17 Quick and Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

All holiday celebrations are difficult to navigate when you’re trying to eat healthier, and Thanksgiving is no exception. With mountains of mashed potatoes, tons of turkey, and pies on pies on pies, the average Thanksgiving dinner packs in somewhere between 2,500 and 4,500 calories. But don’t fear the festive feast! There are plenty of ways to indulge in the flavors of fall without feeling as stuffed as the bird after dinner. (Want to know how much exercise it takes to burn off that pumpkin pie? Consult this infographic.) When it comes to side dishes, you and your guests can feel good about gobbling up these healthier options that we’ve rounded up from some of our favorite food bloggers around the web.

RELATED: 12 Thanksgiving Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work

17 Quicker and Healthier Thanksgiving Side Dishes Options

1. Melon Mozzarella Prosciutto Skewers

Start off your feast with a light and elegant antipasti that will surely impress. They’ll take you just under half an hour to assemble. At only 78 calories for two skewers, you can have a few without filling up before the main course.

Recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by DailyBurn

2. Asparagus and Mushroom Cauliflower Risotto 

This recipe recreates the creamy texture of traditional risotto while cutting down on calories and carbs, thanks to chopped cauliflower. Bonus: The veggie cooks up quicker than rice so you’ll be out of the kitchen in under 30 minutes. Less prep, same flavor!

Recipe: Alexa Schrim / Life by DailyBurn 

3. Roasted Butternut Squash

Packed with antioxidants, dietary fiber and vitamin A, butternut squash is also delightfully low in fat. This simple recipe shows you exactly how to cut up the pear-shaped squash. Drizzle your roasted squash with balsamic vinegar or glaze for crowd-pleasing presentation.

Recipe: Sally Cameron / A Food Centric Life

4. Green Goddess Dip

Liven up your vegetable platter with this healthy dip. While most holiday appetizers are mayo-laden calorie bombs, this one gets its creaminess from Greek yogurt. (It ditches the sour cream, too, but you won’t taste the difference!) Just fifteen minutes and it’ll be ready to serve.

Recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by DailyBurn

5. Pistachio, Farro and Kale Salad

The best part about this light and refreshing salad? You can dress it before the big day and the study kale leaves won’t get soggy overnight. Store it in the fridge and you’ll have a side salad in a snap!

Recipe: Carmen Sturdy / Life by DailyBurn 

6. Honey Mustard Brussels Sprout Slaw

Impress your gluten-free guests with this tasty dish that can be served as a salad or side dish. Use a food processor to shred the sprouts, and then toss them with an easy honey mustard dressing that requires zero mayo.

Recipe: Kate / Cookie and Kate

7. Fat-Free Sweet Potato Soup

Usually silky, smooth soup gets its texture from heavy cream, but this lighter version gets its creaminess from sweet potatoes and Greek yogurt. After roasting the potatoes, all you need to do is blend up the ingredients in a food processor. Don’t forget the parsley and green onion — both great sources of vitamin C to keep you healthy during cold season.

Recipe: Evan Thomas / Life by DailyBurn

8. Farro, Cranberry and Goat Cheese Salad

With four times as much fiber as brown rice, farro is an extra-filling way to gobble up some grains. Its roasted, nutty flavor shines in this tasty salad. Bonus: This recipe takes only 15 minutes to make! Prepare it ahead of time and serve at room temperature.

Recipe: Des / Life’s Ambrosia

9. Parmesan Carrot Fries 

These tasty baked fries will please kids and grown-ups alike, and the 10-minute recipe is practically foolproof. Each serving packs a healthy dose of beta-caroten and vitamin A, which helps promote healthy skin and vision.

Recipe: Alexa Schrim / Life by DailyBurn 

10. Chicken Meatballs

Hidden inside these lean chicken meatballs is a tangy cranberry filling! At only 190 calories and 7.5 grams fat per two meatballs, these are a healthy alternative to fatty, dark meat turkey. Simplify your Thanksgiving prep by making them up to 48 hours in advance.

Recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by DailyBurn

11. Stuffed Acorn Squash with Wild Rice

Expecting guests that pass on turkey? Make this easy and nutritious vegetable “boat” that can be served as a vegetarian entrée. The wild rice stuffing has fewer calories than standard white rice, plus it provides B vitamins and minerals like zinc and magnesium.

Recipe: Renee Blair / Life by DailyBurn

12. Spiced Orange Cranberry Sauce

Step aside, canned cranberry sauce! Vegan, gluten-free, and requiring just five ingredients, this recipe is chock-full of vitamin C-rich cranberries. If you have leftovers (though we doubt it with sauce this tasty!), use it like jam or mix it into your morning oatmeal.

Recipe: Sonnet / In Sonnet’s Kitchen

13. Pumpkin Asiago Rolls

If your Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without bread to soak up turkey gravy, use healthier whole-wheat flour to make these pumpkin-flavored rolls. Make sure to prepare the dough in advance since it needs to rise in the fridge overnight or all day.

Recipe: Katherine Huysman / Country Spoon

14. Hummus Mashed Potatoes

Soft, fluffy mashed potatoes without the heavy cream? You got it. This genius recipe uses protein-packed hummus, which contains much less fat than sour cream or heavy cream. To make a batch that’s vegan-friendly, substitute olive oil for butter. These spuds certainly won’t be dinner duds!

Recipe: Ali / Gimme Some Oven

15. Broccoli-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Peanut Sauce

Put a Thai-inspired spin on your taters this year. Since broccoli is loaded with vitamins B and C and sweet potatoes are rich in fiber and vitamin A, this recipe is way better for you than that sodium-heavy boxed mix of mashed potatoes.

Recipe: Emily Miller / Life by DailyBurn

16. Butternut Squash Soup

Start off your feast with a warm, light soup that’s rich in beta-carotene, which keeps the eyes and immune system healthy! This soup has a creamy flavor sans dairy thanks to coconut milk. Use frozen pureed butternut squash if you don’t have time to roast the fresh kind.

Recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by DailyBurn

17. Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

With canned creamy soup and fried onion topping, most green bean casseroles are high in sodium and fat. Try making these roasted green beans as a veggie side instead. Bake them for 15 minutes and serve immediately with grated Parmesan. Rich in manganese, fiber and vitamins K, A and C, these healthier beans can help you stay lean!

Recipe: Gina / Skinnytaste

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Originally posted on November 20, 2013. Updated November 22, 2015 and November 18, 2021

All images via Shutterstock

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