Sporked’s Guide to an Easy Thanksgiving

Here’s a secret: You don’t have to make Thanksgiving sides from scratch. The key is just knowing which store-bought sides are good enough to deserve a place on your holiday table. Lucky for you, we, the good people at Sporked, tasted all the top canned cranberry sauces, boxed stuffings, instant mashed potatoes, and more to find the best side dishes as well as the best whipped cream and even canned cream of mushroom soup (for your green bean casseroles). Consider this your one-stop shop for an easier Thanksgiving.

Go ahead, cut a few corners. Maybe this year you’ll actually get to see some of that gosh darn parade everyone keeps talking about.

Best Instant Mashed Potatoes

best instant mashed potatoes
Credit: Ryan Martin

Here’s a secret the food magazines don’t want you to know: instant mashed potatoes are good. And they’re extremely easy to make. We tired 15 different brands of instant mashed potatoes to find five that are so good, they rival the homemade stuff.

Best Boxed Stuffing

best box stuffing
Credit: Merc

We tried all the best truly instant boxed stuffings and these were the three we can honestly recommend. They’re so good, you might find yourself whipping up a quick stuffing for a weeknight meal in February.

Best Store Bought Gravy

best store bought gravy
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde

Turkey needs gravy. It’s a fact. But really good gravy can be a chore to make. (Who has time for a roux when you’re trying to juggle glazing carrots and making your family behaves themselves at least until the pie is served?) Packaged gravy to the rescue. We promise, no one will know. It’s that good.

Best Canned Cranberry Sauce

best cranberry sauce
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde

Canned cranberry sauce is the butt of every hack Thanksgiving joke, but we found the best canned cranberry sauce out there. It’s so good, people will comment on it. They’ll say, “Wow, this cranberry sauce is great.” And you’ll say, “Thank you, Sporked.”

Best Frozen Mac and Cheese

best frozen mac and cheese
Credit: Merc

The best frozen mac and cheese is a perfect Thanksgiving side. It’s creamy, indulgent, and easy. If you’ve never included mac and cheese in your Thanksgiving feast, this is the year to try it with these frozen boxes that are ready in minutes.

Best Bread Rolls

best dinner rolls
Credit: Merc

Don’t bother baking bread. Your oven is far too packed already. Instead, buy the best dinner rolls available at the grocery store. We even tested these for squish.

Best Store-Bought Biscuits

best store-bought biscuits
Credit: Paula Kunatee

Thanksgiving is all about indulgence and there’s nothing more indulgent than a buttery biscuit slathered with butter (the best butter). Buy an extra can of these refrigerated, ready-to-bake biscuits for late night turkey sliders.

Best Frozen Creamed Spinach

Best Frozen Spinach
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde

You need to have some green on the table at Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean that green can’t be mixed with cream and cheese. We found the best frozen creamed spinach, whether you like it whole leaf or pureed to a pulp.

Best Canned Corn

best canned corn
Credit: Merc

Easy Thanksgiving side tutorial: Find best canned corn (we did that step for you). Open can. Pour into bow. Microwave. Put on table. Ta-da!

Best Cream of Mushroom Soup

best cream of mushroom soup
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde

The best green bean casserole is made with the best cream of mushroom soup. We tasted all the top brands and found six to recommend. Yes, the classic Campbell’s made the cut, but there are others worth exploring, too.

Best Canned Pumpkin

best canned pumpkin
Credit: Paula Kunatee

Does anyone use fresh pumpkin in their pies? We certainly don’t. But we only use the best canned pumpkin. We tasted a bunch of brands straight out of the can in order to find the ones that were silky, sweet, and actually tasted like pumpkin.

Best Canned Whipped Cream

best canned whipped cream
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Walmart / Target / Instacart

We squirted can after can of whipped cream into our mouths to find the true creme de la creme: the best canned whipped cream. Make sure you finish your meal on a high note with one of these picks.

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  • Macaroni and Cheese, Creamed Spinach, Creamed Corn, and Cream of Mushroom Soup are not traditional Thanksgiving sides. Where’s the Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

    • Yes they are. The mushroom soup is for green bean casserole. And I’ve never once had broccoli with cheese sauce for Thanksgiving.

      Regardless, it’s clearly different based on region/territories and also family choices.

    • You don’t have Mac and cheese at Thanksgiving?!? I’m so sorry you’ve not been fed a proper thanksgiving meal! Cream of mushroom is used for green bean casserole, we don’t do creamed spinach and just regular sweet corn. I just can’t even imagine a thanksgiving without Mac and cheese 😳

  • One list to rule them all…

  • I’m surprised you didn’t test gravy in a jar. There are some good ones out there. Just heat and eat!
    I’m glad to see all my go to brands made your list. Throw them on top of a pizza crust with some turkey and cheese the next day. (Skip the beans and corn though)

  • I’d like to see more vegan options included in your rankings.