9 Trader Joe’s Items That Will Save You Hours of Thanksgiving Prep

Trader Joe’s to the rescue!


Trader Joe's

With days to go before Thanksgiving, chances are you might be feeling a tad stressed about the impending holiday feast. After all, whether you’re making the whole meal from scratch or have been tasked with bringing a side or dessert to your respective celebration, each component of Turkey Day dinner requires its own amount of prep and cook time, not to mention a dedicated slew of ingredients and (most likely) some time on the stove or in the oven.

Thankfully, Trader Joe’s has an array of Thanksgiving items that can easily save you hours of valuable preparation time, which translates to less stress and more time to actually relax and enjoy yourself. And don’t worry, while Trader Joe’s does have a plethora of frozen Thanksgiving staples that require little more than some time in the oven, this helpful list of products is more than just a cheat sheet full of freezer finds. Instead, we included items such as Everything But the Leftovers Seasoning Blend and turkey stock, which will make your life on the fourth Thursday in November easier in more ways than one.

Everything But the Leftovers Seasoning Blend

You could spend Thanksgiving morning chopping herbs and rummaging through your spice cabinet so you can craft the perfect blend, or you can stock up on this versatile Trader Joe’s buy. This seasoning blend, which contains dehydrated onion, sea salt, black pepper, turmeric powder, dried celery seed, ground sage, rosemary powder, dried thyme, and dried parsley, can be used to add flavor to roasted vegetables, stuffing, and even turkey. And if you’re still craving Thanksgiving flavors, feel free to use this seasoning on your eggs on Friday morning.

Brined Bone-In, Fully Cooked Half Turkey Breast

If you’re not in the mood to cook a turkey this year, Trader Joe’s has you covered. The brand’s full turkey breast, which includes the bone, is marinated in a brine of salt, sugar, black pepper, and garlic-herb butter. The half breast is then seared, and slowly cooked sous-vide. To prep this time-saver at home, all you need to do is heat it in the oven for about 40 minutes. The result is a low-lift turkey dinner that’s much easier to cook than an entire Thanksgiving bird.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving must, and while they’re not that difficult to make, sometimes you just don’t feel like undertaking all the peeling, boiling, and mashing. Luckily, these frozen mashed potatoes, which come in pre-proportioned sections, are as creamy and buttery as the real deal, just minus all the effort! If you want to pass these frozen spuds off as homemade, go ahead and give them a restaurant-worthy upgrade before serving.

Gourmet Fried Onion Pieces

Instead of frying onions yourself, use these crunchy morsels—Dutch yellow onions fried in vegetable oil—to top everything from a green bean casserole to a bowl of mashed potatoes. Pro tip: They also work wonderfully on a leftover turkey sandwich or a hamburger.

Turkey Gravy

If you’re cooking a whole turkey, it’s easy enough to use the bird’s drippings to make a gravy while it finishes cooking, but if you’re making turkey pieces or simply can’t deal with preparing yet another dish, reduce your stress by using this boxed gravy from TJ’s. It boasts herby flavors, has zero lumps, and is ready in just minutes.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

If you’re not a canned cranberry sauce fan, but don’t have the time or resources to make the fresh stuff, you can compromise with store-bought fresh cranberry sauce. This version from Trader Joe’s is made with whole cranberries that have been stirred and brought to a boil with water and sugar just until they pop. Elevate this side by adding some orange zest and/or chopped nuts just before serving. The added flavor and texture will take this TJ’s purchase to the next level.

Turkey Stock

Yes, you can make your own stock, but as anyone who has ever made stock (turkey or otherwise) will tell you, it requires hours of simmering meat, bones, and veggies on the stove to get it just right. Since both time and stove real estate are in short supply in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, invest in a box of Trader Joe’s Turkey Stock instead and use it to add richness to Turkey Day staples such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. You can even use it to baste the bird. 

Pie Crusts

After you’ve spent hours preparing Thanksgiving dinner, the last thing you want to do is start making desserts from scratch. Enter Trader Joe’s frozen pie crusts, which are buttery, light, and crisp. Pack ‘em with the sweet (or savory) filling of your choice to create a stress-free holiday dish that tastes delicious and requires very little cleanup.

Butter Quarters, Salted or Unsalted

Adding butter to just about any dish is a great way to make it instantaneously more delicious, but cooking or baking with hard butter that’s been kept in the refrigerator presents its own set of challenges. While it’s simple enough to soften butter so it’s easier to work with, you can also buy Trader Joe’s butter quarters, which can more easily be incorporated into recipes thanks to their smaller size. The cubes also mean you can more easily and accurately measure the butter you use in various recipes.

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