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10 Cooking Tips for an Upgraded & Stress-Free Thanksgiving

 Thanksgiving cooking can be a challenging experience for even the most experienced chefs. It requires a lot of careful planning and preparing each dish in a specific order to make sure everything is warm, fresh, and just right for the long-awaited Thanksgiving dinner.
If the very thought of all that organization makes you stressed out and throws you into a state of panic, we are here to help with 10 excellent tricks and life hacks that are sure to save you time, make cooking for the holiday easier, and upgrade your Thanksgiving cooking without the need to use any ingredients you don’t already have at home.

1. Set the table ahead of time

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips set table
This first tip is super simple, but it lifts a lot of stress off of Thanksgiving day. Simply set the table the night before, and you’ll have one troublesome task less on Thanksgiving day. It’s also a great idea to unload the dishwasher and empty the trash the evening before Thanksgiving so that you don’t have to do any of those tasks mid-cooking.

2. You can easily make mashed potatoes a few hours before dinner without the fear of them getting clumpy, here’s how

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips mashed potatoes
No one likes clumpy mashed potatoes, which is why many cooks leave this essential side dish for the last minute. We’re here to tell you that you can, in fact, make them a few hours before dinner and keep them hot until the guests arrive.
There are a few ways you can go about it. You can either keep them on low heat on the smallest flame on the stove, leave them on low heat in the oven, or keep them warm on the lowest setting of a slow cooker. Just make sure that the pan is always covered with a lid and stir every hour or so to prevent any lumps.

3. Use kitchen cabinets as a recipe stand

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips reading recipe
Following a recipe is the best way to ensure a dish you don’t know very well turns out perfectly. This is especially important during Thanksgiving when the stakes are high and many people might end up eating that dish. To do so, you may pull out grandma’s recipe book, a precious cooking book, or even your laptop or phone and place it on the work surface to be able to follow the recipe closely.
This is exactly how many electronic devices and books get ruined. Also, any of those things can take up quite a lot of space on the precious work surface, which is the last thing you need. Luckily, we have an easy solution. Simply write down or print out the recipe on a separate sheet of paper and stick that paper on the kitchen cabinet using a piece of tape. This way, you will have the recipe right before your eyes at all times without the need to sacrifice any space on the kitchen counters. You can even make extra notes in a pinch.

4. If using a frozen bird, thawing the turkey at this time is key

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips raw turkey
Thawing the turkey the right way is just as important as the cooking itself. If the bird wasn’t properly thawed, parts of the poultry meat may end up being dry, while other parts may end up undercooked, which is a health hazard. Here’s how to do it the right way.
First and foremost, always thaw the meat in the fridge to prevent it from going bad and thawing more evenly. The general rule of thumb is that every 4 pounds of meat require 24 hours of thawing in the fridge. Therefore, if you have a 16-pound bird in the freezer, you’ll need to pull it out of the freezer and transfer it to the fridge 4 days before brining and cooking.

5. Try roasting the turkey upside down

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips carving turkey
It may sound crazy, but roasting your turkey upside down for 75% of the overall cooking time makes the turkey breast a lot juicier since all the juices from the fattier parts go down to the turkey breast. This trick was shared by Beverly Kim, a Michelin-starred chef with the Insider, who said that she came up with it by accident. "I flipped it over and finished it off with some high heat to get the skin colored and crispy, and it was the most moist Thanksgiving turkey I've ever had!"
If you like the skin extra crispy, you can flip the turkey a bit earlier - about halfway through the cooking process.

6. If you hate the way a pie crust can get mushy because of the liquid filling, try this trick

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips pie crust
Pies that have a more liquid filling, like apple or custard, are usually not prepared ahead of time because the crust can absorb the liquids and become mushy and loses that satisfying crisp. If you want to save some time and cook these pies a bit earlier, you can try to spread a super thin layer of melted chocolate on the bottom of the pre-baked pie crust. The chocolate will prevent the liquid from seeping into the pastry and keep the crust nice and crispy much longer.

7. Adding a drizzle of melted butter to your mashed potatoes makes all the difference

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips butter
Mashed potatoes and gravy are many people’s favorite part of the Thanksgiving dinner. Therefore, many of you may be reasonably doubtful in our attempt to fix something that’s already perfect. But hear us out and simply try this: make small divots in the mashed potatoes and add a little drizzle of melted butter on top right before serving. This butter will make the mashed potatoes even softer, fluffier, and more sumptuous than ever.

8. Avoid preparing side dishes the day before, they taste much better fresh out of the oven

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips  side dishes
Some foods, like cranberry sauce or even some pies, can be easily prepared ahead of time, but side dishes is not one of them. This is especially true when it comes to the classic green bean casserole, roasted sweet potatoes, and the like - they’re all best served fresh out of the oven while they have a crispy crust. Therefore, make these no more than an hour before dinner time.

9. Avoid using fresh bread for the stuffing

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips bread
Bread that’s not fresh but slightly drier is always the better choice for the stuffing, as it absorbs liquids and flavor a lot better without being soggy or mushy. You can also experiment with the kind of bread you decide to use or even mix a few varieties. Cornbread, sourdough, whole wheat, multigrain, or even crackers are just a few interesting suggestions you can try.

10. A trick for chilling wine super quickly

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips wine
Forgot to put the wine in the fridge on time and now it’s too late? Don’t worry, you can cool the bottle in just 10-15 minutes, here’s how: wrap the bottle in a damp dishtowel or even a paper towel, and stick the bottle into the freezer. It will be cool in no time, just don’t forget to pull it out, or else it may become too cold.
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