carrot leek mash with parsley
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Thanksgiving is a meal that typically likes to lean heavy on tradition. You fry your turkey the way your dad taught you to, and try your best every year to recreate your mom’s legendary sausage stuffing and your aunt’s mindblowingly perfect pumpkin pie.

But let’s be honest, at a certain point the thought inevitably creeps into your head: “Yeah, okay, the old standards are great but what if we tried something a little bit different this year?” Like, for example, you could stretch your culinary wings by switching out the classic bowl of mashed potatoes for an alternative vegetable: cauliflower, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, or even turnips.

Okay, okay, maybe let’s not go full anarchy, I can sense the panicky look in your guests’ faces. Still, maybe you can get away with offering one of these as a supplemental side dish in the name of culinary diversity and broadening of horizons.

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Mashed Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic

mashed cauliflower recipe


A convincing doppelgänger for the traditional potato variety, cauliflower mash offers a similarly satisfying rich, creamy texture but with a distinct earthy-sweet edge (it’s also kosher for a keto Thanksgiving). If you want to really up the ante with minimal extra effort, try whipping in punchy roasted garlic and savory fresh thyme. Get the Mashed Cauliflower recipe.

Romanesco Cauliflower Mash

Of course, should regular cauliflower not quite feel out-of-the-box enough, you can always reach for its green-hued cousin with the spiky florets: romanesco. This rendition even manages to keep things on the healthier-ish side of the fence by supplementing creamy, tangy Greek yogurt for the usual butter. Get the Romanesco Cauliflower Mash recipe.

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

maple mashed sweet potatoes


This year, ditch the marshmallows and casserole pan routine and upgrade sweet potatoes to leading starch side dish. While warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom always make a nice flavor profile match, why not try folding in some oh-so-seasonally-appropriate maple syrup? The slightly sweet mash (no pun intended) was just made to be BFFs with thick, savory turkey gravy. Pro tip: Make sure to bake the taters instead of boiling to avoid any potential waterlogging. Get our Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe.

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Turnip and Pear Purée

buttermilk mashed potatoes recipe


Look, it’s time to get over that old childhood grudge you’ve been carrying around against vegetables like turnips, celery root, and parsnips. (You know, the ones Mom would use as the gatekeepers to dessert?) As it turns out, these B-list veggies can actually help add a lot of intrigue to the profile of your predictable mashed potato game. Here, for example, turnips contribute a welcome peppery bite to the thick potato base, perfectly complementing the subtle sweetness of the pear. Get our Turnip and Pear Purée recipe.

Butternut Squash Mash with Za’atar, Pepitas, and Tahini

While butternut squash may be a familiar face at the traditional Turkey Day table, this globally-inspired rendition certainly strays from the norm. Crunchy pepitas, creamy tahini sauce, and the savory Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar give this silky purée offer the flavors of a well-traveled passport. Get the Butternut Squash Mash with Za’atar, Pepitas, and Tahini recipe.

Acorn Squash Mashed Potato Boats with Brown Butter, Bacon, and Chives

Twice-baked potato, you have met your fall match. Thanksgiving is all about eating greedy, so how better to selfishly, shamelessly indulge than with a personal mashed potato-stuffed acorn squash boat doused in brown butter, bacon, and chives? Get the Acorn Squash Mashed Potato Boats with Brown Butter, Bacon, and Chives recipe.

Related Reading: How to Brown Butter

Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes

Who says you have to wait for the dessert course to get your pumpkin fix? Here, sweet, creamy pumpkin purée combines with warming spices and umami-rich miso paste to dress up your standard standard mashed potato act with some real fall-inspired flair. Get the Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes recipe.

Carrot, Leek, and Parsley Mash

carrot leek mash with parsley


Instead of doing the usual side of roasted baby carrots thing (delicious though it may be), this holiday you ought to consider going with an easy, atypical carrot mash that celebrates texture and proves the formula is not just made for kids. Get our Carrot, Leek, and Parsley Mash recipe.

Related Reading: Unusual Vegetables for Your Thanksgiving Table

Jerusalem Artichoke and Apple Purée

jerusalem artichoke and apple puree

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For the uninitiated, this popular root vegetable (the tuber of a species of sunflower) basically tastes like a love child between a potato and an artichoke heart. Earthy, starchy, capable of achieving a kind of caramelized sweetness—they’re delicious and a perfect candidate for mashing. Here, they’re combined with Yukon gold potatoes for texture and apples for fruity sweetness to create a next-level turkey side dish. Get the Jerusalem Artichoke and Apple Purée recipe.

Brussels Sprouts Mash

In case there are any Brussels sprouts naysayers at the table, this mashified rendition has a creamy, butter-enriched texture and smoky bacon bits to add to its appeal. Get the Brussels Sprouts Mash recipe.

For more tips, tricks, hacks, and recipes, see our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving.

Related Video: The Best Way to Reheat Cold Mashed Potatoes

Header image by Chowhound.

Maryse Chevriere is a certified sommelier, James Beard Award winner for @freshcutgardenhose, and author of "Grasping the Grape," a no-nonsense but really fun guide to wine.
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