Thanksgiving is a time for warmth, gratitude, and, of course, a grand feast shared with loved ones. To ensure you have more moments to create memories and less time stressing over the stove, try these ingenious Thanksgiving dinner hacks.
1. Gravy Boost: Burnt Onions for Thickness
When crafting your savory sauces, consider the magic of burnt—not caramelized—onions. These impart a rich, toasted umami flavor while naturally thickening the gravy. Burn the onions in advance, blend into the gravy before serving, and elevate your culinary game effortlessly.
2. Prep Side Dishes in Advance
Ease the Thanksgiving chaos by preparing several side dishes a day ahead. From cranberry sauce to turkey gravy, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, these can be frozen for up to a month. Your future self will thank you for a stress-free Thanksgiving day.
3. Slow Cooker Savior: Mashed Potatoes
Avoid the tragedy of cold, lumpy mashed potatoes by utilizing your slow cooker. Grease the insert with butter, pour in some heavy cream, add your mashed potatoes, and keep them warm. Stir occasionally on low heat, ensuring silky-smooth potatoes that complement your Thanksgiving spread.
4. Buttermilk Magic: Brine/Marinate Your Turkey
Enhance the tenderness of your turkey by marinating it in buttermilk. This Indian-style marinade, featuring dairy products like buttermilk or yogurt, not only tenderizes the meat but also retains moisture. Say goodbye to dry turkey and hello to a juicy, flavorful centerpiece.
5. Overnight Turkey Cooking
Simplify your Thanksgiving day by starting the turkey cooking process before bedtime. Set the oven on a lower temperature, wake up to a perfectly cooked bird, and enjoy a stress-free morning. A brief increase in heat at the end ensures a beautifully browned exterior while maintaining moist, evenly cooked meat.
6. Boil and Shock: Effortless Potato Peeling
Streamline your potato preparation by boiling them in their skins and then shocking them in an ice-filled basin. This technique ensures that the peel effortlessly falls off cooled potatoes, saving you time and effort while preserving the natural flavors and nutrients of the spuds.
7. Opt for Turkey Pieces, Not the Whole Bird
Ease your Thanksgiving roasting endeavors by cutting the turkey into pieces before cooking. Not only does this save refrigerator space, but it also allows you to roast specific portions for your guests’ preferences. No more battling over the prized drumsticks!
8. DIY Roasting Rack: Aluminum Foil
A roasting rack doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Craft your own by crumpling thick ropes of aluminum foil and coiling them over the pan. Alternatively, go eco-friendly by placing the bird atop a bed of celery, carrots, and onion halves for even heat circulation.
9. Fluffy Mashed Potatoes with Baking Soda
Achieve cloud-like mashed potatoes by adding a pinch of baking soda. Mix it into the drained, cooked potatoes, and witness the creation of tiny air pockets during the reaction with heat and acid. The result? Fluffy, airy bites that elevate your mashed potato game.
10. Buffet-Style Serving
Embrace a laid-back Thanksgiving by setting up a buffet-style spread. Allow guests to serve themselves, eliminating the need for meticulous plating. This ensures everyone can enjoy the meal simultaneously, savoring both the food and each other’s company.
Implementing these Thanksgiving dinner hacks will not only save you precious time but also enhance the joy of the holiday, allowing you to focus on what truly matters—cherishing the company of loved ones.