Yes, it's really possible to pull off a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings in the time it takes a turkey to roast.
Most Thanksgivings, you’ll find me planning weeks in advance: it’s by far my favorite holiday. But last year I was so busy that Thanksgiving became a hurried affair. I had remembered to order a turkey, but the big day crept up so quickly that I had only the day before to shop, and about four hours on Thanksgiving Day to cook. Amazingly, I pulled it off—turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, and vegetables—the works.
Dinner was delicious, and I learned something: A full-fledged Thanksgiving doesn’t require a huge amount of planning and cooking. The time crunch actually turned out to be an enjoyable challenge—a sort of marathon, with a bit of sweat at the brow but a great showing at the finish line. So get ready to impress everyone with a beautiful meal that takes only four hours to make.
Looking for more Thanksgiving time-savers? Visit our Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner for tips, videos, recipes, recipe-makers, and a menu-making app that does the work for you. Click the recipes you want, and get a complete shopping list and timeline.
The timetable below will help you strategize, but here are more pointers so your blitz Thanksgiving comes off without a hitch:
Delegate dessert (and more). You can bake the pound cake a few weeks before, or assign the recipe to a friend. For easy appetizers, buy good cheese, olives, and other antipasto items from the grocery store. Hand over tasks like peeling potatoes and arranging hors d’oeuvres to family and friends.
As soon as the turkey is in the oven, start chopping. Measure the ingredients for the rest of the recipes and put them in separate bowls. I set the measured ingredients for each dish on a rimmed baking sheet and stick the recipe on top; when it’s time to get cooking, everything is at hand.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun as you prepare this delicious meal. And let yourself revel in the triumph of having made a fabulous turkey dinner that takes just a bit longer to make than the average Thanksgiving Day football game.
Download a pdf of this menu, including all recipes, shopping list and timeline.