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How to Cook an Entire Thanksgiving Dinner in Just 3 Hours

The ultimate guide to a quick Thanksgiving dinner.

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Roasted Turkey Thanksgiving Tradition Celebration

All down to the planning

Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t always go as planned. Maybe winter weather has you stuck at home. Or maybe your would-have-been host ended up in a bind. Or maybe you had a late start planning—no judgment! Regardless of the situation, we’ll show how to make an entire Thanksgiving dinner in just three hours. We have a full menu (including pie!) and step-by-step instructions for how to cook each dish. 

Man buying food products in the supermarket shoppingLizardflms/Shutterstock

Time to shop

This Thanksgiving dinner is designed to serve eight, but some recipes yield more servings (yay, leftovers!). In this collection, we’ll show you how to make:

It’s unlikely that you have all of the necessary ingredients on hand, so it’s essential that you make a trip to the store before you begin—and keep in mind that many stores will be closed on Thanksgiving. Beware of the worst day to shop for Thanksgiving groceries, too. Be sure to compile a shopping list to make it easy to snatch up all of the ingredients you need, and check off any items you already have.

Pro tip: Organization is essential for speedy holiday dinner prep. Lay out all of the ingredients in advance and gather any utensils and cookware you’ll need, including these kitchen tools that will definitely help your Thanksgiving cooking.

Making cranberry sauceTaste of Home

Step 1: Start the cranberry sauce 

Let’s get started. First, get a head start on your bakes by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Then, in a large saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, water and dry red wine for your Red Wine Cranberry Sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium.

Task Time: 5 minutes 

Total Time: 5 minutes

pumpkin pie recipe concept - woman whisking in cinnamon and spices for batter shot from pov viewJoshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Step 2: Prepare your pie 

While the cranberries are cooking, it’s time to prepare the Easy Pumpkin Pie. Beat eggs, pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, maple flavoring, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour into a pre-made pie crust and cover the edges loosely with foil. Pop the pie into the preheated oven and set a timer for 10 minutes.

Editor’s tip: As you’re preparing the pie filling, make sure to give the cranberries a stir every so often. You don’t want them to burn!

Task Time: 10 minutes 

Total Time: 15 minutes

Or maybe you can change things up this year and try out America’s favorite Thanksgiving pie—which isn’t pumpkin!

Cranberry sauce cookingTaste of Home

Step 3: Finish the cranberries

Once most of the berries have popped, transfer the mixture to a bowl. Let cool on the counter for a few minutes.

Task Time: 5 minutes 

Total Time: 20 minutes

Stainless steel saucepan on gas stove burner in the kitchenFotoCuisinette/Shutterstock

Step 4: Start making the wild rice

Prepare the wild rice according to package directions. Most brands will take about 45 minutes to cook. Remember that timer you set? Now’s the time to reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Your pie will need to bake for another 45 minutes or so. Don’t miss these other easy Thanksgiving side dishes you should try.

Task Time: 5 minutes 

Total Time: 25 minutes

Cooking dinner, chopped vegetables onions, garlic, celery Lapina Maria/Shutterstock

Step 5: Prep ingredients for stuffing, potatoes, and green beans 

For the Apple Cranberry Stuffing, chop the onion, celery, and apples. To prep the Roasted Green Beans with Lemon & Walnuts, trim the beans, slice the shallots, crush the garlic and zest the lemon. For the Gruyere Mashed Potatoes, peel and cube potatoes, mince the chives. Set all of the prepped ingredients aside. You should also consider these things to put in your turkey besides stuffing.

Task Time: 25 minutes 

Total Time: 50 minutes

Turkey Uncooked Brined and Seasoned with Spices in Roasting PanJPL Designs/Shutterstock

Step 6: Prep the turkey

Good news, y’all! It’s turkey time. For our Herbed Turkey Breast, remove the breast from its packaging. Juice the lemon and chop the green onions. Then, in a small saucepan, combine butter, lemon juice, soy sauce, green onions, sage, thyme, marjoram, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove mixture from heat. Place the turkey in a shallow roasting pan, then drizzle with butter mixture. Plus, here are our tips for buying the perfect turkey in the first place.

Task Time: 10 minutes 

Total Time: 1 hour

Closeup of a woman taking a fresh baked pumpkin pie from the ovenSteve Cukrov/Shutterstock

Step 7: Remove the pie and wild rice

Check the pie for doneness (a knife inserted into the center should come out clean), then remove from the oven. Place on a wire rack to cool. Remove the wild rice from heat and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Task Time: 5 minutes 

Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Cook putting raw chicken with vegetables to the oven.Valeria Aksakova/Shutterstock

Step 8:  Start cooking the turkey

Place the turkey, uncovered, into the oven. Set a timer. You’ll bake it for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees. Don’t own a meat thermometer? We recommend this one.

Task Time: 5 minutes 

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Homemade StuffingTaste of Home

Step 9: Prepare stuffing

Gather your prepped ingredients and grease a 13×9 baking dish. Then, in a 6-quart stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery, cooking and stirring for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Add stuffing cubes, apples, rice, cranberries, parsley flakes, salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper. Slowly add chicken broth until you reach desired moistness. Transfer the stuffing mixture to your prepared pan, cover with foil and pop in the oven alongside your turkey. Need more menu ideas? Here’s the ultimate Thanksgiving menu to follow.

Editor’s Tip: This stuffing recipe is supposed to cook at 350 degrees, but since it’s sharing the oven with the turkey, it will need to bake a little longer to make up for the decreased oven temperature.

Task Time: 20 minutes 

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Young woman with lovely hands making home-made buttermilk biscuits using fresh ingredientsJim Bowie/Shutterstock

Step 10: Prepare biscuit dough

Next, we’ll start the Easy Peasy Biscuits. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, flaxseed, and salt. Add the coconut oil and cut it in with a pastry blender. You’re looking for the mixture to resemble coarse crumbs. Add milk and stir the mixture until it’s just moistened.

Editor’s Tip: Turkey basting time! Use a baster to dress the turkey in its own juices.

Task Time: 10 minutes 

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Raw dough for biscuitsElzbieta Sekowska/Shutterstock

Step 11: Turn the dough

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently, approximately 8-10 times. Pat or roll the dough into a ½-inch thick rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter, then once again pat or roll the dough into a ½-inch thick rectangle. Use a knife or pizza cutter to divide the dough into 24 biscuits. Each piece should about 2-1/2 inches square. Place the biscuits 1-1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet, set aside.

Task Time: 15 minutes 

Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes

Closeup of potatoes cut in pieces in waterliubomir/Shutterstock

Step 12: Start preparing the potatoes

Place potatoes in a 6-quart stockpot. Add water to cover, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Remove the foil from the stuffing.

Task Time: 5 minutes 

Total Time: 2 hours

green beans with oil bottleValerio Pardi/Shutterstock

Step 13: Prepare green beans

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the green beans, shallots, and garlic. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to two 15x10x1 baking pans coated with cooking spray or oil. Set aside. Also, check out some clever Thanksgiving cooking hacks with things you already have in your kitchen.

Editor’s Tip: Turkey basting time! Don’t forget to baste that bird.

Task Time: 10 minutes 

Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Portion of homemade Mashed Potatoes on wooden background HandmadePictures/Shutterstock

Step 14: Finish the potatoes

When fork tender, drain the potatoes. Mash with sour cream, milk, and garlic. Place in a slow cooker on the warm setting so they stay hot until you’re ready to serve.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have a slow cooker, cover the potatoes with aluminum foil and place in a warm part of your kitchen. You may need to warm them up for a minute or two in the microwave before serving. Check out this map showing the most popular Thanksgiving food in each state.

Task Time: 10 minutes 

Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Table setting, close upAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Step 15: Remove stuffing and set the table

Check to see that stuffing is done. It should be lightly browned on the top. Remove from oven, cover with foil and set aside. Use this break in cooking to set the table—or, y’know—take that well-deserved break. Be sure to take a look at this Thanksgiving timeline to ensure a smooth, stress-free day.

Task Time: 15 minutes 

Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes

Closeup of chef's hands checking temperature of grilled turkey in commercial kitchenESB Professional/Shutterstock

Step 16: Remove the turkey and bake biscuits and beans

Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the turkey. It should read 165 degrees. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees and place the prepared biscuits and green beans inside.

Task Time: 5 minutes 

Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

Creamy Turkey GravyTaste of Home

Step 17: Make gravy

You’re almost to the finish line. For the Creamy Turkey Gravy, carefully remove 2 tablespoons of drippings from the turkey pan. Combine with cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan. Gradually whisk in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let cook until thickened—about two minutes.

Editor’s Tip: As you’re making the gravy, keep an eye on the biscuits. They’re done when they reach a light, golden brown color.

Task Time: 15 minutes 

Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

Herbed Turkey BreastTaste of Home

Step 18: Add finishing touches

Stir cheese, chives, green onions, garlic salt, and pepper into the mashed potatoes. Add lemon zest and walnuts to green beans. Remove cranberry sauce from the fridge. Carve the turkey. Enjoy! Next, don’t miss these tips for hosting Thanksgiving that’ll preserve your sanity.

Task Time: 5 minutes 

Total Time: 3 hours

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home