Whether it’s your first time hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner or you’re just looking for some new ideas, we’ve got plenty for you! Here is your Guide to the best resources on and off the web for a great Thanksgiving.
In this guide you will find help on WHAT TO MAKE, BUYING KITCHEN EQUIPMENT, FINDING RECIPES, ORDERING MAIL ORDER, or FINDING A RESTAURANT and finally ENTERTAINMENT, so read on!
WHAT’S FOR DINNER, A TRADITIONAL THANKSGIVING MENU: Of course people serve endless variations on the traditional, basic menu, adding hams, baked ziti, lasagna, even peking duck. Anything you want to serve is fine. But here are the basics:
- Turkey. The centerpiece of your meal. Can be roasted, braised, deep fried or even grilled.
- Gravy. For your turkey and your potatos.
- Mashed Potatoes. With skin, without, with lumps or without.
- Sweet Potatoes. In some form. Yams, sweet potato pie, roasted, mashed or boiled.
- Cranberry Sauce or Relish.
- Corn. Can be on the cob, usually isnt.
- Green Beans. Sauteed, steamed, or in an old school casserole.
- Dinner Rolls or Biscuits
- Apple Cider
- Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie or Apple Pie for Dessert
KITCHEN TOOLS: Now that you know what to make, you’ll need some basic equipment. Or for some of you it might be time to replace your old equipment. You can shop online at Amazon using our links, or at Bed Bath and Beyond, Williams Sonoma or any local cook store. Here’s a few recommendations.
- Roasting Pan. This is your number one tool, so if you have the money to spend this is where to spend it. Rule #1, resist all temptations to buy a nonstick roast pan. A stainless steel pan will brown your turkey better, and last you a lifetime. We recommend All-Clad, , Calphalon, or Cuisinart. If you go off brand, that’s okay too, just stay with a Stainless Steel pan and a nonstick rack and you can’t go wrong.
- Turkey Fryer. Becoming more and more popular each year. We recommend the Bayou Classic
available online or at the Home Depot, or the Eastman Outdoors Fryer Kit. Both include everything you’ll need but the turkey, the fire extinguisher and the first aid kit. Be careful!
- Turkey Baster. Look for stainless steel, the plastic ones can shatter. Basically helps you to keep your turkey moist.
- Silpat. These nifty little mats turn any cookie sheet or pan into the perfect nonstick surface. Reusable. Easy to clean, and browns as well as a stainless steel surface. Great for cookies, rolls, pastry and more. Buy a few extra to give as Holiday gifts. They’re little miracle workers. Silpat Non-Stick Silicone Baking Liner
- Potato Masher. We suggest the zig zag shape. To smash up your potatoes real good. Some people prefer a potato ricer, but we like to go the old fashioned way.
- Potato Peeler. Nothing is worse than peeling potatoes so you want the most comfortable, fastest peeler you can find. We like two. The most comfortable is the OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler, and we also love the Kuhn Rikon Original 4-Inch Swiss Peeler. It’s the cheapest, and you can’t beat this little workhorse. Use it as a stocking stuffer too.
- Chefs Knife. A great knife will save your life. For a basic home chef, a simple Henckels brand chef’s knife is your best bet. We love all of their knives but even the inexpensive Eversharp line is wonderful. Range from $13 to $90.
- Instant Read Thermometer. Just to be sure you don’t poison your guests with undercooked turkey! You can go simple and old school with Taylor Classic Instant-Read Pocket Thermometer or for a few dollars more, combine it with a kitchen timer with the Taylor Digital Cooking Thermometer/Timer.
RECIPES RECIPES RECIPES! Unless you have a great cook in your family, you will need some recipes and there is an unlimited number of places to get them. But how do you know which are good? And you probably need some tips, techniques and how-to help too. Here’s our recommendations.
- Cooks Illustrated. The number one source for great recipes in every category on the internet, particularly if you’re looking for the best recipes for traditional cooking. The downside is, you have to pay to join. But it’s well worth it, and it’s the equivalent of buying a library of cookbooks. Plus they have a menu planner, a shopping guide, and best of all Recipe 911– advice for what to do when everything goes wrong. And they offer a 14 day free trial! Visit them here.
- Williams Sonoma. Their website is FREE and has many excellent Thanksgiving recipes as well as cooking tips, techniques and more. Visit their thanksgiving headquarters here.
- Whole Foods. You don’t even have to shop there to use their amazing Thanksgiving resources! It’s free, healthy and delicious. Bookmark this site.
- King Arthur Flour. An absolutely essential resource for bakers- King Arthur Flour provides the finest flours, pure extracts, and all kinds of baking tools… Everything a baker needs can be found at this excellent site.
MAIL ORDER THANKSGIVING. Sure it’s great to make everything from scratch, but sometimes you need a little bit of help. Or a lot of bit of help. Either way, here are some great resources to assist your Thanksgiving prep. There’s no shame in buying.
- Williams Sonoma. Once again, a first stop in Thanksgiving shopping. We particularly recommend their Butternut Squash Puree (makes a great soup), Turkey Gravy Base, Pumpkin Butter and Focaccia Stuffing, all of which can be ordered online or bought in store. You can also mail order Organic Turkeys, Fried Turkeys, Cajun Turkeys and more, but they’re on the pricier side for mail order turkey. Get everything here.
- Penzey’s Spices. These should fill your cabinets. They make everything taste better. Shop here.
- The Cajun Grocer. This is where to order the world famous Turducken! The wonderfully sinful deboned turkey stuffed with a chicken that has been stuffed with duck breast, with seasoned dressing layered between each of the layers. Ranges from $85-125 including delivery. Get it here.
- HoneyBaked Ham Co. Order a complete Thanksgiving dinner for 4, only $112.95. Order now.
- MH Foods. Order a deep fried cajun turkey for $69.95. Order here.
- Highland SugarWorks. For the best maple syrup for any recipes that require it, like maple glazed sweet potatoes perhaps? It’s dark, sweet and so mapley! Order here.
- King’s Cupboard’s Organic Cream Caramel Sauce. King’s Cupboard of Montana ha.ve been concocting delicious, all-natural dessert products for over twenty years. All good stuff, but in particular- their Organic Cream Caramel Sauce is an incredible drizzle over any of your Thanksgiving pies, ice cream, your own hand…whatever. Buy it here.
- Jacob’s Andouille Sausage If your cornbread stuffing calls for andouille sausage, I’d highly recommend that you order the authentic spicy cajun pork sausage from Jacob’s in Laplace, Louisiana and you can get them online here.
GET OUT. NO REALLY. If you just want everyone out of your house, need a change of pace, or are tired of your Aunt Franny’s cooking, no matter where you are in the country you can find someplace that will cook your Thanksgiving dinner for you. (check with the restaurant confirm all prices). For a guide to other Thanksgiving activities near you, check out the Mapquest Guides to Thanksgiving in every state.:
- Around the Country. Get extensive listings for where to go on Thanksgiving Day near you here. Updated daily.
- New York City. Come in for the parade, and stay for dinner. There are long lists of choices but we suggest Telepan ($85/adult) Cupping Room Cafe ($58/adult) Kitchenette ($48/adult) or West Bank Cafe ($38/adult). Click here for the full list. Check out Mapquest’s guide to Thanksgiving in New York City for information on the Parade, where to volunteer and more.
- Chicago. Mercat a la Planxa (order a pig or turkey to go with 72 hours notice), Smith and Wollensky ($49/adult) Sugartoad ($40/adult) , Zed451, and Mike Ditkas for a more casual Thanksgiving. Click here for the full list. Also Check out Mapquest’s guide to Thanksgiving in Chicago for information on the Parade, Thanksgiving Cruises, volunteering your time to help others, and more.
- Los Angeles. The Bazaar by Jose Andres ($65/adult), The Blvd, Jar Restaurant ($85/adult), Melisse in Santa Monica ($89/adult), Palomino ($27/adult for a more casual environment), Stefan’s at LA Farm ($45/adult) Click here for the full list. Check out Mapquest’s guide to Thanksgiving in Los Angeles for information on the parade, volunteering, and more.
- Washington DC. Ardeo + Bardeo ($45/adult), Blue Duck Tavern ($90/adult), Charlie Palmers ($60/adult) Founding Farmers ($35/adult) Goodstone Inn & Estate, Joe Theismann’s ($25/adult) Click here for the full list. Check out Mapquest’s guide to Thanksgiving in DC for information on the parade, turkey trot, and where to volunteer.
I ATE TILL I CAN’T MOVE, NOW WHAT!? And of course, no matter where you go, no matter what you do, regardless of what you eat or who you eat it with, don’t forget to watch your Thanksgiving Movies:
And finally, your Thanksgiving football schedule: