How to Cook Your First Thanksgiving: 11 Easy Recipes

Here are 11 easy recipes that are perfect for someone who is making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time
Roast Chicken


If you have guests coming over who are not fans of turkey, you can serve this simple roasted chicken dish.

Making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time can be daunting. First, you have to worry about the main event, your turkey.  Should it be brined? Are you going to roast it in the traditional way, or try smoking or deep-frying it? Next, you have to decide what side dishes and desserts should be on the menu. Executing a dinner from start to finish is a lot of work, but if you stick to the basics, take your time, and trust in your recipes, your dinner will come out perfect.

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For the turkey, use a simple recipe. If you’re going to brine it, use a mixture of water, salt, brown sugar, thyme, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Let the turkey brine for a full 24 hours before roasting as this will make the meat flavorful and juicy. If you’re not up for the task of making a whole turkey for your first Thanksgiving, then you can always make turkey legs or turkey breast with a citrus rub.

It’s important to keep things simple when working with side dishes, too. Pan gravy for the turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and stuffing are all you’ll need. Stuffing goes perfectly with turkey, and is hard to mess up. If you add too much liquid, leave the dish in the oven to dry it out. If your stuffing is too dry, then you can always add more stock.

JeanMarie Brownson author of Dinner at Home: 140 Recipes to Enjoy with Family and Friends says, “This rich, bready concoction is such a treat — especially when served topped with a bit of gravy. I season my stuffing with some turkey broth and then cook it in a well-buttered baking pan alongside the turkey. This helps the turkey cook faster and prevents any food safety problems. Plus the stuffing will have some crusty edges — delicious!”

When making your Thanksgiving dinner, just remember to keep you’re recipes simple — that’s the key to your success. We have 11 recipes, which include sides, turkey, and dessert that are perfect for a person making their first Thanksgiving dinner. 

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