Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

Making the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner is a common goal throughout the country on the last Thursday of November every year. Thanksgiving dinner done properly is arguably one of the best meals ever! After all, most of us look forward to the repeat of the same recipes year after year. Just as seasoned hostesses are reveled for their skills, most rookies tend to make the exact same mistakes when preparing this once a year feast.

So, we’ve compiled a list of quite possibly the top 10 most common thanksgiving mistakes that can ruin even a tried and true recipe. These mistakes are both easy to make, and thankfully, easy to avoid with the following suggestions.

perfect thanksgiving dinner

Common Thanksgiving Mistakes

How To Avoid Common Thanksgiving Mistakes

  1. Lumpy Gravy
  2. This is one of the most common mistakes made on Thanksgiving day and the easiest to resolve. Most people use either cornstarch or flour to thicken the turkey juices and drippings into a gravy consistency. Never add the thickener directly into hot liquids! Instead, put a small amount of cold water into a cup and then blend the thickening agent into the cold water until completely smooth. This liquid can then be added slowly to the hot liquid. Stir the cold thickening liquid again before adding, if it has been sitting ready for awhile.

  3. Dry Breast Meat
  4. There are two different ways to attack the problem of a dry turkey breast. Since the breast tends to cook faster than the leg and thigh, which is where you test for doneness, then it makes sense to separate the two before cooking. An intact breast can be served with the same elegance as the whole bird. The other route to a moist breast is to place slices of butter both underneath and on top of the skin covering the breast meat. The butter will melt into the breast meat and at the same time allow for cooking the skin from both sides, making it super crisp and browned. Alternately, a Butterball brand turkey will provide a moist breast because they have injected butter underneath the skin for you. Be sure to check for internal temperature.

  5. Lumpy Mashed Potatoes
  6. Cooked potatoes can be whipped smooth. If you are finding lumps in your potatoes, then they were not cooked thoroughly before whipping. Try to cut your potatoes into equal sized pieces before boiling to ensure that they cook evenly. Before pouring off the water from your boiled potatoes, be sure to test your potatoes with a fork. Pierce several pieces in order to be sure that the fork slides through easily.

  7. Cold Mashed Potatoes
  8. Since potatoes are usually done and mashed in the last few minutes before dinner is served, they run the risk of being done too early and then, after the addition of milk or cream, cool off prior to serving. A mashed potato casserole can be prepared the day before using a little extra cream and cheese to ensure moistness and then baked along with your other casseroles on Thanksgiving day. Keep it in a covered casserole to be served hot and remain hot throughout dinner.

  9. Sticky Stuffing
  10. Use bread that is close to or past its best by date when making your stuffing. Actually, the drier the bread the better – so even toasted bread is better to use to make stuffing than fresh bread. Just be sure your bread hasn’t passed its eat by date and is completely mold free.

  11. Burned Buns
  12. Buns go in the oven at the last minute. While you’re busy de-stuffing and slicing your centerpiece bird, it’s easy to forget about the rolls. The easy suggestion is to choose soft buns that are so fresh that you wouldn’t even think about warming them up. Alternately, simply wrap your buns in aluminum foil before placing them into the oven. They’ll be warm and soft, but also place a bun warmer that you heated along with the buns into your basket before serving to ensure they stay that way.

  13. Liquid Jello
  14. The best solution to jello that runs all over the serving platter is to make it the day before. When you dip it in hot water before releasing it from the mold, be sure it’s just for a few seconds.

  15. Runny Pumpkin Pie
  16. A pumpkin pie is done when a knife inserted comes out clean. If this doesn’t happen, then the pie is not fully cooked and will ooze liquid when sliced. An even easier tell-tale sign of a cooked pumpkin pie is when a small crack appears in the top of the pie.

  17. Soggy Pie Crust
  18. Pies that begin with plenty of liquid can easily form a soggy crust by absorbing some of the filling liquids. This makes the crust seem uncooked, even though it may actually be cooked. To prevent this from happening, you can partially cook the pie crust before adding the pie filling. If you are baking the crust before filling, you should brush the inside of the crust with a whipped egg white before baking to provide a moisture barrier.

  19. A Forgotten Dish
  20. This final thanksgiving mistake can attack both new and seasoned thanksgiving entertainers. That’s right, even after years of repeating the same Thanksgiving day menu, it’s still possible to be looking for a place to store your leftovers only to discover a dish that you completely forgot to serve! So, make a list the night before of everything that you’ve prepared and stick it somewhere so that you can glance at it when serving up the Thanksgiving day feast.

Additional Information

This little bear helps keep buns warm, for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner or any day of the week.

For information on thawing a turkey, check our how long to thaw a turkey page.

For information on turkey shelf life, check out turkey shelf life page.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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