As Thanksgiving approaches, it's fascinating to discover that the most beloved dishes of the holiday season can vary greatly depending on your location. You might find yourself missing out on some of these dishes if you're not familiar with the different customs. Luckily, this list might introduce you to new casseroles you’ve never heard of! Google Trends shared the most popular Thanksgiving casserole searches for each state in 2021, and it is quite interesting to see! They can be categorized into casseroles made from potatoes, greens, corn, or other veggies as the primary component.
Although the map includes some lesser-known dishes, it is clear that some casseroles are more popular than others and universally appreciated, with millions of people claiming certain casseroles as their favorite. From classic sweet potato to savory green bean casserole, different cultures have their own unique culinary traditions. This list is versatile, and we guarantee that you have heard of at least a few of these. After all, these dishes are famous for a reason. Most of them are made with super comforting foods that taste even better when you enjoy them surrounded by friends and family.
1. Green Bean Casserole
Green Bean Casserole is a well-loved Thanksgiving dish because it is super easy to make, has minimal ingredients, and has a delicious savory flavor. The foundation is usually made with green beans, condensed cream of mushroom soup, milk, and cheese. Of course, many folks add seasonings or other ingredients to make it their own. For example, sometimes bacon, parmesan, fresh mushrooms, or bread cubes are added. What makes this casserole so special is the crispy fried onions that go on top, which give a crunchy contrast to the tender green beans in a saucy filling. This seems to be quite popular in the Western states, according to Google.
2. Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potato casserole looks different for certain people. For instance, some people can only imagine it with toasty marshmallows on top, which give it a pleasant sweetness. On the other hand, some versions have a nutty pecan crumble topping. Meanwhile, the base is essentially mashed sweet potatoes that have butter, cream, and maybe even brown sugar and spices. Oftentimes, an egg is added for structure. This casserole is popular because it's a nice balance to all of the super-savory foods on Thanksgiving. The natural yet subtle sweetness from the sweet potatoes pairs perfectly with whichever sweet topping you use.
3. Corn Casserole
Corn Casserole is a delicious, moist baked side dish that is popular in the South. Some casseroles are creamier than others, depending on the version. If you make a cheesy corn casserole, it likely has ingredients like cream cheese, sour cream, corn, seasonings, butter, and breadcrumbs on top. Meanwhile, a fluffy corn casserole usually has whole-kernel corn, corn muffin mix (or cornmeal and flour), sour cream, butter, and cheese. Both versions are thick enough to scoop onto your plate without it being runny. States that prefer this casserole include Iowa, Illinois, and West Virginia. Meanwhile, California prefers a Mexican-inspired corn casserole!
4. Potatoes Au Gratin
This layered potato casserole stands in place of mashed potatoes in some Thanksgiving dinners. It has thin, tender potato pieces with butter, cream, cheese, and seasonings. It is a hearty side dish, and since it is filled with so much dairy, it’s satisfying and rich. Not to mention, it pairs with any kind of meat or veggie you can imagine. According to Fanatically Food, the Potatoes Au Gratin dish was invented in 1788, so it has been around for a long time! Although this dish is versatile, and you don’t need to wait for a holiday to enjoy it, there is just something so comforting about enjoying it on Thanksgiving.
5. Mac and Cheese Bake
Everyone knows how amazing a classic baked Mac and Cheese dish is. With a creamy, cheesy base and seasoned breadcrumb topping, many people include this in their Thanksgiving spread for good reason. It’s a traditional comfort food that goes perfectly with green beans, mashed potatoes, and turkey or ham. The primary components include flour, butter, milk or half-and-half, noodles, different types of cheese, and seasonings. Panko topping is popular because it makes the surface layer extra crunchy, which creates a heavenly balance against the velvety sauce.
6. Broccoli Casserole
Broccoli Casserole can also vary in ingredients. But of course, broccoli is always the star component. Some renditions focus on broccoli and cheese, while others focus on broccoli and rice. Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama prefer traditional Broccoli Casserole with components like garlic, mayonnaise, cheese, eggs, broccoli, and seasonings. It has a Ritz cracker or breadcrumb topping. Meanwhile, Oklahoma and Texas prefer Broccoli Rice casserole, comprised of a creamy base with cheese, butter, cream of chicken soup, rice, broccoli, onions, and celery. Sometimes, it has a crispy topping, while other times, it has browned cheese.
7. Hashbrown Casserole
You might only associate hashbrowns with breakfast, but this delicious casserole can function as a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. It usually has simple ingredients like frozen shredded or diced hashbrowns, cheese, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and butter. Sometimes, people top it with cornflakes, Ritz crackers, green onions, or parsley. Since it is super creamy and cheesy, it pairs well with turkey, biscuits, roasted veggies, and other typical Thanksgiving foods. Although it's popular in the Midwest, people enjoy it everywhere due to how comforting it is.
8. Mashed Potato Casserole
Classic mashed potatoes are clearly a famous side dish, but when it comes to casserole, they taste best as a Mashed Potato Cream Cheese Casserole with cream cheese, sour cream, milk, seasonings, and butter. Sometimes, they have Fried onions on top, like Green Bean Casserole does. Other times, a Mashed Potato Bake has cheese, parsley, bacon, and green onions act as the garnish. Moreover, the casserole might also have some eggs to act as a binding agent. Essentially, the mashed potatoes are made as usual and then transferred to a casserole dish where the toppings are put on and baked.
9. Squash Casserole
Google states that this casserole reigns supreme in areas like Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, but the odds are that you’ve heard of it even if you're from somewhere else. The type of squash used ranges from butternut squash to yellow squash to acorn squash. Yellow Squash Casserole has butter, squash, eggs, mayo, cheese, and sour cream in the base. On the other hand, Butternut Squash Casserole might have chopped or even mashed squash in the base. Like others on this list, some have cheese as the topping, and some have a crispy topping (crushed crackers, breadcrumbs, etc.).
10. Southern Pineapple Casserole
If you’ve never heard of this casserole, the concept of it might seem a bit funky to you, but it's actually delicious. Although Google says that North Carolina searched the most for Pineapple Casserole recipes, this dish is actually a delicacy in the entire South for special occasions or gatherings. The casserole has a foundation made with canned pineapple, sugar, flour, and cheese. Then, it's topped with melted butter and crushed Ritz crackers. The dish is a nice balance of sweet and zesty, plus the Ritz topping gives it rich, buttery undertones, so it has a little bit of everything despite it having a simple base.