A man shopping the frozen food section at trader joe's
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Head To Trader Joe's For All Your Thanksgiving Sides & Apps
by Cat Bowen and Jennifer Parris
Originally Published: 

My family and I are not going to do a huge Thanksgiving this year, so I want everything to be as easy as possible. To simplify things, I plan on finding everything from my family's turkey for appetizers and side dishes for Thanksgiving from Trader Joe's, because it's one of my favorite stores, and I am an inherently lazy individual. If I can buy everything from one or two stores, I am a happy person.

As I strolled the jam-packed aisles of my Brooklyn Trader Joe's I noted a pretty big theme in this year's offerings... butter. If you're afraid of the dairy fat of the heavens, than TJ's might not be your best bet this year. If, however, you want to fully embrace the indulgence of this holiday, than you have come to the right place. They have gratins and mashed potatoes, stuffing mixes and multiple types of croissant.

The cool thing about the Thanksgiving apps and sides you’ll find at Trader Joe’s is that you can really find anything to match how much time and energy you want to invest, cooking-wise. For example, there are some sides that need a little sautéing (in case you want to feel like you kinda sorta cooked them), to slice-and-serve apps, to even food that you can pop right into the microwave and onto a plate so you can focus on what’s important: eating.

Now that’s something to be thankful for.


Decent Cranberry Sauce

Courtesy Cat Bowen

I do make my own cranberry sauce every year, but having a jar around is handy for making things like compound butters, and cranberry mayonnaise. Their version is quite sturdy, with just enough sweetness to temper the tart berries. It's only $2, so if you hate it, it isn't a big loss.


Gotta Have The Stuffing

Courtesy Cat Bowen

Cornbread stuffing is the superior stuffing, don't at me. This version calls for the addition of a good amount of our BFF, butter, but could be substituted for a combination of turkey fat and butter to add to the overall richness. It's $4 for a big serving, but you still will probably want like, 11 boxes.


Your Kids Will Eat This

Courtesy Cat Bowen

Do you remember in the 1990s, when it was popular to buy the bagged California medley of frozen veggies, and turn them into a casserole with fried onions and sour cream? This is the improved version of that, and all you have to do is heat it up. It's only $4, and your kids will eat it.


Fancy Cheese

Courtesy Jennifer Parris

Looking to create a chic charcuterie board? Add some slices of this White Stilton Cheese. Complete with cranberries, this English cheese ($9.99/lb) pairs well with wine, crackers, and will complement your holiday meal.


More Mushrooms, Please

Courtesy of Jennifer Parris

Puff pastry? Yes, please. Plenty of puff delicately encases white button, cremini, and shiitake mushrooms. Just heat these Mini Mushrooms En Croute (a vegan delight) up in the oven for 30 minutes until golden and delicious.


Olive Another, Thanks

Courtesy of Jennifer Parris

For an interesting (and delish) appetizer, you can try the Fried Olive Bites. They're bite-sized wonders of breaded Castlevetrano and Kalamata olive pieces with a cheese filling. For $4.49, you'll get 12, which you can either bake in the oven, or pop into your air fryer.


Make Room For Mushrooms

Courtesy Jennifer Parris

Risotto is a rich dish to serve as a side for Thanksgiving, but it's the kind of dish that needs a whole lot of babysitting. The Mushroom Risotto from Trader Joe's ($3.29) is imported from Italy and is a simple, yet savory side that can be ready in mere minutes…without all that incessant stirring that regular risotto requires.


Savory Squash

Courtesy of Jennifer Parris

This pasta dish is perfect as a side for your holiday spread. Butternut Squash Ravioli can be served with a simple oil and garlic aioli, or with a creamy Alfredo, making this a must-have seasonal staple. Now that's Italian—and only $2,99, too.


Who Hash

Courtesy of Jennifer Parris

Butternut squash, sweet potato, sage, and rosemary, oh my! Skip all the slicing and dicing and simply sauté this Holiday Vegetable Hash Mix. Great as an addition to your holiday stuffing, you can also serve it as a side, too. For $4.99, you can claim bragging rights to having made a fantastic side dish.


Gobble, Gobble

Courtesy of Jennifer Parris

Even though a golden bird might be the centerpiece of almost any Thanksgiving table, not everyone likes turkey. (Shocker) So these little turkey meatballs ($3.99) can work well as an app before the main meal, or appease the picky little eaters at your table. They're flame-broiled (yum) and come fully cooked — all you need to do is heat them up and top them with your favorite sauce.

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