!
Boil mini pasta shells until al dente, stuff each one with a mixture of ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and parsley, then bake until golden.
These are just a few of the kid-friendly pasta side dishes that can be served at Thanksgiving, but feel free to get creative for even more fun and tasty dishes!
With these recipes, your kids will surely have something delicious to look forward to this holiday season. Enjoy!
10 easy side dishes for picky eaters
1. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich is a classic favorite for kids of all ages; grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches are easy to make and can be customized to include different ingredients like bacon, ham or even avocado slices.
The combination of melted cheese paired with the acidic burst of tomatoes is sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
2. Broccoli Tots
These oven-baked nuggets not only pack in a healthy dose of veggies, but they also have a crunchy outside that even picky eaters will enjoy. Serve them with ranch dressing or ketchup for added flavor and dip-ability!
3. Roasted Veggies
Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness, making them much more palatable for picky eaters.
Broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes and bell peppers are all great options to roast up—just drizzle with oil, salt and pepper before popping them in the oven!
4. Tortilla Roll Ups
Kids love finger foods—and parents love when they get some vegetables into their kids’ diets!
Tortilla roll-ups are easy to make and customizable enough to satisfy even the pickiest eaters.
Fill a whole wheat tortilla with shredded cheese, diced veggies and hummus or cream cheese spread for a tasty treat that’s both nutritious and delicious.
5. Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes are so versatile; you can top them with anything from chili or broccoli to minced beef or chicken mixed with steamed vegetables for a heartier meal option.
Pair it with sour cream or Greek yogurt for added richness that’s sure to please any picky eater!
6. Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni & Cheese is a nostalgic dish never fails to hit the spot in terms of comfort food cravings—and it’s easy on the pocketbook too!
You can buy pre-made macaroni & cheese from your local store or easily make it at home using real cheese for an extra cheesy version sure to delight even the pickiest of eaters!
7. Stuffed Peppers
Peppers come in all colors, shapes and sizes—which makes them ideal vessels for stuffing full of flavorful ingredients like rice, ground meat, quinoa or beans (for vegans!).
Top stuffed peppers off with gooey melted cheese that kids won’t be able to resist!
Easy-to-make quesadillas are always crowd pleasers, especially when filled with loads of melted cheese (or dairy-free alternatives) as well as diced veggies like bell peppers, mushrooms or onions for added nutrition without compromising taste.
Serve these up alongside salsa or guacamole dip for extra yumminess!
9. Mashed Cauliflower
Mashed Cauliflower is an excellent low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes; this dish has become increasingly popular due to its creamy consistency without having lots of starch and carbs associated with mashed potatoes often disliked by kids’ palates.
Add butter, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and chives – serve over steamed broccoli florets!
10. Popcorn Chicken
Bite-size fried chicken pieces – perfect finger food garnished with herbs such as parsley, oregano, and paprika – Dip in honey mustard sauce – guaranteed winner among kids!
Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family, appreciate what you have, and enjoy the company of your loved ones. But let’s not forget the importance of delicious, kid-friendly side dishes that will truly make this holiday a memorable one.
From sweet potato fries to roasted carrots with cranberry glaze – there is something for everyone at your Thanksgiving dinner.
These creative and easy-to-make recipes are sure to become a new holiday favorite for years to come, and anyone might just ask for the recipe.
Don’t forget to add your own twists and favorite ingredients to these recipes to make them your own. Happy Thanksgiving!
What to bring for kids on Thanksgiving dinner?
If you are planning to include kids in your Thanksgiving dinner, there are a few things that you can bring to make it special and enjoyable for them.
Let the kids get creative by bringing coloring books, crayons, and colored pencils so they can express their creativity while everyone else enjoys the dinner.
For family activities, set up a game of charades or Pictionary with cards or paper and pencils.
Bring some small toys or puzzles to keep little hands busy during dinner time. If the weather permits, organize an outdoor game like tag or toss a frisbee around the backyard.
Don’t forget snacks! Kids need sustenance throughout the day and will be more than happy with something yummy like popcorn, pretzels, and fruit snacks.
Finally, end the night with a festive treat like pumpkin pie or ice cream sundae. With these ideas in mind, your Thanksgiving dinner will be sure to keep all of your family members entertained!
What are common side dishes for Thanksgiving?
Some of the most popular side dishes for Thanksgiving include mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, roasted vegetables, cornbread, cranberry sauce and macaroni and cheese.
Many people also enjoy popular appetizers such as deviled eggs or spinach dip before the main meal. Desserts are often a key part of the meal, too, with pumpkin pie being a classic favorite.
Other options might include apple crisp, pecan pie or even ice cream!
Ultimately it is up to you what side dishes you serve – so pick whatever sounds best for your family’s Thanksgiving feast!