16 Holiday Side Dishes for Almost Any Dietary Restriction

You'll be sure to find a recipe on this list that's suitable for vegan, gluten-free, peanut-free, or low-carb eating needs.

For many, the sides are the best part of any holiday dinner. Holiday side options are almost endless, from filling macaroni and cheese and satisfying sweet potatoes to seasoned green beans or asparagus.

However, most holiday dishes are loaded with butter and sugar, but those two ingredients aren't required for a tasty dish. Here are 16 healthy side dishes that can cater to a variety of diets and be delicious enough to take the spotlight during your next holiday feast.

1. Mushroom Gravy With Thyme

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Rather than just using a traditional base of turkey parts and cornstarch, this low-carb, rich gravy incorporates extra veggies with cremini mushrooms. Mushrooms may be able to protect against premature aging and fend off chronic disease: They are an excellent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

2. Beet and Apple Salad

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This peanut-free combination of oven-roasted red beets topped with crisp green apple slices and chopped pistachios is a perfect addition to any holiday spread. It is also incredibly nutrient-rich, as beets, apples, and pistachios are chock-full of antioxidants.

Additionally, beets provide B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. Meanwhile, apples are rich in filling fiber.

3. Roasted Carrots With Preserved Lemons and Dates

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Cooked carrots are a holiday staple. However, this vegetarian recipe calls for a honey za'atar vinaigrette than butter and adds a little citrus with lemon and orange juices.

Honey offers the benefit of almost 31 minerals—including calcium, potassium, and magnesium—as well as antioxidants.

Additionally, za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice mix) also includes sesame seeds, which contain magnesium and manganese. Both minerals are essential for bone health.

4. Roasted Cauliflower With Green Olives and Pine Nuts

Roasted cauliflower salad with olives, tomatoes, nuts and basil-GettyImages-950928638
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Cauliflower is a go-to veg for low-carb and keto fans alike. One cup of cauliflower provides three grams of net carbs, with net carbs meaning the number of carbs absorbed from the GI tract that can be used for energy. Additionally, one cup of cauliflower also has 53 milligrams of vitamin C.

This recipe is also packed with healthy fats—which boost antioxidant absorption—thanks to extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, green olives, and capers.

5. Winter Slaw With Kale and Cabbage

Homemade healthy coleslaw salad with kale in white bowl on gray textured background
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Chilled slaw can be a welcomed addition to a holiday menu full of piping-hot sides. This low-carb version marries shredded kale, cabbage, and carrots with a sour cream and mayo mixture. Vinegar, seasonings, and toasted pumpkin seeds add a burst of flavor. One serving provides just 159 calories and four grams of net carbs.

6. Citrus Salad With Spiced Honey

Orange and grapefruit Citrus salad with lentills vertes, wild rocket, arugula, red onion and sprinkle of pumpkin seeds
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Holiday side dishes don't have to be limited to veggies and grains. This gorgeous vegetarian platter contains immune-supporting oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, limes, and kumquats. It's also flavored with a merry mix of seasonings that include cinnamon, which has been found to help regulate blood sugar levels.

7. Vegan Lentil Soup

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Soup is the ultimate comfort food; this vegan version can even serve as a plant-based turkey alternative. One serving provides 13 grams of protein and nine grams of fiber. Plus, its main ingredients, lentils, have been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.

8. Apple-spice Hummus

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This vegan recipe calls for pureeing chickpeas with unconventional—but perfectly festive—ingredients, including chopped apple, peanut butter, and apple pie spice. Serve it as a side with carrots or whole-grain crackers.

Research has found consuming chickpeas or hummus can help with weight management and insulin regulation.

9. Quinoa Salad With Sweet Potatoes and Apples

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This vegan salad recipe is a great way to get in some servings of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. It can also serve as a twist on the normal sweet potato side you might have as part of your holiday feast.

Loaded with vitamin A, sweet potatoes support eye health and immune function. They also provide manganese, a mineral needed to produce collagen for healthy skin and joints.

10. Steamed Green Beans With Rosemary-garlic Vinaigrette and Fried Shallots

Roasted Green Beans topped with fried shallots and almonds
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One 3/4-cup portion of this scrumptious low-carb, gluten-free dish provides just 10 grams of net carbs with many satisfying seasonings, including garlic, which helps support immune function. The side's chief ingredient—fresh green beans—supplies fiber and vitamins A, C, B9, and B2. Green beans also have crucial minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

11. Cranberry Relish

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Unlike canned cranberry sauces—which use high-fructose corn syrup—this vegetarian and gluten-free relish balances the taste of orange with the tartness of cranberries and the sweetness of dates.

Research indicates that cranberries reduce the risk of recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs) and manage cardiovascular risk factors, like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, in young adults.

12. Lentil Soup With Broccoli Rabe

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If you're looking for another soup option, this delicious recipe contains a host of vegetables, including broccoli rabe, alongside lentils.

Like its cruciferous cousin Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe (also known as broccoli raab) is bursting with antioxidants. It's also rich in fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, and an array of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.

13. Wild Rice-stuffed Acorn Squash

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Courtesy of EatingWell / Photography by Carson Downing

This hearty, dairy-free, egg-free dish incorporates acorn squash, cherries, and wild rice, a whole-grain alternative to traditional refined white bread stuffing.

Consuming about two to three servings of whole grains a day has been found to help prevent a variety of health conditions, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain digestive cancers.

14. Roasted Mushroom Medley

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This dish only has 65 calories and is flavored with heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil. It's also super low in carbs, at just three grams of net carbs. Plus, mushrooms are the only plant-based source of vitamin D, a nutrient needed for bone density, muscle function, and a healthy immune system.

15. Spinach Salad

Spinach-Salad-Colorful vegetable salad
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This simple, light salad has just 61 calories per serving. Plus, it can be prepped in minutes, making it perfect for balancing carb-heavier sides, which typically require more labor.

Spinach is also an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-packed leafy green that offers a variety of key nutrients, including fiber, iron, magnesium, and vitamin K. One study also found that one cup of leafy greens a day was associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

16. Roasted Red Potatoes

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Unlike traditional mashed potatoes, which can feel heavy, this vegan, roasted version—made with olive oil and rosemary—will leave you feeling satisfied but not sluggish. Plus, research has shown that enjoying potatoes with skins is a great way to benefit from their antioxidant properties.

A Quick Review

You don't have to give up taste for eating well by adding some of the sides on this list to your next holiday dinner.

While some sides are full of vitamins and minerals like broccoli rabe, others may offer other health benefits like anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties like spinach salad.

Ultimately, it doesn't take a lot of effort for holiday side dishes to be healthy and satisfy different eating needs.

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