Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is manageable if you use ABK’s guide to plan and carry out this otherwise overwhelming task! How to Host Thanksgiving Dinner is an easy to follow, step-by-step recipe guide that will make you look like a pro in the kitchen!
It’s your turn to host Thanksgiving dinner?
And you’ve never cooked Thanksgiving dinner? Ever? If you’re 25 or 55, you’ve come to the right place. ABK’s planning, recipes and step-by-step timeline will help you get Thanksgiving dinner on the table- without a meltdown!
How to Host Thanksgiving Dinner: 101
A couple of suggestions before we start:
- Take a deep breath. This is just a meal. Sure, it’s the most anticipated meal of the year, but in the end it’s only a meal. Meat, potatoes, gravy. You can do this!
- Take any help offered. If you’re hosting, and others want to help, LET THEM HELP. It’s okay if you don’t have total control. If Aunt Betty’s pie is a runny mess, no big deal. Remember, although I’m a bit of a food freak, it’s okay if everything doesn’t taste exactly as you planned or if every dish doesn’t turn out to look like it could be photographed for the next issue of Martha Stewart Living. This holiday is about family and friends and blessings. I’ve found the best way to end up with the tastiest dishes at your feast is to let guests bring what they love to cook. Every year my sister in law Sheri makes Southern specialties, because her husband is from the South, and she learned how to make broccoli casserole and cornbread dressing and Southern specialty pies while they lived in Alabama. Those are always her assignments. She makes them better than anyone else. Period.
Now that those two important items are out of the way, I’m going to point you toward our favorite Thanksgiving recipes on A Bountiful Kitchen! All of the recipes are delicious and simple for first time cooks or hosts to use on Thanksgiving. I’m an every year Thanksgiving cook and have been for about 30+ years. I use each of these tried and true recipes. After I list the recipe, I’ll break down the timing as for when to cook what, so it all ends up on the table hot, at the same time. Also included are updated items (2017) on this post, Thanksgiving dishes that are on our family dinner table every year, without fail. The original post included beginner recipes, which I stand by if you are truly a beginner and want homemade and simple!
Here we go.
Typical Thanksgiving eve scene in A Bountiful Kitchen…
If frozen, make sure to start thawing it about 3-4 days before cooking. If I purchase a 24 lb turkey, I start thawing it (at least) Saturday or Sunday before Thanksgiving. Place it in the fridge in a large pan. You can leave it in the wrapping. Don’t ever thaw a turkey on the counter. Unless you want to end up in the bathroom or the ER for a very long time after Thanksgiving dinner…
And yes, it really does brown up nicely inside of a bag. Isn’t that a thing of beauty?
Use the drippings from the turkey for the best gravy. If you have a roasting pan, you’ll be able to roast the turkey in the pan and then make the gravy right in the same pan. You’ll need a few cans (2-3) of chicken broth, butter, flour, salt, pepper and chicken flavor booster (I like Swanson brand or Knorr).
Mashed Potatoes (If turkey is king, mashed potatoes are queen)
Plug in the slow cooker early in the day, mash up your potatoes right in the slow cooker and keep your prepared dish on the warm setting until showtime!
One of those- never, ever, EVER buy in a can items. This is the most simple recipe of all. The difference in taste? Not even comparable.
You can make this up to a week (or two) in advance.
Takes about ten minutes total to make. Let cool, refrigerate and take out a few minutes before serving dinner.
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without at least one sweet potato or yam dish. We have two favorites, Chunky Yams and Apples and Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugared Pecans. The Southern Sweet Potato dish is mashed, the other recipe, is made with chunks of yams and apples. Both are perfect for make ahead!
Every Thanksgiving dinner needs a green salad. I love this one. It’s simple and fresh. Cut the fruit the day (or two) before. Use a Spring Mix or Spinach leaves for the greens. Make the dressing up to a week ahead. All you have to do the day of the meal is place the greens on salad plates on the table, top with fruits and drizzle with dressing. So simple.
Jello or fruit salad
What’s Thanksgiving without J-E-L-L-O ?
You’ll love this recipe. Make it on Tuesday. Let it sit until the big day. You can make it in a 9×13 or individual custard cups.
So good, it will turn a Jello hater into a fan.
I like this recipe for beginners because there’s no rolling out and shaping. Just let rise once, scoop into pan, raise again and bake. You can make these the night before. If you feel confident about your roll making ability, give this recipe for Lion House Rolls a try, it’s our favorite and I make a batch, or two or three every holiday season!
And finally, Pie
Really now. Who can have Thanksgiving without pie? Can you fully trust a person who says they don’t like pie? Maybe, but my inner voice tells me they really do like pie, they’ve just never eaten good pie. I chose two simple recipes, classics, which most people will love. Both recipes are beginner recipes. Pecan pie is probably the easiest pie for beginners! Make the crust, shape and place in pan. Follow my tutorial on crust making here. The second recipe is for classic pumpkin pie. My recipe takes the classic Libby’s recipe and adjusts the spices and milk so you don’t end up with runny filling. Perfect pumpkin pie. Every time.
Oops, almost forgot. Ice Cream. No, you don’t have to make your own. Just don’t forget it.
If you DO want to make your own, here’s the link to my Dark Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream.