9 Thanksgiving Sides Get a Modern Makeover

We know, we know, the turkey is the crown jewel of the Thanksgiving table, the centerpiece, the show-stopper. Not anymore.

Here are 9 side dishes to share the spotlight with the bird this holiday -- all simple, modern twists on the sides we all know and love, from a light, frisky butternut cider soup to smoky grilled Brussels sprouts. We can't wait to hear grandma say, "Pass the cranberry chutney, please."

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Butternut Squash and Cider Soup

Butternut Squash and Cider Soup
Butternut Squash and Cider Soup

This is a great soup to have in your everyday arsenal. It's sweet, purely flavored and can be made in a flash. I think it's the perfect thing to serve on Thanksgiving, when you need a break from the heft. - Amanda Hesser

Serves 4

1 shallot, sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash
1/2 cup chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
3/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 unpeeled Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apple, cored and finely diced
Cracked black pepper


1. Heat a medium-size saucepan over low heat. Add the shallot, garlic and 1/4 cup water. Cook until the shallot and garlic are softened, being careful not to let them burn, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the squash and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes.

2. Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Holding the top down with a towel, blend until smooth. Add the cider, sour cream and salt. Continue blending until well combined. The soup can be made ahead up to this point. Place in a clean saucepan over low heat until heated through. Season with additional salt if needed.

3. Ladle the soup among 4 bowls. Garnish with the diced red apple and cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.

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Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

These potatoes are creamy and ethereal with the lightest of tangs. Caramelized onions, which are both folded into the potatoes and piled on top before serving, thread their a mellow sweetness throughout.

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Gingered Cranberry Fig Chutney

Gingered Cranberry Fig Chutney

This chutney is perfect for those looking for something zippy and less sweet than a typical cranberry sauce.The result is a sophisticated, jewel-toned "cranberry sauce" with just the right ratio of sour to sweet that's just as well-suited to roast pork or beef as it is to Thanksgiving turkey.

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Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Grilled Brussels Sprouts

We were drawn to this recipe because it approaches brussels sprouts in a way we'd never tried before. Grilling the brussels sprouts gives them a nice smokiness. If you don't have an outdoor grill (or if you're making these in the dead of winter), a grill pan will work just fine.

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Ciabatta Stuffing with Chorizo, Sweet Potato, and Mushrooms

Ciabatta Stuffing

The contrasting flavors of the salty chorizo (you can use hot or sweet) and rich sweet potato really complement each other, and we love the variety of textures in the finished stuffing. We tried some the next day with a fried egg on top; all of a sudden leftovers got a whole lot more exciting.

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Sweet Potato Gratin with Creme Fraiche, Onions, and Bacon

Individual Sweet Potato Gratins

Sweet potatoes are often made even more sweet using ingredients like maple syrup, brown sugar, molasses, and even marshmallows. We like that these go definitively in the other direction by adding bacon, parmesan, onion, garlic and a crème fraîche bechamel, while still paying homage to more traditional recipes (you add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the bechamel, with delightful results).

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Green Beans with Apricots and Serrano Ham

Green Beans with Apricots

There are no earth-shattering techniques or unusual ingredients involved in this recipe. Just some dried apricots plumped with sherry and Serrano ham cut into confetti-like cubes. Simple dishes are all about this kind of detail.

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Vegetarian Mushroom Thyme Gravy

Vegetarian Mushroom Thyme Gravy

This mushroom gravy solves nearly every Thanksgiving dilemma there is. It's vegetarian-friendly, requires no pan drippings (ideal for when you're deep-frying your bird or when brining has rendered the drippings too salty), and comes together in no time.

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Crispy Delicata Squash Rings with Currant, Fennel & Apple Relish

Crispy Delicata Rings

This has all the makings of a great holiday side -- you can prepare its parts ahead of time. None of them are taxing. And the resulting dish is like nothing you've had before. The squash rings are richly caramelized, the relish zingy, and the lime juice and zest brighten it all, keeping a sweet dish in check. We'll be making this one for years to come.

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