The Best Thanksgiving Side in Every State
Thanksgiving is often referred to as "Turkey Day," but as it turns out, the bird isn't the true star of the dinner table. Traditional Thanksgiving dinner menus vary depending on where you live, as evidenced by each state's favorite side dish. It's no surprise that mashed potatoes won the prize for most popular, but with mac and cheese claiming the number two spot, it's safe to say that Americans love our carbs.
Thanks to Zippia, which used Google Trends to determine the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes across the country, we have plenty of insight into T-Day trends. The biggest surprise? Although cranberry sauce is typically considered the quintessential Thanksgiving side dish, only one state favors the jellied sauce. Meanwhile, casseroles of all kinds are far more popular than some of us may have expected. Without further ado, let's take a look at the best Thanksgiving side dish from every state.
And to find out what the pro eat on the big day, check out 17 Chefs Share Their Must-Have Thanksgiving Dishes.
No, not salad dressing—I'm sure we can all agree that would taste pretty unpleasant on its own. In Alabama, "dressing" refers to a Southern variation of stuffing, which consists of buttermilk cornbread and a topping made from herbs, butter, onion, celery, eggs, and turkey stock.
And for more food news and recipe ideas, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
ALASKA: Hashbrown Casserole
Hashbrowns aren't just an everyday breakfast side dish—they're also the base for Alaska's favorite Thanksgiving side. This easy-to-make recipe consists of hashbrowns (natch), butter, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Look out, turkey—this hashbrown casserole has all the makings of a main dish.
ARIZONA: Green Bean Casserole
Created in the 1950s by a staffer at Campell's soup, this recipe was originally inspired by practicality—green beans and Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup were items that most Americans had on hand at the time. Today, it's one of the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes in all areas of the country.
ARKANSAS: White Gravy
It's no surprise that gravy made the cut, but Arkansas favors white gravy rather than the brown gravy that many of us are accustomed to. Instead of adding broth and flour to the meat fat, this Southern recipe uses milk, cream, and butter.
CALIFORNIA: Mashed Potatoes
We've arrived at the most popular Thanksgiving side dish: mashed potatoes. Americans have been eating mashed potatoes since the 1700s, and they were originally a Thanksgiving staple because potatoes are easy to grow and it's an affordable dish. Three hundred years later, they're more popular than ever.
COLORADO: Mashed Potatoes
In addition to their deliciousness, mashed potatoes are the ideal Thanksgiving side. For those of us who aren't experts in the kitchen, they're easy to make, and more skilled cooks can get creative with different variations of the dish by adding new flavors and ingredients.
CONNECTICUT: Mashed Potatoes
What can we say? Americans really love our mashed potatoes, and The Nutmeg State is no exception.
DELAWARE: Mac & Cheese
Over the past five years, mac and cheese has risen through the ranks of beloved sides, and it's now the second most popular in the country. It's been a longtime Thanksgiving staple in Southern states, but the secret is out, and the delicious comfort food is now on tables all over the country.
FLORIDA: Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potatoes are another Thanksgiving staple, and Floridians prefer to eat them in a casserole. Made with butter, brown sugar, and pecans, this side dish sounds more like a dessert, and we're here for it.
GEORGIA: Mac & Cheese
Mac and cheese remains a favorite in the South. Give us all the cheesy, delicious carbs!
HAWAII: Turkey Gravy
Hawaiians prefer classic gravy made from turkey drippings. This is a tricky recipe to pull off, so luckily there are some excellent store-bought options.
IDAHO: Green Bean Casserole
Idaho is also on board with the green bean casserole trend. Stumped about the perfect drink pairing? From Betty Crocker's mouth to our ears, the answer is torrontés, a white wine from Argentina.
ILLINOIS: Mashed Potatoes
Casseroles are the overwhelming favorite in the midwest, but Illinois is sticking with the national favorite: mashed potatoes.
INDIANA: Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are a delicious side, but their versatility makes them an excellent Thanksgiving dish. Unlike the vast majority of states' favorite side dishes, they can be served as an appetizer as well.
Iowa is often referred to as "The Corn State," so it's fitting that corn is on the Thanksgiving table. Grated, on the cob, or worked into a casserole dish, Iowans will definitely get their veggie fix.
KANSAS: Creamed Corn
It may not be The Corn State, but cream corn is a beloved side in Kansas. Made with heavy cream, sugar, and butter, it may not be as healthy as a simple grated corn side, but you can still say you got your daily dose of vegetables.
KENTUCKY: Broccoli Casserole
As evidenced by their strong presence on this list, casseroles are a popular side dish—but Kentucky is the only state that favors broccoli casserole. Made with cream of chicken soup, butter, cheese, and Ritz crackers, this sounds like the ultimate comfort food and we wouldn't be surprised if this casserole variation is a rising star that will become the favorite in other states. Time will tell!
LOUISIANA: Cornbread Dressing
Louisianans don't stop with a loaf of basic cornbread. Using the beloved Southern dish as a base, cornbread dressing is made with butter, chopped celery, onions, eggs, chicken stock, and sage. It's best served with a drizzling of gravy on top.
MAINE: Side Salad
Yes, you read that correctly. It appears that Mainers are really devoted to eating healthy, even on Thanksgiving—but perhaps they prefer to splurge on main dishes and desserts rather than side dishes. After all, it's more than OK to forget about your diet on a holiday.
MARYLAND: Mac & Cheese
Meanwhile in Maryland, the side dish of choice is mac and cheese. Because we don't want to end the day in too much of a food coma, we recommend adding a side like salad or seasoned veggies to accompany your turkey and mac and cheese.
We've finally arrived at stuffing! Although you can buy it in a box, it tastes way better made from scratch—and it's one of the few Thanksgiving recipes that make for a good group activity. Spend some family bonding time working together to make this classic, savory side.
MICHIGAN: Green Bean Casserole
Traveling back to the midwest, here's further proof that the region really loves its casseroles—and green bean is hands-down the favorite.
MINNESOTA: Mashed Potatoes
Minnesota is one of the ten states that favor mashed potatoes. Stay classic and douse them with gravy, or try a fun new recipe like this garlic mashed potatoes dish.
MISSISSIPPI: Baked Sweet Potatoes
Although sweet potatoes are considered a traditional Thanksgiving dish, they actually weren't on the table at the very first Thanksgiving. In fact, they didn't make their Thanksgiving debut until about 150 years later. Nevertheless, they're an excellent side, and Mississippians prefer to eat their sweet potatoes in a healthy baked dish.
We're glad to see rolls get some love from Missourians. Sure, they aren't a star Thanksgiving side dish like mashed potatoes or stuffing, but a plate isn't complete without a warm roll and butter. Plus, even the pickiest eaters love bread and they're a godsend for vegetarians on Thanksgiving.
MONTANA: Mashed Potatoes
If you want to add some more flavor to your mashed potatoes without making it too complicated, some easy and popular additions include onions, chives, and cream cheese. Just don't forget to set aside plain mashed potatoes for your guests who prefer the dish in a simple, traditional form.
NEBRASKA: Green Bean Casserole
When the green bean casserole recipe was born out of practicality, who could have imagined that nearly 70 years later, it would be one of the most popular Thanksgiving sides in America?
NEVADA: Mashed Potatoes
Looking for a wine to pair with Thanksgiving's most popular side dish? You can't go wrong with a bottle (or two) of Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Cranberry Sauce
Historians believe that cranberries were on the table at the first Thanksgiving due to their abundance in the region. The side dish cranberry sauce is practically synonymous with Thanksgiving, so it's a little surprising that New Hampshire is the only state where it ranks number one.
NEW JERSEY: Stuffing
Stuffing straight from the turkey is delicious, but if you have any vegetarians in the family, consider trying a vegetarian recipe. After all, it's one of the most popular Thanksgiving sides, so everyone should be able to partake.
NEW MEXICO: Green Bean Casserole
When it comes to food, New Mexico is best known for its incredible chiles—but on Thanksgiving, they stick with the tried and true green bean casserole.
NEW YORK: Stuffing
Stuffing may not have made the top two, but it's certainly beloved on the East Coast. Don't forget to pair it with sparkling wine or cider.
NORTH CAROLINA: Mac & Cheese
In North Carolina, a Thanksgiving spread isn't complete without mac and cheese.
NORTH DAKOTA: Mashed Potatoes
North Dakota is one of the top potato producers in the country, so it makes perfect sense that the state puts its spuds to good use on Thanksgiving.
OHIO: Green Bean Casserole
What can we say? Midwesterners really love their casseroles.
Cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner is known for being a tough task, and for most dishes, you can't cut corners. But rolls are the exception—rather than make them from scratch, just buy high-quality frozen rolls and stick them in the oven.
Oregon also loves bread on Thanksgiving, but with a twist—biscuits are their side dish of choice.
Stuffing remains popular in the 21st century, but a 1,600-year-old Roman cookbook includes the first known stuffing recipe. One of the ingredients is "crushed brains," so needless to say, we're grateful the recipe has evolved over time.
RHODE ISLAND: Stuffing
Rhode Islanders also love their stuffing. Although it's an American staple, it's one of the few Thanksgiving dishes that originated in Europe.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Mac & Cheese
Americans can't get enough mac and cheese. It could even be used as a main course for folks who aren't wild about turkey and stuffing.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Crescent Rolls
In South Dakota, the bread dish is tasty and aesthetically pleasing. Crescent rolls are light, buttery, and ideal for that perfect Insta of your Thanksgiving spread.
TENNESSEE: Sweet Potato Casserole
Like Floridians, folks in Tennessee use sweet potatoes in this decadent side dish that's worth every calorie.
TEXAS: Green Bean Casserole
Midwesterners aren't the only ones who love green bean casserole. It's also the most popular side dish in Texas.
It's hard to beat a warm roll topped with butter, so we're not surprised they're Utah's favorite side dish. Rolls are a particularly good option if there are a lot of kids at your Thanksgiving gathering, too. Some of the main dishes are an acquired taste with age, but it's a safe bet the kiddos will be happy to fill up on rolls.
East coasters are really devoted to their stuffing, and Vermont is no exception.
VIRGINIA: Mac & Cheese
For Virginians, it's not Thanksgiving without the warm, delicious cheese and carbs.
WASHINGTON: Mashed Potatoes
Fun fact: Washington state produces 20% of America's potatoes. And Washingtonians put them to good use on Thanksgiving by cooking plenty of mashed potato dishes.
WEST VIRGINIA: Rolls
For a side dish that's not generally associated with Thanksgiving, rolls sure get a lot of love, including from West Virginia.
WISCONSIN: Mashed Potatoes
Breaking from the overwhelming affinity for casserole in the Midwest, Wisconsin favors mashed potatoes.
WYOMING: Brown Gravy
Arkansas favors white gravy, but in Wyoming, it's all about the brown gravy. Using the drippings of the Thanksgiving turkey as the base, it's cooked with vegetables on high heat before being thickened with either flour or cornstarch. Drizzled on turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, gravy is hands-down the side dish that really completes the Thanksgiving meal.
More ideas for planning a Thanksgiving feast:
More content from Healthy Eating
- – 5 Easy Recipe Swaps To Make Your Holiday Baking Healthier
- – 6 Healthy Ingredient Swaps Nutrition Pros Swear By for Their Holiday Recipes
- – Does Eating Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?
- – Here's How Many Calories Are Lurking in Your Thanksgiving Dinner
- – 8 Classic Holiday Dishes That Should Never Make a Comeback
- – 12 Time-Saving Tips for Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner, Chefs Say
- – Why Your Turkey Always Dries Out—And How to Avoid It, Says Chef
- – 21 Healthy Memorial Day Recipes That Take 20 Minutes (or Less!)