10 must-have tips for a successful Thanksgiving dinner, plus a full menu of traditional recipes with video tutorials.
It’s pretty much the biggest cooking day of the year! As someone who loves to spend time in the kitchen, this was an exciting countdown. Maybe it’s not the same for you, but either way, I’ve given you some tips for making your Thanksgiving meal a success.
- Buy your turkey a few days in advance to allow time to thaw. Even free-range fresh poultry cools quickly and needs some time to thaw before cooking.
did you know? For a frozen turkey to be considered “fresh,” it can be frozen up to a year in advance. Buying a turkey that has never been frozen guarantees that your meat is truly fresh, which not only produces a juicier turkey, but also requires less cooking time.
- Don’t overcook your bird! I use the broiler to free up my regular oven for other cooking.
No matter what kind of turkey you buy, always use a meat thermometer to determine when the meat is done. If you just do it on time, you will almost certainly dry out the turkey by overcooking it. Delicious secret: apply butter under the skin. This will help the skin crisp up and provide extra moisture to the meat. Start with a high roast temperature (450 degrees) for the first 30 minutes, then reduce the remaining cooking temperature to 325 degrees until your bird reaches desired doneness (165 degrees measured at the thigh)
- Bake your pies and rolls the day before. This will free up oven space on the day of the big meal.
- make a plan. I use spreadsheets (yes, I’m that nerd!). That way I know when it needs to be in the oven, what I need to do, and when everything is ready to serve at the same time. I make breakfast, appetizers, and then a big meal, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to do it all. Remember, I love being in the kitchen!
- keep it clean! Note that I timed in time to do the dishes and run the dishwasher. Put dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher. When it’s full (or you’ve reached your scheduled time), run the dishwasher. Empty it as soon as you’re done so you can keep putting dirty dishes right in. This will keep your kitchen clean and work easier.
- Use your crock! Seriously, the slow cooker makes big meals so much easier. I always use mine for mashed potatoes. You can keep those suckers piping hot for hours. There are many slow cooker side dish recipes to choose from. Food keeps in the slow cooker for up to 4 hours on a warm setting, so even if your dish is done, just place that sucker in a warm spot and be done.
- Likewise, invest in a roaster. They’re available everywhere this time of year and are perfect for roasting those big birds.
- Don’t be afraid to branch! Try some new recipes. Definitely ditch the boxed fillings and cans of cranberry sauce.
- Don’t be afraid to make something from scratch and put a little love in it. Make it a family affair! My kids help me in the kitchen every day. Kids love to bite the green beans, stir them, measure them, or even just simply watch them.
- On a day of gratitude, be sure to remember the magic of food that can unite people of different cultures, break down barriers and give us all something in common. Food brings people together!