We all know that holiday dinners should be a time to celebrate family, friends and food, but more often than not, it’s a stressful holiday, with anxious hosts more worried about the turkey than about the people around the table.
I talked to various home cooks hosting holiday dinners for the first time. I asked, what do you want to know? Questions poured in, from what turkey to buy to how to make a pie crust. Here are my curated answers from food experts I trust most — a great group of fearless food writers. [Updated November 2016]
The novice cooks wanted inside baseball-style advice on planning and executing a Thanksgiving meal. I asked my panel of food writers for the strategies that they’ve learned over the years and pulled them together with some of my own. The result? No less than 27 great tips.
A one-page guide to the best resources online for everything from what kind of bird to buy, how to cook a frozen turkey, the brine vs. non-brine debate and the dangers of deep-frying plus much more.
Just assembling all the stuff for a big holiday dinner can be confusing. With great insight from Jennifer Reese, author of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, see whether its worth it to go the convenience product route.
Sure, it seems obvious. But if you’ve never done it, or you feel like you’re always overdoing it, take these tips from top food writers.
Pie maven Kate McDermott from Art of the Pie on the perfect pie crust, plus why no one should feel guilty using canned pumpkin.
Fluffy, not lumpy, my Le Cordon Bleu-inspired recipe with a video by Chef John of FoodWishes.com
If you can open a can of cranberries, you can make my family’s recipe for this classic from scratch. Promise.
A different take on potatoes from food writer Jess Thompson
Surprisingly simple, strikingly tasty. Another winner from Jess Thompson’s new book, Cooking Up Washington
A simple, classic recipe from the celebrated food writer Diane Morgan.
An inexpensive, easy way to put the flavor of autumn in a bowl.
Techniques & Tips:
- SeriousEats: How to Spatchcock a turkey to cook in under two hours
- The Kitchn: How to Make Turkey Gravy (Ahead of Thanksgiving)
- Delish.com: Ideas for Procrastinators (or those too busy to plan ahead)
- AllRecipes.com: Thanksgiving for Novices and How to Cook a Turkey (video)
- SavvyEat: How to Put Together a Thanksgiving Menu (great infographic!)
- House of Brinson: An amazing Thanksgiving in a Pot recipe (with slide show)
Vegetarian Main Courses and Sides
- Kim O’Donnell: Vegetarian Pot Pie (main dish)
- Omgyumming.com: Vegetarian Wellington (main)
- SpoonandSaucer: How to Make Cranberry Sauce (video!)
- SpoonandSaucer: Northwest Rice Pilaf (great side)
- TheSpicedLife: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
- Foodie Goes Healthy: Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Dates
- Creative Culinary: Cranberry Cocktail (can be non-alcoholic, too)
- FarmFreshFeasts: Slow-Cooker Apple Chai (alternative non-alcoholic drink)
Questions? Email me.