There are myriad things and people without which Thanksgiving would not be complete: the turkey, the potatoes, the pumpkin puree, the gravy and, of course, your family and friends. But according to Bobby Flay, there’s just one ingredient that is “the key to Thanksgiving” — that one must-have product that will help marry the elements of the meal and ensure a successful feast.
Can you really call your stuffing a “stuffing” if it wasn’t cooked inside the turkey? Do New Yorkers make “dressing,” or is that only a Southern dish? How many ingredient mix-ins is too many when it comes to reinventing the stuffing wheel? There are countless debates surrounding this all-important Thanksgiving side dish, but no matter what argument you believe, one thing is certain: A stuffing or a dressing (however you define it) ought to be on your table this turkey day. Check out Food Network’s all-star lineup of the best picks for both seasonal stuffings and dressings.
Sausage and Herb Stuffing
The beauty of Ina Garten’s timeless stuffing is that you don’t need to start prepping it days in advance to dry out the bread. She simply toasts freshly cut cubes for a few minutes to achieve the same effect.
When preparing for this year’s Thanksgiving, don’t let the breadbasket become an afterthought. As the vehicle for soaking up precious gravy-drenched, cranberry-stained bits of food from your plate, bread is a key player for the big feast. Yeast or no yeast, baking from scratch is easier than you think. But we’ve got a trick for jazzing up frozen dinner rolls, too, just in case.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite recipes to pass around the table for the big night. Make your own cheesy crescents, Parker House rolls, fluffy biscuits and more. Whatever you decide on, don’t forget to factor in the next day’s leftover turkey sandwich. The best leftovers of the year deserve to be sandwiched between something equally delicious.
This versatile dough can be transformed into four amazing recipes: sea salt dinner rolls, herbed fan-tans, cranberry knots and three-cheese crescents. Bake them now, then stash them away in the freezer until Nov. 26 (or up to one month). Before serving them with your turkey, thaw them at room temperature for 30 minutes, then reheat in a 375 degree F oven for 10 minutes.
With everything else crowding the Thanksgiving table, the cranberry sauce usually doesn’t steal the show. We’re changing that up this year with this tipsy recipe that spikes the traditional jellied sauce with vodka. Watch Food Network Kitchen’s video below to see how it’s done, then follow their lead to make your cranberry sauce the most-popular side — or cocktail shooter — of Thanksgiving 2015. It may well become a new tradition. Just be sure to keep it away from the kids’ table, because it looks just like its nonalcoholic cousin!
The centerpiece roast turkey, the spread of casseroles, the pumpkin pie (and, likely, the apple pie too) — there’s no shortage of to-dos come Thanksgiving. So when there’s an opportunity to make your prep work a tad easier, it’s indeed tempting to give in. Hear from The Kitchen‘s Sunny Anderson about how she transforms a tried-and-true store-bought staple — the infamous canned cranberries — into an all-new side dish.
According to Sunny, one of her go-to holiday hacks is “cranberry sauce out of the can.” But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t dress it up. When it comes to the jellied stuff and the whole-cranberry option, she explains: “You can mix it together. … I take the jelly. I don’t slice it; that looks crazy. You just beat it with a whisk until it becomes a little bit loose, and then you add in the [canned whole cranberries].” To add an extra boost of homemade flavor, she brightens up the sauce with citrus. “A little bit of orange juice, some orange rind or, you know, zested. It kind of feels like it’s your own,” she explains. She also adds that you can mix in chopped fresh rosemary. “It looks like you made it, but you didn’t,” says Sunny.
Buttery, rich and oh-so-creamy, mashed potatoes are surely a beautiful thing. But when it comes to putting spuds to work, the everyday mash isn’t the only option. This Thanksgiving, no matter what kind of spuds you have on hand, try stuffing your potatoes, or smashing them, souffleing them, roasting them or even turning them into a bisque. Check out Food Network’s best-ever potato picks below for holiday-worthy inspiration.
Stuffed: Think of Tyler Florence’s easy-to-make sweet potatoes as the cousins of the sweet potato casserole you know and love. He bakes the spuds, then fills them up with a sweetened, cinnamon-scented filling of crunchy pecans and gooey marshmallows.
When you’re hosting a big crowd for the holidays or even cooking for a crew of kids — a pair of daunting tasks if there ever was one — this list is for you. And if you’re doing both like I am this Thanksgiving, this one’s for you. And because many of the dishes can easily be made days in advance (or more), you can knock out most of the cooking well before Thanksgiving Day arrives.
Make and Freeze: Apple Pie
Prepare an unbaked apple pie, like this one from Food Network Kitchen, then pop it into the freezer until you’re ready to bake. The trick: Wrap the whole thing in three layers of plastic wrap, then place in a gallon-size freezer bag or add another layer of aluminum foil. Tips:
- Take the pie out of the freezer and put directly into the oven, just add 20 to 30 minutes of baking time.
- Use a metal or ceramic pie plate; glass may not be sturdy enough to go from the freezer to the oven.
- Pumpkin (or any other kind of custard) pie won’t work as well, but in that case, you could make the crust and freeze it ahead of time.
Crunchy carrots may be a go-to for snacking, but this in-season root vegetable brings a whole lot more to the table when it’s brought into your baked goods. As you load up your Thanksgiving menu with carrot side dishes, don’t forget that carrots can also be grated and integrated into moist, luscious and comforting cakes. Each of these amazing carrot cakes comes with the mandatory slathering of creamy cheese frosting, as well as its own unique spin.
Make Food Network Kitchen’s decadent, three-layer Carrot Cheesecake the crowning element of your Thanksgiving dessert spread. It’s a sweet mash-up of spiced carrot cake, rich cheesecake and a smooth sour cream topping, and you can learn how to make it from start to finish here.
After a richly decadent Thanksgiving feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and likely several kinds of casseroles, the only way to end the meal is with something sweet … and also richly decadent. If cakes are the go-to at birthday parties, then pies were made for turkey day. Whether your family craves the tradition of a spiced apple pie or prefers the creaminess of the peanut butter variety, there’s indeed a filling for every personality this season. Check out Food Network’s top pie picks below, each a tried-and-true favorite from our chefs.
Let’s nickname this one “indecision pie”: It’s a three-way mash-up of apple, pumpkin and pecan pies for those times when you really want a slice of all three at the buffet table. With a base of buttery pecans, an edge of sweetened apples and a center of spiced pumpkin puree, this pie boasts comforting fall flavors in each bite.
Perhaps during a fall trip to the market you’ve been charmed by the heaping piles of colorful winter squash, stout and curvy, and wanted to bring them home. Perhaps you have. And perhaps once you’ve unpacked the squash and put them on the counter, you’ve thought, “Now what?”