The cooks and editors at Cook’s Country have a lot of experience with Thanksgiving dinner. We’ve developed recipes for it, we’ve cooked it, and we’ve even messed it up sometimes, but we’ve also made the best of it, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. Read on for our tips to make your holiday go smoothly this year.
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On the Tuesday prior, I follow my mom’s lead and cube bread for a big batch of stuffing (my favorite part of the meal) and let the cubes naturally stale over a few days. This way there’s no need to toast the bread in the oven, and the work is done ahead.
–Scott Kathan, Executive Editor
Simple Holiday StuffingThough it has just a handful of ingredients and is supereasy to make, this casserole-style stuffing delivers big, buttery, savory flavor.
We often set up a buffet using vintage Salton warming trays that have been in my family since the 1960s. More recently, we have also used a slow cooker and an electric pressure cooker to both cook and serve dishes (using the “keep warm” settings).
–Nicole Konstantinakos, Deputy Food Editor
All-Purpose Chicken StockA bare-bones recipe for turning water and scraps into kitchen gold.
To avoid antsy guests, never promise a set dinner time. Instead, prepare a couple spreads for guests to snack on and prebatch cocktails (and set out glasses, ice, and garnishes) so that they can make their own drinks while you finish cooking.
–Kelly Song, Test Cook
If you’re planning to set out a cheese board, set yourself a reminder to pull your cheese out of the fridge at least an hour before guests arrive so that it's not cold. Serving cheese at room temperature affects the flavor and texture in a positive way (but be sure to not leave the cheese out any longer than 4 hours). And keep the blue cheese far away from other cheeses—some people hate it, so if it's in its own corner of the cheese board, it's less likely it will overlap with other cheeses.
–Morgan Bolling, Executive Editor, Creative Content
Make a timeline working backward from when you want to eat to help you visualize how long everything will take (be sure to include resting times) and when you should be cooking each item.
–Amanda Luchtel, Test Cook
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apple-Cherry VinaigretteA tangy vinaigrette, a crisp apple, and dried cherries elevate this simple vegetable.
Shop on Monday. Clean and organize your kitchen on Tuesday. Prep on Wednesday and then reward yourself with a nice dinner out. Rock out on Thursday. If you’re spending more time than that on Thanksgiving, you’re trying too hard.
–Bryan Roof, Editorial Director
Roast your turkey first thing, so the oven is free for baking rolls, heating side dishes, and warming pies. If you’re worried about the turkey getting cold, fear not: A large turkey will stay warm for quite some time while it rests. And if it’s not hot enough for your liking, do as I do, and just ladle some hot gravy over it!
–Megan Ginsberg, Deputy Editor
Make-Ahead Turkey GravyWith multiple side dishes commanding your last-minute attention just as guests are arriving, you don't want to worry about the gravy.
Rodney Scott's Holiday Smoked TurkeySavory smoke—plus a top-notch rub and mop—puts a delicious twist on your celebration centerpiece.
With a little planning, you can make homemade pie crust as convenient as store-bought. I stock my freezer with flattened rounds of homemade dough the week before Thanksgiving and thaw it in the refrigerator when I’m ready to bake. Simply prepare your favorite recipe, flatten to a 6-inch disc, wrap in plastic, and tuck into the freezer.
–Toni Tipton-Martin, Editor in Chief