2020 Thanksgiving Menu and Prep Guide

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Thanksgiving menu and prep is the key to a stress-free Thanksgiving! Here’s a perfect game plan for you, so you can enjoy a relaxing holiday with your family.


I’ve been hosting our family’s Thanksgiving since 2011 (almost 9 years!!).

And as with anything in life, practice makes everything better. My biggest tip for stress-free Thanksgiving hosting is plan and prep ahead! I had plenty of time to fine-tune my game plan and I’m excited to share it with you here.

Whether it’s your first time hosting a Thanksgiving, or you’re a seasoned host, I know you’ll find a gold nugget (or two) in today’s post full of hosting tips, a classic menu and a complete checklist to keep you on track.

After all, Thanksgiving is all about relaxing and enjoying your family and friends, and not stressing over menu.

All the glorious Thanksgiving food prepped through the week. Hosting Thanksgiving this year? Don't fret, I have a perfect plan for you. I laid out the menu and prep plan/checklist, so you can enjoy a stress-free hosting.

Classic Thanksgiving Menu

I’m a huge fan of classics, and therefore my Thanksgiving menu is pretty much the same year after year.

Here’s the full menu (click on each item for a complete recipe):


Before you finalize the menu, ask your guests for any food allergies/intolerance.


Plan for dishes that are cooked in different appliances, such as Instant Pot and Air Fryer.

Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu with harmonious blend of classics and little twists to give a special flavor to otherwise traditional Thanksgiving food.

Thanksgiving Prep

And here’s the game plan, broken down into tasks for each day leading up to the big day. You can also download the PDF version to print here.


  • Make a grocery shopping list
  • Buy all the ingredients, including wine and alcohol.
  • If using frozen turkey, place it in the fridge to start thawing. (For exact thawing time chart, check out my Thanksgiving Turkey 101.)


  • Make orange cranberry sauce and refrigerate in airtight container. (This can also be done and frozen up to 3 months in advance.)
  • Make 1-3 batches of all-butter pie dough and refrigerate wrapped each dough in a plastic wrap. (This can also be done and frozen up to 3 months in advance.)
  • Chop celery for stuffing.
  • Make the gravy without the dripping. (It won’t be super flavorful yet. We’ll add the pan drippings into it when warming up the gravy right before serving, and it’ll be the most flavorful gravy!)




Say dinner is at 4pm.

  • 9:00am – Prepare the turkey.
  • 10:00am – Start roasting the turkey (Tips: Unstuffed 18lb turkey will be ready to be served at around 4pm. If you have smaller turkey, start roasting it a little later.)
  • 10:30am – Bring out the pies.
  • 11:00am – Set the table.
  • 1:00pm – Make deviled eggs.
  • 1:30pm – Prepare orange cranberry spritzer, but add ginger ale right before serving.
  • 1:45pm – Make Instant Pot sausage stuffing. Keep warm.
  • 2:00pm – Make mashed potatoes, cover and keep warm. Or finish up mashed potato casserole.
  • 2:30pm – Make the roasted carrots.
  • 3:00pm – Bring out sweet potatoes and bring it to room temperature, about 30 minutes on the counter. Top with marshmallows and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  • 3:15pm – Reheat the dinner rolls. (About 15 minutes at 350°F.)
  • 3:30pm – Carve the turkey and arrange on a platter.
  • 3:45pm – Reheat the gravy with pan drippings.
  • 4pm – LET’S EAT!!!!

Hope this’s helpful. And if you have any questions let me know, and I’ll do my best to reply asap!

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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  1. Hello, I am going to try your champagne turkey this year and wanted to see your Thanksgiving guide. There is nothing here.

    1. Hi, Pamela. So excited for your to try the champagne turkey!! And what do you mean by “there’s nothing here”? Have you read the post? I laid out my whole menu and planned each day for 4 days leading up to the Thanksgiving day.

  2. I made this for a friends giving and it was a hit! Everyone loved it and I had to send this link to a couple people. Will make this my go-to from now on, thanks!!

  3. I want to jump in the pictures and pull up a chair to that beautiful table. We do Thanksgiving in Canada in October but I’m going to save this post for Christmas because my husband and I will be hosting. Very well thought out and I love all the make ahead dishes. Happy Thanksgiving to our American neighbours and friends!