How To Cook A Killer Thanksgiving Meal

This past weekend I fixed my first (early) Thanksgiving meal. It was my boyfriends birthday and he had a couple friends coming in town so I thought I would make us all a feast. For my Thanksgivings at home, I am usually only in charge of desserts. My mom makes killer mashed potatoes and gravy, my grandmother makes the best southern cornbread dressing and broccoli casserole. And of course, because I’m from the south, my dad deep fries the turkey. Now, some of you maybe have never heard of this, if you haven’t, you’re missing out on the most delicious turkey you’ll ever have. Anyways, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, simply because I love food (and the family time too of course!). So when I had the chance to have Thanksgiving dinner twice, I jumped at the opportunity. I love planning and hosting dinner parties, so I was pumped.

I started by deciding what dishes I wanted to make. I made a detailed schedule and recipe list. I headed off to the Dollar Tree for some very inexpensive decorations. (Great tip, I love to buy glassware, tablecloths, birthday candles and decorations, paper plates etc here. So cheap and surprisingly good quality). I bought all my groceries and started cooking on Friday for our Saturday meal. I prepared my Pumpkin Pie so it could set in the refrigerator over night. I mixed up my broccoli casserole ingredients and assembled them so it was ready to be thrown in the oven the next day. And I did all the chopping I could do for the rest of my dishes. I got up fairly early on Saturday and pulled out the turkey. I ended up buying an 11 lb turkey for 4 people. Obviously this was way more than enough but who doesn’t want leftovers? So I pull out my turkey and as I am starring at it wondering what to do next, my boyfriend says, “so is this how you cook it every year?”. I quietly reply, “well, I’ve actually never cooked a turkey…ever”. All I get back is, “well this is going to be fun”. After a couple YouTube videos, I manage to get my turkey all tied up, buttered up and put into the oven. If I do say so myself, it turned out beautiful. It browned perfectly, managed to stay wonderfully moist and flavorful and was a complete hit. I served my turkey with broccoli casserole, scalloped potatoes, croissant mushroom stuffing, white wine gravy and sweet potato casserole. I started with a baked Brie appetizer and finished with pumpkin pie. Below I’m going to give you all the recipes for every dish and I hope some of them end up on your table for Thanksgiving this year!

-note: if you decide to make all of these meals like I did, I just set my oven at 375 after the turkey was done and baked all 4 side dishes at that temperature and they all turned out perfect-

Baked Brie and Fig Jam

This appetizer will make you look like an incredibly fancy chef with little to no effort. It’s great to have out on a platter for guests to nibble on while the meal is being prepared. It’s unbelievably delicious and even easier to make. I served it with sliced baguette, assorted crackers and some apple slices.

  • 1 8 oz round of Brie cheese
  • 2 cans of crescent rolls
  • 1/4 cup fig jam
  • 1 egg beaten

Preheat oven to 350. Using a sharp knife, score top rind of cheese in a criss cross pattern. Take crescent rolls out of package and roll them out onto a lightly floured surface. Pinch together seams to make one large piece of dough. Place dough onto a cookie sheet. Add fig jam to the middle of the dough then place Brie on top. Gently wrap dough around the Brie so that it is completely covered, making sure it is all pinched together. Brush the top of dough with the beaten egg. Bake until dough is crisp and golden brown all over, about 25-35 min. Let rest for 5 min then serve.

Herb Roasted Turkey

Simple and absolutely delicious. I recommend splurging and buying a good quality meat thermometer and a nice roasting pan for this.

  • 1 fresh or frozen (thawed) turkey- I used 11 lbs.
  • Fresh herbs- thyme and rosemary
  • 1 lemon halved
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 2 large carrots cut into 2 in pieces
  • 2 stalks celery cut into 2 in pieces
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • Butter
  • Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375. Unwrap your turkey on a baking sheet. Remove giblets and neck of turkey from cavities. Pat turkey dry. Stuff lemon, half of onions and sprigs of herbs into main cavity. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck wings underneath its body to prevent burning. Rub turkey with softened butter all over. Sprinkle whole turkey with salt. In the bottom portion of roasting pan, add remaining onions, carrots, celery and chicken broth. This will help flavor your gravy in the next step. Place roasting rack in pan and put turkey on top. Give it one last drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh reads 165. 2-3 hours. Cover bird loosely if it starts to brown too quickly. Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest for at least 20 minutes. Reserve pan contents for gravy.

White Wine Gravy

Delicious and surprisingly easy to make!

  • Pan drippings from turkey
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • Fresh thyme from 4 sprigs
  • Salt and pepper

Scrape fat from top of the remains in the roasting pan with a spoon. Remove celery, carrots and sprigs on herbs. Place roasting pan on stove burner on medium high. Add wine and cook, stirring and scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan for about 1 minute. Pour wine mixture into a large bowl and set aside. Melt butter in same pan. Sprinkle flour and whisk constantly until deep brown in color, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in wine mixture. Bring to a boil. Add thyme and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately

Croissant Mushroom Stuffing

  • 8-10 croissants torn into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 12 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange croissants on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven and reset temperature to 400. Grease 2 1/2 qt baking dish. In a large pot, heat oil on medium. Add celery, onion, thyme, mushrooms and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables start to soften. To pot with vegetables, add croissants, eggs, parsley, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt, folding until well combined. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake covered for 20min and uncovered for 10min.

Broccoli Casserole

My grandmothers recipe! Simple and classic, you can’t go wrong with this comforting recipe.

  • 2 10 oz packages of frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 10 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 350. Spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, mayonnaise, cheese, condensed soup and eggs. Mix well. Place mixture in the prepared pan. Top with crushed crackers and pour the melted butter evenly over the crackers. Bake for 35 minutes.

Scalloped Cheesy Potatoes

  • 2 lbs of russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or half and half
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz grated gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350. And grease a 13×9 baking pan. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add peeled and sliced potatoes and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until flour is golden. About 2 minutes. Stir in milk and cook, stirring often until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add in cheeses. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/3 of potato sliced into bottom of prepared baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and add 1/3 of cheese sauce. Repeat for 2. Ore layers. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese and bake for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Sweet potato casserole

Marshmallows and all, you can’t go wrong with this classic dish.

  • 6-8 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in cubs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. Boil sweet potatoes in a large pan until soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer drained sweet potatoes to a large bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients except marshmallows. Mix together with potato masher or hand held mixer until completely combined and creamy in texture. Add mixture to prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Top with marshmallows and bake for 20 min.

Deep dish Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap crust

Classic pumpkin pie adding a slight twist with a gingersnap crust.

  • 2 cups of crushed ginger snap cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the filling

  • 2 1/2 cups pure pumpkin purée
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 3/ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs

Heat oven to 350. Process gingersnap cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs remain. Mix in melted butter, sugar and cinnamon. Press crust into bottom and 1 1/2 in up the sides of a deep dish pie plate. Bake for 8 min. In a large bowl, beat together pumpkin with both sugars, salt, and spices. Slowly add in evaporated milk and vanilla. Add one egg at a time mixing until fully incorporated. Pour mixture into pie crust and bake for 75 minutes or until the center is slightly jiggly. Cool overnight and serve with whipped cream.

  1. All looks delicious!

  2. This looks so good.thank you for sharing your recipes.and the way you wrote the recipes was very easy to understand.

    1. Thank you violet!

      1. Thank you so much for sharing.I am in awe this is your 1st.Thanksgiving dinner.Everything looks great and delicious.I will not be cooking this year, but I am going to copy all your recipes and cook it all for Christmas.Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family.I will certainly remember to post the results at Christmas time .Merry Christmas
        Alana May

        1. Thank you Alana! Enjoy your thanksgiving!

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