Rule #288: Timing is everything.
Thanksgiving can be a little daunting when it comes to the timing and planning of things. Well, my lovely buddy, I’ve got you covered! I’ve put together an easy Thanksgiving Timeline including links to recipes and a printable schedule! I love to cook, but what I love even more is making cooking easy and accessible for everyone. I want to spread my joy for food to all, and I hope this is one more way I can do that.
I’m going to break everything down in this Thanksgiving Timeline by the day of the week leading up to Thanksgiving. I hope this timeline helps make Turkey Day nice and smooth for you!
Thanksgiving Timeline (Week of) Breakdown
Thaw your turkey! Put your bird in the refrigerator (on a platter if you can to catch condensation). If your bird is larger than 20 lbs., you may want to start thawing your bird on Sunday.
Make your dry brine for your turkey. Store in airtight container in the fridge.
Decorate the table for the big dinner.
Chill any white or sparkling wine.
Make cornbread for your Thanksgiving Dressing and lay out to dry.
Cut French baguette into pieces for Thanksgiving Dressing and lay out to dry.
Prep any vegetables you’ll be cooking with, for example, dice onions, chop celery, chop any herbs, and store all in airtight containers in the fridge.
Rinse your turkey with cold water. Discard giblets and neck (if included). Pat the turkey dry, then rub all over with the dry brine you made on Tuesday. Place on a platter with the dry brine all over, then set in the fridge, uncovered, for 6-7 hours. So, if you want to eat at 4:00 on Thanksgiving Day, you’ll start cooking the turkey around 11:00 or 11:30. That means you’ll start your dry brine in the fridge at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning on Thanksgiving Day. See Turkey Timing below for more.
While you enjoy your coffee, peel the potatoes for your Mashed Potatoes. You can store them in cool water in the stockpot you’ll cook them in until later.
Boil the potatoes 1 hour before eating. Rice and season immediately after, reserving some starchy cooking liquid to loosen potatoes if needed. Cover and keep in stock pot until serving. See recipe for more.
Decant your red wine.
Prepare any salads and vegetables you’ll be serving. Keep chilled in the fridge until serving.
Warm rolls and any desserts that need to be warmed.
Make gravy when ready and carve turkey.
Make dry brine two days ahead.
Dry brine 6-7 hours before beginning to cook.
Rinse the turkey in cold water. Pat dry. Stuff with onion, garlic, and herbs. Rub under skin and all over with room temperature butter.
For a 12-14 lb. turkey, allow 2 1/2 – 3 hours of cook time in the oven or roaster. Baste every 30 minutes.
Allow to rest 30 minutes before carving.
• Thaw your turkey in the fridge on a platter to catch condensation.
• If your turkey is larger than 20 lbs., consider thawing Sunday instead.
• Make the dry brine for your turkey (see recipe). Keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
• Decorate your table for the big dinner.
• Chill any white or sparkling wine.
• Make cornbread for your Thanksgiving Dressing (see recipe).
• Cut French baguette into 1” pieces for Thanksgiving Dressing. Spread pieces on a large piece of parchment paper to dry.
• Crumble cornbread and spread onto a large piece of parchment paper to dry.
• Prep any vegetables you’ll be cooking with and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Examples:
• Dice onions
• Chop celery
• Chop herbs or garnishes
• 4:00 AM
• Rinse your turkey with cold water and pat dry.
• Discard giblets and neck (if included).
• Rub all over with dry brine, and place on a large platter in the fridge, uncovered, for 6-7 hours.
• 9:00 AM
• Peel the potatoes for your Mashed Potatoes (see recipe), cut into 2” pieces, and store, covered, in cold water in the stockpot you’ll boil them in later.
• 11:00 AM
• Rinse the brine from the turkey and pat dry.
• Stuff with onion, garlic, and herbs (see recipe).
• Rub room temperature butter under the skin and all over.
• Place in large Dutch oven with rack or turkey roaster.
• Pour chicken stock all around bottom of pan.
• Roast at 425 for 30 minutes, then reduce temp to 300. Cook 2 ½ – 3 hours, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh registers 165.
• Baste every 30 minutes.
• Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving.
• 2:30 PM
• Begin cooking your Green Bean Casserole and Thanksgiving Dressing (see recipes).
• Keep warm after finished.
• 3:00 PM
• Boil the potatoes for your Mashed Potatoes (see recipe). Rice immediately after and add seasonings, milk, and butter. Be sure to reserve some starchy cooking liquid from the potatoes to loosen them if needed later. Keep covered and warm until serving.
• 3:30 PM
• Prepare any salads or fresh vegetables you’ll be serving. Keep chilled in fridge until serving.
• Warm rolls and desserts.
• Decant your red wine.
• Make the gravy and carve the turkey when ready.
• 4:00 PM
• Serve and enjoy!