11 Shortcut Thanksgiving Recipes from Sara Foster

From easy appetizers to beautiful desserts, these Thanksgiving recipes from Sara Foster are filled with make-ahead tips and timesaving ideas.

Catie Bielecki

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Sweet and Spicy Pecans

    Rosemary, cayenne pepper, and vanilla make this quick and easy Thanksgiving appetizer memorable and delectable.

    Timesaving Tip: Store cooled pecans in an airtight container up to one week.

Makes: 16 servings
Serving size: about 4 cups
Prep   5 mins 
Bake   13 mins  to  17 mins  400° 
Cool   20 mins 
Holiday Corn Bread Dressing

    The corn bread that's the base of this dressing recipe is baked in a skillet. Classic stuffing ingredients, such as celery, onion, and sage give it traditional Thanksgiving flavor.

    Timesaving Tip: The challah bread may be cubed and stored in an airtight container one day before assembling dressing. The corn bread recipe can be made ahead and frozen.

Makes: 20 servings
Prep   20 mins 
Bake   45 mins  350° 
Buttermilk-Sage Dinner Rolls

    Nestle balls of dough into muffin tins and then brush with melted butter before baking for warm, feathery-sweet rolls your crowd will love.

    Timesaving Tip: The baked rolls can be frozen. Before serving, thaw first, and then wrap rolls in foil. Warm rolls in a 350°F oven about 15 minutes or until heated through.

Serving size: about 2 dozen rolls
Prep   45 mins 
Rise  1 hr 
Bake   15 mins  375°F 
Beet, Carrot & Apple Salad

    Toss Granny Smith apple, turnip, beet, and carrot matchsticks with a light citrus vinaigrette that can be made up to three days in advance.

    Timesaving Tip: Prepare, cover, and refrigerate the dressing for up to three days. Cut vegetables, then cover and store each vegetable separately, up to a day.

Makes: 8 servings
Serving size: 12 servings, plus leftovers
Start to Finish   45 mins 
Buttermilk Mashed Creamers

    With this recipe, simple is truly best. All that's needed are potatoes, butter, buttermilk, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper.

    Timesaving Tip: Cook, cover, and refrigerate potatoes up to one day. To proceed with the recipe, drain off most of the water. Reheat the covered potatoes over medium heat, drain again, then follow recipe.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep   15 mins 
Cook   30 mins 
Stand   5 mins 
Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    This soufflé-like side dish is an irresistible combination of sweet potatoes, cornmeal, eggs, and brown sugar.

    Timesaving Tip: This recipe can also be made in a 9X13 baking dish.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep   25 mins 
Bake   45 mins  400° 
Bake   35 mins  350° 
Aunt June's Boiled Custard

    Hot milk and cream are infused with vanilla bean, combined with sugar and eggs, and then chilled in this tasty twist on eggnog.

    Timesaving Tip: To cool custard quickly, place the pan with custard into a sink of ice water for one to two minutes, stirring constantly.

Makes: 16 servings
Prep   10 mins 
Cook   25 mins 
Cool  1 hr 
Sara's Silky Pumpkin Pie

    Sweetened condensed milk and melted butter are the keys to making this nutmeg-, cinnamon-, and ginger-spiced pumpkin pie extra luxurious.

    Timesaving Tip: This pie can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated until it's time to serve.

Makes: 10 servings
Serving size: one 9-inch pie
Prep   35 mins 
Bake   50 mins  325° 
Cool  1 hr 
Sara Foster's Herb-Roasted Turkey

    Several cups of white wine and apple juice in the bottom of the roasting pan keep this apple- and onion-stuffed turkey succulent.

    Timesaving Tip: Don't overcook; fresh turkeys cook faster than frozen, and the meat will be pinkish in color rather than brown.

Makes: 8 servings
Serving size: 8 servings, plus leftovers
Prep   30 mins 
Chill  overnight
Stand  1 hr 30 mins  to 1 hr 45 mins 
Creamy Green Beans with Crispy Shallots

    This modern spin on the classic Thanksgiving casserole features fresh button mushrooms, a hint of nutmeg, and fried shallot rings.

    Timesaving Tip: Bake and refrigerate the un-topped green bean mixture one day ahead. Fry shallots up to two days ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat the green beans, covered, until heated through, and then top with crispy shallots in the last five minutes.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep   30 mins 
Bake   45 mins  350°F 
Cook   15 mins 
Apricot-Sweet Potato Hand Pies

    A sweet mixture of apricots, bourbon, sweet potatoes, and spices fill these delightful fall turnovers.

    Timesaving Tip: After cooling, wrap and refrigerate pies up to three days. Or wrap, label, and freeze pies up to one month. Unwrap and thaw the frozen pies at room temperature before serving.

Serving size: 16 to 20 hand pies
Prep  1 hr 30 mins 
Bake   18 mins  to  20 mins  375°F 
Cool   10 mins 

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