Sorry this is entirely last minute, but better late than never I guess. I was planning on waiting until next year to make this post, because I wanted to get pretty pictures this year to use! After I posted a picture of the pie dough I made on Instagram today, I started getting so many questions regarding Thanksgiving prep and timeline. If you haven’t already, check out my general cooking/entertaining tips.
Please keep in mind, that this is just a general guide. I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving since I was in college. I have also gone to culinary school and work at a culinary school. What has become routine for me, might not be as easy for you depending on time restraints, refrigerator space, comfort level in the kitchen, etc. If you don’t want to mess with pie crusts, definitely just use frozen ones or buy a pie from your local bakery! I went to Trader Joe’s today, and they had good looking options for almost all the different Thanksgiving staples.
Some of you asked me for recipes, and I don’t use recipes too much anymore. I end up just throwing stuff in until it looks right. Below are links to recipes that look similar to what I make or that I’ve used in the past. I am trying to write everything I do out this year so that I can have recipes for everything next year!
Also, I am ordering a smoked turkey and brisket from Little Miss Barbecue this year. This will be my first year not cooking a turkey, but LMB is amazing and I feel like will be better than anything I can do. Plus, it frees up lots of oven space for me. I did include a turkey into the timeline, as I know must people will probably be making it.
Cranberry Sauce (I use water instead of OJ, because fresh OJ can get bitter when you cook it. I also add a glug of Grand Marnier)
Again, this is just my timeline but yours might look different. You could definitely wait to make your pie dough until Monday or Tuesday, (no need to freeze it if you wait until Tuesday, just keep in fridge.) You could also wait to make your cranberry sauce, etc. I just like to stretch it all out over the week or else I get a little overwhelmed come Thursday. Anything like stuffing or casseroles could be easily made the day before, as well. Just take them out of the fridge an hour or so before you cook re-heat them in the oven.
*unrelated note, but I always run out of ice! Don’t forget to pick up a bag or 2.
- Make pie dough and freeze
- Make cornbread for cornbread stuffing
- Make dough for dinner rolls and freeze
- Tear up white bread for traditional stuffing. Set in large covered bowl to dry out.
- Toast pecans for cornbread stuffing
- Make cranberry sauce and store in Tupperware or airtight container in refrigerator
- Make mushroom bechamel for green bean casserole
- Brine turkey
- Roast garlic for mashed potatoes
- Take out serving pieces to ensure I have everything I need
- Blanch green beans
- Cut up onions and celery for stuffing
- Cut apples for pie and toss in lemon juice
- Take pie dough out of freezer and into fridge
- Make potato puree (don’t add any milk or butter yet.)
- Set table
- Make pies (I do these first thing in the AM, so that there’s not savory oven smells going on when I put my pies in. You could also make pies the night before, but I think they’re best fresh.)
- Bake off dinner rolls
- 4 hours ahead: Put turkey into oven (this depends on the turkey size. 15 lb. turkey takes about 3 hours. Then needs time to rest. It can rest for up to an hour! Nobody cares if the turkey isn’t piping hot. Your sides and gravy will all be hot.)
- Fry shallots or onions for the topping for green beans
- Assemble casseroles and stuffings
- 2 hours before
- Plate up any appetizers or cheese trays. I typically don’t serve any on Thanksgiving. I like to starve my guests so dinner tastes extra good.
- Set up your bar. I also like to get my guests boozed up, so they think that dinner is better than it is.
- Take any made casseroles or stuffing out of the fridge.
- Tidy up kitchen. (Mine is usually a disaster by this point.)
- 1 hour before
- Take turkey out and place a foil tent over it while it rests.
- Put casseroles/stuffing in the oven
- Make gravy
Ta Da! You’ve done it! Pour yourself a big glass of wine and enjoy. Let someone else do the dishes, or save them until tomorrow. All that’s left is to whip up some cream for your pie and put a pot of coffee on.