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.


26 Responses to “The Best Thanksgiving Side Ever”

  1. #
    christina posted November 17, 2012 at 11:26 am

    hahahahha ryan gosling! i want him at my thanksgiving. my private thanksgiving.

  2. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted November 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Is it sad that I’d rather have this than Ryan Gosling in front of me right now?! Love the cayenne you added to the sweet and yummy glaze!

  3. #
    Megan posted November 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    That glaze sounds super-sexy!

  4. #
    Simply Life posted November 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    haha, I love the way you describe this dish and the dressing – it does look great!

  5. #
    Erin@LawStudentsWife posted November 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Maple + balsamic is one of my fave combinations for roasted veggies of all kinds, and I love the cayenne idea too. MMM. Cheers to this sexy sauce. And HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

  6. #
    Samantha Angela posted November 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    That looks so delicious!

  7. #
    Sacha posted November 18, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    That looks gorgeous–like jewels. Delicious, delicious jewels.

  8. #
    Honey What's Cooking posted November 18, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    so yummy, i love brussel sporouts, and hey, dressing can be sexy.

  9. #
    Amy @ Elephant Eats posted November 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Wow, love the caramelization you’ve got going on!

    This would be extra delicious if eaten off of Ryan Gosling ;)

  10. #
    Joanne posted November 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    If there’s one thing I DEFINITELY want at my thanksgiving…it’s channing tatum in food form! This sounds amazing!

  11. #
    CCU posted November 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Wow your thanksgiving sounds like every girl’s dream :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. #
    Shannon posted November 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    this is quite similar to what i was thinking of throwing together for thanksgiving :) maybe with a handful of cranberries for good measure!

  13. #
    Meghan posted November 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I love sweet and spicy Brussels sprouts!

  14. #
    Lauren posted November 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    hahahah Love this!

    You are so right, Maple syrup is the bomb diggity!

  15. #
    The Squishy Monster posted November 21, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Now, if only we could have all of them + these sprouts/squash it would be a most heavenly Thanksgiving =)

  16. #
    Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings posted November 21, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Can I have a plate of Channing Tatum, Ryan Gosling, and Bradley Cooper with sexy sauce? Dressing should be optional – hehehe!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 21, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      Haha Jen yes, dressing is always optional!

  17. #
    Colleen @ Culinary Colleen posted November 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    That flavor combination sounds incredible. I can’t imagine a thanksgiving without lots of brussels sprouts!

  18. #
    Kerstin posted November 22, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Yum, the maple syrup is such a lovely addition! Happy Thanksgiving!

  19. #
    Emily posted November 22, 2012 at 10:31 am

    this looks beautifully delicious!

  20. #
    grace posted November 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    you and i may have different ideas of sexy men, but we have similar ideas about delicious foods! this dish looks glorious. :)

  21. #
    Amy (Savory Moments) posted November 24, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I almost always have butternut squash and brussel sprouts at my Thansgiving table, but this way they are incorporated into one! What a yummy idea!

  22. #
    Asmita posted November 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    So delicious!

  23. #
    Michelle posted November 8, 2017 at 10:53 am

    In your blog you mention shallots and garlic, but in the recipe you list scallions. Should this actually be shallots?

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 8, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Hi Michelle, thanks for letting me know! It was definitely a typo, and should be shallots in the recipe. I just edited it now. Also please note that this makes a pretty small serving (only serves 2 people, as a side dish) so if you are making it for a crowd, then make sure to at least double (or triple) the recipe :) Good luck!

  24. #
    Amanda posted November 22, 2018 at 9:42 am

    In the directions you say chili powder but in the ingredients it doesn’t list chili powder.

Leave a Comment