Making Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. I won’t lie, the first time I made Thanksgiving dinner I was living across the country and attacking this one my own. I must’ve called my mom every half hour to ask “what’s next?!”. As nervous as I was, everything turned out great. A little preparation, timing, good company and a couple bottles of wine (uh duh!) was all I needed to survive.
Here are my top 5 Thanksgiving Tips:
Picking the turkey size is crucial. You don’t want to buy too little, and well, buying too big is never a bad thing – one word: leftovers! The general rule is to plan for 1 ½ lbs per person.
If your turkey is frozen, make sure that you safely defrost it before cooking.
- Thaw turkey in unopened packaging in a pan in the refrigerator.
- Allow 4 hours per pound to thaw.
Refrigerator Turkey Thawing Time
- 8 to 12 pounds: 2 to 3 days
- 12 to 16 pounds: 3 to 4 days
- 16 to 20 pounds: 4 to 5 days
- 20 to 24 pounds: 5 to 6 days
Cold Water Thawing
- Leave turkey in unopened packaging. Cover completely with cold water.
- Change water every 30 minutes to keep turkey surface cold
- Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw.
Cold Water Turkey Thawing Time
- 8 to 12 pounds: 4 to 6 hours
- 12 to 16 pounds: 6 to 8 hours
- 16 to 20 pounds: 8 to 10 hours
- 20 to 24 pounds: 10 to 12 hours
Cooking a turkey takes time, but to be honest, the oven does all the work. Just remember to baste the turkey every 45 minutes to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
Preparation! Preparation! Preparation! I can’t stress this enough! While your turkey is in the oven and cooking, it’s a perfect time to get all your side dishes prepped, assembled and ready to go. That way when time comes to start cooking them, everything will be set.
Timing – to make sure everything is ready at the same time, set a schedule of when things needs to start cooking. Obviously the turkey will take the longest, so base your schedule on the turkey cook time.
For example if you wanted to eat for 7:00 pm:
Turkey 5 hours, plus resting time (5 ½ hours)
Mashed potatoes 30 minutes, plus mashing (45 minutes)
Vegetables 15 minutes
Cranberry Sauce 10 minutes, plus chilling (2-3 hour)
Ham 2 hours
1:30 pm Put turkey in oven
1:45 pm Prep time
3:00 pm Cranberry sauce
3:30 pm Set table
4:00 pm Open bottle of wine (if you haven’t already done so)
5:00 pm Put ham in the oven
6:00 pm Cook potatoes
6:30 pm Start cooking vegetables & remove turkey to rest
7:00 pm EAT!