Thanksgiving Countdown Prep Guide

Thanksgiving is only a couple weeks away and some of us are starting to panic. Take a deep breath and just remember: holiday meals don’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Here are some step-by-step tips to make it simple and stress-free. Set yourself up for success with some basic planning to make entertaining from your backyard simple and delicious.

Starting Now:

Finalize the guest list and send invites, rent tables and linens, and plan the menu. Not sure what your menu should be? Check out our Thanksgiving Dinner: 4 Ways for some great recteq recipes that will be perfect.

Purchase any cooking tools, replenish your pellet stash, create shopping list, order turkey or ham, and shop for non-perishables and beverages.

2 Weeks Before:

Clean out refrigerator and freezer to make room for holiday items, prep pie crusts and freeze in tightly wrapped discs (they can be thawed the day before bake day), make and freeze soups, stocks, bread, and rolls.

1 Week Before:

  • Prepare a cooking schedule: Create an event-day schedule that includes all cook times, allowing a few extra minutes for each dish as a buffer.
  • Make a seating chart & locate all platters/dishes: Use sticky notes to remind yourself what will go in each serving dish.
  • Ready leftover containers: Get everything ready to make clean-up easy.
  • Shop for perishables: Buy turkey, ham, heavy cream, and hearty vegetables.

3 Days Before:

  • Thaw the Turkey: Defrost your turkey in the fridge in an aluminum foil pan. According to the USDA, allow 1 day for each 4- 5 pounds of your turkey.
  • Buy all of your produce: Wash and prepare all of your greens, fruits, and root vegetables. You will want them to be dry before you start cooking.
  • Lastly, clean your house and set up all the tables and chairs that you’ll need.

2 Days Before:

  • Your assembled casseroles and dressing can be stored uncooked in the fridge if needed.
  • Your baked rolls & bread can be wrapped up and stored on the countertop.
  • Make pie crust & bake sweet potato and pumpkin pies.
  • Did you forget the butter? Review your list to make sure you’re not missing anything.

1 Day Before:

  • Set the table: Lay everything out and consider any last-minute missing items.
  • Revise your schedule and tweak any cook times. Combining cooks can save you some time.
  • Prepare your side dishes: Pull them out of the freezer to thaw or prepare them from scratch.
  • If you’re planning on making fruit pies, make sure to prepare them the day before so you can bake them the day of your celebration.
  • Spatchcock and Brine Your Turkey: Brining your turkey is the secret to a succulent, delicious turkey that won’t dry out. Plus, it cooks more evenly with less time.

The Big Day:

  • Cook your turkey in your recteq. For a whole turkey, it will take about 10-12 minutes per pound at 325°F.
  • If you’re cooking a spatchcock turkey, plan on about 8-10 minutes per pound at 325°F.
  • Defrost all of your premade bread/pastries & then chill all of your beverages.
  • Prepare your other side dishes so they can go on the recteq just before the turkey is done while it’s resting.
  • Has your turkey come to temp? It should be 180°F in the leg area and 165° in the breast. Next, allow it to rest in tented aluminum foil for up to an hour.
  • Make your favorite gravy & heat all of your sides to the perfect temperature.
  • Set the table & join the party: Don’t spend the day running back and forth from the kitchen. Sit down and enjoy the food and company.

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