Thanksgiving doesn't have to be stressful, but I find myself stressing year after year. In theory, it should be about spending time with the family, enjoying a great meal, and giving thanks that we are lucky enough to stuff ourselves completely full of turkey and cranberry sauce. Unfortunately, most years, I find myself thankful if I can get the food on the table, all at the same time, without burning or undercooking it. I need something to save Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I found just the thing to do it.
This Thanksgiving is going to be easy, thanks to these 11 amazing charts. They won't prevent my favorite uncle from getting too drunk and picking a fight with my mom (maybe I should suggest sparkling cider mocktails this year). And, it certainly won't stop Grandma from falling asleep at the table, but at least I'll get the perfect meal on the table at the right time! If the food can go smoothly enough, there are always cocktails to get you through the rest.
1. Be prepared.
Professional chefs make extensive prep lists when planning a party to keep everything organized and make sure it all gets done. No reason why you shouldn't do that, too! This chart will help you time your food perfectly.
2. Start early.
You don't have to wait until Thanksgiving day to start your meal! Take it from us and save yourself some stress by getting some of these things done ahead of time. Definitely, head to the grocery store and get prepping, using this chart to help you figure out what can be made in advance.
3. Make enough food.
I always err on the side of too much food because it guarantees I'll have leftovers. Also, there's really nothing more embarrassing than a bowl of stuffing or sweet potatoes that don't make it all the way around the table! This chart helps you figure out exactly how much food to estimate per person.
4. Specifically, how much turkey should you make?
It's one thing to run out of Thanksgiving side dishes, but it's quite another to run out of the main event. Since everyone has their favorite pieces (white meat, dark meat, drumsticks, thighs, or breasts), make sure you've roasted enough turkey for the whole table. This chart breaks down exactly how much turkey you need per person.
5. How long does it take to thaw turkey?
Our guides break down everything you need to know about how to thaw a frozen turkey (and also what to do last minute if you still need to thaw one), but if you're looking for a quick reference this chart has you covered. look no further.
And, if you forgot to thaw it, don't worry - we have a technique to cook a frozen turkey, too.
6. Let's get to roasting!
Roasting a turkey is easy - it's just like roasting a chicken, but ten times the size! We go through the step-by-step for how to prepare and roast a turkey in the oven, but this chart shows the quick and dirty version.
7. How long should you cook turkey?
This might be the number one most important question - it's no good to have your Thanksgiving decorations perfected, the table set, side dishes finished, and wine poured if the turkey isn't done yet.
This chart has the lowdown on stuffed turkey, unstuffed turkey, and turkey breast roasting times.
8. Carve it up.
Most people are terrified of carving a turkey. No need! This chart shows that it's easier than you think, and it really doesn't matter if you slip up a bit. Any pieces that are left on the carcass will add to your stock's flavor.
9. Make the best gravy.
Gravy is an integral part of the Thanksgiving dinner experience. It not only tastes good, but a great gravy can also cover up a slightly overcooked turkey. This quick cheat sheet chart will ensure your gravy is top notch!
10. Don't stress about the Thanksgiving sides.
Thanksgiving vegetable sides are my favorite part of this holiday! This chart will help you plan how long to cook each vegetable. This will also help you figure out how much time you need in the oven and on the cooktop.
11. Win the leftover game.
I love Thanksgiving dinner...but really, it's all about the leftovers. Everything tastes just a little bit better the next day. So save the diet for Monday and have fun this weekend with some leftovers from this great chart!
Once you pull off the big meal, it'll be time for Black Friday and Christmas shopping. Before you head out, check out the list of stores closed on Thanksgiving Day (spoiler alert: Walmart and Target are not on that list).