Thanksgiving side dishes: Each state has a favorite, and some are surprising

Maine makes the only healthy choice, but Indiana's pick is egg-ceptional. Plus, slicing up the nation's pie choices.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

Look for deviled eggs on Indiana Thanksgiving tables. 


Turkey is the main dish on most American Thanksgiving tables, but the sides really liven up the table. Depending where you live, however, holiday spreads may look very different. Career advice site Zippia analyzed Google searches to determine the most popular side dish in each of the 50 states, ending up with a buffet of mostly traditional choices, plus a few surprises. 


The East Coast loves its macaroni and cheese.


The most popular choice? Mashed potatoes, which topped searches for 10 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin). And plenty of other carby, starchy offerings also scored high. Six states (Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia ) and the District of Columbia searched macaroni and cheese more than any other Thanksgiving side, with all of those states in a big block along the East Coast. Call it the Mac -n- Cheese line.

But the funniest part of any list like this is always the outliers. Apparently Maine serves the kind of Thanksgiving dinner your nutritionist would approve of, as "side salad" was the most popular search there. Indiana cracks up with deviled eggs, and Alaska chooses hash-brown casserole. 

The rest of the list is mostly pretty standard stuff, since it's based on popular searches, not searches unique to a state. Hawaii doesn't pick something with pineapple, and New Mexico's famed red and green chiles don't show up, either. 

"Sorry if your family has an uncommon tradition of shrimp cocktails, Red Lobster Cheddar biscuits, or whatever oddity for Turkey Day," the survey noted. "Your family is weird, and didn't fall into our data."

The site analyzed Google trends for November 2019, so the data is based on last year's Thanksgiving menus. Zippia examined data for 20 classic choices, so the more unusual menu choices didn't make the cut.

Check out the map above for a full menu of state picks.

Time for dessert

A few days after the side dishes report came out, photography social media site Instagram served up its own T-day state-by-state list, relaying the most popular Thanksgiving pies by state. 


Pass the pie.


As with the side-dish list, these are unlikely to win a popular vote in each state. Instead, they are the ones most liked and mentioned over the last month from regular Instagram and Instagram Story posts.

I've lived in two states -- Minnesota and Washington -- that Instagram claims love cranberry pie, and I've never once had a slice of it or seen it on a menu or at a potluck. But cranberry pie was the favorite in 14 states, more than any other pie, according to Instagram. Surprisingly, pumpkin pie rules only three Western states -- California, Arizona and Nevada, while pecan and sweet-potato pie are vying for control of the American south. Cherry, blueberry and strawberry had their fans, too, but the all-American dessert of apple pie won only Connecticut's heart.