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Top 10 Best Thanksgiving Foods Ranked from Best to Worst

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

I know…hear me out…Thanksgiving has passed, but topics like these only come around once a year and it’s important to realize what foods are a must for your Thanksgiving dinner. Keep these in mind for the next time your relatives ask you to bring a dish to the family event — you won’t want to be stuck bringing the worst options. A disclaimer before we get into this: everything below is solely my opinion, so any discrepancies are completely allowed. 


It’s a classic. You can’t go wrong with this soft bread saturated in herbs and seasonings with a hint of that turkey flavor. It’s delicious and savory and everything you could imagine out of a dish centered around bread. If you really want to get crazy with it, you could even make some cornbread stuffing…yum!

Sweet potato mash

Now, this dish is one of my favorites. It’s all parts sweet, sweet, and more sweet. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, then maybe this dish isn’t the one for you, but since I’m rating these delicious meals, I would have to say it’s definitely in the running with stuffing for the number one spot. The only thing that brings this dish down a notch is the fact that it gets old quickly. I can have one, maybe two servings tops, but anything more than that becomes overbearing. However, it ranks above everything else for the gooey marshmallows mixed with the naturally sweet potatoes and the addition of the cinnamon glaze on top, to tie everything together. I definitely recommend trying this dish if you’ve never had the chance to before — it’s life-changing.

Cranberry Sauce

If you couldn’t already tell, I have a sweet tooth, and almost everything in the top five will be sweet — #SorryNotSorry. Cranberry sauce is another must-have for Thanksgiving; it’s only ever around for this special time of the year. However, I’m picky with my cranberry sauce. I’m not into anything homemade. The Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce is where it’s at. It’s sweet with a little bit of tartness, and it definitely deviates from the usually savory dishes you see on the table.

Mashed Potatoes

Man oh man, do I love mashed potatoes. I could probably eat them every single day of my life, without a doubt. This dish offers the heartiness of the night since cranberry sauce or corn usually won’t fill you up too much. It can be elevated by adding some nice warm gravy right on top of it. The combo is perfect and is savory enough to balance out our sweet dishes in the number two and three spots. Mashed potatoes definitely deserve all its limelight, though they can be pretty filling, so make sure to pace yourself. You don’t want to get too full before the rest of the goodies!


Now this one might surprise some people. It’s pretty mediocre in most cases, but corn perfectly balances out the rest of the meal. It’s not too heavy on the stomach and allows room for more to come. Some nice corn coated in butter and salt takes a plain dish and elevates it to the next level. It is definitely a nice addition to your plate that almost anyone would love. It’s corn!

Bread (all forms)

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a basket full of some nice warm bread? That just-right temperature of warmth where it’s not burning the roof of your mouth but the butter perfectly melts all over it is a heavenly combo. Even just a nice plain loaf of crusty French bread is always appreciated. At my Thanksgiving table this year I made a Brazilian cheese bread, which essentially mimics a popover but is filled with a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheese. When it comes out of the oven, the light airy bread mixed with the gooey center of cheese is incomparable. Bread is always the way to go; it’s easy and is never turned away at a dinner table. 

Pumpkin pie

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate pumpkin pie — it’s actually one of my favorites, but the reason it’s ranked in the second half is that it is a dessert. You can’t really have it with the rest of your meal. Either way, it’s delicious and it ranks far above the rest of the Thanksgiving desserts (whatever that may look like in your household). The balance between the savory crust and the sweet pumpkin spice flavor filling is chef’s kiss. Pumpkin pie is a must for Thanksgiving desserts. It also offers a nice sweet treat for breakfast the next morning


Another nice warm fall/winter side dish is roasted carrots. Personally, I already love carrots and could eat them every day if you give me some hummus. We’re not talking about carrots with hummus though, we’re talking about oven-roasted carrots with an olive oil glaze and some dill sprinkled on top. I could probably eat these as my entire dinner, but at the end of the day, it’s just a side dish that I don’t think is as enjoyed by others as much as me.

Green Bean Casserole

I don’t actually know the last time I even tried green bean casserole. It’s a dish that only my mom likes and has to make every Thanksgiving…essentially just for her. This mess of a dish is a combination of all the things I hate: green beans, mushrooms (cream of mushroom soup to be specific), and those fried onion things. In addition to being a conglomerate of my least favorite foods, it just doesn’t look appetizing to me. Maybe I need to give it another shot…or maybe not.


Thanksgiving turkey — you either love it or you hate it. I’ve asked my friends for their opinions over the years and I’ve never heard any of them say, “ehh, yeah, it’s fine.” Being a vegetarian obviously puts this at the bottom of my list, but even before I was vegetarian, I would still avoid turkey on Turkey Day. I mean, what’s to love? It’s always dry, even if you drown it in gravy, it doesn’t have a great taste, even if you drown it in gravy, and is tough in texture, even if you drown it in gravy. For Thanksgiving next year, here’s my tip to you all: skip the turkey and fill your plate with everything else on this list! You won’t regret it!

Whatever you choose to eat next Thanksgiving, just make sure you do it while keeping in mind that your family has been preparing for this meal days in advance. Based on this list, there are so many things you can enjoy. There’s not one thing you couldn’t eat at Thanksgiving…so be thankful!

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Abigail Hartman

U Mass Amherst '23

Abby's a Senior with a psychology major and a Spanish and PoliSci minor, and she loves anything true crime related!