31 Low-Calorie Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes That Leave More Room for Dessert

Updated: May 19, 2024

These lower-calorie sides will fill up your dinner plate, but still leave room for dessert.

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German Red Cabbage

Sunday afternoons were a time for family gatherings when I was a kid. While the uncles played cards, the aunts made treats such as this traditional German red cabbage recipe. —Jeannette Heim, Dunlap, Tennessee

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Apple Stuffing Balls

I served these fun appetizers for the first time on Thanksgiving. My family asked me to make them several times after that, so the tasty little bites made an appearance on my Christmas spread that year, too. We love them so much they've become a holiday tradition. —Tracy Burdo, Burlington, Vermont
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Thyme-Roasted Carrots

Cutting the carrots lengthwise makes this dish look extra pretty. For a little more elegance and color, garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme or parsley. —Deirdre Cox, Kansas City, Missouri
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Roasted Green Vegetable Medley

Roasting vegetables such as broccoli, green beans and Brussels sprouts is a fantastic way to serve them, and almost any veggie combo works. — Suzan Crouch, Grand Prairie, Texas
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Colcannon Irish Potatoes

My mother came from Ireland as a teen and brought this homey recipe with her. I find that it's a fantastic way to get my family to eat cooked cabbage—it is hidden in Grandma's potatoes! —Marie Pagel, Lena, WI
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Honey-Butter Peas and Carrots

This classic combination of peas and carrots is enriched with a handful of flavor enhancers. Slow cooking allows the ingredients to meld for maximum richness. —Theresa Kreyche, Tustin, California
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Easy Beans & Potatoes with Bacon

I created this recipe because I love the combination of green beans with bacon. It’s smart when company is coming because you can start the side dish in the slow cooker and continue preparing the rest of the dinner—or visit with your guests! —Barbara Brittain, Santee, California
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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries

There’s nothing to this recipe—the preparation and cooking times are so quick. I sprinkle in a few dried cranberries, but you can let your imagination take over. Add a handful of raisins or walnuts at the end, or even sliced oranges. If your Brussels sprouts are large, cut them in half. —Ellen Ruzinsky, Yorktown Heights, New York
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Slow-Cooker Ratatouille

Not only does this classic recipe make a phenomenal side dish, you can also serve it with sliced French bread for a warm and easy appetizer. Try it in the summer with your garden-fresh vegetables. —Jolene Walters, North Miami, Florida
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Garlic-Sesame Green Beans

Sauteed bits of garlic and shallot, with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, turn ordinary beans into something special. Keep the recipe in mind for your garden crop in summer. —Deirdre Cox, Kansas City, Missouri
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Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

My roommate and I used to make garlicky Brussels sprouts at least twice a week. Now I make them as a healthy side for all sorts of occasions. —Katherine Moore-Colasurd, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Garlic

When we have company, these sprouts are my go-to side dish because they look and taste fantastic. Fancy them up a notch with pancetta instead of bacon. —Mandy Rivers, Lexington, South Carolina
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Super Simple Garlic Broccoli

My kids love broccoli, especially with lots of garlic. This recipe is wonderful for a special occasion, but it’s so quick that I usually fix it once a week in our home. Everyone gobbles it up. —Caramia Sommers, Oswego, New York
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Zesty Garlic Green Beans

These green beans travel so well because they can either be served at room temperature or reheated at the party. —Christine Bergman, Suwanee, Georgia
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Two-Bean Tomato Bake

Parmesan cheese, basil and garlic spice up this mouthwatering medley of beans, mushrooms, onion and tomatoes. It's even more flavorful when you use your garden harvest. We love the cheesy crumb topping because it adds a fantastic crunch.—Dorothy Rieke, Julian, Nebraska
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Potato Latkes

This potato latke recipe is tasty at any meal. For the ultimate crispiness, squeeze out all the liquid from the grated veggies before you fry them up. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Rosemary Root Vegetables

This heartwarming side dish is sure to get rave reviews! Although the ingredient list may look long, you'll soon see that this colorful fall medley is a snap to prepare. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Brussels Sprouts with Garlic & Goat Cheese

I wanted to up my veggie game, so I smothered Brussels sprouts with garlic and goat cheese. It's really a side dish, but I love to eat it for lunch! —Brenda Williams, Santa Maria, California
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Green Beans and New Potatoes

This tasty side dish frees up your stove or oven. The vegetables come out tender, and the onion soup mix and onion add lots of flavor to the broth.—Ann Yarber, Goldsby, Oklahoma
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Wild Rice and Squash Pilaf

This pilaf is fantastic with fish or poultry and especially compatible with turkey. Since it's so colorful, I like to think it makes my turkey dressed for the holidays. —Erica Ollmann, San Diego, California
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Onion-Garlic Hash Browns

Quick to assemble, this is a simple recipe I’ve cooked many times. Stir in hot sauce if you like a bit of heat. I also like to top the finished dish with a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese. —Cindi Hayward-Boger, Ardmore, Alabama
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Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Olives

This squash is outstanding as a side dish, but you can also top it with canned tuna to create a simple, healthy main dish. It's easy and so tasty! I like to use my own canned tomatoes for the best flavor. —Carol Chase, Sioux City, Iowa
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Marinated Mushrooms & Artichokes

I marinate mushrooms and artichokes in fresh tarragon, thyme and seasonings so they turn out tart, tangy and irresistible. —Marcia Doyle, Pompano, Florida
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Okra Roasted with Smoked Paprika

When you want to cook okra without frying it, roast it with lemon juice for a lighter version. The smoked paprika gives it even more roasty oomph. —Lee Evans, Queen Creek, Arizona
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Fresh Artichokes with Lemon-Yogurt Dip

Artichokes are at their best when you prepare them simply, without a lot of fuss or seasonings to overdress them. Many people dip the petals in melted butter or mayonnaise, but I think you'll love my tangy lemon-yogurt dip. —Jill Haapaniemi, Brooklyn, New York
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Truly Tasty Turnips with Greens

These savory greens are a hit at every church dinner I take them to. Adjust the seasonings as you please to make this recipe your own. —Amy Inman, Hiddenite, North Carolina
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Cumin-Roasted Carrots

Carrots make a super side—they are big on flavor and a breeze to cook. Plus, I can actually get my husband to eat these spiced veggies. —Taylor Kiser, Brandon, Florida
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Mediterranean Cauliflower

I adapted a recipe I received from a friend to make this delicious—and deliciously different—cauliflower dish. It's prepared quickly in a skillet and uses only a handful of ingredients. What a great way to take ordinary cauliflower to a whole new level! —Valerie Smith, Aston, Pennsylvania
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Green Beans with Peppers

This festive-looking side dish is a snap to make for a holiday menus or an everyday meal. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Brussels Sprouts & Kale Saute

In an effort to add more greens to our meals, I created this dish—and my kids eat it up. The crispy salami is the "hook." —Jennifer Mcnabb, Brentwood, Tennessee