A staff survey reveals that though we may move to new places and celebrate Thanksgiving with new groups of friends and family, many of us still have that one thing that cannot come off the table. (Surprise: It’s not turkey.)

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans and Marshmallows
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Better with Marshmallows

I’m originally from the Midwest, so my family’s Thanksgiving table has always included at least two different types of potatoes—probably 3-4 if guests are left to their own devices. The must-have dish, still, is sweet potatoes with marshmallows. It’s admittedly not the healthiest or the most popular dish, but it feels like home as we make our own traditions in the West. We can change the rest of the meal from year to year—Cornish game hen instead of turkey, introducing Brussels sprouts to the mix—but I’ll never remove the potatoes. —Jennifer Konerman, digital editor

A Totally Tubular Tradition

Canned Cranberry Sauce

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My must-have when it comes to Thanksgiving is canned cranberry sauce. My sister makes this incredible homemade cranberry sauce with raspberries in it and everyone raves about it. But I’m sorry, sis. I gotta have that canned jelly that plops out of the can—it’s the sound of my childhood, after all—or as far as I’m concerned it’s just not Thanksgiving dinner. —Deanna Kizis, garden editor

A Cheesy Tradition

James Carrier

Every year my family opts for a pumpkin cheesecake as our post-turkey coma dessert. Even though most people dive into pies for their Thanksgiving sweet there is something about a smooth and creamy pumpkin cheesecake that leaves me feeling satisfied and full to the max. We always make sure to whisk up some fresh whipped cream to slather on top to devour while we browse Netflix and settle into a Christmas movie for the night.  —Teaghan Skulszki, intern

Green Beans Are a Gotta-Have

Three words: green bean casserole. And not just because it makes a great side dish. In my family, nothing says holiday-leftover breakfast more than coffee, Aunt Eden’s handmade rolls (if any remain the morning after) and a large dollop of re-heated green beans and cream of mushroom soup topped with French’s crispy fried onions. —Kristin Scharkey, senior editor

Bacon Fat: The Secret to Longevity?

I, too, love Thanksgiving green beans. In my family, a Thanksgiving staple is a dish we refer to as Grandma’s Green Beans, because we associate it with my paternal grandmother. It’s a simple recipe, and it starts the way I wish all recipes did, with bacon. Cook about one strip per person. When the bacon is done, remove strips and cut them into small pieces (which you’ll add back when you’re ready to serve). Snap your beans into sections about an inch long, and brown them in the bacon fat. When they’ve got a good sear, cover them with water and simmer until the water’s gone, which will probably take about two hours. 

You’re probably thinking that after frying and a two-hour boil, is there anything left of the beans other than salt, fat, and a hint of vegetable essence? The answer is no, thank goodness. You’re also probably thinking this doesn’t sound very healthy. And you may be right. But if you’ve got concerns, please don’t ask me; I’m no nutritional expert. Ask Grandma—although you’ll have to speak loudly because at 103, her hearing is not what it used to be.  —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Not All Must-Haves Go in the Oven


Courtesy of Etsy

My Thanksgiving table must-have is the silverware my grandmother gave me. She and my grandfather got it as a wedding gift in 1935, at the tail end of the Great Depression when resources were tight. It was her prized possession, and now I’m the caretaker of the set. Truth be told—silver is a pain. It needs to be polished to look its best, and who has the time? Nevertheless, I love its old-fashioned appeal, and it can look pretty great mixed and matched on a contemporary table. But here’s the best part—it can be cheaper than the new stuff! If you’re always running out of dessert forks, take heed! You can get a bunch of them for about $20 on Etsy, eBay, or Chairish. —Christine Lennon, home & design editor