Best Thanksgiving side dishes: Mashed potatoes beats out stuffing on list of Americans’ favorites

NEW YORK — It’s the biggest Thanksgiving debate outside of roasting or frying the turkey — which side dish is the best? In a classic holiday season battle, a new survey finds nearly half of Americans crown mashed potatoes as their favorite (46%) — just narrowly beating out stuffing (43%).

Meanwhile, sweet potatoes (39%) and cranberry sauce (37%) also make the list of the most popular choices. When it comes to after-dinner desserts, apple pie (43%) beat pumpkin pie (42%) for the top spot, with chocolate (34%) securing third place.

The survey, carried out by OnePoll on the behalf of The Fresh Market, also found that many Americans will be keeping their eyes peeled for dishes containing sweet potatoes, as three in 10 consider them to be underrated.

Thanksgiving side dishes better than the turkey?!?

Thanksgiving SidesWhile the turkey will likely be the main attraction on most Thanksgiving dinner tables, three in four (74%) agree that a holiday dinner consisting of just side dishes would be just as satisfying. For some, their holiday menus may be feeling a little stale. With roughly two in five (43%) saying their family has gone four or more years in between adding variety to their family’s Thanksgiving menu, right now might be the perfect time for a refresh.

Americans expect five side dishes available on the table and 74 percent plan on eating at least four of them. Given the fact that 86 percent say their family has its own recipes for side dishes, it’s no wonder that people are excited to chow down on grandma’s homemade stuffing (29%), mashed potatoes (26%), and more.

“Americans all agree on celebrating Thanksgiving and that mashed potatoes are the favorite side! Whether it’s continuing family traditions or starting new ones with unique sides like mascarpone whipped potatoes with rosemary, oyster stuffing or cranberry relish with walnuts, bringing fresh, flavorful sides to the table, when you gather with family and friends, makes the meal even more delicious,” says Kevin Miller, Chief Marketing Officer at The Fresh Market, in a statement.

Potluck is implied

Thanksgiving SidesIf you plan on visiting a loved one for Thanksgiving dinner this year, be sure to bring a dish or two. Over seven in 10 (71%) believe showing up to a loved one’s dinner celebration empty-handed is a no-no. Two in three agree having a wide selection of Thanksgiving sides is more important than the big bird itself.

Additionally, 86 percent plan on preparing extra helpings for those highly coveted dishes like mashed potatoes (31%), stuffing (30%), and mac and cheese (27%), as those will likely be the first dishes parties will run out of. Tried-and-true recipes are always appreciated, as respondents listed stuffing (22%) and mac and cheese (20%) as the hardest dishes to make “just right.”

“We wait all year to experience the aromas, the laughter and the time with family and friends at Thanksgiving. Gathering again this year also means enjoying all the side dishes that make it extra special—and maybe an extra helping of mashed potatoes,” Miller adds.


  1. Mashed potatoes (46%)
  2. Stuffing (43%)
  3. Sweet potatoes (39%)
  4. Cranberry sauce (37%)
  5. Mac and cheese (36%)
  6. Green bean casserole (35%)
  7. Candied yams (33%)
  8. Cornbread (32%)
  9. Baked potato (31%)
  10. Corn on the cob (30%)
  11. Brussels sprouts (29%)
  12. Butternut squash (29%)
  13. Collard greens (29%)
  14. Peas (28%)

This article was first published November 25, 2021.