Five Dishes You Should Never Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner

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So, this year you have been charged with bringing a side dish or a dessert to a Thanksgiving gathering. Since this is the biggest food holiday of the year (and since you escaped having to host, cook most of the food, set up and clean up after everyone has gone), you might want to step up your game and bring something that everyone will actually look forward to eating.


There are standard dishes that, if done well, will satisfy any crowd. But there are some that are just so darned awful, they shouldn’t come anywhere near a Thanksgiving table. Don’t be that person. Here are some tips on what to avoid this year.

5. Canned cranberry sauce

Somehow, there are actually people out there who like this, but do not bring this to someone’s house who has just cooked a huge meal for you. First, it’s gross. Nothing should maintain the shape of a can like that after it’s evacuated. Second, it’s so far from natural, it’s scary. If you need to eat it during the zombie Apocalypse no one will question you, but since there haven’t been any un-dead sightings recently, you have no excuse.

Alternative: Homemade cranberry sauce

Just Google it. There are countless recipes out there for this dish, and they are all drastically easy to prepare. Your host will appreciate the effort, and the other guests will actually eat it.

4. Jell-O anything

Jell-O is fun to make for kids, and it’s kind of fun when mixed with vodka for a shot. But it has no place on the Thanksgiving table. It’s cheap, and everyone knows that you skimped on your contribution. Also, and this should go without saying: it should never be made into a mold and nothing should ever be suspended in it. Just no.


Alternative: Gourmet ice cream and whipped cream

If you don’t want to spend time making something, this is one way to avoid it. You can grab this at any store, and as long as you buy something a little more elegant than the generic brand, you’ll be in good shape. Chances are someone will bring a pie, and your ice cream can make it à la mode.

3. Ambrosia

This might have been acceptable in 1985, but no longer. Yes, it is sort of yummy, but it gets mushy quickly, it’s chock-full of unnatural, bleached, and refined sugar ingredients, and it’s incredibly dated.

Alternative: Key lime pie

If you follow the recipe on the bottle of Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that this pie only requires three ingredients and a store-bought pie crust. It is the easiest and quickest pie you will ever make, and it is delicious. You’ll also get major points for “baking” from scratch.

2. Boxed stuffing

Boxed stuffing is for a quick weeknight meal. It is not for Thanksgiving. Plus it can be really mushy. Put in a little effort and give your hosts something that they will be proud to put next to that giant turkey that they spent all day cooking.

Alternative: Homemade stuffing

The great thing is that you have so many choices when it comes to stuffing. You can go all out, or keep it simple. You can do it with oysters or without. You can add sausage, or not. Luckily, at this time of year, you will have zero problems finding a recipe that matches up with the level of difficulty and price tag that you’re willing to contribute.


1. Green bean casserole (with Campbell’s mushroom soup)

No matter how much you like this dish (or how much you think other people like this dish), do not bring it to dinner this year. It can be hard to season this well, and will inevitably end up either bland or incredibly salty. The green beans are mushy, and the fried onions on top cannot offer enough flavor or crispiness to save this casserole.

Alternative: Fresh green beans with garlic

These will be crispy, and not a pile of mush like their canned relatives. They are easy to make (just don’t burn the garlic in the olive oil), and they will be gobbled up. Pun intended.


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