Holiday Cooking: Tips for Stress Free Thanksgiving

Our love of cooking gets us really excited about the upcoming holiday season! Warm visions of amazing holiday meals shared with family and friends. So let’s talk holiday cooking!

We want your holiday meals to be delicious, joyful and stress-free. We’re offering you our own tips for joyful cooking and a stress-free Thanksgiving, plus a few ideas from some others.

The food writers at the New York Times suggest simple yet practical tips in NYT Cooking: Cooking with The New York Times “How to Plan and Cook Thanksgiving”. The Today Show offered some great ideas, too!

Planning is Key Lists and Calendars make life easier and minimize surprises.

Write down your guest list noting individual diet restrictions.
Write down the full menu.
Assign a preparation day for each menu item and add to your Calendar.
Prepare 2 shopping lists, one that can be filled in advance and the second for last minute shopping.
Make a list of any kitchen tools you’ll need to buy or borrow. Use an ice chest as a second fridge. Assemble recipes.
Many dishes can be made ahead of Thanksgiving and frozen such as rolls, apple pies, casseroles, stuffing ingredients and even gravy.

Menu Creation

The NYT reminds us that people expect the classics, plus love some surprises, too!

Food is the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table. Create a beautiful table with a variety of food colors and textures. Include a salad of fresh greens and veggies. Add a colorful unexpected dish like chutney, spiced applesauce or a citrus salad.

Some Thanksgiving classics can be plant-based and still please everyone.  The Today Show recommends keeping appetizers light and simple with veggies, cheese, olives, and grapes.

Let’s Talk Turkey

For turkey, the NYT estimates 1 pound for each guest.  If cooking 2 turkeys, NYT recommends roasting one for the centerpiece of the table, and the second—carve, cut up and roast in pieces. It’s ready to serve.


The Today Show suggests roasting just turkey parts for a small group (less than 8).  For safety always use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast or thigh. It must register at least 165 degrees.  Insert an oven proof thermometer for the entire cooking process. Insert Instant digital thermometers at the end of the cooking time. They are not oven safe. For pop-up turkey indicators, double check temperature with a food thermometer.Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes before carving to reabsorb the juices. Check out some of our Private chefs holiday menus.

Published By Sam Holdridge


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