Taking the Easy Road with Your Thanksgiving Menu for First-Timers

Posted: November 21, 2022 9:43 am

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and whether you’re planning on hosting or eating at a friend’s house, it can be daunting to pick the perfect meal. So, we’ve put together a totally calm and doable Thanksgiving menu from sides to entrees and desserts. Read on to make your holiday festivities worry-free and delicious.

What to Serve on Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, start calm and collected by prepping your meals a day or two in advance. This means you can focus on your loved ones and not worry about the kitchen! We’ve added some classic Thanksgiving meal recipes to help you this year and a few tips to get you through the planning.

Planning Your Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving is a very hectic day packed into even more hectic holiday days right at the end of the year. With so much to accomplish and so little time, it can take a lot of work to come up with a menu that’s both delicious and easy to follow.

Here are four tips for planning your Thanksgiving menu:

  1. Make a plan. Before you start cooking, sit down and list everything you’ll need: dishes, ingredients, and utensils. This way, you can be sure that everything is within reach and that you won’t forget anything important. For example, will you have turkey or ham? If you have turkey, will you need to brine it? How will you cook it? This is where those who love logistics have a field day.
  2. Choose wisely. When selecting dishes, think about what your family is eating normally and pair them with dishes that will work well together. For example, if most people in your household love macaroni and cheese, try serving it as a side dish instead of the main course.
  3. Stick to classics. If you don’t have any unique recipes planned, stick to classic Thanksgiving dishes like turkey or ham. These are easy to make and taste great no matter what variation you choose (from dry rubs to glazed turkeys).
  4. Plan for sides. Make sure there are plenty of side dishes so everyone can enjoy something different (and delicious!). Some good options include mashed potatoes, green beans almondine, sweet potatoes casserole, stuffing mix cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

How to Brine a Turkey

If you’re not an expert or a turkey brining enthusiast, getting started, just know that brining is soaking meat in salted water to give it flavor and moisture. Soaking your bird this way will allow the skin to render more collagen, adding extra juiciness and flavor to the finished product. Brining is not a mandatory requirement.

Three main types of brines are wet, dry, and semi-dry. Wet brines use cold water, while dry brines use room-temperature water. Semi-dry brines combine both wet and dry ingredients. If you’re brining this year, here’s a helpful way to do that.

Air Fryer Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

There’s no wrong way to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast, but if you’re looking for something different, try air-frying your turkey! Air frying is a great way to cook a bird without all of the grease and mess that comes with traditional cooking methods. Plus, the resulting meal will be cooked evenly throughout and tender, with delicate crispy skin.

Convection Oven Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

This is the most traditional way to cook a turkey. The least “fancy” of all the methods, but you can expect great results.

Grilled Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

A grilled turkey tastes different depending on the variety you use. For example, a heritage breed of turkey will have a more intense flavor than a commercially raised bird. Additionally, different herbs and spices can be used to give your turkey its own unique taste

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

A smoked turkey tastes smoky and a little bit gamey. However, it’s also rich and filling, so it’s suitable for the main dish or as part of a Thanksgiving feast. Many types of smoking techniques can be used to make a turkey taste great, and we’ve added a helpful recipe.

Deep Fried Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Some love its unique flavor and crispy texture, while others find it greasy and unappetizing. Deep fried Turkey can be a polarizing topic, and it might be a good idea to poll your guests before planning this method.

Thanksgiving Ham Recipe

“Baked” ham is a traditional Thanksgiving dish made of smoked or oven-roasted pork. The finished product is usually served with cranberry sauce and stuffing on the side. A baked ham can be incredibly succulent and have a sweet flavor or be saltier and smokier. Here’s a delicious recipe for a brown sugar-glazed baked ham.

Dinner Rolls Recipe

Rolls at Thanksgiving typically get eaten right away as the company waits for the food to be served, or they usually get forgotten and left in the kitchen. This recipe should make some tasty rolls that would be hard to ignore.

Green Bean Casserole Recipe

This recipe is the classic one with cream of mushroom soup and the traditional topping of French’s Fried Onions. If you’ve never had this one, you’re in for a treat.

Stuffing Recipe

Stuffing can be made with various ingredients, but some common ones are bread crumbs, rice, poultry, and vegetables. Some people prefer plain stuffing, while others may add gravy or spices to it.

Mashed Potatoes Recipe

There are two activities during Thanksgiving that require some real elbow grease. Those are prepping the turkey and mashing the potatoes. Of course, there’s no shame in skipping the mashed potatoes and using that box of dried spuds in the pantry. Still, the taste difference between those and real mashed potatoes might make an effort worth it.

Gravy Recipe

The gravy recipe here happens to taste like a very popular one from KFC.

Mac and Cheese Recipe

This dish is made of elbow macaroni pasta cooked in a creamy sauce with shredded cheese. The recipe we have for you is a delightfully creamy one with a bit of a crunch from the panko and parmesan topping.

Cornbread Recipe

Super chefs and bakers will probably already have buttermilk in their fridges. The rest of us probably don’t. The nice thing about this cornbread recipe is that it doesn’t require buttermilk!

Candied Yams Recipe

Candied yams are one of the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes. They are made by covering a sweet potato in sugar and baking it. The sugar caramelizes and creates a delicious flavor.

Creamed Corn Recipe

Creamed corn is a classic side that can be made with either white or yellow corn kernels. The key to making perfect creamed corn is to use plenty of butter and milk and to cook the corn until it is soft and just starting to get crunchy.

Cranberry Relish Recipe

Cranberry relish is perhaps the most famous Thanksgiving side dish, and for a good reason: it’s delicious!

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

If you don’t already have a pumpkin pie recipe passed down to you from generation to generation, don’t worry. Instead, start a new tradition with this recipe. We picked this one because it is okay for you to use canned pumpkin. The recipe prefers it.

Strawberry Jello Fluff Dessert Recipe

This gelatinous mixture typically contains Cool Whip and strawberry Jello. Due to its sweetness and strawberry flavorings, strawberry Jello fluff stands out on the Thanksgiving table as a unique choice for a side dish. If you’re also making the sweet yams along with this one, you may want to get extra marshmallows, as both recipes require them.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a time to connect and reconnect with family and friends, celebrate the harvest season, and eat copious amounts of food. If you’re new to hosting a Thanksgiving feast, don’t worry—you can pull it off without any trouble! So, get ready to enjoy yourself this Thanksgiving holiday season!

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