20 Most-Asked Thanksgiving Questions, Answered in 20 Words Or Less

Everything you need to know about cooking Thanksgiving dinner—from the turkey to the pie, fixings, sides and more.

What’s the all-time best Thanksgiving tip?


Roast the turkey upside down. It’ll protect the breast from overcooking, and juices will seep down and keep it moist. (Looking for a stress-free Thanksgiving? Get our FREE guide for an unforgettable Thanksgiving. You'll get easy recipes, kid-friendly crafts and games, inspiring traditions, and more ideas for the best holiday yet.)

I don’t own a roasting rack. Do you have any DIY alternatives I can use instead?


Scrunch foil into a three-foot snake, then coil it into a ring. Or use clean, empty tuna cans.

What should I serve vegetarians?


No tofurkey, please! Make a butternut squash lasagna, and all your guests will sneak some, vegetarian or not.

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What’s the best way to reheat cold turkey?

iStock/Jill Chen

Tastiest is in the gravy. Slice turkey and simmer in a skillet with gravy and some broth or water. (Related: Check out these recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers.)

What size turkey should I buy?


Calculate one pound per adult. If you have a small oven or lots of guests, roast two smaller turkeys. Here are tips for buying the perfect turkey.

How do I defrost a turkey—fast?


Submerge the turkey (still in the packaging) breast side down in cold water. Change the water every hour.

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What happens if I start to carve the turkey and it’s still raw?


Discreetly take it to the kitchen, cut into pieces, and spread it on a baking sheet to finish roasting. (Related: Here are other fixes for Thanksgiving food fails.)

What’s an easy dish I can make with little time and even less skill?


Chop up a bunch of vegetables, toss in olive oil and salt, and roast for 30 minutes in a 400°F oven.

How do I keep pumpkin pie from cracking?


Bake just until the filling is barely set in the center but firm on the edges.

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How do I keep my piecrust from getting soggy?


Brush the bottom crust with beaten egg white, or partially bake it before pouring in your filling.

What’s the difference between “stuffing” and “dressing”?


Technically, dressing is stuffing that’s cooked outside the turkey, but it’s really just cultural/regional semantics. (Related: Here are more differences in regional food names you'll argue about forever.)

How do you fix dry stuffing?


Pour on some stock, cover with foil, and pop it in the oven.

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What’s an easy, basic gravy?

iStock/Jodi Jacobson

Sauté 1/4 cup of turkey fat or butter and 1/4 cup flour. Pour in 4 cups hot broth. Whisk until gravy-fied. Season. Or check out this easy step-by-step process for making gravy.

How do I fix lumpy gravy?


Pour it into a blender and process. Or pass through a fine sieve.

How do I rescue my watery cranberry sauce?


Let it reduce longer on the stove; it will thicken as it cools. Also, “loose” cranberry sauce isn’t necessarily bad. (Related: Looking for a new cranberry sauce recipe this year?)

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Can I bring my famous dish as a carry-on on a plane?

iStock/Izabela Habur

Cakes, pies, and “solids” can generally go through security. Booze, gravy, cranberry sauce, and other “liquids” need to be checked.

Dinner’s ready, but the guests are late. How do I keep the food hot?


Cover and keep in a 200°F oven for up to 30 minutes; baste with chicken broth if it gets dry.

Are any of the traditional Thanksgiving eats good candidates for the slow cooker? I’d love to be able to free up time and oven space.


Absolutely! Mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, candied yams, cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole all work well in the slow cooker. Just don't make these rookie slow cooker mistakes.

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My sister follows a gluten-free diet, and I planned desserts for her but totally forgot about the gravy. How do I thicken gluten-free gravy?


Use cornstarch or arrowroot powder.

What happens if I have a major last-minute cooking disaster?


Chuck it, and don’t mention it. Nobody will know. Unless it’s the turkey. In that case, confess; pour more wine.

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