Everything You Need To Host The Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving level: Expert.

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time or you’ve held this event for decades, there are certain pitfalls that are hard to avoid in Thanksgiving prep. How do you know how much turkey to buy? Did you leave enough time to cook said turkey between all the dishes you have to prepare? And what on earth are you supposed to talk about with your Aunt Martha’s new husband?

No matter your particular Thanksgiving problem, we’ve got the solution. We’ve collected our best pieces of Thanksgiving planning advice in one place, so you can refer back to it as the holiday grows nearer. With our help, you should be able to pull this off – no sweat.

So, you want to host Thanksgiving dinner this year? You’ve come to the right place.

Thanksgiving is the biggest culinary juggling act of the year. There are so many dishes that have to be made, most of them requiring multiple steps, that it can easily get overwhelming. You need to go into this holiday prepared, logistically and emotionally. We’re here to help.

2. 9 Essential Items You Should Buy NOW For A Flawless Thanksgiving

Here’s the problem most people make when it comes to prepping for this meal. All too often, folks think about the recipes they want to cook and the ingredients they’ll need, but they forget entirely about stocking the kitchen with tools and gadgets that are missing from their arsenal — ones that are essential come the big day too, like a roasting pan for the bird. Don’t let that be you this year.

Unfortunately, there are many ways a turkey can go wrong on the big day. It’s not that they’re hard to cook, it’s that not many of us have much experience feeding a large crowd. So, first things first, you have to figure out how much turkey you’ll need to buy in order to feed everyone (with enough for the all-too-important leftovers, too).

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s time to answer that all-important question: when do you buy your Thanksgiving turkey? You don’t want to get the last options left at the supermarket, because they’re certainly not the best birds.

No matter how much brining, seasoning or rubbing you provide your turkey on Thanksgiving, if you don’t truss the bird it just won’t cook right. Trussing the turkey helps ensure that everything cooks evenly — and that the wings and legs don’t burn. Basically, trussing means tying the bird into a tight little bundle that’ll ensure you’ll get a beautiful, table-worthy Thanksgiving turkey that’s evenly cooked. So you should just do it.

Learning how to cook a turkey is not something you want to approach nonchalantly — you’re going to want to do your homework so as not to commit one of the many mistakes that are all too common come Thanksgiving. Lucky for you, everything you need to know is right here. We’re presenting all the ways a turkey can go wrong in your kitchen, with solutions for how to easily avoid these mistakes. It’s really easy once you know what you’re doing, we promise.

No matter how much planning you do, or how many delightful dishes you whip up for the big meal, if you haven’t set aside enough time to cook the bird it’s all for naught. Most Thanksgiving birds are big, and so they require more time than you might expect in the oven. While generally a bird cooks for about 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, there are a few factors that will alter that cooking time — like whether the bird is stuffed or not, fresh or frozen.

Thanksgiving is the greatest holiday of the year, but it is also one of the most stressful. Between the turkey, sides, apps and pies, there’s a lot of cooking that has to happen. All at once. So that everything is done at the same time. Still warm. It’s a delicate dance that only the most skilled of home cooks knew the steps to. Until, hacks.

We asked Jeffrey Elliot, chef and director of culinary relations of Zwilling J.A. Henckels, and co-author of The Complete Book of Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to Use Techniques and Care, to show us, step-by-step, the best way to carve a Thanksgiving turkey.

Bon appetit!

You don’t have to look any further than right here for everything you need to know to make a delicious, classic Thanksgiving dinner. We have done the research for you and have selected the only turkey, gravy, essential sides and even pumpkin pie recipe you need. Cook these nine dishes and you’ll have a great Thanksgiving.

11. 10 Thanksgiving Hosting Mistakes You’re Probably, Definitely Making

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing a Thanksgiving host is the desire to achieve perfection. This is a tough standard to hold yourself to, especially since family get togethers tend to rarely turn out the way you expected.

Instead of turning into a giant ball of stress this year, take a deep breath and avoid these common mistakes most Thanksgiving hosts tend to make on the big day.

12. The Best Turkey Recipes For Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner just would not be complete without a big, beautiful bird to crown the feast at the table. No matter how many sides there are to choose from or how many cocktails are imbibed beforehand, without a turkey it just doesn’t really feel like Thanksgiving.

But because a giant bird isn’t a typical dish you make on the regular for dinner, cooking one up can be intimidating ― especially for new hosts. That is, unless you have a trusty turkey recipe in hand.

13. These Are The Thanksgiving Sides People Really Want To Eat

There’s a lot of talk about which Thanksgiving side deserves the most amount of real estate on your plate. Do mashed potatoes beat stuffing? Is cranberry sauce the actual unsuspecting favorite? This year we decided to stop wondering and get to the bottom of which side dish is the real darling on the big day. We polled, and the people spoke. Here’s what your friends and family really want to see at your Thanksgiving spread.

What if we told you that there are some recipes so good they’re worth going the extra mile? Those recipes are right here, 10 of them to be exact, and they are all the softest, most buttery dinner rolls to have ever graced this earth.

Thanksgiving often feels like it’s focused around the turkey, what with all the talk about thawing and brining, but that leaves out vegetarians and vegans from enjoying the feast, which is contrary to the very spirit of the holiday. Luckily, what Thanksgiving is really about is the side dishes, which are all vegetable centric. So really, making your Thanksgiving a meat-free one is a lot easier than you might think.

We found sweet potato recipes spiked with bourbon, recipes topped with a cornflake streusel and some that even play it straight with nothing more than a topping of pecans. Whichever casserole you choose this Thanksgiving, as a sweet potato fan you won’t be disappointed.

With all the work that goes into orchestrating the Thanksgiving meal ― between the turkey, the sides and the pie ― a stiff drink at the end of the preparations is just what the occasion calls for. But not just any cocktail, a festive, fall-inspired cocktail.

Thanksgiving is coming right up, and we know, the excitement is almost too much to bear. While you spend the following weeks planning which recipes you want to make this year, we’d like to make sure there’s one you don’t forget: the green bean casserole.

Green bean casseroles are hardly a star at the Thanksgiving feast, but they are essential. For one, they’re often the only green thing on the table. And two, when made right — like from scratch — they rival any of the other sides fighting for space on your plate.

19. Cranberry Sauce Recipes That Are Essential For Thanksgiving

Cranberry sauce is definitely not the star at the Thanksgiving table, but it is an essential side. It provides a taste of sweetness on a plate overflowing with savory flavors. Its complementary taste is essential to making everything else at the feast shine. We know some folks think opening up a can on the big day is just as good as making homemade sauce, but we have to disagree. And we have recipes to support our stance.

Quickbread recipes are a popular baking choice come the cooler months. It’s easy to understand why: they’re easy to make, last for days and are absolutely delicious. While there are a lot of quickbread recipes to choose from — and banana will always be a top choice — this time of year we crave pumpkin bread.

Butternut squash is a fall favorite. Between all the ways you can roast it, and the various methods it can be turned into soup, there are more than enough ways to get your fix. But come Thanksgiving, the holiday that crowns most of our favorite fall foods, butternut squash gets forgotten about because the allure of all those other enticing (and less nutritious) sides is too great. Not this year.

Brussels sprouts have endured a bad reputation, and it’s not entirely undeserved. When boiled, which they so often have been in the past, they taste wretched, and smell even worse. (To be honest, they smell like farts.) But when roasted, sautéed or even fried, they turn into a crisp and soft, nutty and sweet pocket of deliciousness.

We know that pecan is not America’s number one choice when it comes to Thanksgiving pie, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great dessert. With its buttery crust, crunchy pecans and ooey, gooey filling, this pie has the ability to make the most annoying family member seem totally likable — a much-needed quality by the time dinner’s over.