Ultimate Thanksgiving Cooking Hacks (With A Printable Check List)

by Julie Cohn

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Okay people, Thanksgiving is just a week away.  It’s time to roll up your sleeves, put your game face on, and get ready!  Here are the ultimate Thanksgiving cooking hacks (with a printable checklist) to keep everything organized.

Thanksgiving Cooking Hacks

I think the reason I am able to put everything together is because I had such a great teacher…my Mom.  She made Thanksgiving dinner every year and I was her kitchen assistant.  Each Thanksgiving morning, we chopped, mixed, and stuffed, all while watching the Macy’s Day parade.  I guess by the time I went to college, I had been doing it so long, it was old hat for me.  Thank you Mom!

Holidays can be stressful, especially for Type A perfectionists like me, which can make it less fun for my family.  I have tried to curb my stress by being better prepared, and letting the little things go.   Since I am definitely a pro at Thanksgiving by now, there are a few things I have learned over the years to minimize the stress.  Whether you are doing Thanksgiving for the first time, or you are an old pro yourself, these are good tips to remember (some are serious, some are tongue-in-cheek).  If you have any suggestions of your own, please let me know!

Kitchen/Cooking Tips

  • Do your grocery shopping several days in advance, so if you forget something, you have time to run back.
  • Make a list before you go grocery shopping, so you do not forget unique items that you would not normally purchase.
  • You will have a lot more dishes-make sure you have fresh kitchen towels available for drying.
  • Make certain your oven is clean and ready to use.
  • Make certain you are stocked up on dish and dishwasher detergent.  There is nothing worse than having no dish soap when you make your kids do the dishes.
  • If someone asks to help, let them.  You cannot do it all yourself.
  • If you have burn a pan, sprinkle it with baking soda and a few teaspoons of salt, then an inch or two of water and soak the pan overnight.
  • Wear comfortable shoes while working in the kitchen.  If you don’t, by the end of the day, your feet and legs will be so tired, you can barely stand.
  • Polish copper pans with a touch of ketchup.
  • Cleaning a turkey is a dirty job.  Make sure you start with a very clean sink.  Have bleach spray available to clean out your sink before, and after, cleaning the turkey.  Salmonella is not your friend.
  • Remember to take the giblet bags out of the turkey before cooking.
  • If you burn the turkey a little, do not throw it out the back door. Just slice it-it will be okay.
  • Make what you can in advance.  I make my gravy a few days before and freeze.
  • Make certain that the turkey is completely thawed.  Under cooked turkey is gross! (This one I will admit to–it has happened to me, and I have been at others houses where they served rare/raw turkey.  Blech!)  Check it the night before.  If it is still partially frozen, soak it in a salt brine for a few hours, and then refrigerate.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher and/or baking soda available for kitchen disasters.
  • Over salt the veggies?  Throw a piece of potato in the water and it will absorb some of the salt.
  • Put ice cream in a plastic baggie before you put it in the freezer, the ice cream will stay soft.
  • Keep baggies, storage containers, and aluminum foil handy for leftovers.
  • Has your champagne or sparkling wine gone flat?  Throw a raisin in the bottle and the bubbles will come back.
  • If the veggies on your veggie tray get limp, throw them in a bowl of ice water to bring back the crunch.
  • Did you burn the gravy?  Add a tiny bit of peanut butter, which will “soak” up the burnt flavor.


Kitchen Necessities Shopping List


√  Butter
√  Eggs
√  Chicken or Turkey Stock
√  Salt
√  Pepper
√  Chicken Seasoning
√  Onion
√  Celery
√  Garlic
√  Yams or Sweet Potatoes
√  Sugar
√  Brown Sugar
√  Flour
√  Cornstarch or Super-fine Flour (Wondra)
√  Herbs (Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil)
√  Heavy Cream
√  Milk
√  Balsamic Vinegar
√  Olive Oil
√  Potatoes
√  Bread Crumbs
√  Cooking Spray
√  Fresh or Frozen Vegetables
√  Cream Cheese
√  Sour Cream
√  Cream of _______ soup (Mushroom, Chicken etc)
√  Sweetened Condensed Milk
√  Horseradish
√  Club Soda
√  Coffee and Tea bags

Other Must-Haves:

√  Aluminum Foil
√  Plastic Wrap
√  Quart and Gallon size baggies
√  Cheese cloth
√  Kitchen Twine
√  Paper Towels
√  Meat Thermometer
√  Dish Detergent
√  Dishwasher detergent
√  Bleach spray
√  Clean sponges or wash clothes
√  Clean drying towels
√  Plates, silverware
√  Platters and bowls to hold food
√  Garbage bags
√  Matches or lighter
√  Fire Extinguisher
√  Hand cream (Your hands will be in water and will dry out quickly)

What did I forget?

If you would like a print out of these hacks, you can get it here!  Be sure to check out my 24 tips for a stress-free Thanksgiving too!

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