Thanksgiving favorites ranked and reviewed
Think back to a time of happiness and satisfaction. Warm apple pie, creamy mashed potatoes, freshly picked green beans, and turkey. Thanksgiving is the one holiday wholly dedicated to eating and sleeping so with this, all our favorite fall dishes are featured around the dinner table. But which ones are crowd favorites? Which ones should be kept on the menu and which ones should be discarded this year? Well please keep all arms and legs inside the ride because this is going to be one heck of a trip on The Ultimate Thanksgiving Food Bracket Ranking.
Turkey vs Ham
First off is the battle of the main courses; meat vs meat. Turkey is of course traditional– the day is canonically called turkey day after all, but is the tradition outdated? Is ham the trendier, kid-friendly, more chic option nowadays? Let’s see what these people of NDSU have to say.
“Thanksgiving food is swag, but I prefer ham over turkey and dark meat over white.” Emily Wehri states.
Rachel Blawat voices similar opinions. “Hot take, ham is better than turkey.”
Is it possible for the two to coexist and satisfy traditional desires along with modernized trends? Not in this ranking, there must be a clear winner. For its integral role in Thanksgiving dinners, point goes to turkey.
Mashed Potatoes vs Stuffing
Ah, the sides; crucial in case the main course turns out dry or burnt. As with all recipes, the taste is heavily dependent on the cook. Many people dislike stuffing because it doesn’t taste like their mama’s cooking, and mashed potatoes from a box are subpar compared to the homemade kind. When done right, both can feel like a party in your mouth. The thing about stuffing, is that it’s hard to get right; making it just the right moisture with just the right seasoning, and what if the turkey’s burnt? Then your stuffing is gone too. But with mashed potatoes, that outcome is non-existent and the variations can satisfy all tastebuds. With skins, without, creamy, chunky, with miracle whip, with buttermilk, the options are endless. Good ‘ol mashed potatoes takes the dub on this one.
Green Bean Casserole vs Mac and Cheese
One of the most hated Thanksgiving dishes of all time vs a wild, unprecedented dish. Mac and cheese isn’t very popular and some might argue that it completely disregards the unspoken rule of T-day menu norms. Mac and cheese is something you heat up for the kids when they’re being fussy, not alongside some of the most iconic dishes of all time. Although green bean casserole tends to get pawned off in a Tupperware container at the end of the night. On a side note, why isn’t it called hotdish? Not very Midwestern of it. Honestly, mac and cheese just doesn’t belong on this holiday menu so for that green bean casserole is victorious.
Gravy vs Cranberry Sauce
Although controversial, cranberry sauce adds a fresh seasonal fruit to contrast the heavily salty and savory dishes. Gravy on the other hand complements everything so well, from the potatoes to the turkey to the stuffing. But once again it comes down to taste, and slurping on some gravy is better than some cranberry sauce.
Pecan Pie vs Pumpkin Pie vs Apple Pie
If only all three could fit onto the table, but alas there’s only room for one pie this year. And it’s going to have to come down to a majority vote, all have their good qualities of rich sweetness and flaky goodness, and are much too similar to fairly pin against each other. The polls reveal that… five people prefer pecan pie, three prefer pumpkin, and seven choose apple as their pie of choice! That is the American answer I suppose.
Buns vs Cornbread
In the last tossup of the first round, we have buns (or rolls if you prefer) and cornbread. Much like the mac and cheese dish, cornbread is a southern thing. Does it really belong in a Midwestern kitchen? The buns also depend on the cook, did Aunt Meemaw pull em fresh out of the oven, or are they days old Coborns buns? Oftentimes people don’t have the time to put their heart into fresh buns because all the other dishes take center stage. But when done right, a good bun is a delicacy. For love of a good bun, cornbread loses this round.
Turkey vs Mashed Potatoes
Starting off round two is the main course vs the side. Although it has rich history, there are a lot of opportunities for the turkey to fall short. Ever had a dry, unseasoned turkey? Worst disappointment ever.
“I’ve had too many dry turkeys I take one look and say ‘yeah, I’m not eating that.’” Concludes Laureata Nkwenti.
Mashed potatoes doesn’t typically have this problem. The taters are a vessel for many other sides, being used as a dip or mixture. In addition, it can appease the vegetarian relatives and doesn’t make you sleepy shortly after. Sorry, turkey my fowl friend, you have too many shortcomings for this tournament.
Green Bean Casserole vs Gravy
Secondly, we have the iconic vegetable dish challenging the versatile sauce of wonder. To be fair, the casserole does add some greens to an otherwise starch-heavy meal, it’s almost necessary to include just so you can argue you had a balanced diet. But the gravy, you can slap that baby on any food and make it taste okay. It’s a magical sauce that can make the driest turkey or the blandest potatoes explode into a whirlwind of flavors. And honestly, the gravy never has to get sent home with someone. Green Bean Casserole, thanks for playing but your time has come to an end.
Apple Pie vs Buns
How peculiar, a dessert paired against a side. Apple pie is a wonderful end to your meal, leaving a sweet taste in your mouth too offset the sudden influx of salt. But is it possible that there is no room for pie? That your eyes were bigger than your stomach and now your regretting going for second helpings? Potentially. Buns are buns. Nobody can deny the taste of a fluffy golden bread, a dinner staple year-round. Is it then overused because of it’s superiority or do we finally come to appreciate it’s place on our plates during this time? This is a tossup, but ultimately you can not have a holiday without a pie.
Before our final round of this year’s Thanksgiving Food Ranking, we have some honorable mentions.
I too have Scandinavian heritage, so lefse is a holiday staple. The reason why this didn’t make it to the runnings is because it’s really more of a Christmas food. Sweet, light, pale, these are things associated with winter and Christmas. Thanksgiving embodies savory, heavy, and dark flavors. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying.
Similarly to lefse, deviled eggs is a little out of season for Thanksgiving. These would pair well on an Easter menu, as they have more spring than fall notes. However we must appreciate the plating of the dish, perfect ovals with fluffy yellow yolk and sprinkled with bright red paprika. Definitely striking, but also a bit pungent.
Mashed Potatoes vs Gravy vs Apple Pie
This is where it gets intense. The holy trinity pinned against each other one might say. To review, the pros of each contender. Mashed Potatoes: Many variations, versatile, vegetarian friendly. Gravy: Makes everything taste better. Apple Pie: Offsets saltiness, special dessert, American. And the cons of each. Mashed Potatoes: Can be bland. Gravy: Too salty? Apple Pie: Not always enough room. This may be the hardest decision to make this, but the winner of The Ultimate Thanksgiving Food Bracket Ranking of 2022, is Mashed Potatoes.