Thanksgiving is absolutely the biggest dinner of the year, and it seems that weeks go into not only planning the guest list and tablescape but also plotting out the meal. There will be welcome cocktails and appetizers, but those are just the teaser for the main event, which is sure to include a beautiful turkey with all the trimmings and an assortment of Thanksgiving side dishes, followed by decadent desserts. And what if we told you that you could make your process easier by using an air fryer for some of your sides?
One common issue people face when they're cooking a Thanksgiving feast is that if they choose to bake their turkey, the bird ends up monopolizing much of the oven space for the majority of the day. This makes it challenging to bake anything else, even though a lot of common side dishes need to be baked in the oven.
So, instead of trying to fit it all in the oven, why not save that oven space for the turkey and get the majority of your sides done with an air fryer? Air fryers are ultimately sort of like countertop convection ovens anyway, and they can do anything an oven can do, but in a more compact, often faster, way.
For this year's Thanksgiving feast, break out your air fryer and prepare to divide and conquer this Thanksgiving. You may be surprised how much you can do in there—as in, every side dish you'd possibly want for the big meal!
Read on, and for more holiday hosting tips, check out these delicious Trader Joe's Thanksgiving Foods.
Air Fryer Hasselback Potato Bites
You're going to need to have one potato dish (at least!) at any Thanksgiving dinner. Traditionally, this may have included anything from a garlic mash to scalloped potatoes. But why not have a bit more fun with it this year? These Hasselback potatoes are simple to make and offer a beautiful presentation for the table, and the air fryer will leave them golden and crispy. Use those slits in the potatoes to add fun garnishes or seasoning, and they'll be even more Instagram-ready.
Get our recipe for Air Fryer Hasselback Potato Bites.
Air Fryer Sweet and Sour Cauliflower Bites
You probably don't think of sweet and sour sauce when you think of Thanksgiving, but there's no reason you can't add a twist to your usual holiday vegetables. Cooking them in the air fryer gives this cauliflower a nice crispy outside that will have your guests coming back for seconds and thirds.
Get our recipe for Sweet and Sour Cauliflower.
Air Fried Sweet Potato Cubes
You only need a few ingredients for these Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes, making them an easy (yet delicious) side you can throw together at the last minute. All you need are sweet potatoes, black pepper, paprika, garlic, and olive oil, and you can toss everything into the air fryer for a flavorful, crispy side dish.
Get the recipe from Julie's Eats&Treats.
Butternut squash is a classic fall food, so whipping up some easy Air Fryer Butternut Squash can help you stick to the classics in the easiest way possible. The air fryer does a great job of making this vegetable crispy on the outside and super tender on the inside.
Get the recipe from Well Plated By Erin.
Air Fryer Stuffing Balls
You've most likely had a classic stuffing at Thanksgiving, but Inquiring Chef is taking this traditional dish and putting a unique—and very easy—spin on it. These stuffing balls can be thrown into the air fryer for a quick, simple, flavor-packed Thanksgiving side that your guests will remember.
Get the recipe from Inquiring Chef.
Air Fryer Corn Bread
Who knew you could make cornbread in the air fryer? If you're preparing for Thanksgiving and don't have any oven space, this recipe is the perfect solution to making sure you still get to enjoy a holiday staple.
Get the recipe from Air Fryer Eats.
Air Fryer Pumpkin Biscuits
An important part of any Thanksgiving (or, if we're being honest, any big family dinner) is going to be some sort of bread situation. Traditionally, cornbread or biscuits are pretty common to see on a holiday dinner table, but why not pay tribute to the seasonal aspect of the holiday and go with pumpkin?
These pumpkin biscuits are very easy to make in the air fryer and will come out deliciously light and airy and fluffy. But they won't forever and hog up the oven because they can be in the air fryer in under 10 minutes. They are also fiber-filled and have a good amount of protein, so it's a good way to have that starchy element without feeling carb-loaded.
Get the recipe from Good Cheap Eats.
Crispy Parmesan Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
I've been making Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving for years, and I discovered on recent attempts that the more crispy and savory the ingredients, the more successful this dish ends up being.
These crispy parmesan air fryer Brussels sprouts couldn't be easier to make. They are tossed in parmesan and a savory spice mix, and the results are crunchy and full of flavor. These are ready in under 10 minutes in the air fryer, so they couldn't be simpler, and I also love that they are incredibly easy to make your own, depending on your own family's tastes and flavor profiles. Want to switch out the garlic and Italian seasoning for taco seasoning or a curry blend? They'll be just as delicious.
Get the recipe from SideChef.
Air Fryer Honey Cinnamon Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is a popular choice all through the season of falling leaves and harvests—but it's not a casual thing to make. It can take upwards of a half hour to roast in the oven, and that doesn't even count preheating or prep time. But this air fryer butternut squash recipe takes a fraction of that time and will be a sweet and delicious Thanksgiving side that incorporates warming spices and the sweetness of honey. It only takes about 15 minutes to make, too, so way less time commitment.
Get the recipe from Everyday Family Cooking.
Air Fryer Asparagus
Asparagus is a tasty and healthy side dish that can be made tender and delicious in the air fryer. Cooking using this method takes under 10 minutes and involves less oil than other cooking methods. But it's also just so easy to make. All this recipe calls for is asparagus, a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. If you want to make these next level, some grated parmesan, a squeeze of fresh lemon, or some crushed red chili flakes would nicely do the trick.
Get the recipe from The Forked Spoon.
Maple Harissa Caramelized Carrots with Lemony Yogurt and Feta
Carrots add a beautiful pop of color to that plate of turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. But they are also delicious, healthy, and easy to make. The air fryer really makes the caramelized flavor really pop, and saves serious time—this colorful and flavorful side will be ready in just 15 minutes. Make this recipe even more fun by using rainbow carrots for extra color variety.
Get the recipe from The Fresh Market.
Air Fryer Green Beans
Yes, we know, green bean casserole is a mainstay of Thanksgiving. But that involves a whole lot of ingredients and is time-consuming and not all that great for you. These air fryer green beans are simple and require just a few ingredients. They also take just 15 minutes to make and will come out a gorgeous blistered brown. That's a fraction of the time you'd spend building that casserole and putting it in the oven. This recipe is also vegan and gluten-free, which is an important consideration as various people at your table may have dietary restrictions and we want them to be able to eat, too.
Get the recipe from Planted in the Kitchen.
A previous version of this story was published on November 9, 2022. It has been updated to include additional copy and proofreading revisions, as well as updated contextual links.
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