Thanksgiving Dinner Hacks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

If there's one meal that stands out, it has got to be the incredible feast that is the Thanksgiving dinner. This holiday is rooted in culture and tradition. The first Thanksgiving celebration dates way back to the time of the Pilgrims in the 17th century (via AL). These Pilgrims, who wanted to celebrate the harvest, were joined by the Native American Wampanoag tribe. 

Yet, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday across the U.S., although, close to 80 years earlier, President George Washington had stated that the celebration was to be held on the last Thursday of November every year. Those early gatherings may not have served the traditional Thanksgiving fare that everyone loves today. Serving a turkey became part of the Thanksgiving tradition over time (via CNBC). Turkey was a regional food in New England that later became part of harvest festivals. 

Today, Thanksgiving is still a wonderful way to get together with loved ones, whether it's family, friends, or both. Sharing a hearty meal together is the perfect way to show love and create core memories to share. It's a reason to take time out from busy schedules and travel and the distance to show you care.

And if you're the host of a big Thanksgiving dinner, it's worthwhile trying out some hacks before you get started on such a huge culinary endeavor. That way, you can sit down and enjoy the holiday too.

Create a Thanksgiving meal timeline

Making a timeline for exactly what needs to be done when leading up to Thanksgiving isn't a joke. Actually, if it helps alleviate some of the stress. If you're the one hosting a holiday feast, then it's no laughing matter; making a plan actually makes a lot of sense. You might not want to take it too far and start calling meetings and taking minutes, but being prepared means being ready. 

And it also enables you to also relax and enjoy being around loved ones without feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, you've got a better chance of cooking a traditional meal that is a delicious success if you're well organized. With so many plates to deal with (quite literally), you definitely need a schedule (via Tasting Table).  

If you're eating on Day 4, then your prep starts on Day 1, when you will be working on finalizing the menu, making sure you've got all your ingredient staples, and potentially defrosting your turkey. The next day, you need to make your stock and get your vegetables and wine for the day. By the third day, you might be brining your turkey, making stuffing and cranberry sauce, and prepping your veggies while also thinking about dessert. 

The last day is when you roast your turkey and make your sides: Start hours in advance, leaving the gravy-making as the last cooking job. Then, set the table and get the bar ready. And then, of course, it's time to eat. 

Thaw your frozen turkey in ice

One of the first jobs you need to do when prepping for a big Thanksgiving extravaganza is to defrost your turkey. And while this might not be complex, the most important aspect is giving the turkey enough time so that it can really thaw out. According to BBC Good Food, it takes around 24 hours to defrost 2 kilograms of turkey. So, if your bird weighs in at 6 kg, which is quite possible, then you're talking about three days in a fridge.

 Another factor is that with everything else you're cooking, having the fridge full for days when you're prepping so many other dishes can be a real pain. Of course, if you defrost the meat outside the fridge, it's going to take a third of the time. You do have to be careful of bacteria, so make sure you cook your turkey as soon as it's thawed out. 

A third option is to follow a TikTok hack posted by @impossiblescience: Submerge your frozen turkey in a big bucket of iced water, which is much better at transferring heat than air. You don't need to put this in the fridge or add a lid on top. Check that the temperature is always retained at under 104 degrees Celsius and leave the turkey to thaw. A pound of meat will take 30 minutes to thaw, meaning that a 20-pound turkey will defrost in 10 hours.

Try a fermented dairy brine

There's a lot of culinary debate about whether a dry brine or a wet one works best with a Thanksgiving turkey. What's perhaps less in contention is whether brining is needed or not. The key to both methods is salt, which stops moisture from leaving the bird when it's roasted so that it's juicier as a result. Wet brine adds salty water to the turkey so that liquid is retained when it's cooked. On the other hand, dry brine works by actually drawing out the juices. 

These juices then mix with the salt and are absorbed back into the meat. The salt prevents that loss of moisture during cooking. If you're not sure which to choose, because you're not sure which one would be best, then you could skip both and try something different, such as a fermented dairy brine instead (via NPR)

Cookbook author Nik Sharma suggests adopting an Indian-style marinade to tenderize the meat that uses dairy, such as plain yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk. The lactic acid gently softens the meat, while the phosphates, which are found in dairy, are even better than salt at ensuring the water in the meat isn't lost. 

Instead, the water binds to the meat and is retained. If you want to marinate your turkey properly, then another useful tip is to cut it up so that you can put individual pieces in bags of marinade in the fridge.

Follow Martha Stewart's tip and cook turkey with a T-shirt

Martha Stewart once shared an interesting Thanksgiving hack on the Today show. In order to perfectly cooked roast turkey for the holiday meal, Stewart suggests following her method of draping a cheesecloth over the bird as it cooks. The cheesecloth should be soaked in white wine and butter. Don't have a cheesecloth on hand? No problem, according to the TV star. Just head to your wardrobe instead!

You can fashion a T-shirt into a cheesecloth in the same way. Obviously, it's best to use a clean, white T-shirt and one that you don't mind soaking in a buttery wine mix. Her other recommendation is that the bird is basted throughout the cooking process too. Of course, you're probably going to want to remove the item of clothing from the top of your turkey before you bring it to the table, although you could share your funny hack with your guests, if only to make everyone laugh! 

Meanwhile, Iron Chef's Alex Guarnaschelli also soaks a doubled-over piece of cheesecloth in half a stick of unsalted melted butter and puts this over her turkey before roasting (via She Knows). It stops the breast meat from overcooking and the skin from burning. However, it's removed for the last part of the cooking so the skin can crisp up.

Roast pieces of turkey not a whole bird

You may seek advice when cooking a turkey in terms of aspects such as defrosting times, marinating and basting methods, plus cooking times. And then there's the question of how long to rest the meat and how to carve it. It's essential for everyone to have a succulent selection of meat, and that often means a mixture of the darker leg meat and some leaner, white breast meat. Making sure everyone has what they want and that there's enough to go around isn't always so easy with one bird. 

That's why a tip featured in My Recipes makes everything easier when roasting a Thanksgiving bird. And it's so simple, the only question is why you haven't thought about it already. All you need to do is cut your turkey up into pieces before you roast it, which a butcher can do for you. This makes the turkey easier to store in the fridge. Also, it allows you to add more pieces to a whole bird that's been broken down: No more fighting over drumsticks, as you can simply roast the quantity required in terms of your guests. 

And if you know exactly what everyone who is sharing at Thanksgiving with you likes to eat, then you can customize the meal exactly to suit their requirements, which could also cut down on wastage whilst making sure that you have enough leftovers. Some of the other benefits include decreased cooking time and crispier skin. 

Separate prep ingredients for each recipe

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is a huge task, even if you've got a big kitchen, lots of prep space, and some kitchen helpers. Even if you've got your timings sorted, it's easy to get yourself into a mess as everything gets mixed up when you measure out ingredients or chop some fresh produce. The only way to avoid this is to be super organized.

The only way to get super organized is to make sure that you've prepped everything before you start. This saves you the stress of having to get everything on the go. This isn't a new idea, the French culinary term "mise en place" refers to setting out equipment and ingredients before you start cooking (via Nisbets).  

TikTok poster @brunchwithbabs adds an extra layer to this idea with a simple yet brilliant Thanksgiving prep hack. Take a tray and a baking sheet for each recipe. Get everything you need for each dish ready and measure it out into individual bowls. Then put these sheets onto separate trays. 

Put these bowls on each of the relevant trays so there's no risk that the flour for one recipe will get mixed up with flour that's also being used for another, and so on. You should also ensure that you don't mix up which baking sheet relates to which specific recipe. If you're following recipes, print them out on a piece of paper and place them on each one of your trays. 

Grill deli turkey

If you love the idea of hosting a relaxed Thanksgiving dinner, then you're probably not a huge fan of being tirelessly trapped in the kitchen with a hot oven blasting away for hours roasting a turkey. But what if you could chill out and cook a great turkey feast on the grill? 

What if you didn't have to cook your turkey using raw meat either, which might allow you to cut down on cooking time? The great news is that you can do both, according to chef Dan Jacobs, who's also known as The Grill Samaritan. His Thanksgiving barbecue hack is featured on a 104.3 The Fan Facebook post.

Instead of a whole raw turkey, buy a cooked turkey from the deli counter that has not been sliced or carved so that it looks like a big joint of meat. Put some olive oil on top, along with some Cajun chicken or honey garlic seasoning, and then stick the meat straight on the broiler, And that's it. 

As the turkey turns golden brown on top, you want the temperature inside to reach around 140 degrees Fahrenheit before it's ready to eat. Then, all you need to do is slice up and serve the wonderfully smoked turkey. This is a really great hack if you're catering to a larger group or throwing a Thanksgiving party with a buffet table featuring sharing dishes.

Turn your oven into a smoker

There may be times when you crave the smoky taste your grill gives you, but you really don't want to venture outside and start up your barbecue. One of those times could very well be Thanksgiving, particularly if it's not warm outside and you want to enjoy a cozy, family-style meal indoors. 

How about a hack that allows you to turn your oven into a smoker so you can savor the wonderful taste and aroma of smoked turkey? If you're punching the air in anticipation right now, then this Lifehacker tip is for you, and there are two different ways that you can go about doing this. 

Put pre-soaked wood chips in a single layer on a baking tray. Pecan and maple chips are great with turkey, as are apple chips: These varieties add a subtle smokiness and some sweet flavors to the turkey. Add 1/4 cup of the soaking water to the tray and chips. Put a wire rack on top and place a disposable tray upon it with at least 10 holes poked into the bottom.

Then, put your turkey on the tray. Cover everything completely with aluminum foil so that it's fully sealed but has some air on the inside. Cook in an oven that has been preheated to 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes. The temperature inside the turkey breast should reach about 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Crisp up your turkey with a hair dryer

Some of the best cooking hacks today are not always the newest, but they're renewed and brought to new audiences through TikTok and other social media sites. At the same time, there are some weird and fad-style tips out there that really don't work at all. One Thanksgiving culinary trick that's been picked up by TikTok actually harkens back to the '70s, and it was put to the test in a feature by Reader's Digest Canada. It involves a turkey and a hairdryer! 

So, can a hairdryer help dry out and crisp turkey skin? The feature concludes that the results are amazing: After just 20 minutes, the skin began to brown and crisp. Try it yourself, and if it works, then that's great. You'll definitely have a laugh if anyone sees you blow-drying your turkey, which will at least add a fun ingredient to the holidays. 

Make sure your turkey is thawed out and that any packaging and giblets inside the turkey have been removed. Dry the turkey with kitchen towels first, and then turn on your hairdryer to blow hot air on the outside and inside of the turkey for about 10-15 minutes so that it's totally dry. 

Cook as you normally would. Other ways to add crispiness include basting the meat during cooking, turning up the heat, using a dry brine, brushing on some extra fat, or chilling in the fridge uncovered all do the trick too.

Cook your turkey on low heat overnight

Celebrity chef Dave Little, who was once the private chef for Star Wars creator George Lucas, has given cooks down on planet Earth a Thanksgiving hack. According to Mail Online, Little recommends avoiding the biggest mistake when roasting a turkey, which is not cooking it for long enough. His tip is to cook the turkey on low overnight. He sets his oven to 158 degrees Fahrenheit and then leaves it so that it's ready in the morning. 

If you're wondering how to do this and still get a lovely browned top, the trick is to crank up the heat for a short time towards the end of the cooking period. The chef recommends this method so that the meat is evenly cooked, the breast meat doesn't dry up, and it's as juicy as the darker meat. 

Country singer Trisha Yearwood reveals her family Thanksgiving tradition in a Yahoo! News article. Her method, passed down through her family, is a hassle-free way to cook turkey by putting it in hot water in an ovenproof dish with a lid on top. Get your oven really hot and put the turkey in the pot for an hour. 

Then, all you do is turn the oven off and leave everything as is. This means you don't let the heat out by opening the oven door to check on the turkey. The turkey is supposed to be left overnight, and it should be cooked by morning.

Speed up roasting with The Pioneer Woman

The Pioneer Woman loves nothing better than family meals and traditional fare, with her own twist, of course. So, it's no surprise that she has a few tricks when it comes to feeding hungry relatives on Thanksgiving. The best culinary trips are ones that make cooking easier without sacrificing the taste. One hack that the TV chef suggests allows you to cut down on the cooking time for your turkey drastically. 

Do you want your Thanksgiving turkey to be succulently juicy yet crispy on the outside, all in less time? The simplest way to speed up roasting time is to spatchcock your turkey. You just need a good pair of shears (via The Pioneer Woman). Butterfly your bird (lie it flat): This will increase the surface area and reduce the cooking time. Press down on either side of the turkey, flatten it out, and then turn the turkey over and press in the center to break the breastbone.

Before roasting on a tray, make sure the wings are tucked in and everything else is as flattened as possible, including the legs and thighs, with not much space between the breast meat and the tray. Season as you usually would.

Make crunchier stuffing

There's something so delicious about stuffing. The herby flavor is evocative of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Whether you make your own stuffing or mix it up from a box, there are plenty of different ideas regarding the best way of cooking it. According to a dietician featured in a Cleveland Clinic article, the best way to cook stuffing is in a dish. 

However, if you do want to cook your stuffing inside a turkey, then only stuff the bird just before you cook, not in advance. And make sure the temperature of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't like your stuffing with a bit of crunch, then you may want to try a waffle-inspired stuffing hack featured on FoodSided, adapted from a recipe by Butterball.

Cook your stuffing on a baking sheet, and once it has cooled down, add an egg and separate the mix into two containers. Create two stuffing patties by pressing the mixture onto two plates that had been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Leave these for around 10 minutes, so the shape becomes a bit firmer. 

Turn on your waffle maker, spritz with cooking spray and add one of your patties. Press and cook until lovely and brown. While the original recipe creates a sandwich with leftovers, why not serve your stuffing waffle with the main meal? It's a different way of cooking that saves on oven space. 

Cook your meat sous vide

Some hacks inspire a 'duh' moment because they're such obvious solutions. Once you know them, that is. Other culinary tips are not only less obvious, but they're also ideas that you may never have considered. One of these is the suggestion of cooking your Thanksgiving turkey using a sous vide technique. 

This method cooks food in sealed bags, in water, at a set temperature, cooking the meat to perfection while all the flavor is sealed in. And since a common complaint is that roasted turkey is often dry when served at Thanksgiving, this might just be a different way to create succulent meat for your holiday feast (via Wired). 

The ChefSteps sous vide turkey guide involves quartering your turkey and removing the rib bones. Cook the legs in one bag first, and then the breast in another later. The suggestion is to cook the turkey on low heat overnight, but this is dependent on your preference. Butter that has been melted with herbs, garlic, and peppercorns should be added to the bag before cooking. 

If you're concerned about the turkey lacking that lovely roasted brown color, then you can achieve this by searing your meat in a pan after you have taken it out of the sous vide. Broiling or browning the turkey with a torch works too. Adding a rub on the outside and putting it in the oven to crisp up and brown is another effective technique. 

Follow Alex Guarnaschelli's tip on making flourless gravy

Most gravy recipes, and plenty of sauces too, are made by creating a roux which is a mixture of melted fat and flour. And there's plenty of advice out there about how to make a roux so that your gravy isn't lumpy and isn't floury. 

However, Food Network's Alex Guarnaschelli takes the pressure out of making gravy for Thanksgiving with a hack that doesn't include a roux or any flour, cornstarch, or thickeners at all. It isn't just easier this way, it's also delicious. Posted on the Food Network Facebook Page, the chef describes the method as her "little secret weapon."

Roast a tray of onions, carrots, and celery with your turkey till they're super tender. You can tell the vegetable are done if you can easily crush them with your fingers. This classic veg combination is known as a mirepoix. Spoon the roasted veggies into a blender and pour over some warm stock on top to cover them, and blend to create a thick puree. 

Add a spoonful of this puree to your gravy to thicken it. Whisk this into your gravy so that it is wonderfully creamy and glossy, without any floury bits. The roasted vegetables also add a great flavor to your gravy. And when you're rushing around trying to make so many dishes for a holiday dinner, this tip will also make your gravy-making and, therefore, your Thanksgiving holiday a lot less stressful.

Add some spice for extra flavor

Food Network's Aarti Sequeira loves to celebrate spice and thinks it's a great way to pump up the flavor of a Thanksgiving meal. The chef believes that spicing up turkey can make it less bland, and it's a great way of maximizing flavor since the meat, especially the darker meat, can definitely take in a good amount of spice (via Cheat Sheet).

The chef also teamed up with Selena Gomez for HBO's Selena + Chef, revealing her Thanksgiving tandoori butter turkey breast entrée. It's made with lots of spices mixed into butter with lime juice, honey, and salt. This mixture is then rubbed onto the skin. The turkey breast is tied with twine and cooked in the oven on a rack over a tray with water. Other recipes include cornbread stuffing and a spicy cranberry chutney (via Real Homes). 

The chutney is made with black peppercorns, coriander, and pomegranate seeds, plus orange zest. The chef reveals that she always makes a lot more than she needs for Thanksgiving as guests always want to take some home in a jar. 

It has a little bit of heat, and it proves that it's not just the turkey that can be a standout dish for this holiday extravaganza. Meanwhile, the TV chef's Indian spiced stuffing, inspired by a recipe from her mother, is made with green chili, garlic, ginger, and onions, along with bacon, pine nuts, and some alcohol thrown in for good measure. 

Shock your potatoes to peel them

There's so much prep that is needed to make a fantastic Thanksgiving spread of roast turkey with all the typical accompaniments. And there's often a lot to do because you may be hosting several guests. One small culinary task, like peeling potatoes, is a hassle when you have so much else to do.

It's not just that it takes time either. Some people find that peeling spuds isn't so easy, not to mention the fact that you're often left with peels everywhere. Peeling potatoes can also take up a lot of space, which is challenging when you're trying to prepare multiple sides at the same time. All you need is a simple potato hack. It's a no-brainer, and it makes your Thanksgiving culinary experience that much easier.

A TikTok post by @athomewithshannon suggests a hack that allows you to keep your peeler tucked away in your drawer. Start by boiling your potatoes with skins on. Once they're soft, transfer them to a bowl of iced water. This 'shocks' the spuds, and once they have cooled down, the skin should come right off.

If you do decide you want to peel your potatoes the traditional way, then there are still ways that you can keep your kitchen tidy, or at least not add to the mess. Peel your potatoes over some parchment paper. That way, you can keep your peelings together, and they will not dirty the counter. It'll be easier and quicker. 

Use Tyler Florence's hack to make creamy mashed potatoes

If you were to name a few Thanksgiving meal sides, then there's little doubt that creamy mashed potatoes would be on the list. It's a side that promises to be the perfect accompaniment to crispy-skinned turkey and gravy, as well as veggies, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Everybody loves mash, and while it may not make or break your holiday feast, there's no doubt that this dish of delicious carbs can either be a standout star or a total flop. 

To really make your holiday mash shine, you may want to follow a hack or two from Food Network's Tyler Florence. Boil your spuds in heavy cream and milk, in equal measures, rather than water. You can also add fresh thyme, a garlic clove, and a bay leaf.

Try another one of the celebrity chef's mash hacks: Warm up butter and cream in a pan before slowly adding to mash, and don't use these ingredients straight from the fridge. This is because the coldness cools down the potatoes so quickly that it reacts with the starch in the spuds, and the result is a paste-like consistency. 

Other tips the chef recommends are only using Yukon Gold potatoes for the best mash, putting potatoes into cold water and boiling this up, and also using a ricer rather than a traditional masher (via Cheat Sheet). 

Spread stuffing out on a baking sheet

While stuffing is traditionally cooked inside the turkey, it's a whole lot easier to make it in its own pan. In fact, it's delicious cooked this way, with a knob or two of butter on the top. Simple, yes, but that doesn't mean there isn't a great hack that will significantly improve the stuffing and the process. 

This tip was highlighted by Yahoo! News, and it was inspired by cookbook author Julia Turshen who came up with other culinary hacks such as adding a sprinkle of water to a pan and putting a lid on the top to make perfect sunny-side-up eggs.

To try this Thanksgiving-themed hack, forget cooking your stuffing in a casserole dish and grab a baking sheet instead. After mixing up your stuffing, spread it out on the tray and cook it with butter on top as usual. This sheet-pan method allows for more crunchiness. This method leads to the perfect amount of softness and crunch. 

Of course, you can also improve your boxed stuffing by adding mushrooms sauteed in butter, as well as some grated Parmesan cheese on the top, according to a TikTok post by @tasty. The stuffing can then be put into the oven while the cheese melts on top, or you can put a lid over the hot stuffing instead. When it comes to making a homemade meal, even with store-bought ingredients, there's always room to add your own flavor and culinary twist. 

Use foil if you don't have a wire rack

You've worked out your defrosting times, know how to brine your turkey, and how long to cook it. In fact, you're completely organized. However, when it comes to popping your piece de resistance into the oven, you realize you don't have a wire rack to cook it on. 

According to chef Ashton Keefe, as highlighted in a feature by Inside Edition, it's a good idea to use a rack because it helps the heat and the air to circulate around the bird so that it cooks easily. It also means your turkey can brown the entire way around. Thankfully, she also offers a simple solution.

Grab some aluminum foil, and roll it up into a circular shape. Put this in the bottom of your baking tray and place the turkey on top so that there's a space between the bird and the pan. Wonder How To warns that letting your turkey sit directly on the tray means that it might burn on that side, causing the meat could become a little dry and overdone. 

In addition to the circular foil, also make a sausage-shaped roll of foil that you can also fashion into a spiral or a figure eight shape so the turkey sits atop in a balanced way. If it doesn't seem high enough, add more foil to give the structure more volume and some lift. This will also give you some extra cooking space in the pan. 

Follow Alton Brown's tip and remove the wishbone before roasting

There are plenty of tips out there about how to carve a turkey, as demonstrated by @maxthemeatguy on TikTok. Remove the legs, and then turn each of these over and cut again at the crease to separate the joint. In order to get the drumsticks, drumsticks, take out the bone from the thigh and slice. For the turkey breast, take the whole of this meat off in one piece and then lay it down flat. You can then cut it so that there's skin on each piece. 

To make carving easier, you may want to follow a hack on the Food Network Facebook Page from celebrity chef Alton Brown, who recommends removing the wishbone or furcula before roasting as it won't interfere with the carving later. 

Put your turkey in a bowl that's fitted around the bird so that it's held up with the neck pointing upwards. This makes it easier to get to the wishbone, which is in a "V" shape right at the top. This also makes it easier to cut it out without the turkey slipping around too. 

Use a boning or carving knife, and run the tip along each side of the bone on both edges to cut it away. Then cut at the points where the meat joins with other bones. Once you've loosened the wishbone, you can lift it up, bend it back so you can cut underneath, and twist it off. 

Carve correctly for better taste

Have you ever seen a brown, perfectly roasted turkey centerpiece only to be served roughly cut pieces of meat on a plate? How you carve your turkey is important, and that's it's an even more important task when everyone's sitting down and eagerly awaiting a turkey feast, and it's not just about aesthetics, either. 

Yes, thick or uneven pieces of meat that look like they've been hacked into don't look great. But if you don't carve in the right way, this can actually make the meat dry up too. However, it's not just the way you carve that counts; the tool you use for carving makes all the difference (via Taste of Home).

For a lovely, juicy slice of roast turkey, you don't need any fancy equipment or a quirky hack, just a great culinary tip, and that is to always use a really sharp knife. The sharper your knife is, the safer it will be, not just for carving turkey but also for chopping vegetables. That's right, a blunt blade can slide off if it doesn't make a cut straight away, and that can lead to injuries. 

When it comes to carving turkey, a dull knife will actually press down on the meat as you'll need additional pressure to cut through it. This can cause the juices in the turkey to escape, which takes the moisture out of the meat, and leaves most of the juices on the carving plate instead. 

Glow up a store bought dessert pie

You also probably don't want to finish a splendid turkey dinner with a final course that's totally underwhelming. If you've been invited to a Thanksgiving meal and are in charge of bringing a sweet pie but don't want to disappoint since you lack the culinary skills, the answer could be to buy a store-bought cake and give it a glow-up with some extra toppings, according to cookbook authors Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin (via Inside Hook).

Top the pecan pie with Maldon salt, flakes of sea salt, or a smoked variety of salt to cut through the sweetness and bring out the flavors. Try another pecan pie tip and add a layer of warm dulce de leche on top and some crushed-up bits of toffee. This creates a gentle sweetness and some crunchy texture. Heat up heavy cream in the microwave and once it's boiling, add a broken-up chocolate bar and let it melt into a delicious liquid. 

Stir for a minute with a rubber spatula, and once it looks like a sauce, pour it over your pecan pie, and put the pie back in the fridge: Now you've got a chocolate ganache layer on top. Add whipped cream to an apple pie, and put cocoa powder in the cream if you want it chocolatey. Roast some sweetened flakes of coconut in the oven for ten minutes until they're nicely toasted and brown. Sprinkle them on pecan pie or Key lime pie.  

Send guests home with leftovers

There's nothing worse than stuffing yourself with a fantastic family meal over Thanksgiving and then facing a fridge full of food the next day. It's inevitable that you're going to have some food that doesn't get eaten, especially if you're going down the traditional route and cooking a big turkey and all the other traditional dishes that go with it.  

There are so many suggestions about what to do with leftovers. Make a pumpkin pie smoothie or a breakfast hash. Add some turkey into your egg recipes in the morning. Make a sandwich with meat and cranberry sauce, or put some cheese with your leftover turkey and grill a panini (via NIHD). Or you could follow a TikTok hack by @brunchwithbabs.

Rather than trying to think of a long list of recipes to make yourself, send leftovers back home with your guests. If you've made a great dinner, then they'll appreciate it, and it's a nice way to tell them you enjoyed their company. 

Rather than sending them a mushed-up meal on a plate, try this ingenious hack instead: Take a disposable muffin tin with a lid and fill each of the compartments with different Thanksgiving foods. Put turkey in one, mash in another, and so on. That way, your guests can take home a little of everything and have another whole meal for the next day. What's great about this is that the muffin tray can go straight into the oven too!