The 1 Thanksgiving Side Dish Giada De Laurentiis Has Gotta Have on Her Holiday Table

There’s just a little over one week left to Thanksgiving! If you’re still on the fence about which side dishes to make for the big feast, celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis’ Giadzy website has scrumptious menu suggestions for an unforgettable Thanksgiving.

Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis | Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit

With dishes including Hot Italian Sausage Stuffed Dates, Aunt Raffy’s Holiday Salad (studded with pomegranate seeds), Shaved Vegetable Salad, Cranberry Pomegranate Chutney, and Spiced Apple Walnut Cake, you can’t go wrong. These recipes, and more, can be found here.

There’s one Thanksgiving staple, though, that the Food Network star has to have on her table, no matter what.

Find out what that is, plus what else she has been working on.

De Laurentiis and Food Network’s ‘Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge’

Part of the Thanksgiving kickoff for De Laurentiis is hosting Food Network’s Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge. This fast-paced competition features six of America’s best chefs competing to be crowned the Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge Champion.

De Laurentiis sets up the challenges for the contestants, which include asking competitors to transform low-cost items into an elegant Thanksgiving appetizer.

In another challenge, contestants vied to put a Thanksgiving spin on a classic dish. Judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Carla Hall and Christian Petroni send one chef home, and the others continue on for a chance at winning the $25,000 prize.

Giada’s gotta have this side dish

The one Thanksgiving side dish that has got to be on the table for the 49-year-old is humble, hearty cornbread!

As the Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef says on her website, Giadzy, “Whether it’s featured in stuffing, a salad, a muffin or a slab, this element is crucial to a De Laurentiis Thanksgiving!”

“The key to a truly successful Thanksgiving spread is balance – you have your savory turkey, decadent gravy and potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce – and a slightly sweet, moist cornbread on the table that creates that full-circle happy flavor combination on your plate.”

De Laurentiis’ Thanksgiving memories and advice

Besides that must-have cornbread, she told Food Network in 2015 that her family’s Thanksgiving feast is “at my Aunt Raffy’s house just about every year.”

The first time De Laurentiis ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner on her own was “my first private chef job out of culinary school, and I dropped the turkey on the floor. My clients’ golden retriever got in the way and I dropped it … so I made pasta instead. My savior!”

Giada De Laurentiis and her Aunt Raffy

Her favorite kind of Thanksgiving leftovers? “Turkey sandwiches. I have a post-Thanksgiving Monte Cristo in my new cookbook, Happy Cooking. It calls for leftover cranberry sauce, too!”

As for her advice for anyone thinking of cooking the Thanksgiving meal on their own for the first time? Don’t!

“Do a potluck! Do not try to do it all yourself … get help! I think at the end of the day we have very little time in our lives, and the more help we can get, the more successful we can be at home, the better.”

Read more: Countdown To Thanksgiving: 5 Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes from ‘The Pioneer Woman’ Ree Drummond