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Thanksgiving is almost upon us! Which side dishes are we most looking forward to at the big dinner?

Thanksgiving is one of the best times of the year. The weather is gorgeous, the holiday season has officially begun, and you get to spend your time off work with family you may not see as often as you want to. While it’s about giving thanks for the various and unique blessings we’ve received throughout our lives, it’s difficult to remain calm when thinking about Thanksgiving food. From the turkey to the side dishes, Thanksgiving fare is often a once-per-year treat that we always look forward to.

We also know that side dishes are a hot topic of conversation in November. Which one is the best, and who should bring which dish to dinner? Better yet, whose side will be the talk of the family for the next year as they either try to safeguard the recipe to avoid competition or pass it down for generations to enjoy? Well, each Thanksgiving is unique and different, but we think we’ve nailed down the top five side dishes that you should clear room for this upcoming holiday. Let’s get into the list!

  1. Mac and Cheese

A relative newcomer to the Thanksgiving game, we might be underrating mac and cheese at No. 5, but it’s going to play the opening act in our list while we wait for it to earn its place at the table. We’d also never shame anyone for having mac and cheese as their favorite Thanksgiving side. With two simple main ingredients that always keep us coming back for more, the mac and the cheese, it’s no wonder it has become such a staple, not just during Thanksgiving, but year-round. It’s also extremely versatile, sure to please whether you crack it out of a box or use Grandma’s recipe. For today, it belongs on the list, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it ascend a few spots before it’s all said and done.

  1. Stuffing

Stuffing. The Bonnie to turkey’s Clyde. The Robin to its Batman. The peanut butter to its jelly. Stuffing and turkey just go together, possibly because the most iconic way of preparing the Thanksgiving staple is actually with, or inside, the turkey. The perfect stuffing is nearly unbeatable, filled with different textures and flavors that, despite the variation, never seem off-putting. It has also become extremely customizable. The greatest Thanksgiving cooks know that stuffing can come from anywhere. Whether you’re using a loaf of bread, brioche, cornbread or even a sweet, fruity bread, it’s sure to be on everyone’s plate at your family’s feast.

  1. Green Bean Casserole

Some years, green bean casserole would take the top spot on this list, and no one could blame a person who believes it should be No. 1. Today, it’s going to have to settle for No. 3, a commendable position in such a stacked lineup. Between all of the sugars, fats and starches we consume at Thanksgiving, sometimes we want a little bit of nutritional value. That’s where green bean casserole comes in, offering the sweetness of the green bean with its wholesome green flavor and texture to perfectly balance the dish. Tack on the creaminess of the cream of mushroom soup along with the crunch of the onion strings on the top layer, and you have a Thanksgiving side with range like no other. It’s truly a star, and it deserves recognition.

  1. Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows

We really don’t have enough compliments for the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. And if you’re wondering if it was necessary to include the “with marshmallows” half of this equation, it absolutely was. Forget the nutritional value offered by sweet potatoes. This dish snagged the second position on this list because of its pure, delicious value at your Thanksgiving table. An all-time great, a legend in its space, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows doesn’t need to be versatile to be as tasty as it is. Simply baking those sweet potatoes with some brown sugar and some marshmallows is enough, but if you really need some variety, throw in some candied pecans. The sweet, buttery pecan is the undisputed champion of fall-time nuts, and it can give you the one thing the dish doesn’t already have: crunch. There are no legitimate knocks against sweet potato casserole, outside of only being unable to overcome its big brother for the top spot on our list.

  1. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Here it is. The single greatest Thanksgiving side dish. Don’t get us wrong. We love stuffing, green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole, but mashed potatoes and gravy have completely transcended “holiday dish” status into “dinnertime necessity” territory. It’s also unlikely that you find a Thanksgiving dinner throughout the United States without mashed potatoes and gravy, probably because they’re so delicious. The perfect savory side to be paired with your turkey, mashed potatoes offer a soft, warm, buttery goodness that simply sends all other challengers away. And forget just having them on Thanksgiving Day. The leftovers last seemingly forever, and we can’t imagine a single person complaining about opening their fridge to the near perfection that is mashed potatoes. Though we obviously prefer mashing our own potatoes, even instant ones will leave your gathering with full bellies and happy hearts. If you look down at your plate and it’s full before you help yourself to a scoop of potatoes, you better clear some space because they deserve their rightful place.