I love me some Thanksgiving.
In fact, I think out of all the holidays, it’s the one I get most excited about. Good food + gratitude + football? Seriously, what could be better than that?
And it’s not just that I love Thanksgiving, I love cooking for Thanksgiving. All of it. The turkey, the cranberry sauce, the mashed potatoes. And of course, the pies. Oh, the pies.
Ever since cooking my very first Thanksgiving dinner as a college student in 1999 (which wasn’t great, I’ll admit), I’ve worked very hard to hone and refine my menu, collecting and developing a handful of recipes that always knock it out of the park. My goal for Thanksgiving is that every dish on the table is the best thing you’ve ever tasted, and I’m excited to tell you that after 20 years of trial and error, I think I’ve finally nailed it–the Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu.
And friend, today I’m sharing it with you.
Plus, just to make your life a little bit easier, I’ve also included a shopping list for all the ingredients you’ll need, as well as a timeline to follow to make sure your Thanksgiving dinner gets to the table without a hitch. I’ve even put together a ready-to-print version of the entire plan (including all the recipes) so that all you need to worry about is the cooking!
If you decide to use this menu this year, I’d love to hear how it goes! Either shoot me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message me on Instagram. You can also use the hashtag #lwslultimatethanksgiving on social media!
- No-Stress Roast Turkey & Gravy with Stuffing
- Roasted Beet & Fennel Salad (Optional)
- Best-Ever No Fuss Mashed Potatoes
- Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Easy Corn Casserole
- Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
- The World’s Best Cranberry Sauce
- Heat & Serve Rolls-found in the freezer section of your grocery store
- Oh-So-Easy Caramel Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
- 5 Ingredient Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie
THE SHOPPING LIST
Real Mayonnaise (Make sure it’s regular, not light!)
pumpkin pie spice
2 cartons chicken broth
1 bag Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned or Cornbread Stuffing
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups pecans
36 large marshmallows
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 15 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup raisins
1 8oz jar caramel sauce (optional)
1 jar salted caramel sauce
triple sec (liquor)
1 bag fresh cranberries
7 tart green apples
3 sweet apples (such as Pink Lady, Macintosh, Envy, or Honeycrisp)
2 ripe pears, peeled
1 fennel bulb
2 yellow onions
6 to 9 ounces arugula
1 8oz. package sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 bunch celery
1 5lb bag Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
7 medium sweet potatoes
2 pounds Brussels Sprouts
1 16oz carton sour cream
1 quart Heavy whipping cream
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
8 sticks salted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
7 large eggs
1 Reynolds Turkey bag
1 roasting pan (use a disposable one if necessary!)
Electric knife for carving (highly recommended!)
- Finalize your shopping list & start stocking up on necessary non-perishable items as they go on sale.
- Make sure you have any tools or equipment you’ll need
- Make arrangements for dishes, serve-ware, silverware, table linens, tables, and anything else you might need.
5-7 DAYS BEFORE THANKSGIVING
- Go grocery shopping to purchase all non-perishable food items + turkey.
- Begin thawing turkey in refrigerator (this time will vary, based on size—check instructions on package!)
- Make the Cranberry Compote. This is better made a few days ahead of time.
DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING
- Purchase perishable food items, that you want to be super fresh. Example the Arugula or fresh bread from the bakery.
- Prep Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes through Step 4
- Bake Pies
5-6 HOURS BEFORE DINNER
- Remove turkey from the refrigerator; allow it to sit for 1 hour at room temperature
- Prepare your stuffing
- Set the table
4-5 HOURS BEFORE DINNER
- Preheat oven & stuff the turkey; place in turkey bag
- Put the turkey in the oven
- Run the dishwasher, if necessary.
2-3 HOURS BEFORE DINNER
- Prep & roast Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts; let sit at room temperature until ready to reheat.
- Prep Creamy Corn Casserole but do not bake; place in refrigerator until ready to cook
- Prep Fennel & Beet Salad, but do not add beets; place in refrigerator until serving time, then add beets right before serving.
- Make the Best Ever No-Fuss Mashed Potatoes & transfer to an oven-proof dish; let sit at room temp until ready to reheat
- Remove Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes from refrigerator
- Cut marshmallows in half and use to finish prepping Sweet Potatoes; set aside until ready to cook
- Unload the dishwasher
1 HOUR BEFORE DINNER
- Whip the cream for the pie
- Prepare the coffee but do not brew until 20 minutes before it will be served
- Check the temperature of the turkey at the thigh. If the thermometer reads 165 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven. If not, check the temperature every 15 minutes until done.
30 MINUTES BEFORE DINNER
- Let the turkey sit for 20-25 minutes before carving.
- Remove stuffing from bird; transfer to an oven-proof dish & cover with foil.
- Place several pats of butter on mashed potatoes and cover with lid or foil.
- Place stuffing, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (while turkey is setting), so that all food is ready to serve at once. (Make sure everything is covered to keep in moist!).
- If there’s room, add heat & serve rolls to the oven when there are 10 minutes left on timer; otherwise wait until the other side dishes come out, and then bake rolls.
- Make the gravy
- Carve the turkey
- Bring all food to table or buffet; make sure each dish has a serving spoon.
- Make kids’ plates, if necessary
- Pour beverages.
- Sit and enjoy!
- Clear the table & designate a place for guest to retire
- Pack up leftovers
- Load dishwasher & run it
- Turn on coffee pot; place Oh So Easy Apple Pie & Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie in oven to warm.
- Serve pies with ice cream and whipped cream!
Congratulations–you did it!