The Definitive Ranking of Thanksgiving's Ten Most Important Foods

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which means it's time to start obsessing over what will be on our dinner tables. You might have some dishes that are unique to your family's traditions, culture, or tastes, but in the end, there are a handful of dishes even the most outside-the-box Thanksgiving dinner can't do without.

Ten of them, in fact. We know this because we ranked them in order of importance. Yes, we are ready for a fight. No, we aren't budging on where things landed on our list.

No Thanksgiving would be complete without the ten items below — in this order. Because we said so.

10. Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casseroles are not aesthetically pleasing, but they play a role. You need them to complete a Thanksgiving meal; it's practically science. There is just something so Thanksgiving about the mixture of creaminess from the green-bean-mushroom-soup concoction mixed with the crunch of the fried onion toppings. Real Thanksgiving veterans will tell you the green bean casserole plays a pivotal glue role in the formation of the perfect leftovers sandwich.

9. Rolls

Good, old-fashioned rolls. Yes, just bread. Why? Because they make a great shovel. On Thanksgiving, it's perfectly acceptable to use a roll as a vehicle to get as much macaroni and cheese into your fat face as possible. Bread gets knocked some serious points, however, because it takes up valuable real estate in your stomach that could be filled with more delicious Thanksgiving fixings.

8. Gravy

Ah, yes, the lube that keeps all cylinders running smoothly. At some point, all that turkey, stuffing, and mashed potato is going to get clogged up, and that's where gravy comes in. Not only does gravy coat dry Thanksgiving food with a tasty layer of goodness, but it keeps the palate entertained so that you can sneak in more and more carbohydrates.

7. Mac and Cheese

Show me a person who doesn't like macaroni and cheese and I'll show you a person who shouldn't be invited to Thanksgiving dinner anymore. Mac and cheese might not be the most traditional Thanksgiving side dish for some, but it's certainly a crowd pleaser when spotted at the table. Ever go to someone else's home for Thanksgiving and spot the mac and cheese on the table? It's like being at a bar all by yourself, then running into a good friend.

6. Mashed Potatoes

If you don't have mashed potatoes at your Thanksgiving, are you even having Thanksgiving dinner? There is something about having a heaping pile of mashed potatoes to cleanse the palate after a spoonful of cranberry sauce. If you've seen A Christmas Story, you know mashed potatoes go with holiday meals like Dwyane Wade goes with the Miami Heat. Wait, shit! Bad example. Well, not really, I guess; look what happened to the Miami Heat this season when they decided to forgo mashed potatoes at the dinner table. Anarchy, that's what.

5. Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potato casserole feels like stealing. It's like having dessert before dessert, but nobody talks about it. It's like this dirty little Thanksgiving secret that everyone is ok with. The gooey marshmallow glob just seems so naughty on a plate full of traditional Thanksgiving classics.  Sweet potato sugary goodness is a welcome sight on the corner of your plate when everything is mixed and you need something to glue it all together.

4. Ham

Ham? Yeah, ham. If your family hasn't ever added a ham to the festivities, try it out this year — you won't be sorry. Having the option of a few slices of ham on your plate makes you appreciate the turkey that much more. The ham mixes better with things like rolls and sweet potato casserole, while the turkey goes better in bites filled with stuffing and mashed potatoes. Not everyone loves turkey, so having a ham around is also just being a good host. Ham makes it high on the Thanksgiving food rankings purely because it's an actual entree on it's own, not just a side. Also, it's practically bacon, so...

3. Pies

Rather than personally offend anyone and pick a particular personal favorite pie here, let's just stick with pies in general. I mean, when else do you eat pie, really? The correct answer, obviously, is any time you eat pecan pie, but if you like a different kind of pie, it's OK that you're wrong. Pie comes after the first Thanksgiving meal, but after that all bets are off. On the first round of leftovers, you might find a piece of pumpkin pie sitting right on top of a plate full of Thanksgiving grub. Pro tip: Pie is actually better the second time around cold. Especially on Thanksgiving.

2. Stuffing

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a good stuffing. People who don't even like stuffing eat it just because you sort of have to. Without stuffing, your plate of food is a Christmas tree without decorations. It's still happening, but it's kind of just a tree now; there is nothing special about it. For those of you out there putting sausage in your stuffing, I congratulate you on being a fine American and an overall good person. For those of you putting oysters in your stuffing, you disgust me. That's disgusting. Stop it.

1. Turkey

I've seen a lot of lists similar to this one that don't rank turkey at the top; that's blasphemy and is actually insulting. This isn't about you, man. THIS IS ABOUT TRADITION. This is about everything that Thanksgiving stands for. Without the turkey, Thanksgiving is some weird-ass side-dish holiday that wouldn't last five years. The turkey is the most important piece to the Thanksgiving puzzle and arguably the most important holiday food of all. You will respect the turkey.

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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi