24 Hour Countdown: Top Tips For A Successful Thanksgiving Meal

I have been hosting Thanksgiving on and off for years now, but the last 24 hours before guests arrive is when you know all mayhem can break loose! But no worries, or should I say, no need to fear – Butterball is here! Remember we are in this together and we’re always available to answer last-minute questions! My theory is, even the cook should enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends, so I’m sharing my top tips to help you have the perfect meal.

1. Defrost, defrost, defrost. Make sure your turkey is fully defrosted. The number one call on Thanksgiving is “My turkey is not defrosted, what do I do?” So check your turkey now and if it still seems a little frozen, use our cold water thawing method: http://bit.ly/N0Q2LJ.

2. Make sure you have a meat thermometer. A meat thermometer is the safest way to know that your turkey has been properly cooked. The breast temperature should read 170° and the thigh should be 180°.

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3. Make anything in advance that you can. I love to make up my casseroles the night before and then bake the next day.

4. Set the table. It seems silly but a lot of people wait until the day of and then realize their table cloth has a stain or worse, they can’t find it!

5. Stick to white dishes – they show off your food best! Let the food be the show, after all you worked so hard on this.

6. Serve buffet style instead of family style. This way people can walk through and take what they enjoy. It’s also less cumbersome on the table.

7. Make sure you have drinks ready. I love to serve a signature drink at the door. This year my drink will be a Sauvignon Blanc from Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi married with a splash of pomegranate juice. To get your white wine chilled to perfection, place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours and remove it 20 minutes before serving. Easy and simple – just what you need with less than 24 hours to go!

8. Don’t be afraid to borrow. Last year I realized I forgot to buy stock to make gravy! I called up my neighbor and she was glad to lend a hand, she even ran it over! Now that’s a good neighbor.

9. Thanksgiving is the meal that keeps on giving, so have plastic Reynolds® storage containers on hand – it’ll make it easier to send everyone home with leftovers!

10. To centerpiece or not to centerpiece… the big question. This year for centerpieces, I plan to put together bouquets and write my guests name on each one. I am also tucking a little note inside telling them why I am thankful for them.  At the end of the night all my guests get to take theirs home. The best part is that they are easy and you can DIY!

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With these simple steps, you’ll be sure to host a successful meal that your guests will be talking about for years to come.

Pinterest-Worthy Table Decorations: Easy Crafts and Ideas

One of the best parts about Thanksgiving is getting your home holiday-ready. There’s a festive and warm feeling that wraps you up when you walk into someone’s cozy home. The smell in the air whether it be from a candle burning, bubbling cider, or a turkey in the oven. The colors that catch your eye from wreaths hanging, colorful floral centerpieces or decorative pumpkins.

Whatever it may be, there’s no denying that decorating for the holidays is a blast and with Pinterest so readily available it’s simple to get creative and whip up some crafty projects that will have you feeling like a professional! The Butterball Pinterest page is a wonderful tool to help you brainstorm ideas and gain inspiration not only related to food, but holiday decor as well.

This season we’re seeing lots of burlap, metallics, items from nature (think twigs, branches, leaves), and personalized touches.

Burlap wreath


- Wrap burlap around a wreath form (found at most craft stores)

- Make large burlap bows and tie around back of guest’s chairs or decorate the front door.

- Burlap tablecloths and table runners are quite popular this season. You can purchase burlap at most fabric stores and design your own table runner or you can find them pre-made. You can also cut burlap down (roughly 18” x 12” or a size that appropriately fits your table settings) and use them as placemats. This is an economical yet stunning way to dress up your table.

Metallic/Gold Leafing:

- Metallics and gold leafing are a great way to dress up (let’s be honest) everything. With a can of metallic gold or silver spray paint or regular craft paint you can quickly, affordably, and easily take most any craft project to the next level.

- Find an interesting arrangement of pumpkins in varying sizes and spray paint them gold or silver to create a striking centerpiece. Place them at different heights to create visual interest. You can also do this with any gourd or squash.

- If you’re able to find inexpensive vases or candles and want to dress them up a bit, you can add simple metallic touches or use a gold leafing technique to add some glitz. Check your local craft store for supplies!


- Branch centerpieces become a simple accent when you gather armfuls of branches and arrange freely in vases.

- Pine cone place cards are a fun way to dress up a table. Embellish the tips of the pine cones with glitter glue to create some sparkle. Use a small piece of cardstock and write guest’s names on them, placing them in the pinecone to complete the look.

- Leaves become a free solution when decorating the table when you write the names of each guest on one and have it act as a place card! Writing the names using a gold metallic pen or marker should do the trick.

This time of year is all about being with loved ones. What better way to show this and warm the hearts of your guests than by decorating your home with inspiring paper garlands or on-trend wooden signs with sweet messages. You can buy them at most craft or home stores or even create a custom message yourself using stencils.

Gathering around the table for a meal is a time for bonding and memories. To add to this, you can make or purchase little cards that say “I am thankful for” and have them placed at each seat. As guests arrive at the table, they can fill their card out and write what they’re thankful for. During or after dinner, everyone can read theirs to the group. This is a lovely way to get the conversation flowing and reflect on the meaning of the holiday.


Modern Family: How to Share Responsibilities Between Family Members

Image 1Stop. Right now. And imagine how you’re going to feel after all the Thanksgiving Day festivities are over. The guests are gone. The kitchen is cleaned. The trash is outside. And leftovers are neatly waiting in the refrigerator.

Are you exhausted, worn out and simply can’t wait for your head to hit the pillow because you once again took on too much work? Or are you tired – but totally content – because this year’s Thanksgiving really captured the spirit of family and friends with a focus on making memories?

Well, the only way to make sure that the second scenario comes true is to treat this year’s Thanksgiving like a team project which means you need to get everyone involved, assign tasks and responsibilities, and embrace the uniqueness of everyone’s contributions – like a quilt coming together piece-by-piece.

I know. It’s tempting – especially when little ones are involved – to take on everything yourself. But when you learn to involve everyone in the Thanksgiving celebration you not only set the stage for a fabulous event, you also give your children a front-row learning experience!


- Put your planning chart – with guests, timelines, menus and more – on the refrigerator! It’s a great way to get conversations and interest going! Plus it will show your kids how to plan big projects!

- Get your kids involved in the menu planning. Ask them what kind of foods they like! Test out some recipes ahead of time (maybe pulling Aunt Ruthie’s special bean casserole out!) Kids love stories – so find ways to share family stories about food. Every Thanksgiving, I make a special coffee cake my mother used to make. The recipe has nothing to do with Thanksgiving – but it has everything to do with family. And it brings a little bit of my mom to the table year after year.

- If you’re trying new recipes this year, plan a Friendsgiving the week before with friends, neighbors and/or colleagues. You’ll be able to test out the recipes before the big day to ensure success.

- And if you have guests coming, you MUST have them bring a dish or two! They will welcome the opportunity to contribute!


- I know that shopping with kids has its challenges, but don’t overlook the teaching opportunity – especially if you’ve involved your kids in some of the menu selection. Kids learn so much with this process: plan – write down – shop – pay. It’s a critical part of the learning process.


- This is one of the best ways to get kids involved with Thanksgiving because there are so many things kids can do on their own – or with a little help from you. And with a little planning, you can start all of the fun decorations a week (or even two!) before Turkey Day! It’s a great way to get them excited – and start to chip away at the to-do list.

- The Butterball Pinterest Page has some great ideas for kid-friendly craft on their Turkey Inspiration Board. I especially like the Candy Corn Turkey Cookie Pop!

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- Food is clearly a big part of the Thanksgiving Day tradition. While it would be great if you could involve your little ones with the preparation of each, I know that’s tough. One of the things I like to do is come up with something special that each child can have responsibility for – but do it the day or two before Thanksgiving. That way, they are involved – but it’s done at a time that is a little less hectic. The Butterball website has a ton of great recipes, by the way. I’ve got my eye on the Heartland Vegetable Medley this year!

- One of my favorite things to do with kids is have them be in charge of “lunch” on Thanksgiving. That crazy time of day when everyone is hungry and you’re scrambling to keep things organized. Grilled cheese sandwiches cut out in shapes with holiday cookie cutters are always a big win in my house.


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- Kids love activities. Work with them to come up with a slew of fun things for everyone – of all ages – to do during the gathering. Pull out those playing cards so Uncle Tommy can teach everyone how to play Gin Rummy! Board games and puzzles are also fun.

- With little kids, have a pre-set strategy for decompression so when they need to escape for just a few minutes to calm down you have a plan in place. Maybe it’s a 10 minute break in mom and dad’s bedroom to do a little craft. Remember, kids need to have their engines revved down sometimes.

- Dinnertime conversation should include everyone. So pre-plan some conversation starters! One of our family favorites is to cut the letters spelling “T-H-A-N-K-S-G-I-V-I-N-G” out of construction paper and tape them on the wall. Then we use those to start a round-the-table discussion of what people are grateful for. You can say anything as long as it begins with one of the letters on the wall!

- Make sure someone’s in charge of photos and videos. This is a great one for older kids! And if you have some older, wiser family members on your guest list, think ahead about some of the family memories you’d love them to talk about on video!

- Don’t forget (or be afraid) to pre-assign clean up duties! People want to help. And it’s really a good lesson for your kids to be part of the clean-up. Even in little ways.

Go make this Thanksgiving the best ever! Get everyone involved and make sure that YOU have a good time.

And don’t forget to ask each child – when you’re saying “good night” – “What will you remember about this Thanksgiving?”

The New Thanksgiving Table: Welcome the First Male Talk-Line Expert

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I’ve been on the Turkey Talk-Line for more than twenty years, and I’m so excited that this year we have men joining our staff! Approximately one in four callers to the Talk-Line are men, so it’s clear that men are taking on more responsibilities in the kitchen than ever before – and what better time to bring men on the Talk-Line than now!

Our newest additions to the Turkey Talk-Line attended Butterball University to get all of the turkey knowledge they need to answer any and all turkey questions. They got a full turkey education from me and the other Turkey Talk-Line Supervisors to make sure they were ready to handle anything! Although they all already had a wealth of knowledge on cooking turkeys (and even taught us a few things!), we showed them different methods of cooking a turkey and even had them practice cooking them. They are pro’s already!

I also had the opportunity to sit down with RJ Jaramillo, the first male Talk-Line spokesman and ask him a few questions about his experiences. Check out his answers below and be sure to look out for his tips – and ask your own questions! – on Facebook and Twitter.


-What is your previous cooking experience?

*I have been the primary cook for my family for more than 20 years, and I have my own cooking blog called CookLikeADad.com. Growing up as a child in Southern California, I would always watch my mother cook for our family. This is how my cooking interest and experience began. I am always the one to prepare the turkey in our household – over the years I have perfected my method! I typically combine softened butter with fresh herbs and spices to season the turkey to create a savory flavor in the turkey.

-What do you love most about the Thanksgiving holiday?

*I love the family experience. I have a large extended family and Thanksgiving is always an opportunity to be with parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. Thanksgiving is an ideal time for me to connect with relatives that I haven’t seen in a long time.

-What is your best memory of Thanksgiving?

*My most recent memory is our family, “Turkey Playoffs,” where my older sister, younger brother and I compete to make the best turkey on Thanksgiving. All of our relatives are the judges and it turns out to be the perfect combination of competition and family fun! It’s always a very loud and boisterous event!

-What are you most excited about being on the Turkey Talk-Line?

*Butterball is part of many families’ Thanksgiving traditions. It is an honor to be the first male Turkey Talk-Line spokesman and be part of Butterball history. The most excitement I felt was handling my first call after graduating from Butterball University. I was very nervous; even though I had the support and resources I needed around me. The first call was a male caller and I ended up answering his questions and then we went on talking about his family and his Thanksgiving plans. It was extremely memorable for me and made me feel great about connecting with the caller.

Deep Fry, Grill, Roast or Smoke?

For years I watched my grandmother, mother and then my wife stress over Thanksgiving dinner.  It appeared that no matter how much help there was it didn’t really take away the stress of cooking such a large meal.  It seems that no matter how much oven space you have, it isn’t enough.

A few years ago I figured out that if I smoked, fried or grilled the turkey outdoors it made life easier in the kitchen. A recent Butterball survey revealed that 42% of men participate in cooking the holiday turkey. If you’ve thought about taking the turkey cooking outdoors here are a few tips to make it a little safer and easier.


If you are going to use the traditional turkey frying method you should follow a couple simple rules to help ensure your safety:

1. Make sure your turkey is 100% thawed out. You can’t drop even a partially frozen and icing turkey into the hot oil without risking injury. A 12-lb turkey will take about three days to thaw in a refrigerator (1 day for every 4lbs of turkey).

2. Before you fill the pot with oil, place your turkey in the pot and fill it with water to the point it just covers the turkey. Remove the turkey and mark the water level. Drain the water and completely dry the pot before filling with oil up to the mark you made at the water level.

3. Use the proper tools to lower and raise the turkey in the hot oil.

4. Keep the kids and other family members away from the open flame and hot oil.

If you’ve never fried a turkey before, be sure to check out Butterball’s additional tips on deep frying. A good way to pump up the flavor when deep-frying turkeys is by injecting the turkey with flavor once it’s patted dry and before it goes in the fryer. I recommend Butterball’s Buttery Creole Marinade if you’re going to do this.

If you’re planning on deep frying this year, I recommend using the Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer. I reviewed this fryer a few years ago and in my opinion is still the only way to go when frying turkeys. As an added bonus, get a $5 mail-in rebate when you purchase a Butterball Whole Turkey and a Masterbuilt Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer.


Grill your turkey skin side down to start. With the skin side down you will render more of the fat under the skin and give you a healthier meal along with a crispier skin.

No matter how you choose to grill your turkey, whole or in parts, one of the most important things you need to do is clean your grill before grilling.  Here are a couple of tips for cleaning your grill grates.

- Heat your grill and then brush the burned up residue off the grill with a wire brush.  Make sure you check the bristles of the brush to make sure they are not loose. You don’t want to leave a bristle on the grates that will end up in your food.

- After pre-heating your grill rub the cut side of a half an onion over the grates.  The onion will remove most of the old residue off the grates.

- Pre-heat the grill and rub a rolled up wet rag over the grates to remove the grime left over from your last cook.


When smoking your turkey follow the same tips for grilling. Try to use a milder wood for smoking.  Fruit woods like apple, cherry and peach are all great woods to use.

One complaint people often have with smoked turkeys is that the skin after smoking is often times gummy.  One great way to take care of that and add another layer of flavor is to fry the turkey for a couple of minutes in oil to crisp the skin.

Cooking the turkey outdoors is a great way to get the family outside and free up floor space in what is often a very crowded kitchen. If you’re interested in more of my cooking adventures, follow me on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/BBQGrail. If you need more help with your holiday turkey, the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is here to help through Christmas Eve.

Men Tell All: My First Butterball University

I have a new diploma to hang on my wall. And I couldn’t be prouder.

It’s from Butterball University.


And it’s my proof that I’ve completed the rigorous training all Turkey Talk-Line experts receive before they jump in answering questions at the Talk-Line.

To top it all off, I was in the inaugural class of Talk-Line experts for men.

That diploma is going to hang center stage on my wall!

So what does one learn at Butterball University? Well, our training manual is about the size of the New York City Yellow Pages. It’s big enough to double as a foot rest. And I’m pretty sure if I were to pack it in my checked luggage, I’d surpass my weight limit!

But let me share with you the three most important things this Butterball University graduate learned:



Everything at Butterball centers on health and safety. This is our number one priority. So when you call the Turkey Talk-Line, you’ll know that all of us have been trained in helping you prepare a delicious and healthy turkey. That’s why we’ll talk to you about:

-Safe ways to thaw your turkey;

-Why you should NOT rinse your turkey;

-Why it’s important to own a meat thermometer and know how to use it;

-Easy tips for smart, food-safe storage of your delicious leftovers!

None of this is complicated. Just give us a call at 1-800-BUTTERBALL (800-288-8372) and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know!


We really do. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with many of the incredible experts who have been involved with the Turkey Talk-Line for years. And the overwhelming theme I continued to hear was how much the entire team of experts cares about you, your family and your guests. Every call is important. And we’ll take all the time you need to help you.

And you don’t have to call us just when you have a crisis! We love receiving messages and questions on Facebook and Twitter from folks like you who just want to talk through simple questions.

One woman has been calling the Talk-Line for more than 20 years. She just likes to check in with the experts to ensure she remembers everything! It’s a call the experts look forward to every year.

This is a reminder to you that we’re here for anything – from the simple questions to the complicated ones. Think of us as family.



Without a doubt, one of the biggest “Aha” moments I had during my training at Butterball University was when I realized how simple it is to prepare a tender, juicy, delicious, and memorable turkey!

Our team learned ten different methods to prepare a turkey – from using an open pan, to grilling, to microwaving and everything in between. Each method was a cinch – even if you’re not all that comfortable in the kitchen.

I even learned a few valuable new things! Like basting – you don’t need to do it! I never knew that it actually increases the cooking time and doesn’t really improve your final results. Who knew!?


I know I speak for all the new members of the famed Butterball Turkey Talk-Line – as well as the incredible team of experts who so kindly shared their years of knowledge with us – when I say, “Give us a call at 1-800-BUTTERBALL!”

We’re here to help make this Thanksgiving terrific!

One Week to Thanksgiving: Start Thawing!

As the official Thanksgiving first responders, on alert to aid cooks, we get thousands of last-minute panic-stricken calls to the Talk-Line. A lot of Thanksgiving cooks are juggling a full plate of activities—jobs, family tasks and kid transport. Before they know it, the countdown to Thanksgiving is upon them. Here are the top tips to keep in mind to avoid holiday meal mayhem.


1. Turkey Still Frozen?

As a turkey expert on the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, one of the most frequent questions we get is about thawing, as many people don’t realize you need to start doing this one week out (start today!) I respond calmly to cooks hovering on the edge of panic that haven’t thawed their turkey and tell them to place the turkey breast side down (with the packaging facing up) in its original packaging in a sink or cooler of cold water.  Allow about 30 minutes per lb. for the turkey to thaw—a 12 lb. turkey will thaw in about 6 hours in cold water.

2. Keep it Simple with Sides

Supermarkets have plenty of options for every budget to aid holiday cooks. From ready-to-eat at the take-out counter, to semi-homemade or made-from-scratch, the options are endless. Mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash and more are just a few of the sides that are readily available and easy to cook. Make sure your menu is planned out now – so that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.

3. Dessert

Cakes and pies are fabulous choices for any menu – guests love them!  If you’re looking for a stress-free option, they can be purchased pre-sliced and you can simply add a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream to spice it up. Or, you can try our Pumpkin Pie Sundaes, which can be made with a store-bought pumpkin pie! If you’re making your own dessert, bake it in advance; this helps take some of the pressure off and will free up space in the kitchen the day of the dinner.

4. Leftovers

Once the meal is finished, the food should be put away and properly stored within two hours. If you’ve stuffed the turkey, remove any leftover dressing from the turkey. Slice the meat off the turkey and seal the slices in airtight containers. If you have more leftovers than you’ll eat within a couple of days, put the remainder in the freezer. Frozen turkey and dressing should be used within a month. If you’re looking for a leftover recipe, try this Turkey Crescent Bake – it’s an easy casserole everyone will love!

Don’t let the turkey tie you up. With a little pre-planning and these tips you’ll enjoy a stress-free meal with time to spare. For additional tips, check out the How-To videos on Butterball.com!

What to Bring to Your Friendsgiving Dinner: Dessert with a Twist

Friendsgiving. It’s almost just as important as Thanksgiving. There are many reasons that you and your friends could decide to host a Friendsgiving. Perhaps you all live far from family and want to gather to celebrate the holiday. Or perhaps you’re just looking for an excuse to have a second Thanksgiving dinner with loved ones. Because two turkey dinners is better than one. While Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with family, we think it only makes sense to celebrate the holiday of thanks with your closest friends, too. This could be the week leading up to Thanksgiving – this way you can test all of your recipes before the big day! All you need is a Butterball Turkey, a few side dishes, and a fun dessert. We’re recommending a Southern Pecan Pie with Toffee Crunch because it’s easy to make and will end the meal on a perfectly sweet note.

When you first start planning your Friendsgiving, be sure to download the Butterball Cookbook Plus app (it’s free!). The app will help you plan a Thanksgiving dinner that will impress all your friends, with recipes so simple you’ll have plenty of time hanging with friends – which is what Friendsgiving is all about! You can either spend the day cooking or you can tell your friends how to download the app and ask them to each bring a dish, too.

I’ve never made a pecan pie before, but after whipping up the Southern Pecan Pie with Toffee Crunch (recipe below), I have a feeling this will be a go-to dessert during the holidays for me. It was incredibly simple, but came out of the oven looking like I spent hours on it. All you have to do is place a premade pie crust in a pie pan, mix all of the ingredients together, pour them in the crust, and bake. I love that though pecan pie is a Thanksgiving tradition, the addition of the toffee crunch gives it a modern and fun touch. A few other recipes that would be great for this occasion are this delicious Greek Style Turkey Breast and our Peas with Turkey Bacon and Onions.

savignon baln

Besides the turkey, sides, and a delectable dessert, you won’t want to forget one other key to a fabulous Friendsgiving… the wine. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi is the perfect choice because they have a variety that is sure to please everyone at your Friendsgiving table, with everything from Chardonnay to Malbec to Pinot Grigio to Cabernet Sauvignon.

red wines

It’s always a good idea to get a selection of red and white wines to make sure all of your friends are happy. We especially recommend Woodbridge’s Pinot Noir for the perfect companion to turkey and stuffing. Because Pinot Noirs often have earthy and fruity undertones, they complement fall flavors well and taking a sip after a forkful of turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings will put you right into Thanksgiving heaven.

In terms of white wines, because Sauvignon Blanc is often crisp and tart with citrus flavors, it is delicious with turkey and mashed potatoes. Not to mention, a lighter wine may be just what you need when you’re eating a filling Thanksgiving dinner!

While everyone remembers to bake the pies and to sit down for dessert at Friendsgiving dinner, wine at dessert time is often overlooked. Moscato is a sweet Italian wine that is perfect for serving alongside a slice of Southern Pecan Pie with Toffee Crunch. It will end the evening on a super sweet note and your guests will all leave incredibly happy!

Worried you won’t have enough wine at your holiday gathering? Take the number of friends you’re inviting to your Friendsgiving and multiply it by the number of hours you think the party will last. That’s the number of servings you’ll need. Since there are five servings in a 750 ml bottle of wine, you’ll divide that number by five to determine the number of 750 ml bottles you’ll need to purchase. If you know your friends’ favorite kinds of wine, you’ll be able to best determine whether to buy more reds or whites. If you don’t, we recommend getting a selection of each! This year, if you buy a bottle of Woodbridge Wine, you’ll get $2 or $3 off your Butterball Turkey.

Good friends, delicious food, and the perfect amount of wine. After just one Friendsgiving, you’ll see why you’ll want to make it a tradition over and over again!


Southern Pecan Pie with Toffee Crunch Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Makes: 8 servings


-1 refrigerated pie pastry (from 15 ounce package)

-1 ¼ cups dark corn syrup

-4 eggs, lightly beaten

-1 ½ cups pecans, halved

-¼ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly

-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

-1 cup toffee pieces, divided

-1 tablespoon flour


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll pastry into a 12-inch circle on lightly floured surface. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Fold edge under and flute edge.

2. Combine corn syrup, eggs, pecans, butter and vanilla in a medium bowl. Toss 2/3 cup of toffee pieces with flour and stir into pecan mixture. Pour entire mixture into pie pastry.

3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove pie from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Immediately sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup of toffee pieces over the top. Cool completely before serving.

Tips and Ideas:

-Garnish each slice with unsweetened whipped cream and a sprinkle of additional toffee pieces.

Side Dishes to Please Everyone at the New Thanksgiving Table

For years Thanksgiving dinner was the meal I looked forward to the most. The flavors of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, green bean casserole, bread, pie and whatever else we could think of. This was a meal where it was okay to eat as much of everything I wanted to.

However, as with everything else in life, Thanksgiving has changed since I was younger. No longer is eating anything and everything good for me or my diet. So I’ve had to take a look at how we prepare the meal and what I eat.

One of the dishes that needed a fun twist is the traditional green bean casserole.  Look I know, it’s a classic dish, but sometimes putting a fresh spin on a classic is a great way to please everyone at the Thanksgiving table. And at my house we wanted to make that change.

Simplicity is often times the key to cooking success and these Sautéed Green Beans with Crunchy Almonds are perfect for adding a simple twist to your Thanksgiving dinner. One of the challenges with all the great tasting foods at Thanksgiving is all the conflicting flavors. This dish will allow the flavor of the green beans to shine without the soup flavors overpowering the flavor of your delicious turkey. If you’re looking for additional side dish inspiration, check out Butterball’s Thanksgiving board on Pinterest here.

Another great benefit to this green bean dish is that you can do the first two steps the day before. This will help make your Thanksgiving day a little less stressful.

If you are smoking, frying or grilling your turkey don’t be afraid to add your own BBQ twist to this dish to complete the meal. If you’ve used use a BBQ dry rub add just a little to the almonds after cooking.


Sautéed Green Beans with Crunchy Almonds

An alternative to the classic green bean casserole, this version requires only stove top cooking and can be partially cooked the day before.

Prep Time:          15 minutes

Total Time:         1.5 hours

Makes:                 8 servings


-1/2 cup slivered almonds

-2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

-3 tablespoons unsalted butter

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


-Toast almonds in heavy skillet on medium heat 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are lightly browned. Remove from heat and cool completely before using.

-Meanwhile, place green beans in large saucepan with water to cover. Heat on medium-high heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, 4 to 6 minutes or to desired doneness. Drain beans. Immerse in ice water 5 minutes to stop further cooking. Drain and pat dry. Place beans in re-sealable plastic bag. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until thoroughly chilled.

-Heat butter and oil in large skillet on medium heat until butter is melted. Stir in green beans. Cook and stir 4 to 6 minutes or until beans are light golden brown. Stir in almonds and parsley. Heat through and serve.


Behind the Scenes in the Butterball Kitchens

Chef TonyWorking in the Butterball Kitchen has its perks for a Turketarian like me! Turkey is a great everyday ingredient that brings great taste and healthy protein to any meal. As a Butterball Kitchen chef and recipe developer, I have the privilege to experiment with turkey and create tasty, easy-to-make recipes that the whole family will enjoy. From testing new product offerings to sharing kitchen tips and trying out the latest new food trends and cooking techniques, there is never a dull moment here in the Butterball Kitchen. As Thanksgiving approaches, I wanted to share a few helpful tips to ensure your Thanksgiving celebration is a success.

Before you get started in the kitchen, you should keep the following in mind:

-Wash your hands often throughout the cooking process. For extra protection when handling raw turkey, invest in a pair of food safe gloves.

-Always be sure to cook food to proper temperatures. To help ensure your turkey is cooked through, rely on a meat thermometer that is easy to read and use.

-Sometimes meals are best as leftovers – but always be sure to cover or seal leftovers and promptly refrigerate them within two hours after eating to keep them fresh and safe.

As I mentioned, one of my favorite parts about working in the Butterball Kitchen is developing simple recipes that are sure to be crowd-pleasers. Recipe development is a very important part of my job – there is always new inspiration to create something unique and delicious. I like to keep an eye on food trends and develop fun new ways to put a spin on my favorite recipes.

Check out a few examples of some go-to recipes that are perfect for Thanksgiving – or even a Friendsgiving celebration (If you haven’t done a Friendsgiving event in the past, you should definitely consider it. It’s a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends the weekend before the big day, having a great time, while trying out some recipes for Thanksgiving Day):

Pumpkin Pie Sundae Bar

6-8 servings


-1 (9-inch) prepared pumpkin pie

-8 scoops vanilla ice cream

-1 cup whipped heavy cream

-24 candied pecan halves

-1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

-1 ½-2 cups of Crushed Candy (Butterfinger, Heath Bar), Chocolate Chips, Butterscotch Chips, or Toffee Pieces (As many as desired)

Method of Preparation

Place the pumpkin pie in a bowl large enough to hold whole pie- with a spoon mix and combine the pie filling together. Place 2 scoops into a sundae style dish and top with 1 scoop of ice cream. Then, top with a spoonful of whipped cream, candied pecan halves and a quarter cup of chosen candy. Serve and enjoy!

Stuffin’ with Cranberry Muffins

6 servings


-Non-stick cooking spray

-1 box (6 oz.) turkey flavored stuffing mix*

-1 1/2 cups half and half

-1/4 cup butter, melted

-2 large eggs, beaten

-1/2 cup canned whole cranberry sauce

Method of Preparation

Place the stuffing mix into a mixing bowl, pour in the melted butter and blend well. Combine the eggs, half & half and blend well. Pour into the stuffing mix and blend well. Allow the mixture to stand 15-20 minutes (the crumbs will absorb the liquid) and stir 2-3 times during this rest period. Lightly spray a 6-count muffin tin (2-½ inch X 1 inch) with oil, then fill each cup with the stuffin’ muffin mixture. With a tablespoon bore a hole into the center of the filling then fill the hole with 1 ½ tbsp. of whole cranberry sauce. Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

*Note: If you don’t want to use boxed stuffing mix, you may use your own stuffing mix – just make sure it is prepped, but not baked, when you begin preparing this recipe.

Chef Tony Carving

While these recipes are fairly easy, carving the turkey on the big day can be a little more complicated, yet it’s one of the most important things to prepare for on Thanksgiving. Following are a few of my simple tricks that should help you master the Thanksgiving carve.

1. First, make sure you have a sharp knife and a proper fork to safely carve.

2. Remove the drumsticks and thigh from the turkey.

3. Then, remove the breast from the turkey. While the breast is intact, slice the breast meat and place the meat on the serving platter as you slice.

4. Remove the bone from the thigh and then slice the thigh and put it on the serving platter.

5. Leave the drumsticks intact and place them on the serving platter for eating.

For additional cooking tips, food preparation advice and recipe ideas check out our how-to videos and photos on Butterball.com.

-How to choose your turkey

-How to carve a turkey

Follow Butterball on Instagram for a further behind-the-scenes look at the Butterball Kitchen.

I hope these tricks of the trade help you prepare your best Thanksgiving Day feast yet!

-Chef Tony


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