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Your Guide to a Foolproof Thanksgiving

Pull off a flawless feast with these basic how-to’s, planning tools, and simple holiday recipes.

Sweet Endings

Our 30 Most Popular Desserts on Pinterest
How do we like to end meals? With sweet treats that are equal parts yummy and easy. These recipes—the most-pinned desserts on our boards—more than satisfy.

Roasted Turkey

1 Foolproof Turkey Recipe

The only turkey recipe you’ll ever need (plus, carving tips and gravy).
Photo: José Picayo

6 Must-Have Turkey Tools

Need some help with the Thanksgiving meal? These winning tools will give you an edge.
Photo: Tom Schierlitz

Thanksgiving Prep List

One turkey + 5 side dishes + 2 desserts + 1 stove = chaos. Download this handy prep list and stay one step ahead.
Photo: Mikkel Vang

3 Helpful Thanksgiving Hotlines

Call these numbers when your pie crust cracks or your turkey’s still frozen.
Photo: Nato Welton
Roasted Turkey
Carving board
Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes
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Less-Stress Strategies

pie with mixer and books on kitchen counter

What Is Your Favorite Thanksgiving Shortcut?
Real Simple readers reveal their best time-saving tips.

Turkey with Molasses Butter

Thanksgiving Dinner Without the Stress
A little bit of smart planning can make this meal one of the easiest―and most gratifying. 

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Mom’s Southern Pecan Pie

Your Ultimate Thanksgiving Timeline

Hosting Turkey Day can be easy and stress-free if you follow our complete week-by-week planning checklist.

  • Decide which recipes you want to make, keeping in mind that there’s only so much one person―and one kitchen―can do. If you really do need 10 side dishes, look for recipes that use the same oven temperature, so they can cook at the same time, says Bluysen.

    After you narrow down your menu, reread the recipes that remain. Most can be broken into steps that you can do ahead of time. Then make a list of what you want to get done on each of the days leading up to Thanksgiving, says Bluysen. “I really think if you go through it enough times, you will be more relaxed,” she says.
  • Figure out what size turkey you need. Bluysen likes a fresh turkey, which can be picked up close to the holiday (call your supermarket to reserve one), relieving your refrigerator of the days required to defrost a bulky frozen bird.

    Related: Read This Before Roasting Your Turkey

  • Make a detailed shopping list and check it―twice. But don’t expect to get all your shopping done in one trip. Instead, divide your list into two parts: items you’ll need in advance and items you’ll need the final day or two before the meal. Planning a second trip not only keeps your refrigerator from groaning but also relieves you of having to remember every last stick of butter the first time around. When you go to the store, grab a few bottles of something to serve with the meal.

    Related: Thanksgiving Beverage Suggestions

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