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Ranking Thanksgiving Dishes (My own opinion and America’s)

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Akron chapter.

You have it all planned out in your mind. Wearing the perfect outfit you bought weeks ago (despite many people staying home for the holiday) paired with last minute invitations from friends and family. Some folks are blasting Christmas music when others are planning shopping routes for Black Friday. Then there are the people waiting for the perfect time to snack so they won’t ruin their appetite for the feast—and for some, feasts—awaiting them in a couple of hours. After giving thanks and taking countless photos everyone gathers around for Thanksgiving dinner. Every dinner is different with so many dishes to choose from! Me personally I stick to what I know best, but not many would agree. Here is a short list of 11 popular Thanksgiving dishes ranked from 1-11 (11 being the worst, 1 the best) by me. Because others (a small survey I conducted with my family and friends from around the country) have disagreed with me while I was making this list, I also included rankings from the rest of “America” about these traditional, American Thanksgiving dishes.


My rank: 5

America: 1

Yes I am well aware that turkey is supposed to be the main dish of the table. But it’s so dry and no one ever wants seconds so ultimately it goes to waste. Let’s be real, there are so many other things on the table to eat! Others say you simply can’t think about a wholesome Thanksgiving dinner without turkey being in the spotlight. This isn’t surprising considering about 70 percent of Americans think it is not a real Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey, according to Blasting News. The bird wasn’t even on the menu of the first Thanksgiving dinner, mind you!


My rank: 7

America: 2

It’s pretty obvious turkey and stuffing go hand in hand on a plate. Normally you see stuffing inside the turkey instead of the on the sidelines. At the end of the day though, it’s just bread! Which adds to the dryness of the turkey if you ask me. But, once again I may be in the wrong. Market Basket Foods mentions stuffing originated in Europe some time between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. A chef by the name of Apicius created a cookbook entitled, “Apicius de re Coquinaria.” In its pages are recipes for stuffed chicken, rabbit, pig, and even dormouse. So stuffing has been experimented with for a long time! 


My rank: 1

America: 6

I’m obsessed with Thanksgiving ham because I personally think it pairs well with so many side dishes. It’s juicy, smokey, and after Thanksgiving, I can slap it on a sandwich or throw it together with some cheese and crackers. It’s the perfect combo of sweet and salty, but for many, ham is not a staple for their dinner. Turkey is way healthier too (despite taking longer to cook) but it’s all about tradition I suppose.

Cranberry Sauce

My rank: 11

America: 3

I despise cranberries and I simply have no idea why someone would create this cranberry dessert. Why is it a sauce if it jiggles like jello? Contrary to my judgement, people say you can’t go wrong with cranberry sauce especially since cranberries are one of the only fruits native to North America. Delish.com also states that “Americans eat 400 million pounds of cranberries every year—20 percent of which occurs during Thanksgiving week alone!”

Pumpkin Pie

My rank: 9

America: 7

I personally am not a fan of pumpkin-flavored anything, so there’s that. You might be surprised that this dessert is not much higher on the list for the rest of the country. Pumpkin pie was also not served at the first Thanksgiving, and many think it should stay in its original state: a pumpkin.


My rank: 8

America: 10
I was basing this off of versatility because yams can come in many forms (even though I don’t like the vegetable at all). Yams were much more appreciated years ago. “Sweet potatoes have been popular in the American South since colonial times, when slaves who worked in plantation fields and kitchens mistook them for the yams they knew in their homelands,” according to Martha Stewart.com. Today yams are still served on the dinner table, especially paired with marshmallows on top. Genius? Or controversial?

Apple Pie

My rank: 4

America: 9

Quite the American classic if I may say so myself (even though it has English origins). Apple pie and ice cream are the undefeated power couple for Thanksgiving desserts in my eyes. For others who like apples but absolutely hate it in any shape or form, the distaste for apple pie is due to its “sloppy” and soggy insides and because it’s so complicated to make.

Sweet Potato Pie

My rank: 10

America: 8

Once again, not one of my favorites. And for the others? I suppose this would also go back to if you like yams or not.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

My rank: 3

America: 4

One of the O.G’s of any holiday dinner and especially for this particular holiday. Usually I’ll scratch the gravy but I will never get tired of some buttery mashed potatoes. Farm Fresh Direct states, “as far back as 1747, Americans were mashing up potatoes with butter, milk, salt, and cream, and dishing them up on the Thanksgiving table.” How can you not like mashed potatoes? 

Mac N Cheese

My rank: 2

America: 5


I vow to be a baked-mac-and-cheese lover for the rest of my life. Thanksgiving is  not Thanksgiving to me without watching my mom drown her pasta noodles in butter, salt and pepper, milk, and three types of cheeses before baking it to a perfect golden brown finish. It’s not exactly a classic dish but it’s a must have comfort food for all ages.

Green Bean Casserole

My rank: 6

America: 11

I never had green bean casserole until I got to college, and I fell in love with it! It’s so salty and creamy and the crispy onions on top are absolutely amazing. Sadly, for others, this dish is far from perfect. Last year Campbell’s estimated that at least 20 million American households would be serving green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, according to Kansas city.com. Whether it’s a love-hate relationship, people are still going to eat this gooey dish in all its greatness

Now that this list is done there are probably many people that would trash it and start all over from top to bottom. There are factors to consider such as family background, cultural upbringing, and if you live in the south or north (shout out to the sweet potato and pumpkin pie rivalry). But at the end of the day it’s all about eating with loved ones and enjoying a wonderful holiday together.

I graduated from the University of Akron in 2019 majoring in Communications of Public Relations with a minor in Biology. Aspiring writer/journalist for wildlife conservation. (She/Her)
Madeline Myers is a 2020 graduate of the University of Akron. She has a B.A. English with a minor in Creative Writing. At Her Campus, Madeline enjoys writing movie and TV reviews. Her personal essay “Living Room Saloon” is published in the 2019 issue of The Ashbelt. Madeline grew up in Zanesville, Ohio. She loves quoting comedians, reading James Baldwin, and sipping on grape soda. She fears a future run by robots but looks forward to the day when her stories are read by those outside of her immediate family.