America's Test Kitchen LogoCook's Country LogoCook's Illustrated Logo
Facebook Live

Thanksgiving: You Can't Start Planning Soon Enough

Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, and we’re here to help every step of the way. Start with our recap of our first of four Thanksgiving Facebook Live segments.

Published Nov. 2, 2016.

Host a stress-free Thanksgiving celebration this year by starting your prep ahead of time. In this week’s Facebook Live, Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison help get you ready to begin planning for Thanksgiving dinner with our ATK Thanksgiving Survival Guide. From menu planning and buying groceries, to ingredient prep and cooking your turkey, we’ll help you deliver a showstopping Thanksgiving dinner this holiday season.

You Can't Start Too Early

Thanksgiving Planning

Getting an early jump on planning is the key to a successful Thanksgiving feast. Watch as ATK TV hosts Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison run through our Thanksgiving Survival Guide. Pro tip: you can make the turkey stock for gravy and your pecan pies a month in advance.   
Watch the Video
Julia and Bridget making America's Test Kitchen's Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy.

In this week’s Facebook Live, Bridget and Julia shared our Thanksgiving countdown calendar, which breaks down when you should start prepping each step of your holiday meal.

Be smart and make the more time-consuming components of your Thanksgiving meal ahead of time so you can spend more time with family and friends. In the first week of November, we suggest getting a head start on Thanksgiving meal prep with our Make Ahead and Freeze Zone.

Bridget looks on as Julia prepares the foundation for a delicious Thanksgiving gravy: homemade turkey broth.

To start, we recommend preparing homemade turkey broth—the flavor-packed gravy base—in advance to help save time on the big day. You can make the broth or the entire gravy recipe ahead of time, according to your schedule, and stick it in the freezer. Just before serving, simply reheat the gravy on the stovetop until hot. Watch Bridget and Julia prepare our Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy in our Facebook Live segment.

Planning your Thanksgiving feast ahead of time means more time for goofing around with friends and family.

In addition to preparing gravy ahead of Thanksgiving Day, you can make and freeze pie crusts early so that putting together your favorite holiday pie on the big day will be, well, easy as pie! The dough should be wrapped in plastic and can be frozen for up to one month. Let the dough defrost overnight in the refrigerator and sit on the counter for 10 minutes before rolling out and assembling your pie.

One of our favorite make-ahead pies is our Perfect Pecan Pie. For our foolproof method for freezing pecan pies without damaging them, we suggest scraping the pecan filling into a pre-baked crust and then freezing the pie until it's firm (about 2 to 3 hours). Make sure to place the pie plate directly on a freezer shelf so the pie remains level while it freezes. Take the pie out of the freezer and wrap it tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil, and return it to the freezer for up to one month. On Thanksgiving day, take the pie straight from the freezer, unwrap it, and bake it for 30 minutes longer than the recipe specifies.

Homemade dinner rolls are another great make-ahead recipe. Bake rolls—like our Rustic Dinner Rolls—almost all the way through, freeze, and then reheat them on Thanksgiving Day.

We also suggest placing an order for your turkey early, or at least developing a purchasing plan. How big should the bird be? Assume two pounds per adult and one pound per child (to guarantee leftovers).

Tune in next week, November 10, for our Inspiring Sides: Beyond the Green Bean Casserole Facebook Live segment for new Thanksgiving side dish recipe inspiration. We’ll show you how to prepare seasonal vegetables for your Thanksgiving meal. Turn on live video notifications for America’s Test Kitchen on Facebook to get viewing updates, and join the conversation by asking your best Thanksgiving questions. 

For more meal planning and recipe inspiration, visit our America’s Test Kitchen Thanksgiving Guide.

This is a members' feature.