The Best Thanksgiving Side Ever

Channing Tatum. Ryan Gosling. Bradley Cooper. Ray Allen. This sweet and spicy maple balsamic glaze.

I don’t know when I started calling dressing sexy. Was it the same time I started comparing cookies to relationships? I checked my archives and it turns out the the first time I posted about a sexy balsamic glaze was during… my birthday.

Times have changed, my friends. Instead of talking about some fancy pants party, I actually posted about cabbage on my most celebrated day of the year. Cabbage!

But don’t worry, this post isn’t about cabbage*. It’s mostly about this sexy balsamic dressing. I tinkered with it to make it more fall-appropriate, and then I doused two of this season’s most popular veggies with it, roasted them to caramelized perfection, and came out with The Best Thanksgiving Side Ever.

*I lied a little bit. This dish has brussels sprouts, and what are brussels sprouts if not cute little baby cabbages?

I knew I was on to something with this dressing, when it made two of the most boring, unsexiest things to eat (tofu and cabbage) taste pretty exciting. I also knew that substituting maple syrup for brown sugar would make it more appealing to holiday palates.

And I was right.

When you combine maple syrup, a generous amount of cayenne pepper, good olive oil, and the aromatic base of garlic and shallots with traditional Thanksgiving veggies butternut squash and  brussels sprouts, you’ll end up with the Channing Tatum of all side dishes. Sweet, spicy, easy to love, and with a propensity for wearing tight white tank tops. (Okay, maybe not the last one.)

Yield: serves 2

Maple Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash


1 small shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used the Bold variety of Chile Olive Oil)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
pinch of chili pepper flakes
1 cup brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and cut in half
1 cup cubed butternut squash
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Toss all ingredients together and spread evenly on a baking sheet (I covered mine with foil for easy clean-up). Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to make sure the glaze still coats everything evenly.
  3. A fair warning: I do have a heavy hand with chili powder and all things spicy, so please know that when I say sweet and spicy, I favor SPICY so it leans towards that and has a lingering heat. You should reduce the chili powder in half if you prefer less spice.

 This recipe only serves two, so make sure to adjust quantities if you're making it for a crowd.

Take one bite of these almost candied veggies, and you’ll agree – this might be the Best Thanksgiving Side Ever.

PS – Don’t worry, I ate cake on my birthday, too.


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