Ranking the Best Thanksgiving Foods


Logan Busbee, Co-Editor In Chief

As the end of the year approaches, the most beloved holidays come with it. Halloween has passed with October, and Christmas and New Years are on the way in December, but it’s important to remember Thanksgiving here in November. While sometimes overshadowed by Christmas, this middle child holiday has one of the best traditions of all, eating too much food in one sitting. 

Normally eating yourself into a food coma is frowned upon, but during Thanksgiving it’s celebrated, nearly required. But when it comes to what foods you should gorge yourself on this season, you should only go for the best. So here are the rankings from worst to best of what the so-called “traditional” Thanksgiving dishes are a necessity at dinner.

12. Green Bean Casserole

There always has to be the one dish at Thanksgiving that people avoid, and it’s often the green bean casserole that suffers that fate. The main components are green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and french fried onions. It’s a somewhat strange combo, and while the end result of these seemingly random items does end up tasting good, but it’s nowhere near as good as the more complex items on the list.

11. Cranberry Sauce

When it comes to the most scrutinized Thanksgiving food item, that burden mainly falls onto the shoulders of cranberry sauce. Some cite its lack of necessity, others the fact that it retains the shape of the can, and while I doubt cranberry sauce tops any list, it doesn’t deserve the hate it receives. Cranberry sauce really brings in the Thanksgiving spirit due to its association with the holiday and its use as a topping. 

10. Sweet Potato Casserole

Of all the items on this list, sweet potato casserole is the easiest to make. It’s just sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and baked. While marshmallows do make most things taste better, it doesn’t do enough to elevate this casserole to a much higher spot than this. It may be a classic item, and it isn’t bad per say, but it’s too bland to stand out amongst the rest of the potential foods to feast on.

9. Dry Turkey

Turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving, and is one of the best foods you can have (more on that later) but dry turkey is on such a lower level that the two couldn’t be grouped together. Dry turkey mainly refers to reheated turkey for delicious Thanksgiving leftovers, as turkey is the only item that distinctively changes once it becomes a leftover. It’s by no means bad, but the meat is drier and less able to amaze on its own, placing it much lower than the moist turkey pulled straight out of the oven before dinner.

8. Cornbread

Cornbread is a southern classic and something I dearly love, but it isn’t one of the best food items for Thanksgiving. It is delicious, but it’s not the most Thanksgiving bread choice. While it doesn’t make for a bad accompanying item, the flavors of cornbread don’t mix as well with things like turkey or potatoes, leading to its lower placement on this list. 

7. Apple Pie

I know what you’re thinking, that it’s blasphemous to put apple pie only at number seven, but let me explain. I love apple pie, it might even be my favorite type of pie, but it just isn’t the best pie for Thanksgiving. Apple pies more fit into the upcoming Christmas season, and with the amount that Christmas already bleeds into Thanksgiving, it would just be cruel to have it top the other items.

6. Rolls

Bringing it back to bread, regular rolls are the best when paired with Thanksgiving. The flakier the roll, the better. Rolls are the better bread choice than cornbread due to its not as overwhelming taste and easier synchronicity with other Thanksgiving foods. Rolls are an easy item to make as well, plus there are very few people who dislike them. 

5. Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is a Thanksgiving mainstay due to its sweet taste with a mix of creamy and crunchy texture with both the pecans and the filling. Unlike other pies, pecan manages to stay together when it’s eaten due to its solid texture, making it easy to eat without falling apart on you. However, pecan pie isn’t the best due to its ability to be too sweet, which can overpower the Thanksgiving foods you ate during dinner and leave a bad taste in your mouth. 

4. Pumpkin Pie

Finally, the best of the Thanksgiving pies is crowned, that being pumpkin pie. It has a spiced pumpkin base, and it is the epitome of Thanksgiving desserts. It manages to be stable when eating, taste good hot or cold, and doesn’t have an overpowering taste. Pumpkin pie is a great dessert that adds to the Thanksgiving meal you just ate without being so prevalent that it entirely draws the focus away.

3. Mashed Potatoes

If there’s one vegetable almost everyone loves, it’s a potato. So when you mash one up and add some other ingredients to give it a creamy consistency, it’s obviously going to be a hit, and that’s why mashed potatoes are so beloved. One of the best parts are of mashed potatoes are the customizability of this side. There’s the classic mashed potatoes and gravy, some people add cheese and bacon, but there’s also the simple addition of pepper for others. But while mashed potatoes are so tasty and inoffensive, it is just potatoes. It doesn’t have the different flavor complexities that the other two items allow, which prevent it from getting more than a bronze medal.

2. Moist Turkey

While dry turkey came in at number nine, it is night and day with the moist turkey right after it’s cooked. The different spices and juices mixed with the warm turkey all blend together for the cultural centerpiece of Thanksgiving. Turkey also isn’t confined to just being eaten on its own, as it can be added to sandwiches, or for the bold, fused into the Turducken. But while the turkey is the most recognizable food from Thanksgiving, it isn’t quite the best. 

1. Stuffing

When it comes to Thanksgiving food items, only one reigns supreme, and that one is stuffing. Stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, which allows for the juices and spices to mix in giving the stuffing a great flavor. The stuffing itself is made up largely of small bread pieces cooked to a toasty perfection. Other seasonings can be added to stuffing in addition to other items like sausage or onions, which allows stuffing to be the most customizable item on this list. The most basic of stuffings taste great, but the more that’s added, the better it gets. Thanksgiving is a time to eat lots of food, but there’s no better food to stuff yourself with than stuffing.