Tips for Choosing Best Thanksgiving Cookings
Thanksgiving dinner is the highlight of the holiday – a feast shared with loved ones featuring iconic dishes and time-honored recipes. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, choosing which tasty cookings to prepare can feel overwhelming with so many options. Follow these tips to select the best Thanksgiving cookings sure to bring smiles around your table.
Perfect the Turkey
As the star of the Thanksgiving meal, the turkey takes center stage. Allow at least 1-1.5 pounds of turkey per guest when calculating size. Fresh turkeys require thawing in the fridge for days beforehand. For easiest roasting, choose a frozen turkey which can go straight from freezer to oven.
Before roasting, rinse the turkey and pat dry. Rub the skin all over with softened butter or oil to ensure even browning and moisture. Season generously inside and out with salt, pepper and your favorite herbs and spices.
Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan to allow air circulation. Roast uncovered at 325°F, basting occasionally, until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F. Let rest 30 minutes before carving for juicy, tender meat.
Cook Flavorful Stuffing
No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a perfectly baked stuffing loaded with flavors. Prepare your favorite recipe, whether traditional bread stuffing, wild rice, cornbread, sausage apple – the possibilities are endless.
To prevent bacterial contamination, never stuff the raw turkey cavity. Cook your stuffing completely separate in a greased baking dish. For individual servings, spoon into greased muffin tins.
Mix in roasted veggies like celery, onions, mushrooms, squash or nuts for texture. Fresh herbs like sage, parsley, thyme and rosemary add aromatic flavor. Cook until piping hot and top with crispy fried onions or cranberries for a pop of color.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Smooth, buttery mashed potatoes are the ultimate Thanksgiving comfort food. For fluffiest spuds, choose Yukon Gold or russet potatoes. Peel and dice potatoes, then boil until very fork tender. Drain and return to pot.
Mash potatoes while still hot, incorporating butter, heated milk or cream, and seasonings until smooth and creamy. To save time, boil and mash potatoes a day ahead and reheat with more dairy before serving.
Top mashed potatoes with crispy bacon bits, shredded cheese, sour cream or chopped chives. Provide at least 1/2 cup per guest.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Fresh cranberry sauce is one of the easiest recipes to make from scratch. Combine fresh cranberries, sugar and orange juice in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring often, until berries pop and sauce thickens to your preferred consistency.
For a unique twist, leave cranberries raw and mix with maple syrup and spices like cinnamon and ginger for a cranberry relish.
Chill cranberry sauce or relish overnight to allow flavors to develop. The tart, sweet bite perfectly complements turkey and dressing.
Bake Classic Casseroles
Casserole dishes like green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole are beloved Thanksgiving traditions. Utilize time-saving shortcuts like canned fried onions and premade pie dough when possible.
For green bean casserole, choose fresh green beans to sauté in butter with sliced mushrooms before pouring on creamy condensed soup topping. Bake until hot and bubbly.
Make sweet potato casserole extra decadent with mashed spuds, brown sugar, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Top with marshmallows or nuts.
Both dishes can be assembled a day ahead then baked on Thanksgiving Day. They freeze well too for easy make-ahead prep.
Bake Fresh Rolls
A basket of warm bread rolls completes the meal. Choose favorites like fluffy yeast rolls, sweet Hawaiian rolls, rustic sourdough, buttery biscuits or cornbread.
Allow 1-2 rolls per guest depending on size. Shape dough into rolls, let rise, egg wash and bake until golden. Brush melted butter on top when hot.
Warm rolls in the oven right before dinner. Serve with softened butter, honey butter or jam.
Mashed potatoes satisfy traditionalists but switch it up with delicious roasted potatoes or a potato gratin.
Toss red potatoes or sweet potatoes in oil, garlic, rosemary and salt. Roast at 400°F until crispy on the outside and tender inside.
For gratin, layer sliced potatoes with cream, cheese and spices. Bake covered then uncovered until bubbly and browned.
The potatoes can cook alongside the turkey for hands-off simplicity.
Round out your menu with nostalgic veggies like roasted Brussels sprouts, glazed carrots, creamed spinach or asparagus. Fresh green beans sautéed in butter are always welcome too.
Roast veggies tossed in oil, salt, pepper and herbs at 400°F. Baste carrots and parsnips with honey or maple syrup halfway through roasting.
Sauté green beans with sliced almonds for crunch. Make creamed spinach extra decadent with heavy cream and Parmesan.
With so many veggies, you’re sure to please even picky eaters!
Sweet Potato Soufflé
Move over pumpkin pie – sweet potato soufflé makes a showstopping Thanksgiving dessert.
Puree roasted sweet potatoes with butter, eggs, brown sugar, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and a dash of vanilla. Fold in whipped egg whites for fluffiness.
Pour into a greased dish and bake until puffed and golden – about an hour. Dust with powdered sugar or whipped cream.
The sweet potato flavor makes it unique from pumpkin desserts. Guests will be wowed!
Apple or Pecan Pie
Opt for classic apple pie or southern pecan pie for a comforting dessert. Use readymade pie dough for convenience.
For apple, choose crisp apples like Granny Smiths. Toss with sugar, cinnamon and flour before mounding into pie shell and dotting butter on top.
With pecan pie, pour prepared filling over pecans in the pie crust. Bake until just set in the center with a slight jiggle.
Serve warm pumpkin, apple or pecan pie with vanilla ice cream for pure bliss!
With these beloved Thanksgiving classics covered from turkey to sweets, you’re guaranteed satisfied smiles around the table. Focus on quality ingredients and rich, nostalgic flavors. Those you love will gather to enjoy this delicious feast.