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3 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

By: Lodge Cast Iron / November 10, 2022

Thanksgiving is one the biggest cooking days of the year, and if you’re new to preparing the big feast, it can be overwhelming. As you prepare, use these three tips as a guide for hosting Thanksgiving. And remember, cooking for the people you love is about so much more than serving the perfect meal. If you leave something in for too long or the sweet potato recipe doesn’t turn out—don’t stress and focus on having fun with the people you love. There’s always next year!

Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Remember: Thanksgiving dinner isn’t built in a day. 

The Month Before: 
If you’re thinking about adding some new recipes to your Thanksgiving meal, it’s a good idea to do a test run ahead of time. If the recipe doesn’t work out, you have time to make tweaks—or cut it from the menu entirely! You may also want to take a day to do a fridge and pantry clean-out. Determine what you have, what you need, and what has expired in the back of your freezer. You’ll need plenty of space after your big Thanksgiving grocery run. 

The Week Before: 
Finalize your menu and check off your grocery list. You don’t want to be searching for the last can of pumpkin the day before Thanksgiving. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your cookware and appliances are ready for action. You can also make this basic pie dough ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for two months. Likewise, if you’re using homemade bread for the dressing, bake it the weekend before so it has time to dry out. 

The Day Before: 
Wash and chop veggies, prep sides, measure ingredients, and get as organized as possible before the big day. This gives you time to run back to the store for forgotten ingredients and establish an order for when things will go into the oven. If your sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole cook at a similar temperature, plan to bake them at the same time. And if you’re prepping your casserole the day before, put a sticky note on top with the oven temperature and cook time. Then, when you’re ready to slide it in the oven, you won’t have to pull up the recipe. Oh, and when you’re done with all of that, pour a glass of wine and set the table! You’ll thank yourself tomorrow. 

Sweet Potato Casserole with Spicy Bourbon Pecans Recipe
hands placing dough in cast iron skillet

Don’t be intimidated by the turkey. 

When it comes to the main event, there are two questions you need to ask yourself: “How much turkey do I need?” and “When do I need to start the thawing process?” 

Let’s start with the size of the bird. We recommend planning to have 1- 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person. If leftovers are your jam, err on the larger side. And if your Thanksgiving crew is more focused on the sides, you may be safe choosing a smaller bird. Now, you may be wondering what size pan you should use. We measured—and got a lot of weird looks at the grocery store—so you don’t have to. Use this guide to choose the best pan for your turkey. 
As far as thawing goes, if you buy a fresh bird, you can avoid this step altogether. Otherwise, it takes time. Generally, you’ll need one day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. When you buy your turkey, calculate when you’ll need to move the turkey from the freezer to the fridge, and set a reminder on your phone. Some turkeys come pre-brined, but if you’re planning on brining your own turkey, you’ll want to factor that time into your schedule. Don’t know where to start? You can find instructions on how to brine your turkey in this article.

turkey in dutch oven
Green Bean Casserole With Crispy Pancetta and Buttermilk Fried Onions Recipe

Ask for help! 

If you’re on cooking duty, you’ll have your hands full, and it might be helpful to put someone else in charge of the hosting while you make final touches. Here's what we mean, you don’t need to be answering the door as guests arrive. That’s a recipe for rolls burning in the oven as you get pulled into small talk. Give that job to someone else—your partner, your kids, or your dog can take charge of the greeting committee. 

Too many cooks in the kitchen last year? As people arrive, direct them to an area with pre-meal snacks and drinks. That’ll keep those sneaky taste testers out of the kitchen until it’s time for dinner. And if guests are asking what they can bring, take them up on it! Suggest bringing cheese and crackers to munch on while the turkey finishes or their favorite bottle of wine to have with the meal. Trust us, they want to pitch in! 

Contributed By: Lodge Cast Iron

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