5 Simple Thanksgiving Sides to Try This Year

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Joe and I love to cook and Thanksgiving offers a great opportunity to make some of our favorite Thanksgiving sides to share with those around us. Whether we are on the road or at home base, we usually make at least one of the recipes shared in this post. I hope you’ll give one of these simple Thanksgiving sides a try and share your favorite sides by leaving a comment below.

5 Simple Thanksgiving Sides

1. Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted cauliflower - healthy simple thanksgiving sides

Kicking off the list of simple Thanksgiving sides is the Russo family cauliflower dish that is always a crowd favorite. It’s also the side dish we made for our first Thanksgiving on the road as full time RVers. That was such a memorable Thanksgiving for us, Joe even wrote about the experience in his second book, Tales From the Open Road.


  • 4 pounds of cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 large gloves of garlic sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step one: Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. In a baking sheet, add the cauliflower, oil, garlic, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and combine with your hands. Make sure all the cauliflower is evenly distributed in one layer. Use multiple pans if necessary.

Step two: Place pans filled with cauliflower in middle rack of the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes. After 15 minutes, pull pans out and flip cauliflower. Once cauliflower is tender and golden brown, remove pan from oven.

To serve immediately – place cauliflower in a serving dish and top with pine nuts and cheese.

2. Kale Persimmon Salad

Kale and Persimmon Salad - simple thanksgiving sides

This kale persimmon salad is one of my favorite sides to pair with a Thanksgiving meal. Plus it’s easy to make in advance so can you have more time with the company around you. When it’s time to eat, just pour on the dressing and give the salad a good toss. If you like the sound of sweet and crunchy persimmon combined with the creamy avocado then give this salad a try and let me know what you think.


  • 8 cups Organic baby kale or shredded kale
  • 1 firm fuyu persimmon, sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted walnuts
  • Balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)


Add kale, persimmon, avocado and pine nuts to salad bowl. Dress accordingly based on amount of kale used. You can always place the dressing on the side for those who want more.

3. Mason Jar Balsamic Vinaigrette

5 Simple Thanksgiving Sides to Try This Year 2

This versatile vinaigrette in a mason jar will save you time, add a little fun to the process and leave you with the perfect storage vessel. Don’t have a mason jar? No problem! Grab any food safe container with a lid to get the party started.

Yields 1 cup of balsamic vinaigrette


  • 1 mason jar (size: 16 oz)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grounded pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic


Add all the ingredients into the mason jar and seal the lid tightly. Shake vigorously until ingredients have emulsified, about 10 seconds. Shake it to your favorite song, shake it over your head, shake it with both hands. It’s all about developing your own style.

Check out my favorite kitchen gadgets post to find out why mason jars are on the list.

4. Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic - healthy thanksgiving recipes

Deliciously crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, these sprouts make for a tasty Thanksgiving side dish.


  • 2 pounds of brussels sprouts, trimmed (A note about the size of brussels sprouts – look for sprouts about one to two inches in diameter with tightly bound leaves. If you end up with a mix of large and small sprouts, cut the large ones in half or quarters to match the other sprouts to ensure even cooking.)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grounded pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (alternative: fresh squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar)


Step One: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In an oven safe cooking sheet add brussels sprouts, oil, salt and pepper to the pan and mix by shaking the pan until sprouts are well coated. Make sure to use a pan large enough to fit the sprouts in a single layer.

Step Two: Place sprouts on the middle rack and roast for 35 to 40 minutes depending on size. Mix the sprouts after 15 to 20 minutes brown evenly.

Step Three: Remove sprouts from the oven and add to a serving bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, toss, taste and serve. Joe loves balsamic vinegar, so I always end up adding a little more to his bowl.

5. Rye and Apple Cider Cocktail

Rye and apple cider cocktail

This three ingredient cocktail is made with rye, sparkling apple cider and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It’s easy for you to make, but guests can also make their own. Place the ingredients by the bar with a bucket of ice and let people have some fun.

As you’ll see below, Joe and I have our own preferences in terms of Rye to cider ratio and sometimes he skips the last two ingredients entirely.

Kait’s version
1 part Rye
2 parts sparkling cider
1 dash of ground cinnamon

Joe’s version
1 part Rye
1 part sparkling cider
1 dash of ground cinnamon

Add an ice sphere to a whisky tumbler or fill it with ice cubes. Pour in the rye and cider, then add a sprinkle of ground cinnamon on top. Stir a few times with a spoon and enjoy!

Thanks for checking out these simple Thanksgiving sides. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Leave a Comment

4 thoughts on “5 Simple Thanksgiving Sides to Try This Year”

  1. I do a very similar roasted brussels sprout recipe. And since I like the dark brown crispy bits the best, I usually cut my sprouts in half “longitudinally” (thru the stem) to get more surface area for that. Yum! SO much better than steamed or boiled (ick)…

  2. Kait, would love to see you do way more cooking blog posts. That’s something I’m really wondering about as I cook pretty much all of my meals and use an instant pot. I’m in the planning/ wishing stage but quite sure I want to go class B. Thank you!


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