A Beginner’s Guide To Making A Thanksgiving Feast

5 mins read

Each year, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day on November 26. The national holiday began in 1621 when Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans threw a feast celebrating the autumn harvest. 

For more than two centuries, thanksgiving was celebrated by colonies and states until President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday in 1863. While the holiday has lost much of its religious significance, households celebrate it by sharing a meal with loved ones. 

If you’re unsure how to make a Thanksgiving feast, we made a beginner’s guide to preparing a celebration that your friends and family will never forget. 

What can you serve?

Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with a feast that includes a whole turkey (baked or fried), gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pie. Some people make deviations, such as green bean casserole and French onion soup. 

If you’re looking to prepare a massive feast, you can also add cornbread dressing, candied yams, and sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. 

What do I need?

Ovens are a must-have for every thanksgiving feast. Experts recommended putting your stuffing of choice in the turkey to save yourself a pan to wash later. However, putting the stuffing in the turkey takes a lot of work. It also makes the cooking take longer. 

Only the turkey, stuffing, and pie are cooked in the oven. Other dishes can be made on the stovetop. Here are the items you need:

  • Oven
  • Stove
  • Roasting Pan
  • Large Pot
  • Small Pots
  • Skillet
  • Cooking spoons
  • Gravy Boat
  • Potato masher
  • Beer or wine
  • Carving board
  • Cutting board
  • Meat thermometer
  • Cooking twine

Cooking Turkey

Turkeys typically take 20 minutes to a pound to fully cook, which means a whole turkey may take five hours in the oven. Buying a pre-brined turkey in places like Trader Joe’s can save you a lot of time during preparation. 

Before you put the turkey in the oven, it’s best to take paper towels and dry the turkey inside and out. It’s also recommended to let it come up to room temperature before putting it in the oven and cooking it at 375 degrees. 

If you’re having a hard time finding a turkey to celebrate the holiday, you can try cheaper and easier alternatives. Salmon, which is packed full of flavors and healthy nutrients, is far easier to cook than turkey. Many recipes only require three ingredients and 15 minutes to prepare the dish. 

If you’re keen on staying in the bird family, you can also consider buying rotisserie from a local grocery store or roasting chicken at home. Larger chickens weigh between five to six pounds on average, according to Popular Science

Making the Stuffing

Thanksgiving stuffings, which is typically made of bread, are bite-sized bits that’s packed full of seasonings and mix-ins that completely elevates your turkey. While putting the stuffing in the turkey is the most common way of eating this dish, you can also grab a serving and eat it on its own. 

Stuffings can be made the day before. Unlike the traditional turkey centerpiece, stuffing is an easier dish to make. Cooking it only requires two easy steps: dump and bake.

The Thanksgiving holiday often leaves plenty of stuffing as leftovers. Instead of throwing it out, you can turn your stuffing into other delicious dishes that make the most out of the holidays.


Press a generous amount of stuffing into a big slab before cutting it and griddling until it’s nicely seared and toasted. Each slab can serve as the divider between sandwich laters. Stuffing can help elevate your sandwiches and give them a holiday flair. 


If you have a knack for Italian dishes, stuffing leftovers can be one of the best things to turn into meatballs. Good Housekeeping has a delicious Stuffing Meatballs recipe that yields four servings and takes only 25 minutes to prepare and cook. 


Are you looking for a versatile recipe that gives you breakfast, lunch, and side dish options? Turn your leftover stuffing into grab-and-go muffins by spooning your stuffing mixture in a muffin tin. Baking the muffins only take up to 30 minutes, according to this recipe by Budget Bytes.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.