Thanksgiving Food Tier List

By Elizabeth Nguyen

Hi, loves! It’s Lizzy, back again in time for Thanksgiving, and today’s discussion will be about my Thanksgiving food preferences. Here’s a tier list of classic Thanksgiving foods and my personal justification for each tier’s contents.

Disclaimer: As a Vietnamese teenager, the majority of food at the Thanksgivings I attend isn’t what you’d typically expect. Generally, when I pull up to my uncle’s house in a fresh outfit, I’m dressed to leave room for seconds on the bún bò huế or the bánh cuốn instead of, say, the turkey. However, I do believe that I have tried enough classic American Thanksgiving cuisine to provide some input. Take my words as you will, and let’s hop right into it.

Sourced from

Getting Seconds

Apple Pie

  • Smells like comfort and tastes even better
  • Heaven if served warm and gooey with vanilla ice cream on the side
  • Arguably more aesthetically pleasing and complex in flavor than pumpkin pie

Mac and Cheese

  • Very flexible with modifications (ex. additives like bacon, toppings like breadcrumbs, different flavors)
  • I’m a sucker for both ends of the scale, one end being Kraft and the other end being a piping hot, creamy baked mac and cheese with cracked peppercorns, chives, and maybe a touch of Sriracha
  • Worth ignoring my lactose intolerance
  • I will savor every last bite of this I get for as long as I live

Roasted Vegetables

  • Roasting is 100% my favorite way to prepare vegetables (if you’re not roasting them, get on it ASAP)
  • Brings out both flavor and texture, no downside
  • Seasoning potential is endless
  • Sheet pan prep makes life incredibly easy
  • What if insulting food became another method of cooking?

Sweet Potato Casserole

  • Growing up, our family was always responsible for making the sweet potato casserole. Ben and I would mash the sweet potatoes by hand, dust in cinnamon and sugar, then lay marshmallows like masons laying brick.
  • Seriously, we’d pack the surface with marshmallows before putting it in the oven to broil (hopefully without burning it).
  • I didn’t really understand the glory of sweet potato casserole as a kid, so I used to eat the gooey marshmallows off of the top like some sort of maniac.
  • But when I grew up, I realized how genius complex flavors like spiced sweet potatoes and caramelized marshmallows were when paired together.
  • 11/10–culinary masterpiece that warms my heart


Pumpkin Pie

  • I’m almost notorious for my massive sweet tooth
  • Might be an acquired taste for some or single-note after a while
  • Reminds me of the greatest pumpkin loaf I’ve ever had (shout-out to Mrs. Fletcher)


  • Lots of variety in flavor and texture
  • You physically can’t go wrong with flavored bread
  • Herbs and sauteed onions, and smell great in the oven
  • Keeps very nicely for leftovers


  • Classic, enough said
  • Fought over the drumsticks for at least a decade straight
  • We store our baking equipment in the bottom oven, so whenever we made two turkeys, there would be pans and measuring cups spread out all across the kitchen counter

Sparkling Juice

  • I drink this twice a year – Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve
  • Fun for pretending to drink alcohol
  • I usually opt for Diet Coke or something similar instead to curve the sugar

Green Bean Casserole

  • Tasty way to pretend like you’re eating a substantial amount of vegetables (but on Thanksgiving, is anyone really trying?)
  • Apparently the reason behind 40% of Cream of Mushroom sales
  • Interesting texture

Scalloped Potatoes

  • Growing up, the mental picture of these I had in my head was completely off (I was disappointed to learn one day that scallops are not part of the deal)
  • Still, can’t go wrong with cheese and potatoes


  • Buttery, flaky bread
  • Dinner rolls but built different

“For the Experience”


  • Great at practically any time of year
  • Hits different if you add spices and/or butter, still alright if you don’t
  • Easy prep but kind of boring

Dinner Rolls

  • Can range anywhere from fluffy clouds to crunchy shells
  • Good for butter and soup but not much else in my opinion

Mashed Potatoes

  • Completely blank canvas = room for creativity 
  • Used to add everything but the usual bacon, chives, and butter into these bad boys
  • Don’t remember the last time I had these outside of the popcorn chicken bowls in the cafeteria


  • I’ve never had a Thanksgiving with glazed baked ham, but chả lụa/giò lụa is a fire staple. Cut it up and put it on anything, mildly addictive.


  • Works well with anything savory
  • Accidentally ate half of a bowl of it thinking it was soup, 6/10



  • Never really had much of a taste for it; would rather opt for the dinner rolls

Cranberry Sauce

  • Tangy, sour taste contrasts interestingly with more savory items
  • Not my cup of tea, though

Creamed Corn

  • Had it exactly once; initially confused but it grew on me
  • Sad if temperature is anything less than piping hot


  • Nutrient-rich, overall great thing to eat and very versatile for both savory and sweet things
  • Somewhat of an acquired taste
  • When I think of fall and Thanksgiving season, I think of other foods first

Hard Pass

Red Wine

  • For legal reasons, I have no comment

Jellied Cranberry

  • Unsettling both taste-wise and texture-wise
  • Looks like opaque Jello
  • Why do people like this? Who had the idea?

Brussels Sprouts

  • Stench is absolutely revolting
  • All right if roasted, though

In summary, here are my overall thoughts:

  1. I have a massive sweet tooth.
  2. Roasting your vegetables is one of the easiest ways to elevate them to another level.
  3. While vegetables are inherently awesome, you seriously can’t go wrong with carbs and/or cheese.

Hope you enjoyed this little list – no matter how you choose to enjoy it or what to enjoy it with, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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