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The Total Turkey Guide: Top 10 Tips For a Flawless Thanksgiving

The Total Turkey Guide: Top 10 Tips For a Flawless Thanksgiving The Total Turkey Guide: Top 10 Tips For a Flawless Thanksgiving

thanksgiving turkey on a seasonally decorated table

  1. Make a List
    Not all great cooks need a recipe, but they all need a list. From groceries to a prep list to an oven schedule, write it all down. You’ll never wake up wondering what needs to be done and when. Keep a list and have a plan for a flawless Thanksgiving.

  2. Clean Out the Refrigerator 
    Before you do your grocery shopping, be sure to make some space for your holiday ingredients. Taking the time to clean out your refrigerator will give you the space you need for all your groceries, baking pans of pre-prepared foods and all the leftovers you’ll have after your feast.

  3. Remember to Thaw Your Turkey
    If you’re buying a fresh turkey, you don’t need to worry about this step. If you’re buying a frozen turkey, you’ll need to plan well in advance how long you need to defrost your turkey. If you’re serving a 20 pound bird, it could take up to five days to safely thaw from frozen. The general rule is to thaw one day for every four pounds of turkey. Just place the wrapped bird breast side up in the refrigerator on a tray with a lip. If you need to speed up the thawing process, you can also use the cold water method to thaw your turkey. Submerge the wrapped bird in cold water. Usually 30 minutes of thawing is required per pound and you need to change the water every 30 minutes.close up of sliced turkey

  4. Make Some Dishes in Advance
    Which Thanksgiving dishes can be made in advance? We all know that pumpkin pie can be made early, but advanced preparation of some other holiday dishes can actually enhance the flavor when they have a longer opportunity to integrate. Cranberry relish, apple sauce, and some salads can be made days in advance. Casseroles or dishes like twice-baked mashed potatoes can be assembled and refrigerated the day before then popped into the oven the next day for cooking. Fresh vegetables can be chopped for stuffing or prepared for the relish tray, too.

  5. Get Extra Oven Space
    Appetizers, rolls, and smaller sides can be challenging to fit into the baking schedule when your traditional oven is already brimming with turkey. Overstuffing your oven can slow the baking process down for everything and can lead to overcooked dishes, too. A countertop oven can help eliminate the overcrowding and scheduling issues, and it will also allow you to bake foods that require a different temperature than the one your conventional oven may be using.

  6. Truss Your Turkey for Perfect Presentation two turkeys in a hamilton beach roaster oven
    Trussing not only holds in juices, but it also helps to give your turkey the shape worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. It’s not difficult—follow our Guide to Trussing a Turkey to find out just how easy it is.

  7. Use a Roaster Oven
    During the holidays, oven space is at a premium. For a juicy, tender turkey that doesn’t take up your oven the entire morning, use our recipe for a Quick Roast Turkey. A roaster oven cooks like a standard oven, but the lid helps to keep in moisture and lock in the juices to essentially self-baste the turkey. Using a roaster oven will free up your traditional oven to bake all your favorite holiday sides and desserts.

  8. Have Extra Storage Containers on Hand
    Whether you overcooked or planned for leftovers, having extra containers on hand helps you send extras home without worrying if you’ll get your containers back or scrounging around for something to send family home with an extra slice of pie. When you are doing your grocery shopping, pick up a package of disposable containers so you’ll be ready to divvy up what’s left while cleaning up the kitchen.

  9. Set the Table in Advancethanksgiving turkey on a seasonally set table
    There is so much to do Thanksgiving day, from preparing and cooking the turkey to welcoming family and friends into your home. One of the easiest tasks you can complete in advance is setting your Thanksgiving table. Set it the night before to give yourself more time to decorate and make it perfect without worrying about having to rush to complete the next task.

  10. Set a Truly Thankful Tone
    The meaning of Thanksgiving can easily get lost in the chaos of welcoming family and friends, cooking a larger-than-normal amount of food, eating a delicious meal, and cleaning up the aftermath. Take a moment to enjoy the day and your company in a way that is truly special. Let your friends and family know how thankful you are for them by writing short notes on the back of their place cards, or make it interactive by having everyone write down something they are thankful for instead. Finding ways to slow down and celebrate each other will make your guests feel special and set a thankful tone for your feast.


Additional Turkey Tips & Techniques

Top 10 Tips For a Flawless Thanksgiving
How to Take a Turkey's Temperature >
Top Test Kitchen Tips For Delicious Turkey >
How to Carve a Turkey >

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