Thanksgiving foods, ranked best to worst (2022 edition) – MassLive.com

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Thanksgiving is so magical and wonderful that it has somehow brainwashed the world into thinking cranberry sauce is a good idea.
Why yes, I do get into food arguments at Thanksgiving dinner. How could you tell?
Once again, I am taking up the challenge of providing in-depth analysis and rankings for some foods that are near and dear to people’s hearts.
Some people enjoy good foods — like stuffing and gravy. These people are the champions of society and will lead us to victory when the aliens invade. Some people like sweet potato casserole. It’s a shame their mouths are weird. But it’s not their fault.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Nick, you did this last year? How could the rankings be different?”
That’s because I absolutely have not looked at last year’s rankings and don’t remember what I wrote. What I do know is that those rankings are now wrong and these rankings are here to fix that.
As always, these rankings are not scientific, but are correct:
1. Stuffing – Stuffing is a miracle food. It honestly makes no sense when you think about it. The steps to make it sound like an insane monarch giving orders.
What, the bread has already been baked? Well, bake it again on low heat to dry it out! Then get it wet again with chicken broth. Then dry it out again by baking it a third time. I’ll eat some of it then. But then I want you to refrigerate the rest. Then tomorrow, I want you to heat it back up and take this bread (which will be cooked four times at this point) and put it between some cheap white bread to make a sandwich. I’m also going to put cranberry sauce on that sandwich. No, I will not eat cranberry sauce again for an entire calendar year. I will eat it with a slice of pie at 10 a.m. while doing holiday shopping. I will consider buying a toaster because it is on sale.
Stuffing makes me feel like a supervillain. I want it served out of a claw-toothed bathtub with gravy coming out of the shower. I’ll take over the world by the end of the week.
2. Whipped Cream – At a certain point, I realized that my preference for desserts almost directly correlates with the amount of whipped cream I could put on it without violating the Geneva Conventions.
3. Gravy – Gravy is the savory spark that turns Thanksgiving dinner from an endless starch march into a savory symphony.
There’s no Thanksgiving problem that gravy can’t fix. Turkey’s too dry? Gravy. Someone put veggies on your plate? Hide them with gravy. The in-laws are trying to change the channel from the football game? Cover the remote control in gravy. That will stop them.
4. Mac & Cheese – In my mind, mac & cheese at Thanksgiving is the Southern baked variety that has some egg in it and is more like a casserole. I want my mac & cheese served by the slice.
5. Pumpkin Pie – Over-proliferation of pumpkin spice is a problem that’s starting to infect our summers with ill-advised nutmeg knockoffs. However, don’t let that distract you from the fact that pumpkin is an elite pie. I eat mine in what I call the “whipped cream coffin.” That’s where I cover every visible surface with whipped cream like it’s an Egyptian pie Pharoah.
6. Green Bean Casserole – As far as I’m concerned, this casserole is an elaborate ruse to let you put crispy onion bits on your plate while masquerading as a vegetable. It’s basically a Thanksgiving vegetable heist.
7. Turkey – I don’t want to hear about your turkey being dry. It’s not my fault that my mom isn’t cooking the turkey at your house. She has enough work making two turkeys at our house this year. (One for dinner, one specifically for leftovers.)
8. Dinner Rolls – Every year, I take some time you collect a little bit of everything on my plate — turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, maybe some cranberry sauce — and pile it onto a sandwich. In this moment, I am fully convinced that I could go on Iron Chef and win.
9. Chocolate Creme Pie – If it were up to me, I’d use a cement mixer to add whipped cream to this pie.
10. Pecan Pie – This is another grift. This is a butter-sugar pie. Somehow, it’s named after a type of nut to make it sound less nutritionally atrocious. What a brilliant ploy.
11. Mashed Potatoes – When I was younger, I used to make a mashed potato volcano filled with gravy. I still do this, too, and you can’t stop me. I don’t care how many family members bury their faces in their hands when I do it.
12. All Other Pies – If you don’t see your favorite pie listed here, it’s because I have a personal vendetta against it. Yes, especially that one.
13. Apple Pie – The problem with apple pie at Thanksgiving is the format. This is a pie that’s best suited to be the highlight of dessert, maybe served with some ice cream. It suffers when thrust into a buffet setting.
14. Corn Bread – I love cornbread, especially when it’s got some honey butter. But I prefer a standard dinner role in the Thanksgiving setting. Cornbread isn’t as good for sopping up gravy and eating with turkey. It’s more of a standalone star and less of a team player.
15. Squash – I’ve really started to come around on squash as I’ve gotten older, especially when it’s got just the right seasonings.
16. Peas – Peas are the most underrated vegetables at Thanksgiving. They’re bright and easily declare to the world, “Hey, I put a vegetable on my plate. Get off my back.” Plus, if you mix them into mashed potatoes, it becomes a sort of veggie boba tea.
17. Brussels Sprouts – Once maligned, Brussels sprouts have had a resurgence once people learned how to roast them and season them.
18. Creamed Corn – Be honest. You skimmed right over this when you saw “creamed corn” on the list.
19. Scalloped Potatoes – In theory, these should be great. However, scalloped potatoes have a mysterious ability to entirely circumvent the laws of thermodynamics. Unlike normal foods, which cool down normally, scalloped potatoes have only two temperatures: boiling hot or cold/congealed.
20. Glazed Carrots – As vegetables go, glazed carrots are weird. They don’t really taste any better than normal carrots. They’re also worse for you and don’t really mix with anything on the plate. If I get glazed carrots in my mashed potatoes, I’m abandoning both of them.
21. Salad – There may be someone who decides that they should make some sort of salad in order to put something healthy on the table. It’s admirable and responsible. I’m glad someone had the thought to put something green on the table to make everyone feel like 5% less of a gluttonous whirlpool of gravy.
I mean, I’m not going to eat it. But it’s a nice touch. It’s like having an EMT at a tee ball game. Their services will not be needed. But we all feel better seeing it.
22. Sweet Potato Casserole – Sweet potatoes? Good. Toasted Marshmallows? Great. Sweet potatoes plus toasted marshmallows? An unsettling undertaking with vicious viscosity. This is a side dish for people who really just want to eat dessert, but lack patience. It also feels like it was designed by a 5-year-old but has somehow become a fundamental piece of Thanksgiving culture.
23. Cranberry Sauce – I’m told people have preferences between canned cranberry sauce and homemade cranberry sauce. I’ve always found it fascinating. I’m surprised people have such strong opinions about whether their repugnant bog fruit can be fired out of a grenade launcher or resembles a malevolent miasma of some newly risen eldritch horror.
It’s like arguing whether you like your parking tickets to be a bland color or bright orange so you can see your day has been ruined from further away.
Now, cranberries have their place. The conventional Thanksgiving spread is heavy with fats and starches. Cranberry sauce can provide some much-needed acidity to break it up. You know what else does that? Lemons. You don’t see me scooping a gelatinous barrel of citrus out of a can and calling it a fundamental Thanksgiving food. No, that would be crazy.
Previous rankings
For comparison’s sake, here are rankings from previous years. If you have criticisms about my rankings — or me arbitrarily changing them from previous years, please send your complaints to [email protected]
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