Published on 15 Nov 2023

Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dishes

When it comes to Thanksgiving, the spotlight often shines on turkey. However, for many, the true stars of the feast are the delectable side dishes. From creamy mashed potatoes and flavorful stuffing to sweet potatoes and cornbread, these dishes truly elevate the meal. And the best part? You can indulge in all your favorite holiday flavors while keeping it healthy! Our collection of lightened-up Thanksgiving side dish recipes showcase the ingredients and flavors you crave.

Keep reading to discover exciting ways to savor the season’s finest produce, and give thanks for a feast that tantalizes your taste buds and nourishes your body!

Healthy Homemade Thanksgiving Stuffing

If you can’t imagine Thanksgiving dinner without stuffing, this version is sure to become your new standard. You make it with whole wheat bread and veggies including carrots, onions, celery and sweet potatoes. It all bakes in the oven by itself (not inside the turkey) and comes out moist, fragrant and flavorful.

Get the Healthy Homemade Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe.

Roasted Delicata Squash Fall Salad

Delicata squash has tender skin like zucchini and other summer squash. However, it has the lightly sweet taste and smooth flesh of many types of winter squash. We love to roast delicata squash to caramelize its natural sugars and then blend it with savory onions and creamy feta cheese. Top the salad with brilliant pomegranate seeds and chopped walnuts for a dish that’s visually appealing and packed with flavor.

Get the Roasted Delicata Squash Fall Salad recipe. 

Creamed Brussels Sprouts

Fall is peak season for Brussels sprouts. They are the main ingredient in  this fresh take on a classic side dish. After the Brussels sprouts are charred for a smoky flavor and crispy edges, they’re coated in a rich sauce made with white cheddar and parmesan. It comes out so creamy and cheesy that even the kids will be asking for seconds.

Get the Creamed Brussels Sprouts recipe.

maple pecan sweet potatoes

Update your traditional holiday menu with a sweet potato dish that’s sweet, savory and simply delicious. Maple syrup and cinnamon complement the potatoes’ natural sweetness, while chopped pecans and dried cranberries add more tastes and textures. It’s so easy to make, you won’t wait until next Thanksgiving to have it again.

Get the Roasted Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes recipe. 

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Mushroom Stuffing

Whether you have a vegetarian coming for Thanksgiving or just a want to make a filling side dish that fits into your weight loss plan, this stuffing is a winning choice. Mushrooms give it a savory flavor and meaty texture, while butternut squash sweetens the taste and bumps up the nutrition. Make extra and you can enjoy this filling as part of a healthy lunch the day after the feast.

Get the Vegetarian Butternut Squash Mushroom Stuffing recipe. 

Easy Sweet Potato Casserole

Your side of sweet potatoes can be as healthy as it is delicious. This dish, for instance, features sweet potatoes mashed and mixed with almond milk, orange juice, maple syrup and fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s topped with a crumbly layer of chopped nuts and oats for a bit of crunch in every bite.

Get the Easy Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.

Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is a favorite for many families. This healthy version has everything you love, including crisp beans, meaty mushrooms and a creamy sauce made with Greek yogurt and milk. The topping of crushed wheat crackers gives it a crunchy finish.

Get the Healthy Green Bean Casserole recipe. 

Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes

If your gang loves creamy, cheesy au gratin potatoes, you don’t have to pass on them anymore. Just use this recipe, which lightens up the cheese sauce without dampening the satisfaction. Even better, this dish is so simple to prepare with everyday ingredients that you can make it for weeknight dinners as well as holiday feasts.

Get the Cheesy Au Grain Potatoes recipe.

Fall Pasta Salad

Pasta salads are filling and versatile side dishes that work as well with fall vegetables as they do with summer produce. To make this version, pair your favorite pasta shape with sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions, chopped turkey breast and cheese. A dressing of mayonnaise, mustard and apple cider vinegar ties it all together with a perky taste.

Get the Fall Pasta Salad recipe.

Sheet Pan Potatoes and Pears

Bored with the same old potato recipes? Pears are at their peak in autumn . They’re a sweet partner for potatoes and savory onions in this simple recipe. You roast them all on a single pan until they’re tender, fragrant and perfectly delicious.

Get the Sheet Pan Potatoes and Pears recipes.

Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are so naturally flavorful that they need very little to be the bright spot on your plate. We like to slice them into coins, coat them with butter, garlic, rosemary and other seasonings, then roast them in the oven. They come out crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and tasty all around.

Get the Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes recipe.

Instant Pot Pumpkin Risotto

Let the Instant Pot do all the work of making a side dish that’s sophisticated yet healthy, beautiful to look at and rich in flavor. Risotto is a creamy rice dish that we upgrade with pumpkin puree for color, taste and nutrients. Best of all, you get to enjoy the party while the Instant Pot cooks the risotto to perfection.

Get the Instant Pot Pumpkin Risotto recipe.

Crispy Garlic Smashed Potatoes with Creamy Feta Sauce

Looking for a new take on potatoes this year? Swap mashed potatoes with smashed potatoes! You start with small yellow or red roasting potatoes and boil them until tender, then mash them with a fork. They’re seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder and pepper, then roasted in the oven until they’re crisp. The creamy sauce made with Greek yogurt and feta cheese turns this into a party-ready side.

Get the Crispy Garlic Smashed Potatoes recipe.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Applesauce

People at your Thanksgiving table who like applesauce will adore this colorful version. Along with the apples, it features real cranberries, plus cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves for a sweet, tart and spicy flavor. All you do is put the ingredients in your slow cooker and it heats up into a smooth, thick, deep-red sauce.

Get the Slow Cooker Cranberry Applesauce recipe.

instant pot roasted head of cauliflower with herbs, veggies and pine nuts

Ordinary cauliflower becomes an elegant side dish with this easy recipe. The whole head of the cauliflower is coated in a savory marinade, cooked to tenderness in the instant pot, then quickly browned in the oven. A sprinkling of pine nuts and golden raisins adds more flavors and textures to the mild-tasting veggie.

Get the Instant Pot Roasted Cauliflower recipe.

Baked Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is an autumn vegetable that’s naturally sweet and creamy. In this dish, it’s cooked simply with a light coating of avocado oil to help it brown, as well as seasonings like red pepper flakes and garlic to give it a little zip. Along with the rich flavor, you get a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals that fortify your immune system for the cold season.

Get the Baked Butternut Squash recipe.

Air Fryer Roasted Parmesan Carrots

Even people who don’t care for vegetables will rave about these tasty carrots. In the air fryer they turn crisp on the outside while staying tender inside. Parmesan cheese adds a salty bite, which you can supplement with your favorite spices such as cayenne pepper or smoked paprika.

Get the Air Fryer Roasted Parmesan Carrots recipe.

Roasted Pumpkin

Pumpkin isn’t just for making pies. After all, it’s just a type of winter squash, so you can eat it as you would any other kind. To serve it for Thanksgiving, season it with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, then roast it until it’s tender and fragrant.

Get the Simple Roasted Pumpkin recipe.

2-Step Herb Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes can be easy, healthy and oh-so satisfying. We use nonfat milk and light butter to mash whole boiled potatoes, so they come out creamy while staying low in calories and fats. For extra zesty flavor, we mix in garlic, onions, rosemary and thyme.

Get the 2-Step Herb Mashed Potatoes recipe.

Instant Pot Collard Greens

Collard greens are a traditional side dish for many families. They’re a tasty and super-nutritious addition to any menu. For this recipe, we cook the greens in the Instant Pot with bell peppers, onions, sun-dried tomatoes and spices. They all become tender and juicy with a rich, balanced flavor.

Get the Instant Pot Collard Greens recipe.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

If you want to enjoy macaroni and cheese and keep your weight loss progress going strong, this recipe is your solution. You make it with mild-tasting cauliflower florets, which take the place of plain noodles. Next, bathe them in a coating of thick cheddar cheese sauce. The dish comes together so quickly and easily you can make it for lunch anytime you’re craving mac and cheese.

Get the Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe.

Cheese Sauce Smothered Broccoli

A coating of creamy cheese sauce turns ordinary broccoli into a family favorite. The rich sauce is made with cheddar cheese, plus mustard, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder for an extra kick of flavor. Don’t be surprised if your guests clamor for more broccoli.

Get the Cheese Sauce Smothered Broccoli recipe.

Baked Spicy Acorn Squash Recipe

Acorn squash is a standard Thanksgiving side dish with a mild, lightly sweet taste. We give it a flavor boost by baking it with jalapeno peppers, chili powder and garlic. You can make it as spicy or mild as your guests like.

Get the Baked Spicy Acorn Squash recipe.

Maple Cornbread

With this recipe, everyone can enjoy a taste of sweet and crumbly cornbread, including people who don’t eat gluten and everyone losing weight with Nutrisystem. It’s made with gluten-free corn meal, along with an egg, Greek yogurt and applesauce so it comes out moist. You can bake this from scratch in under 30 minutes, making it a great last-second option for bringing to a party or for serving at your own get-together.

Get the Gluten Free Maple Cornbread recipe.

Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole

Cauliflower can be a weight loss star, even at Thanksgiving. For this recipe, the versatile veggie is boiled until tender, then whipped with Parmesan cheese and yogurt into the consistency of mashed potatoes. The blend goes into a casserole dish, is layered with cheddar cheese and baked until the cheese browns on top.

Get the Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole recipe.

Maple Roasted Root Vegetables

Autumn is prime time for root vegetables like beets, carrots and parsnips. We like to toss them in a sweet and savory sauce featuring maple syrup, then roast them to bring out their own naturally sweet flavors. These roots are so colorful that they are as eye-catching as they are delicious.

Get the Maple Roasted Root Vegetables recipe.

Warm Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Salad

A warm salad is a simple way to enjoy the fresh taste and powerful nutrients in Brussels sprouts. In this dish, the little green sprouts are shaved into strips, mixed with cranberries, a shallot for a bit of zing, and crunchy pecans. It’s all sauteed until tender. A dressing of lemon juice, onion, garlic and honey coats all the ingredients.

Get the Warm Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Salad recipe.

Healthy Corn Pudding

Sweet corn in a cheesy sauce that’s baked until firm. Sounds like the ideal side dish for a Thanksgiving feast, right? You make this casserole with eggs, milk and ricotta cheese, and it comes together in just four easy steps. Just be prepared for your family to ask for it again and again.

Get the Healthy Corn Pudding Casserole recipe.

Sweet Potato Pecan “Pie”

Yes, you can have pie with dinner when you serve up a batch of these tasty sweet potatoes. The filling is the orange flesh mixed with cinnamon. It’s topped with a blend of maple syrup, brown sugar and pecans for that real pie flavor. The “crust” is the potato’s skin that’s been baked until crisp, making this the easiest “pie recipe” ever.

Get the Sweet Potato Pecan “Pie” recipe.

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Do you love mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner but want to avoid the carbs? With this easy recipe, cauliflower takes the place of potatoes, yet you still get the creamy whipped texture and the rich herb-infused flavor you look forward to all year. Only you need to know that your feast is as healthy as it is delicious.

Get the Slow Cooker Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes recipe.

apple spinach salad

From crunchy apples to crisp leaves of spinach, and even creamy goat cheese, this healthy fall salad has so many delicious flavors and textures. Another great part about this salad? It’s also super healthy. With fiber-rich, vitamin-packed fruits and veggies, it’s full of good nutrition and perfect to add to your tasty turkey meal.

Get the Fall Spinach Salad recipe.

carrots and beets

Nothing makes veggies more delicious than roasting them in olive oil. In this recipe, which combines roasted beets and carrots with tangy red onion, fresh rosemary really ups the ante when it comes to flavor. And with this healthy side dish, you’ll get a big helping of vitamin C on top of all of that bursting flavor.

Get the Roasted Rosemary Beets and Carrots recipe. 

Farro roasted veggie salad

In addition to carrots and beets, this salad adds two more superfoods to the lineup: Brussels sprouts and kale, both of which are a great source of fiber and can help aid in digestion. Tossed with farro, an ancient whole grain, and drizzled with a healthy homemade vinaigrette, this vegetable salad makes a delicious Thanksgiving side.

Get the Farro Roasted Vegetable Salad recipe.

Cinnamon Raisin Carrot Muffins

Pass on the white rolls or biscuits and instead opt for these hearty carrot raisin muffins as your side of bread. Made with healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour, nonfat Greek yogurt, unsweetened applesauce and, of course, carrots and raisins, these muffins are a baked good you can feel good about!

Get the Cinnamon Raisin Carrot Muffins recipe.

black bean quinoa pumpkin soup

There’s nothing quite like a hearty bowl of soup to fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied—and this soup will not disappoint. With healthy and filling ingredients like pumpkin, carrots, quinoa, black beans and kale, this soup is a great choice to kick off your meal. And if you fill up on this healthy soup, you’ll be less inclined to reach for other less-healthy sides.

Get the Black Bean Quinoa Pumpkin Soup recipe.


With sweet potatoes and cauliflower at the heart of this dish, you’re making a nutritious choice by starting your meal off with this fall soup. It’s packed with flavor without being packed with a ton of fat and calories. And because cauliflower and sweet potatoes provide high levels of vitamins and minerals, you can feel good that you’re getting lots of excellent nutritional benefits as well.

Get the Cauliflower Sweet Potato Soup recipe.


This soup combines yummy fall veggies with Italian seasonings and tender chicken breast for a flavorful side dish that is a great way to kick off your Thanksgiving meal. With carrots, butternut squash, turnips and kale, grab a hearty bowl of this soup and you’ll fill up on nutritional goodness before you even have the chance to eat anything else. And because it’s so flavorful and delicious, you won’t feel the least bit cheated by filling up on soup.

Get the Italian Chicken and Fall Veggie Soup recipe.


Besides pumpkins, nothing screams “fall” like apple dishes. Of course, many times apples are prepared in a way that their health benefits are overshadowed by so much added sugar. But not in this recipe! The only ingredients in this delicious side dish are apples, cinnamon and nutmeg. Once they are air fried and crisped, these chips taste like dessert.

Get the Air Fryer Apple Chips recipe.

roasted balsamic fig and brussels sprouts

Figs, which are high in fiber and a good source of several essential minerals, haven’t always gotten the credit they deserve. Their honey-like taste is sweet and combines deliciously with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and Brussels sprouts in this tasty side. With Brussels sprouts being so rich in a variety of valuable nutrients, this dish is undoubtedly a nutritional powerhouse.

Get the Roasted Balsamic Fig and Brussels Sprouts recipe.


Another excellent alternative to the traditional bread basket are these homemade crackers that are easy to bake and full of flavor. Using whole wheat flour, along with the flavors of pureed pumpkin and dried cranberries, these crisps make a great substitute to white dinner rolls or biscuits.

Get the Pumpkin Cranberry Crackers recipe.


Traditional mashed potatoes are often a Thanksgiving staple. But when prepared with butter and whole milk—as they typically are—they’re not exactly a healthy side. Our mashed potato pancakes, however, are made using a package of Nutrisystem Loaded Potatoes and egg whites, as well as the added flavors of baby spinach, chives, garlic and pepper. Even though they lack all of the extra calories and fat of traditional mashed potatoes, they don’t lack any flavor.

Get the Mashed Potato Pancakes recipe.

pumpkin soup

Pumpkin recipes are the quintessential choice of the Thanksgiving table, but many traditional dishes have a lot of unhealthy ingredients added in. That’s not the case for this simple soup which uses a healthy, low-calorie base of broth and non-fat milk and adds in delicious pumpkin puree and a variety of seasonings. It’s a cozy fall soup that will leave you feeling full and satisfied.

Get the Simple Pumpkin Soup recipe.

cinnamon muffins

This soft and delicious muffin has ingredients like applesauce, cinnamon and rolled oats. It would make a nice healthy bread basket option. You might even choose to opt for one of these wholesome muffins in place of a slice of pie at dessert.

Get the Cinnamon Streusel Muffins recipe.

mediterranean muffins

If you’re looking for a filling side that is easy to make, look no further than these vegetable-stuffed muffins. Packed with baby spinach, sundried tomatoes and onions, and flavored with Italian seasoning, these savory muffins deliver a ton of taste. They would make a filling side and a healthy addition to Turkey Day.

Get the Savory Mediterranean Muffins recipe.

Skinny Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Whether it’s a cozy family dinner or a festive holiday feast, this creamy and flavorful Skinny Mashed Sweet Potato recipe will surely please even the pickiest eaters. And the best part? It’s a perfect fit for your Nutrisystem weight loss plan, with the inclusion of skim milk and Greek yogurt. Try this crowd-pleaser today!

Get the Skinny Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe.

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