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.
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.
Homemade Dinner Rolls (make-ahead)
Air Fryer Honey Glazed Roasted Carrots
Broccoli Salad (make-ahead)
Instant Pot Sausage Stuffing
Toasted Marshmallow Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes or
Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole (make-ahead)
Orange Cranberry Sauce (make-ahead)
Plan for dishes that are cooked in different appliances, such as Instant Pot and Air Fryer.
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!)
- Bake easy pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Cover and refrigerate the cooled pies.
- Cut broccoli florets and cook bacon for broccoli salad, if making it.
- Bake homemade dinner rolls.
- Make twice-baked sweet potatoes, but only till step 9. Cover and refrigerate.
- Roast couple heads of garlic with sweet potatoes. (This is for mashed potatoes.)
- Prepare the broccoli salad.
- Peel and cut up potatoes for mashed potatoes, place in cold water, cover and refrigerate. OR make mashed potato casserole, but only through step 8.
- Make fall sangria.
- Chill beer, wines, juices, etc.
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!