From salad to pie, Thanksgiving dinner is a huge feast. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be stressful! Follow these simple tips to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving dinner and stay relaxed enough to still feel thankful.
- Make it ahead of time.
Many traditional Thanksgiving dishes can be made days in advance and refrigerated. Reheating takes a lot less time than cooking, and means you can enjoy the holiday with your family instead of spending the whole time chopping potatoes. Some dishes even taste better after the flavors have had a chance to mingle. Here are some of the best make-ahead dishes for Thanksgiving:
- Pumpkin pie, and any pie that isn’t topped with meringue
- Candied sweet potatoes
- Green bean casserole
- Cranberry sauce
For dishes like candied sweet potatoes and green bean casserole, use casserole dish brands such as Corningware and Pyrex, which can go from oven to fridge. Make it a day or two in advance, cover and refrigerate, and an hour before the party just pop them in the oven to reheat.
- Pair fresh veggies with soup mixes for instant soups that taste like they took hours.
Making an entire Thanksgiving dinner completely from scratch is madness. But your guests don’t need to know that. Choose your from-scratch battles wisely. Fresh veggies make a dish seem like it must be from scratch. For a super-easy, super-impressive first course, chop up some fresh broccoli, add it to a broccoli cheddar soup mix (Bear Creek has a great package that you just add water to) and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
- Freeze your pie crusts.
After you roll out your pie crusts and put them in the pie pan, pop them in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Once they’re frozen, remove, fill, and bake (without thawing). This keeps the crust from shrinking during baking.
- Put baking powder in your mashed potatoes.
Right after you mash your potatoes, while they’re still piping hot, stir in a little bit of baking powder. The heat from the potatoes triggers the chemical reaction, causing the baking powder to release CO2 and making the mashed potatoes super fluffy.
- Slow-roast your turkey overnight.
Start cooking your turkey the night before. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes at 400F to get a nice crispy skin, then turn the oven down to 250, cover with foil to retain the moisture, and let it cook overnight (8 hours). In the morning, take the foil off, baste, and turn the heat back up if the skin still needs a little bit of extra crisping. The turkey will be falling-off-the-bone tender and your oven will be empty for everything else you need to reheat!