Finding easy side dishes that appeal to carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike used to be a challenge, particularly during the holidays. Not anymore! Delicious, crowd-pleasing sides can be just minutes away. From crispy roasted mushrooms to mouthwatering rosemary-potato focaccia rolls, you’ll be amazed at the variety of options open to you. If you are planning holiday dinner menus, read on as we reveal the easy side dishes that are thrilling us this year.
Crispy Roasted Mushrooms
If you love rich mushrooms, a crispy roasted mushrooms dish should be at the top of your list of unique sides for your guests to sample. Real Simple raves about the beauty of this easy vegan side dish because “roasting the mushrooms brings out their deep, earthy flavors.” The recipe only requires 15 minutes of active prep, leaving plenty of time to focus on your other holiday dinner preparations.
Creamy Vegetarian Polenta
Whether you are looking for something to replace the classic mashed potatoes side or something unique to supplement the other delicious vegetarian offerings at your table, consider cooking up a batch of tasty polenta. The editors at Martha Stewart Living are fans: “Whether you choose the soft and creamy version or the firmer, set rendition, polenta makes a wonderful side dish for hearty fall and winter meals.” You can make the polenta ahead of time and keep it warm over low heat or prepare it as you would your other sides. Either way, this easy side dish yields up to 24 servings that will bring a smile to the faces of your guests. And the good news is that this side dish can easily become a vegan favorite with two minor adjustments.
Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
Speaking of mashed potatoes, did you know that there is a simpler way to make the time-honored holiday dinner dish? The Instant Pot makes quick and delicious work of this vegetarian offering by essentially steaming the garlic cloves and Yukon Gold potatoes together before mashing. But there is a bonus to this method for busy hosts, which particularly excites the editors at Martha Stewart Living. What is it? The Magazine reveals: “Making this easy side dish in the multicooker frees up precious stovetop space at Thanksgiving.” Busy home chefs will applaud!
Easy Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Lime and Cilantro
Vegan sweet potato side dishes are having a moment this holiday season. Perfectly sweetened following an October harvest, sweet potatoes are in their prime come Thanksgiving. You can take advantage of this popular root vegetable for all your holiday events. How does Real Simple like to update this seasonal side? The Magazine loves “[jazzing] up the roasted potatoes with lime zest and cilantro for a zingy twist.” This easy recipe has an active prep time of only 10 minutes, and it is ready to serve in under a half-hour. And while it serves eight guests as is, you’ll want to make more, even if it is just so that you can add it to your always-in-demand leftovers.
Brussels Sprouts with Cornbread Croutons
Are you serving your vegetarian holiday meals Southern-style? If so, you’ll love Southern Living’s “Brussels Sprouts with Cornbread Croutons” side dish recipe. Considered one of their best yet, “this recipe … is as tasty as it is quick and easy.” The key to it is to buy the cornbread (or make it) ahead of time and allow it to sit cubed for a couple of days before your holiday dinner. Otherwise, it takes less than five minutes in active preparation, as most of the work is done by your oven. If you are nervous about browning the sprouts, Southern Living offers this helpful tip: “if it smells too strong, you’ve cooked it too long.”
Beet and Ricotta Salata Side Salad
Decadent cheese, roasted beets, and a dash of red wine vinegar are just some of the elements that make this easy side dish among Real Simple’s favorites this holiday season. Plus, it is almost as eye-catchingly colorful as it is delicious. Requiring only 15 minutes in preparation, this vegetarian side can be served warm or at room temperature, and substitutions are a snap. Real Simple advises: “If you can’t find ricotta salata—a deliciously salty, crumbly cheese—use Feta or goat cheese instead.” There are also several tantalizingly good vegan kinds of cheese that you can use crafted from almonds, cashews, or tofu.
Oven-Roasted Asparagus Side Dish
Oven-roasted asparagus is an easy side dish that looks like you spent hours on it when in reality, the total prep and cook time is actually less than 20 minutes. It also features one of those vegetables that everyone loves. Why is this one of Southern Living’s favorite side dish recipes? “Seasoned with classic ingredients like garlic and freshly ground black pepper, this tasty cuisine is bursting with flavor, yet simple and refined.”
Wild-Rice Stuffed Squash
Martha Stewart Living’s “Wild-Rice Stuffed Squash” recipe is the perfect side dish – it’s colorful, hearty, and bursting with flavor. In fact, it is such a satisfying side dish, holiday buffet luncheon or dinner party guests might opt to have it as their main. The Magazine’s recipe features an acorn squash which “is roasted and then filled with a mixture of wild rice, pecans, and dried cherries.” Active preparation time is only 15 minutes, with the squash roasting for approximately 40. Would you love to turn this vegetarian recipe into an easy side dish that vegan guests can enjoy? Replace the butter with a vegan alternative (like Earth Balance), and you will have a delicious option that all of your guests can savor.
Bonus: Rosemary-Potato Focaccia Rolls
If you have a little extra time on your hands, and you want to bring freshly baked vegan rolls as your holiday dinner offering, take a look at Food & Wine’s “Rosemary-Potato Focaccia Rolls” recipe. Inspired by Jessamyn Waldman, who varies her toppings depending on the season, this side dish recipe relies on thinly sliced red-skinned potatoes and fresh, chopped rosemary. The rise and proof stages of the recipe are the most time-intensive, but the actual process of creating “these airy and perfectly chewy rolls” is surprisingly quick and easy. As it stands, the recipe yields 12 rolls, but these are so good that you will want to make more just for yourself. We won’t tell!