13 Tricks That Can Make Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner a Little Easier
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most daunting tasks a chef can take on. Not only do you have a turkey that has to be perfectly cooked, but you’re expected to whip up appetizers, side dishes, and desserts while entertaining company and somehow keeping the house clean. Not just clean — festive.
It’s essentially the plot of Mission Impossible, just with stuffing and apple crisp instead of fugitive spies. If the very thought of pulling off Thanksgiving is already give you night terrors, take a breath. These 13 brilliant Thanksgiving tips are going to take all the stress of out the big day.
1. Make the Fluffiest Mashed Potatoes
We’re just going to throw this out there: if the mashed potatoes aren’t light, buttery, and fluffy, you are going to have some furious family members on your hands.
To get the perfectly whipped taters you’ve been dreaming of for 12 months, make sure you have the right potatoes to work with; russet and Idaho potatoes are the way to go. To keep your potatoes from getting gloppy and gross, steam your potatoes after peeling them. And to become a potato master, check out this brilliant tutorial on how to get the perfect potatoes.
2. Cook Dishes Ahead of Time
You might not be able to prep your turkey a month beforehand, but there are some Thanksgiving dishes which can be made days or even weeks in advance!
For instance, you can prep certain types of pies (like pecan pie) for almost a month before Thanksgiving. Likewise, some casseroles, soups, and hors d’oeuvres can be made weeks ahead of time! When Thanksgiving arrives, you just have to pop them in the oven and serve.
3. Carve the Turkey Perfectly
The moment of truth: carving the turkey. You’ve slaved away all day cooking the bird to perfection, but now it’s time to cut up this monstrosity to serve.
Don’t get intimidated, all you need is a humble fork and a carving knife to get the perfect cut. Check out this tutorial from Williams-Sonoma to learn how to blow away all of your guests with your amazing carving skills.
4. Nail the Stuffing
Second to the turkey on your Thanksgiving spread is arguably the stuffing. The stuffing can be extremely tricky to make and its taste can be hit or miss sometimes. This is a little scary, considering that this dish is one of the most popular parts of the meal.
If you have a family of stuffing-lovers, prepare to wow them with this amazing recipe! It’s your traditional stuffing in a super cool bundt shape rather than how it’s usually presented, in a boring old bowl. This makes your dish easy to serve, easy to make, and very unique looking.
5. Roast the Turkey Faster
The scariest part of the day is, without a doubt, cooking your turkey. You have to wake up at an ungodly hour just to get it started with enough to time to serve the main course when dinner begins. Keeping your hungry guests waiting because the turkey isn’t done yet? That could be a dangerous move.
Well, with this brilliant hack, you can actually cook your turkey in half the time you usually do. All you have to do is cut up your turkey BEFORE you put it in the oven. This will reduce your cooking time drastically and get your food on the table as quickly as possible.
6. Make Customized Butter
If you don’t have time to make your own homemade bread or biscuits this year (or any year, really) don’t feel like your bread and butter spread is going to lose some of its flare. It’s much easier to make your own flavored butter than it is to make your own bread! We think you’ll agree with us there.
Our personal favorite? This cranberry cinnamon honey butter recipe, which just screams fall.
7. Invent Your Own Cooking Rack
We cannot even begin to imagine the moment of panic when you realize you don’t have a cooking rack to elevate your turkey on in the oven. Pause, take a deep breath, and prepare to make your own cooking rack…out of veggies.
Spread chopped onions, celery, and carrots across the bottom of your baking dish, using the vegetables to prop your turkey up. This won’t just make sure your entire turkey gets evenly cooked, but the addition of the vegetables will infuse the meat with amazing flavor.
8. Upgrade Your Cranberry Sauce
Some people, like me, love cranberry sauce. But far more people hate cranberry sauce with a passion. If you’re getting anxious trying to think of a way to serve this traditional side that people will actually like, you need to try these three recipes. They take your cranberries to the next level by turning them into a cran-orange sauce, a warm loaf of cranberry bread and cute cut-outs.
9. Perfect the Pie Lattice
Does your pie lattice tend to come a little weird looking every year? Well, don’t give up! You can perfect that pie topping just by using a cooling rack to use as a template. It’s that easy to get an Insta-worthy pie.
10. Learn How to Brine
One of the biggest Turkey Day disasters is overcooking your meat, resulting in dry turkey. It’s called TURKEY DAY, after all, which means the turkey has to be on point.
The best way to ensure that you’ll have moist, flavorful turkey is to brine the meat before you put it into the oven. As complicated as that SOUNDS, it’s actually really easy to brine your turkey in a snap! Check out this Williams-Sonoma tutorial to see how it’s done and prepare for the best turkey of your life.
11. Peel Garlic Quickly
Then there are the small things that take up your time on Thanksgiving day, like peeling your garlic. Nix this time-consuming chore (and keep your fingers from reeking of garlic) with these three easy techniques: try microwaving your garlic, crushing your garlic, or using a professionally garlic peeler to keep things moving quickly.
12. Grate Butter into Biscuits
Speaking of time consuming things, who has time to try and cut cold butter for their biscuits or mashed potatoes? The answer is absolutely no one.
To really save time on this minuscule but painful chore, use a cheese grater to grate butter into your food. This will not only go faster for you, but it will help your butter melt into the potatoes or biscuit mix much faster, too.
13. Wash Potatoes in the Dishwasher
As weird as it seems, your dishwasher isn’t just for getting your cutlery clean. You can doing a mass cleaning of your potatoes, too! Place your unwashed potatoes in the top rack of your dishwasher and put it on a rinse-only cycle. All you’ll have to do is pat them dry once they’re finished.
Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to keep your Thanksgiving running smoothly? Share them in the comments section below!