Check out this master list of super-easy Thanksgiving tips and shortcuts that don’t skimp on flavor.
1. Spruced-Up Spuds
Heat a (24-ounce) container of prepared mashed potatoes in the microwave. Swirl in any of the following:
- 4 ounces creamy blue cheese and chives
- 1/2 cup soft goat cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, rosemary, tarragon, thyme or oregano
- 1/4 cup pesto
2. A Berry Pretty Bird
Place your turkey on a platter and surround with 2 bags of frozen cranberries for an easy garnish.
3. Embellish the Relish
To 1 (14-ounce) can whole- berry cranberry sauce, add 1⁄4 cup diced apple, 2 tablespoons each chopped celery and walnuts, and 1 tablespoon chopped chives. Chill and serve.
4. Stress-Free, Lump-Free Gravy
Scrape the drippings and browned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan. Combine with store-bought gravy and heat. Add a splash of white wine or apple juice and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Simmer 10 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of butter for a silky finish.
5. Almost-Homemade Turkey
Dress up a store-bought cooked turkey or turkey breast by brushing with a mix- ture of 1⁄2 cup apricot jam, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, salt and pepper. Apply three times during the last 30 minutes of baking.
6. Gussied-Up Garlic Pull-Apart Biscuits
Start with 2 (12-ounce) cans refrigerated biscuits. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces, dipping each into a combination of 5 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon each garlic salt and oregano, and 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan. Spread pieces out evenly in a pan. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400°F for 35 minutes.
7. Make-It-Special Sweet Potatoes
A crunchy streusel adds panache to mashed sweet potatoes. Mash 2 (15-ounce) cans drained sweet potatoes in light syrup with 1 egg, 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt. Mix 3 tablespoons each cold butter, flour, brown sugar and pecans with your hands and sprinkle on top. Bake 30 minutes at 350°F or according to your recipe’s instructions.
8. Roast for the Most
To save valuable stovetop space, roast vegetables to serve on their own, or toss into salads and stuffing. Combine cubes of pre-cut butter- nut squash, sliced leeks, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 450°F for 45 minutes or until tender.
9. Pumpkin Pie Upgrade
Top a packaged fresh pumpkin pie with marsh- mallows and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes until golden. Broil for 1 minute. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and drizzle with maple or caramel syrup. If using a frozen pumpkin pie, bake according to package directions, adding the marshmallows 15 minutes before the end of baking time.
10. Speedy Spinach Side
Thaw and drain 2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen spinach (do not squeeze dry). Add warmed cream and grated Parmesan cheese; stir well. Microwave spinach mixture until hot.
11. Bag the Veggies
Use microwaveable steam-in-the-bag vegetables to save precious space on the stovetop. Then sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
• Shop in stages: Shelf-stable items that can be purchased a week or two ahead, then those that need to be purchased a few days ahead.
• To thaw frozen turkey, allow 1 day in the refrigerator for every 4 pounds.
• Serving soup? Use a slow cooker to save space on your stovetop.
Fast Flavor Bursts
• Add freshly squeezed orange juice to brighten up sweet potatoes, gravy, roasted vegetables or salads.
• Multitask with maple syrup: Brush on your turkey during the last hour of roasting, drizzle over Brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes, or splash into your gravy.
• Make a garlic butter to use on everything from turkey to potatoes to vegetables: Combine 1 stick softened butter with 2 large crushed garlic cloves, 1⁄4 teaspoon coarse salt and a handful of chopped parsley.
• Buy fresh sage, thyme and parsley to toss around the bird, into gravy, or over vegetables for a impressive flourish.
—By the Turkey Day troubleshooting team: David Bonom, Karry Hosford, Jill Melton and Katie Workman