Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is stressful enough as it is—so instead of worrying about how everything’s going in the kitchen, just turn to these easy Thanksgiving shortcuts. They’ll make all the prepping and baking fly by, so you can spend less time in front of the stove and more time enjoying friends and family.
Make prep work a breeze this Thanksgiving by picking up a few extra items at the grocery store a few days before the feast. Adding just a few extra items to your cart can seriously save you valuable time and energy on the big day. We aren't suggesting you buy instant mashed potatoes or store-bought stuffing, but these easy shortcuts will save you enough time and stress that you can focus your energy on your favorite homemade recipes.
1. Frozen Piecrust
Especially if you’re making multiple pies for your Thanksgiving feast, it can seriously pay off to buy a few frozen piecrusts beforehand. Some piecrust even comes in a disposable pie tin, so you’ll have one less dish to wash when all the leftovers are finally eaten up (just be sure to bake your pie on a baking sheet if the dough does come in a disposable tin). You can find frozen pie dough with and without a top crust, so you can bake both a pumpkin and an apple pie with no wasted dough, and no hard work of mixing up your own crust.
2. Frozen Bread Dough
Make your Thanksgiving dinner a no-knead affair by stocking up on frozen bread dough beforehand. This grocery item can be a huge timesaver for baking up a big batch of dinner rolls. Basic frozen bread dough is easy to find and even easier to doctor up with a few seasonings or spices to make sure your dinner rolls (or breadsticks) are anything but bland. And if you’re hosting family all day, you can also use this super-versatile ingredient to make a batch of cinnamon rolls in the morning to tide everyone over until supper.
3. Precut Produce
This might sound like a minor shortcut, but it’ll save you tons of time in the long run (just imagine how much time you usually spending slicing and peeling apples for pie). Along with the obvious, like precut carrots and broccoli for a relish tray or sliced mushrooms for adding to casseroles, you can also find sneakier ready-to-go produce, like apple slices and peeled garlic. Pre-peeled garlic in particular may not sound like it’ll save you much time, but you’ll be thankful for one less step whenever you need to mince a couple cloves to add to the mashed potatoes or stuffing. Pre-diced onions especially can save you valuable minutes on Thanksgiving Day!
4. Canned Soup
You might not even need to include this one on your grocery list—you’ve probably got a couple cans of cream of mushroom soup in your pantry already. But if you don’t, be sure to stock up between now and Turkey Day. Just a can or two will make your green bean casserole as creamy and dreamy as any homemade sauce could, but much easier and quicker. And it’s not just your green bean casserole that this shortcut can save—canned soup can also speed up scalloped potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, and other casserole-style sides.
5. Bread Cubes
A definite lifesaver, buying bread cubes that have already been cut and dried will work wonders for your stuffing. It’s a win-win—you don’t have to take the time to cut and bake a loaf of bread to make your own bread cubes, and you don’t have to sacrifice your beloved homemade stuffing recipe in the interest of saving time. Unlike packages of store-bought stuffing, most of the bread cubes you can find are unseasoned, so you can dress them up any way you like for your stuffing.
6. Pumpkin Puree
Roasting and pureeing your own fresh pumpkin is a TON of work, so it definitely makes sense to use shortcuts where you can. Particularly for recipes like pumpkin pie that have lots of other added ingredients and spices, you’ll never taste the difference of using canned pumpkin puree. If you’re not already stocking up on canned pumpkin before your feast, this quick and easy shortcut is a no-brainer.
If you’ve used up the last of your homemade broth just before Thanksgiving, don’t bother making a whole new batch. Take this task off your plate and just use store-bought broth instead. Trust us, your gravy will taste just as good, and you’ll save enough time that you can use any leftover broth to stir up a quick soup to serve as an appetizer or a side.
Bonus: Oven Bags
This is a sneaky time-saver that your guests will never notice. Roasting your turkey in an oven bag can help it cook more quickly, which will free you up to work on other recipes or enjoy extra time with family and friends. Plus, an oven bag will keep all the juices from your turkey contained, so you can say goodbye to basting (and to scraping your roasting pan to make gravy). This method of cooking your turkey is completely no-fuss, so if you’re hosting for the first time this year, it can also help rid you of any turkey-roasting fears.