Even for the experts, hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful. There’s so much happening in the kitchen and it’s easy to make mistakes. But here are some common Thanksgiving cooking errors and oversights to avoid so your turkey day is stress-free.
- Not planning ahead – This is the key to making it work. Double and triple check your lists, plan out all dishes, consider all prep times, cook times, and oven space available. It’s a lot of work up front, but it’s worth it when you serve that perfect turkey dinner.
- Forgetting the appetizers – Don’t get so wrapped up in the turkey and sides that you forget to feed rumbling tummies before dinner. Give them snacks so there’s less pressure to get the main course on the table.
- Serving all hot dishes – This goes back to planning, but you can only heat up so many things at once. Serving something like a salad that doesn’t need to be hot can help.
- Buying the wrong turkey – The typical recommendation is 1.5-pounds of turkey per person. And there’s nothing wrong with leftovers.
- Stuffing the turkey with stuffing – No one wants to get the guests sick on Thanksgiving, so the USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside the bird. You can cook it inside, just be careful of harmful bacteria and use that meat thermometer.
- Not brining the bird – Brining keeps you from ending up with a dry, flavorless bird. You can use a wet brine or a dry brine, but don’t skip this essential step.
- Not cooking the turkey enough, or overcooking it – You’ll need a meat thermometer to tell you when that meat is 170°F in the inner thigh of the turkey.
- Carving the bird wrong – After the time you spent preparing and cooking that Thanksgiving turkey, don’t butcher it. Ask a skilled loved one to take over or use this handy carving guide for help.
- Not accepting help – Hosting is far from easy, so accept offers for washing dishes, setting the table, clearing the table, and anything else anyone is willing to do to help.