Your Thanksgiving Guide: Recipes and Real-Life Advice for a Delicious Holiday

Your Thanksgiving Guide: Recipes and Real-Life Advice for a Delicious Holiday

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Faith Durand
Nov 19, 2016
(Image credit: Rachel Joy Baransi)

Thanksgiving is here and perhaps you still have some questions. Do you need help thawing your turkey? How do you cook that bird, anyway? Do you need a gravy refresher? Or a way to keep mashed potatoes warm?

Let us help you! We put all of our best tips and recipes in one place so you don't have to go looking. Find all your Thanksgiving intel, from the easiest, simplest way to cook a turkey, to fresh and creative new recipes to give your classic menu a touch of your own personality and taste.

Still working on your Thanksgiving menu? Check out our handy, helpful wizard that will help you assemble just the right slate of recipes.


Thanksgiving Cooking Questions


How much turkey should I buy?

About one pound per person — more if you want leftovers.

How long do I need to thaw a frozen turkey?

You'll need about 24 hours for every five pounds of turkey. But allow plenty of margin; it never hurts to take it out of the freezer with an extra day to spare.

What should I do if my turkey is still frozen on Thanksgiving?

You can cook a completely frozen turkey safely, and it actually tastes pretty good!

Should I brine my turkey, and if so, for how long?

You can brine the turkey in a salt and water solution, or simply dry brine it with salt and seasonings for up to three days.

All these recipes call for a roasting rack and I don't have one!

No worries. You have options. Elevate the turkey in some other way, like on potatoes and onions, crumpled balls of foil, or a metal cooling rack.

How long should I cook my turkey?

A simple way to cook a turkey is at 350°F at about 13 minutes per pound.

How do I know the turkey is done and safe to eat?

A finished turkey is 165°F in the thigh.

I'm making a turkey breast. How do I cook it?

Cook the turkey breast at 350°F for an hour then check the temperature. Continue cooking and checking at 10-minute intervals until the breast reaches a temperature of 165°F.

How do I make turkey gravy?

Whisk and cook the turkey drippings with flour to form a roux, and then add broth and simmer until thickened.

What are the best potatoes for mashed potatoes?

Starchy potatoes — ideally Russet or Katahdin.

How do I keep mashed potatoes warm?

Mashed potatoes are a great dish to make early in the day. Keep warm in a slow cooker on LOW for about four hours.

(Image credit: Morgan Childs)

Real Life Thanksgiving Questions


We always go to my family (or my partner's) for Thanksgiving, but I really just want to stay home. Is that OK?

Of course it's OK. You are your own household, whether that's a household of one or eight, and it's a natural part of growing up to say that your home is home. By all means, stay home and make your own Thanksgiving, if that is what your heart desires.

I'm visiting, not hosting. What should I bring?

The ultimate Thanksgiving host gift is breakfast for the cook!

I'm hosting for the first time — yikes! Where do I start?

First off, Thanksgiving is really an easy meal. It's all homey and mashed potatoes-meets-big-bird. You'll be totally fine. Now, read these tips — our collection of best things to know on your first Thanksgiving-go-round.

I have a really small house (and table). How do I fit everyone?

Thanksgiving is a holiday where coziness is part of the deal. Packing a ton of people around a table makes the memories. Here are a few tips and welcome thoughts on making room for everyone while remaining "confident and unapologetic," as one small-space host explains.

I'm on a budget but want to throw a great party. How?

Thanksgiving is an easy menu for hosting generously. There are so many sales, and the food itself is relatively modest. Here are some very practical and helpful strategies for keeping the budget down on a great Thanksgiving meal.

How do I keep myself from getting overwhelmed?

Prep ahead! Set the table the night before; have mashed potatoes and your salad prepped the night before. Also, print out our Thanksgiving Day timeline and put it somewhere in the kitchen. (Don't forget to schedule time for a shower!)

One of my guests is an alcoholic. Should we still serve wine?

This really depends on your social context and situation, but we love this candid and thoughtful piece from a recovering alcoholic; we hope it's helpful to you too.

I have all the cooking handled, but the thought of guests is exhausting.

We are with you in spirit. Get up early on the morning of Thanksgiving to give yourself some peaceful time out. Go for a walk or a drive; don't let anyone else come along (except the dog).

I need some great music for Thanksgiving Day.

This magnificent playlist will carry you from cooking to the grand presentation of the turkey.

How do we divvy up the Thanksgiving leftovers?

There is a clear etiquette to the precious leftovers.


Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes



Vegetarian Main Dish Recipes for Thanksgiving



Stuffing & Bread Dressing Recipes



Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes



Thanksgiving Potato Recipes



Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Recipes



Cranberry Sauce & Chutney Recipes



Thanksgiving Salad & Vegetable Recipes



Bread & Dinner Roll Recipes for Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving Pie & Dessert Recipes



Festive Drink Recipes for Thanksgiving



Slow-Cooker Recipes for Thanksgiving


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