: Don’t Panic: Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks for First-Timers and Seasoned Pros


However you want to look at it, luck, misfortune or sheer joy, it is your year to host Thanksgiving at your house. Your year to don those pearls and heels and play hostess to your closest family and friends. Or if you’re more like me you’ll be wearing sweatpants and an apron with gravy dribbled down the front from all of your liberal taste testing duties.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays: the smells, the sounds of football, and the naps that take place all over the house after gluttonous turkey intake. I am looking forward to my first (real!) Thanksgiving this year in my new house, I simply need to recruit people to come over and eat the piles of food I plan on making. (Sadly my family is thousands of miles away.)

If you’re not looking forward to Thanksgiving, or you simply have a little twinge of panic underlying your strong desire for sweet potatoes, relax. With a little planning and the help of Butterball.com you can and will pull off the best Thanksgiving dinner ever and maybe still have time to don those heels and pearls.

First of all, who’s coming? And what can you make them do or bring? Decide what you’re most picky about and keep those responsibilities to yourself. (For example, it’s not Thanksgiving without my Grandma GiGi’s rolls.) Decide what isn’t all that important and either leave it out or have someone else take care of bringing a particular dish. Is your Aunt Susan crazy about cranberry sauce? Does she insist it comes only from the freshest of cranberries? Congratulations Aunt Susan! You will be bringing the cranberry sauce. (I personally don’t care for the stuff, my husband loves it but doesn’t mind it coming from a can so CAN IT IS.) Discuss early what your guests are expecting or wanting and farm out the responsibilities early and often.

Second, the centerpiece to any Thanksgiving meal, the turkey. How much turkey do you want? Leftovers? Do you want to send some home with guests? There’s a calculator on Butterball.com that will help you narrow down the exact size of turkey you’ll need for your feast. Once you’ve decided on size, you’ve got a few more decisions to make before the big day. How are you going to cook your turkey and what time do you want it to be done? And don’t forget thawing, allow at least one day for every four pounds of turkey. Growing up my mom put our turkey in at 6 am and left it in all day. Now I know better, even a 20 pound turkey can be perfectly cooked in around 5 hours, sometimes even less. So unless you’re eating at noon, work some turkey cooking math into your Thanksgiving Day schedule.

Figure out what ingredients you’ll need for everything else you’re preparing, this includes having all the recipes you’re wanting to used printed out and ready to refer to (Did you know there is a nearly endless supply of recipes ranging from classic to Cajun available on Butterball.com?) Feeling a little more adventurous and wanting to try something new this year? Good for you! How about frying, brining or grilling your turkey? Butterball realizes that as younger generations take over Thanksgiving traditions they’re also coming up with new and exciting ways to modernize classic recipes. This year Butterball has partnered with Kikkoman for those of you wanting to add some flavor through brining and with Masterbuilt for those of you ready to try your first fried turkey. There are also partnerships with Thanksgiving staples such as Heinz, Pillsbury, Stove Top and Reynolds for those of you looking to keep things more traditional. Coupons in value of up to $1 off are online and available for printing right from Butterball.com.

No matter how many Thanksgivings you’ve hosted or attended, a little planning can go a really long way for when the big day comes. It’s never too soon to write down in your calendar when important events need to happen, such as buying your turkey, preparing to thaw or putting it in a brining solution. Even better (and really handy) are the mobile tools available…a text message to remind you it’s time to thaw your turkey or a portion planner calculator right on your smart phone? Priceless! (Really! They’re free!)

What wisdom have you learned over the years that can calm the nerves of the next generation of Thanksgiving hosts and hostesses?



  1. ivan
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I have a question. I am cooking the turkey in a electric deep fryer,the
    pan has double pan with water under it. all the instructions say to not cover in conventional oven,do I cover this in the electric pan? P lease help. THANKS IVAN

    • Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink | Reply

      Each of the electric fryers are different. I’d use the instructions that come along with your fryer. If you’ve lost them, you can usually find a copy of the instructions online.

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