Your Easiest Thanksgiving Dinner Ever

Plate of Thanksgiving food
Gemma Comas
Follow our foolproof plan and recipes to get a classic Thanksgiving turkey dinner for eight on the table — and look relaxed the entire time.
Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

How to Host Thanksgiving

The secret to an easy Thanksgiving? Prep most of your dishes the day before the meal so you can focus your energy on the turkey on the big day. To help, we created a classic Thanksgiving menu that feeds eight adults and a couple of young kids, then plotted out a simple prep timeline.

All you have to do? Shop for everything on our simple grocery list, follow these step-by-step instructions, and dig in!

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

The Day Before: Make the Cranberry Sauce

A little balsamic vinaigrette gives great flavor to this sauce. Whip it up today right in the serving bowl you plan to use, and tomorrow you'll only have to take it out of the fridge. Another reason to start with cranberry sauce: You'll need a cup for the Thanksgiving dessert that you're baking next.

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

The Day Before: Bake Your Dessert

Your guests will probably offer to bring a pie to dinner. Take them up on that, but bake this stunning Bundt cake, too! The filling is the cranberry sauce you just made (Isn't that cool?). The boxed cake mix saves even more time. Don't glaze the cake until tomorrow, though.

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

The Day Before: Put Together the Stuffing

Our pecan stuffing with dried cherries tastes absolutely divine -- and the whole grain croutons are healthy to boot! Mix it up today so you just have to pop it in the oven tomorrow.

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

The Day Before: Whip Up the Cinnamon Butter

Tomorrow, you'll bake sweet potatoes and serve them with this amazingly flavorful butter. Here's how to make it:

In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon until combined. Whisk in 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, then cover and chill overnight. Save a few dishes by making it in the bowl you plan to use tomorrow.

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

The Day Before: Prep the Green Beans

This is an easy task for the kids if you want to enlist their help. Wash 2 pounds of fresh green beans to use in your recipe tomorrow. Pat dry then break off the stem ends. Wrap the beans in plastic and refrigerate them until morning.

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

The Day Before: Make Herb Ricotta

You can mix up this delicious herb-cheese mixture in just a few minutes: In a medium bowl stir together 1 15 ounce carton light ricotta cheese, 4 chopped slices turkey bacon, 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves. Cover and refrigerate it until you clean and prep the turkey.

When it's ready, you'll slip this cheesy mixture under the skin of the turkey to keep the meat moist and flavorful!

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

The Day Before: Tackle the Turkey

Start with a 15-pound turkey -- it'll be enough to feed your guests and still have leftovers. You can buy a frozen turkey and let it thaw in the fridge for several days, but it's best to buy one fresh. It's tricky to cook a turkey's thighs and legs without drying out the breast. Our solution? Butterfly the bird -- essentially, flatten it so it cooks faster.

You can ask your butcher to do this, but it's easy enough to do yourself once you know how. After you've butterflied the turkey and before you leave the kitchen for the day, place the turkey, cavity side down, in a large roasting pan. Loosen the skin over the breast and legs, then place the prepared ricotta mixture under the skin. Sprinkle on salt and pepper before covering the turkey with plastic wrap and leaving it to chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

3-1/2 Hours Before Dinner: Roast the Turkey

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic wrap from the turkey, then cover it with aluminum foil. Place your turkey in the oven -- it'll take about three hours to fully cook. Take our word for it -- the turkey will cook faster since it's butterflied! If you decided not to butterfly the turkey, use our roasting guide to help you determine cooking times.

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

1-1/2 Hours Before Dinner: Glaze Your Cake and Prep Potatoes

Glaze your Bundt cake and place it on the table once you're finished. Also, set out serving dishes and utensils for the sweet potatoes, green beans, gravy, and turkey. Scrub and slice eight sweet potatoes and place them on a baking sheet.

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Gemma Comas

1 Hour Before Dinner: Cook Potatoes and Stuffing

Put the sweet potatoes and the pecan stuffing you prepared yesterday in the oven. Remove the foil from the turkey so the skin can brown.

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Gemma Comas

30 Minutes Before Dinner: Take Out the Turkey

Your turkey should be done now -- check it with a food thermometer to make sure the meat registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If it's ready, take it out of the oven and transfer it to a large cutting board or platter. Set out the cranberry sauce and cinnamon butter.

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

25 Minutes Before Dinner: Make the Gravy

Whip up perfect gravy every time with our simple recipe! Dissolving the cornstarch in cold or room temperature stock will prevent the gravy from clumping.

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Gemma Comas

20 Minutes Before Dinner: Finish the Sweet Potatoes

Take your now-crispy sweet potatoes out of the oven and place them on a platter with the cinnamon butter. Mmm!

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Gemma Comas

15 Minutes Before Dinner: Remove the Stuffing

Take your stuffing out of the oven -- and turn your oven knob to off! (You shouldn't have anything left to bake!) Bring the stuffing and the gravy to the dinner table.

Gemma Comas
Gemma Comas

12 Minutes Before Dinner: Make the Green Beans

Green beans don't stay hot for long, so it's important to cook them at the last minute. (That's why you prepped them yesterday!)

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Gemma Comas

Dig in!

Bring the rest of your homemade Thanksgiving dinner dishes to the table — and ask your kids to announce that dinner is ready. Don't be surprised if they swipe a green bean or two while guests are starting to take their seats!

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