The Least Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes, According to Instacart

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Thanksgiving dinner might be the biggest meal of the year in the United States, which means that there are a LOT of opinions about the menu. That's why grocery platform Instacart partnered with The Harris Poll to survey 2,000 Americans about their plans for the holiday. The results show mutual agreements in some food categories (turkey is almost always the main course), while others (ahem, side dishes) are a lot more controversial.

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Here's what the survey discovered. (Head here for the full results!)

1. Nearly every American eats turkey on Thanksgiving.

Per the survey, 93% of Americans dine on turkey during their Thanksgiving feast (we suspect the remaining 7% is largely composed of people with plant-based diets). For those gobbling up, 44% prefer white meat, 20% prefer dark meat, 25% like a mix, and 11% don't have a preference.

2. Many Americans dislike classic Thanksgiving side dishes.

The Instacart/Harris Poll survey asked participants about the worst Thanksgiving sides, and essentially all of the classics have their detractors! Here's the percentage of respondents who voted the following menu items as the worst side dish on the menu:

  • Candied yams: 27%
  • Green bean casserole: 25%
  • Cranberry sauce: 24%
  • Sweet potato casserole: 21%
  • Stuffing: 12%
  • Salad: 12%
  • Mashed potatoes: 8%
  • Dinner rolls: 7%

3. Cranberry sauce is controversial.

While 24% of survey participants believe that cranberry sauce is the worst side dish, they still have strong preferences about what ​type​ of cranberry sauce they'd prefer: canned or homemade.

According to the survey, homemade is more popular, with 37% of respondents picking it over canned — but only by a small margin. Canned cranberry sauce is preferred by 35% of respondents.

Additionally, of those who prefer canned cranberry sauce, 68% actually leave it in the shape of the can when they serve it, while 27% mash it up so that it looks homemade.

"Despite canned cranberry sauce being so controversial and a hot topic at many Thanksgiving dinner tables across the country, Instacart purchase data shows that sales for the Thanksgiving staple have increased by 32% over the past two years," Instacart's trends expert Laurentia Romaniuk said in a statement. "There are different reasons why consumers may prefer canned cranberry sauce including tradition, flavor, nostalgia, texture, convenience, or the fact that it can be served on a dish in the shape of a can, which adds an element of levity to the meal."

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Per Instacart shopping data, East Coasters are far more likely to purchase pie ingredients rather than pre-made pies, which are more popular out West. Vermont purchases the most pie ingredients, while Hawaii purchases the most pre-made pies.

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Stefanie is a New York–based writer and editor. She has served on the editorial staffs of Architectural Digest, ARTnews, and Oyster.com, a TripAdvisor company, before setting out on her own as a freelancer. Her beats include architecture, design, art, travel, science, and history, and her words have appeared in Architectural Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, Popular Science, Mental Floss, Galerie, Jetsetter, and History.com, among others. In another life, she'd be a real estate broker since she loves searching for apartments and homes.