You’re going to love these surprisingly easy Thanksgiving hacks.
Whether you’re in a hurry to push those delicious dishes out to hungry heathens, or, if you’re simply in need of modifying some old recipes, we’re sure one of the hacks below is bound to do the job.
Have fun, eat up, and remember: if it doesn’t come out exactly right, it’s going to be okay. Happy Thanksgiving.
1. Add a little baking powder to make mashed potatoes extra fluffy.
Apparently, the heat of the potatoes triggers the baking powder’s chemical reaction, and the CO2 produced = extra fluffiness. Try this simple recipe from an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
2. DIY a last-minute roasting rack with tinfoil.
Simply roll up some tinfoil and twist it into a spiral. Then place your turkey on top!
3. Print or write out recipes and tape them to your cabinets for easy access.
Losing that piece of paper 17 times (or spilling pie filling all over it) is NOT going to help you get into a zen cooking space. You can also cut out pages from magazines or make photocopies if you want to do this with a recipe from a cookbook.
4. Bake stuffing in muffin tins to maximize crispy surface area and make easy single servings.
5. Freeze rolled-out pie crusts so they hold their shape in the oven.
Just pop them in the freezer for 20 minutes to an hour while you make the fillings, then bake (without thawing).
This will let the gluten in the dough relax and minimize shrinkage during baking. This is mainly for single-crust pies like pumpkin and pecan; if you’re adding a top crust you don’t really have to worry as much about shrinking.
6. Microwave potatoes instead of boiling to save time.
You’re going to mash ‘em anyway, so there’s no real reason not to do it this way.
7. Slow-roast your turkey overnight to free up oven space the day of.
Put the turkey in before you go to bed, turn the heat down, and wake up to a falling-off-the-bone tender bird in the morning.
8. Use a wine glass to cut out biscuits.
Make sure to dip the glass in flour after every few to keep the dough from sticking, and push straight down without twisting to make sure the biscuits can rise.
9. Make gravy instantly great by adding soy sauce.
Your best bet is always basing a gravy off yummy turkey pan drippings. But if a) you didn’t save them b) you’re vegetarian or c) your gravy’s just a little bland, a splash of umami is the easiest way to bring out flavor (science says!).
10. Ice down the turkey’s breast before roasting to keep it from drying out.
This actually works! By starting the breast at a slightly lower temperature, you solve the problem of white meat cooking faster than dark.
11. Grate frozen butter straight into pie or biscuit dough.
You can use any normal cheese grater. This way the butter stays cold, which you want to keep everything tender and flaky, but you don’t have to give yourself an elbow injury cutting it into the flour.
12. Prep all your vegetables a day or two ahead and keep them in the fridge.
You can peel potatoes and carrots, chop onions, wash greens, and do basically any other prep steps called for in the recipes you’re using.
This is the kind of thing that will feel crazy when you’re doing it, and AWESOME the next day when you realize you already did.
13. Rice is an easy, non-wasteful way to weigh down pie crust for pre-baking.
Most people don’t have actual pie weights around, and using beans is annoying because they get funny-smelling after baking, and you probably won’t want to eat them. With rice, you can just make pilaf the next day.
14. Cook white and dark turkey meat separately to make sure both are perfect.
Never, never let dry breast meat happen to you. Check out this helpful video that shows exactly how to break down a turkey into parts, then cook separately with recipes like Butter-Roasted Turkey Breast and Braised Turkey Thighs.
15. If you boil potatoes whole, you don’t need to peel them.
Just shock them in ice water when they’re done and then slip the skin off with your hands.
16. Use a beaded necklace to make a cool, easy pie crust design.
17. Instead of scrubbing lots of potatoes, put them through the dishwasher.
When you’re mashing in bulk, there’s no time for scrubbing by hand, like a chump. Just put the potatoes through a quick rinse cycle (WITHOUT soap, please) and cook away.
You could pop sweet potatoes and other sturdy root vegetables in there, too.
18. Quickly chill beer.
Before the football game comes on, wet a paper towel and wrap it around warm beer bottles. Put them in the fridge, and you’ll have chilled beer before kickoff!
19. Use leaves as name cards.
Spray-paint leaves to create personalized, hassle-free name cards your guests will love!
20. Steam corn in a cooler.
Make enough corn for everyone by putting shucked corn into a cooler, pouring boiling water in, and keeping it closed for 30 minutes.
21. Invest in a tiered oven rack
If you’ve got a small oven and lots of side dishes to keep warm, get yourself one of these tiered oven racks. You can instantly double your oven space.