Justin & Mitch’s (Very Heated) Battle to Rank Classic Thanksgiving Dishes

Hi, I’m Justin.

And I’m Mitch.

So, Thanksgiving food ranking lists are typically very controversial, usually garnering both support and vitriol from all readers.

To mitigate this, we’ve decided to work together to create a comprehensive list — fact-checked with the opinions of more than one person.

Yup! So how do we want to do this, just take turns putting rankings on a Top 10 list?

Sounds good to me! You want to start?


#10: Cranberry Sauce

Credit: simplyrecipes.com

For me, I can’t get over the texture of cranberry sauce. Canned or homemade, it’s always got this gross, jiggly feel that just makes me feel like I’m eating slime. That is not very appetising.

Alright Justin, I’ve gotta disagree here. Cranberry sauce is delicious. And while homemade is good, canned just has that aesthetic with the ridges that is so rewarding to look at.  

Very fair, to each their own. Go ahead and say your number 9 pick, Mitch!

#9: Stuffing

Credit: thekitchn.com

I have never had good stuffing in my life. Cooked in the turkey or outside of the turkey, it’s just soggy, slushy bread that feels terrible in my mouth and doesn’t taste good either.  

Woah, heh, okay Mitch. I think the reason you’ve rated this so low is you just don’t understand stuffing! The best part of stuffing is the explosion of flavors and textures, how at one bite you’re biting into soft bread and the next you’re crunching on celery. Stuffing is that “wild uncle” that can sometimes be a little weird, but you love him because of his weirdness.

That is literally the kind of uncle I avoid at Thanksgiving. But fair enough I guess. Wanna move to your number 8? 

#8: Mashed Potatoes

Credit: bettycrocker.com

I do not understand the universal love of mashed potatoes. If done properly with an overabundance of gravy, they are mediocre at best, in my opinion. Frequently flavorless and mushy, this is one Thanksgiving side I do not want on my plate at the dinner table.  

Okay, c’mon Justin! Mashed potatoes are a classic. You probably just haven’t had a good, well-seasoned batch of mashed potatoes. As long as they’re seasoned properly, they don’t even need gravy. I’ll have to properly educate you sometime on how good they are. I might bring you some leftovers from my family’s Thanksgiving.  

Oh thanks, but unless you can take the “mashed” out of the potatoes, I don’t think I will ever get on board the potato hype-train. The texture is just too strange – is it a liquid? Is it a solid? Who knows? I ain’t about that.  

That’s exactly how I feel about stuffing, but at least mashed potatoes have flavor.

Flavor? You say mashed potatoes beat stuffing in the *flavor* department? Stuffing – the glorious amalgamation of various tastes and textures. Potatoes – a thing we pulled from the ground and beat until it’s mush.  

You’re attacking potatoes?! What the- Ok, wait. This isn’t gonna go anywhere. We should just move on.   

Fair, what’s your #7? 

#7: Turkey

Credit: tasteofhome.com

Turkey is a staple of Thanksgiving, I cannot deny that. However, I find it to be pretty overrated as an actual dish. I’ve had it prepared various ways, and I just find it to be pretty dry and unexciting. If I wanted poultry, I’d eat chicken. If I wanted meat, I’d eat pork or beef. Turkey isn’t bad by any means, but it certainly doesn’t deserve the top half of this list.  

Turkey, this low? Look, I get that if you have a dry turkey it can be a little lackluster, but this Thanksgiving centerpiece does not deserve to be number 7! There’s a reason why turkey is the main attraction at every Thanksgiving feast – it’s the perfect meat addition to the table. Pork or chicken just wouldn’t work as well with the rest of the dishes. Besides, there are MUCH worse dishes than turkey (like, say, cranberry sauce).  

Yo, let’s calm down, Justin. I definitely think turkey is good and I recognize how much of a centerpiece it is. I just think several foods are better! 7 isn’t a bad placing, it’s just sort of an “I’m not a huge fan,” ranking. No need to get so heated.  

Sorry, you’re right. This is the verified Thanksgiving ranking, taking into account several differing opinions. No matter how… ill-advised they may be. Shall we move on to #6?  

Yeah, sure. I’m nervous about what you’ve got next though… 

#6: Pumpkin Pie

Credit: foodnetwork.com

Pumpkin pie just does not do it for me. I understand it is the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert, but I don’t see what the big deal is. The ingredients are literally just canned pumpkin and condensed milk. How does that sound appealing? Even the addition of a ton of whipped cream doesn’t save this dish for me. Besides, chocolate pie is a MUCH better Thanksgiving dessert.  

Ok, first of all, I don’t know what pumpkin pie you’ve been eating, but there’s more than just canned pumpkin and condensed milk involved, with even the most basic recipe calling for cinnamon, ginger and other spices. Also, how can you roast me so hard for putting Turkey low when you’re dropping the second most famous Thanksgiving dish this low?Pumpkin pie is not exactly the best dessert, I agree, but you’re doing it dirty with your reasoning, my friend.  

Oh boy, three spices, that makes it *so* different. But very fair, I see your point with the turkey. I suppose you can see that as a hypocritical move, but turkey has MUCH more pedigree in this context than pumpkin pie does. Turkey is the cornerstone of every Thanksgiving feast, it deserves much more respect than this mediocre pastry. Where would *you* put pumpkin pie?  

Honestly, I’d just put it slightly higher, which is why I’m gonna just skip this argument. I would have pumpkin pie as #5, but I’ll put my #4 instead.

#5: Yams / Sweet Potatoes

Credit: thespruceeats.com

Sweet potatoes are an amazing dish. Not only are they a staple for Thanksgiving, but they also are delicious, especially when made with marshmallows. The combination of flavors is a unique taste that really makes Thanksgiving memorable for me. I know this is high praise for #5, but I do think there are some foods that beat it out in taste. Overall, though, a wonderful side dish.  

Oh man, I think I’m gonna puke. Vegetables should never go with marshmallows – it is absolutely disgusting. Sweet potatoes on their own, I’m totally alright with. But mush it up and smother it in marshmallows??? It’s even worse than regular mashed potatoes! How does this even make it on your list?  

Justin, I don’t know what potatoes did to you in a previous life but I am so sorry that you are missing out on the delicious dishes that feature them. You are simply too obsessed with things being solid or liquid to appreciate something that is a beautiful mix between the two that melts in your mouth. I truly pity your basic, simplistic taste buds.  

Simplistic?? My taste buds are not *simplistic*. Look, like I said, I have no problem with sweet potatoes on their own, but even the thought of mixing them with a sugary treat like marshmallows makes my stomach churn. Leave the melty white stuff to the s’mores, and keep them away from my vegetables!  

You disappoint me, Justin. Let’s just move on to see how much more you’ll disappoint me.

#4: Mac n’ Cheese

Credit: bettycrocker.com

Maybe not a super traditional Thanksgiving dish, but an absolutely fantastic one just the same. Throw on some breadcrumbs and sprinkle in some bacon, and you’ve got a dish worthy to be sitting next to the powerhouses like stuffing and turkey. I’m always sure to put a big scoop of this golden delicacy on my plate when the creamy mac comes around.  

Not only have you disappointed me greater than I expected, but you also disappointed me sooner than I expected. Mac n’ cheese is and always has been an overrated food. Not just is it not that great of a dish on its own, but it’s also not really a Thanksgiving dish! You insult the Thanksgiving tradition by putting mac over classics like sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce.  

Oh, you just made this personal Mitch. I’m really sorry, I guess your taste buds are just too SIMPLISTIC to appreciate the amazing combination of pasta and melted cheese. Also, on the topic of “not a Thanksgiving day dish”: take one look on Google and that’ll quiet those flagrantly wrong claims. Thanksgiving purist. Open your mind, you may find that you’ve been missing out on the BEST PARTS OF LIFE. I’m afraid to ask what your #3 pick is…  

While I am very insulted by what you’ve said, I am glad you asked! 

#3: Rolls

Credit: foodnetwork.com

There is no more simple yet delicious side than rolls. With butter, without butter, you name it, rolls crush it. They’re filling, great texture, easy to prepare, and all-around an amazing food for Thanksgiving. If I didn’t believe in table manners, I wouldn’t even bother to ask my brother to pass the rolls; I’d jump across the dang table and eat them up myself!  

I… I actually agree with this one. That’s a good ranking…  

Rolls are truly a universally loved food. They even make gluten free ones if that’s an issue you have! Maybe there are things we can agree on. What’s your #2? 

#2: Green Bean Casserole

Credit: mccormick.com

Green bean casserole is one of the best things that has ever come out of Thanksgiving. As a kid, this is the only way you could even get me to *approach* vegetables, and as an adult, I’ll still eat way too much of this stuff for it to be socially acceptable. The way that the smooth and soft green beans complement the crunchy fried onion crumbles on top, all bathed in a rich creamy mushroom soup; it makes my mouth water just thinking about it! This is truly one of the best things the holiday has to offer.  

And as quickly as it began, the ceasefire ends. Justin, you truly make me sad. Green bean casserole, while a truly iconic Thanksgiving day dish, is less than the sum of its parts. Thank you, though, because you have revealed something about yourself that explains your terrible opinions. You wouldn’t eat vegetables as a kid unless they were drowned in cream of mushroom soup. You can’t even expect to come close to comprehending the culinary arts. Green bean casserole is ok, a middling dish at best. #2 is far too high for it. But it is what I expect from you.  

I’m sorry Mitch, have you heard of a thing called HYPERBOLE? Of course I ate vegetables outside of green bean casserole, but the fact still stands that green bean casserole is the leader in any Thanksgiving feast. I laugh at the accusation that I don’t comprehend the culinary arts, coming from a guy that thinks mac n’ cheese is overrated. I’m starting to think you were the wrong person to be making this significant of a food ranking list with.  

OH PLEASE. I am an expert while you simply reiterate the opinions of the culinary peasantry. It’s not my fault you are so blinded by your *basic* opinions that you overlook amazing foods.  

Oh, my apologies “your highness.” Please, grace me with your divine wisdom on what you foolishly think the best Thanksgiving day dish is. I’m trembling with anticipation. 

#1: Cranberry Sauce

Credit: simplyrecipes.com

WHAT??? You can’t do that! This is already on the list! At the bottom, where it BELONGS.

I cannot let this list end with cranberry sauce at #10. Cranberry sauce is a unique texture and taste that is found nowhere else on the Thanksgiving table. Every other food has a familiar taste or feeling to it, but cranberry sauce absolutely stands out above the rest. Even canned, maybe even ESPECIALLY canned, this dish reminds people of Thanksgiving, of fighting over things with their relatives and bumping elbows at a too-full dinner table.  

… Wait…

That’s really the spirit of the holiday, isn’t it? Thanksgiving isn’t about if cranberry sauce is better than stuffing, or if mac n’ cheese counts as a side dish. It’s about family arguments and differing opinions, but more than that, it’s about putting aside those issues and just sitting together around a big table, passing good food to one another, and just being thankful for people you can love while disagreeing with.

You know what? That’s an amazing insight. That truly is the point of the holiday. 

I hope you have a good Thanksgiving, Mitch.

I hope you do as well, Justin.

But cranberry sauce is still really gross.


By content staffers Mitch Quaney and Justin Roderman.

KJHK 90.7 FM