How to plan your Thanksgiving menu
- Determine the guest list. Are there any kids? Are there any food allergies or special accommodations to be made?
- Choose the right size turkey for the number of guests you’re hosting. The general guideline is 1 – 1.5 pounds of turkey per person, this accounts for bone weight of the bird. And of course, who doesn’t love leftovers!Bear in mind that if you buy your turkey frozen, it will need 24 hours per five pounds to thaw in your refrigerator. If your turkey is 10 or 15 pounds, it will need to defrost for two or three days. You can also use the cold-water method of thawing if you need to cook your turkey the same day.
For maximal tastiness, season and stuff your turkey, then let it sit in the refrigerator for up to three hours so it can absorb the flavors.
For more about turkey prep, see our page about preparing and thawing a whole turkey.
- At Thanksgiving, the turkey is the hero. There are lots of ways to make a mouthwatering turkey, from Traditional Whole Turkey to Spicy Grilled Turkey. Consider what is likeliest to appeal to your guests, and balance that against what might surprise, interest, or delight your guests.
- It’s time to think about sides. We recommend a balance of lighter, healthier dishes and heavier comfort foods. Think Cranberry Onion Relish paired with Smoked Sweet Potatoes, or roasted autumn vegetables with Smoked Corn Bread Pudding.
- Consider the variety of flavors on your menu like the salty gravy, sweet candied yams, a bright citrus salad, smokey greens with bacon, and buttery rich rolls.
- Keep in mind the cooking times and methods to avoid an over-crowded oven or too much stress for the host. Even better if a few things could be made the night before.
- For dessert, don’t forget the pie! You can’t go wrong with classic pumpkin with whipped cream or apple a la mode.
- Thanksgiving isn’t really over until all the food is gone. Sometimes, that can take days! Remember, you don’t have to eat your turkey the same way you made it. There are lots of things you can do with leftovers. Browse our leftover recipes and enjoy!
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