Some of you were not satisfied by naming a single dish, and that was okay by me. I love a ranking, a list, and a story, and the comments provided all three:
Commenter panthercougar favored the classics.
To me the most important sides in order of priority are:
2) Cranberry sauce
3) Mashed potatoes
4) Green bean casserole
And ahavatamid shared their elegant, streamlined Thanksgiving menu for one.
I have been making Thanksgiving for One for a few years now, which allows me to make what I love most. The protein is usually a game hen.
1. Sage and Walnut Dressing
2. Mashed potatoes and gravy
3. Fresh green beans and carrots
4. Cranberry sauce
5. A slice of pumpkin pie from the grocery store.
Golden Ballfield kept it even simpler. “I just do turkey, stuffing, and green beans. I arrange the 3 items on a plate, then dump gravy over all of it,” they wrote. “It’s really all you need.”
On the opposite end of the side dish spectrum, we have True Boomer’s meals of Thanksgiving past, which sound like a veritable fever dream of abundance, (though they do keep things a little simpler these days):
“When we went over the hills and through the woods to grandmothers house the menu included besides the turkey, gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes; fruit salad to begin,” they wrote. “Sides every year were succotash, mashed turnips, roasted sweet potatoes, apple sauce, apple butter, cranberry sauce, pepper slaw, chow chow, pickles, olives, raw celery and carrots, dinner rolls, and oyster casserole. Desserts were mince, apple, light and dark pumpkin pies and angel food cake. The last time I make Thanksgiving for family and friends (before the pandemic) I eliminated about 9 of those and all but 1 pie but added jambon en croute and a sweet potato chutney. Last year my daughter cut it down to cranberry sauce, oyster casserole, and green bean salad as the sides.”
Commenter oldandjaded also leans towards the elaborate. “Here in VA we have some more traditional southern things other than turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and mashed potatoes. We always have country ham, scalloped oysters (that’s what the recipe is called but they’re not truly scalloped, just oysters with crushed saltines and butter infused with a bit of Texas Pete and Worcestershire and put in a hot oven), corn pudding (MY favorite), butter beans, sweet potato casserole with bourbon and pecans on top, and Great Uncle Bill’s Pecan Pie. I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!”
With a menu like that, I can’t blame them.