Thanksgiving Dinner in Just Five Hours? Here's How

Don’t panic, cooking a complete Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a multi-day affair
Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Let get real here: Thanksgiving is just dinner. We can take it to the extreme with a 20-pound turkey, 10 different sides, and hours of planning, shopping, and cooking… or it could just be a nice, festive meal.

If Thanksgiving cooking falls on your shoulders at the last minute, for any reason, don’t panic: cooking a complete Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a multi-day affair. In fact, you can make a full show-stopping Thanksgiving dinner in as little as five hours, start to finish.  

For instance, instead of turning out a lot of elaborate dishes, settle on the key classics — turkey, stuffing, a vegetable side, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pie — and don’t be afraid of shortcuts. Opting for some store-bought pie crust, pre-cubed bread for stuffing, and bakery rolls will cut down your time in the kitchen.

Next, about that turkey that is supposed to take 30 minutes per pound to cook… yeah, let’s fix that. Instead of a big whole bird, serve your turkey deconstructed—in other words, just breasts or thighs (or both) detached from the main body — or else spatchcook the bird (remove its backbone) to reduce cooking time.

Thanksgiving should be a time of celebration not a prison kitchen sentence for the cook. Follow this time-saving Thanksgiving menu and guide for a simple, delicious, and enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner.

This story was first published by Angela Carlos in 2015 with updates and revisions made by Rachael Pack, cook editor of The Daily Meal.

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