The Complete Guide to a Stress Free Thanksgiving for Four

The Complete Guide to a Stress Free Thanksgiving for Four

The Complete Guide to a Stress Free Thanksgiving for Four

Hey everyone, Ally here! Thanksgiving is the best holiday in my opinion, but if you’re the one cooking it can be really stressful. The timing, the dozens of recipes, the coordination. Do you even have enough room in your oven for all this stuff? No, no you don’t.

But have no fear, I’ve done ALL the work for you.  I tested this step-by-step guide out myself a couple weeks ago and I promise it was truly stress-free.  

The trick here is to think beyond your oven. Traditionally, almost everything needs to go in the oven basically at the same time in order for it to be warm, and that’s just not realistic.  Here, we’re going to utilize pre-planning and a couple slow cookers to make sure everything is hot and ready at the same time without giving anyone a heart attack.

For example, you’ll cook your turkey early and keep it warm in a large slow cooker to free up your oven for other things. No sharing the oven. I promise this will be easy! You’ll even have plenty of breaks and downtime to spend with the family, or for hiding and sipping wine in the bathroom. Your choice 🙂

Step 1 for a stress-free Thanksgiving: Be Prepared

I promise you nothing can ruin your mood quite like being an hour away from Thanksgiving dinner and realizing you don’t have a carving knife, gravy boat, or enough plates. Trust me, I made this mistake.  Go ahead and scroll through this list of everything you’ll need for the big day and Amazon Prime that shit right to your doorstep. No worries, baby.

A few good pots and pans!  A wet measuring cup,   and some dry measuring cups!

Baking sheets,  Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil (200 Square Foot Roll)

Large mixing bowls and knives! A chef’s knife, bread knife, pairing knife, etc.

Paper towelsA roasting pan for that turkey!Vegetable peeler

A large slow cooker You’ll need two slow cookers, (or one slow cooker and one Instant Pot). I promise these will save your life, and blood pressure come T-day

Lemon zesterTurkey basterColander/ strainerMeat thermometerHand mixer

Oven mitsA whiskCasserole dishGravy boat and trayElectric carving knifePastry brush

Large tupperware containers SO important.

Serving utensils! And serving platters

Step 2 for a stress-free Thanksgiving: Create a plan Use my schedule/ menu/ grocery list that I made for you 🙂


Rosemary and lemon whole roasted turkey and gravy

Cheesy Sourdough Stuffing with Leeks and Shallots

Sheet pan maple bacon roasted fall vegetables

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

Cranberry Sauce with Orange and Cinnamon

Buttered dinner rolls

Pumpkin pie! (or dessert of your choice)



Two days + before:

  1. Grocery shop, (grocery list below).
  2. Buy dessert. You have to cut corners somewhere for this to be truly stress-free 🙂 Or assign someone to make it for you.
  3. Thaw your turkey in the fridge!  I’m recommending a ~10 lb. turkey, which will need two days to thaw

Day before:

  1. Place a stick of butter on the counter to soften.
  2. Make cranberry sauce:
    • Empty the bag of cranberries into a medium sauce pot over medium heat.
    • Add 1 Tbsp. water and 1 cup sugar. Stir and cook until the sugar dissolves.
    • Add the orange zest and cinnamon stick, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cranberries burst and become a thick sauce.
    • Cover and store in the fridge overnight (or at least 4 hours) until ready to serve.
  3. Prep stuffing:
    • Preheat oven to 375F.
    • Cube a loaf of sourdough bread, place it onto a baking sheet and put it into the oven for about 15 minutes until the bread is toasted and just golden brown.
    • Let cool, and keep covered on the counter until you’re ready to make the stuffing tomorrow.



12:45pm: Set turkey on counter to let come to room temperature. Make sure the giblets are removed.

1:00pm: Put your oven rack on lowest possible rack, and preheat oven to 275F

1:15pm: Pat turkey dry and place on a roasting pan, breast side up. Rub generously with salt, pepper, dried thyme, and garlic powder. Stick a chopped onion and halved lemon in the cavity. Cover the pan with heavy aluminum foil, and roast for 1.5 hours.

1:45pm: Peel and dice potatoes and cut into 1” cubes.  Place in smaller slow cooker/ instant pot with ½ cup chicken broth, 1 Tbsp. salt, black pepper, 4 cloves minced garlic, and 1 stick of butter. Cover and cook on slow cooker “high” setting for 3 hours.

2:40pm: Combine the stick of softened butter from the counter, the zest of 1 lemon, and 2 Tbsp. dried rosemary in a small bowl.

2:45pm: Remove turkey from the oven, and set the oven to 350 F. Remove the foil, and smear almost all the butter mixture all over the skin and crevices, (save a little for basting). Return to oven uncovered for 1 more hour (you’ll be basting once after 30 minutes).  You can save this leftover foil for the stuffing later.

3:00pm: Chop the 3 leeks, 3 shallots, and 3 cloves of garlic for the stuffing. Rise the cut leeks in a colander to remove all dirt.

3:15pm: Baste turkey with drippings, more of the butter mixture, and some of the lemon juice from the cavity. Keep cooking 30 more minutes.

(Stuffing) In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 2 Tbsp. of butter and 2 Tbsp. olive oil and let the butter melt. Add the leeks and shallots to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 6-7 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

3:30pm: (Stuffing) In a large bowl, whisk together the 3 eggs, 1 cup parmesan cheese and 2 cups chicken stock. Once combined, add the toasted bread and leek mixture and stir to combine. If the bread still looks pretty dry, add about 1/2 cup of stock until all the bread is fairly moist. Season with salt and pepper.

3:45pm: Remove turkey from the oven, ensure a meat thermometer into the thigh reads 165, and transfer to slow cooker and secure lid to keep warm.

Preheat oven to 375F.

4:00pm: Put stuffing in a buttered 12 x 8 baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes

Prep the vegetables: halve Brussels sprouts and peel and slice carrots into half-moons. Peel and dice the butternut squash if you weren’t able to find pre-cut. Put to the side until ready to use.

4:30: (Stuffing) remove the foil covering, and bake for 30 more minutes

4:45pm: Add ¼ cup milk to the mashed potatoes and mash/mix with hand mixer. Keep on “warm” setting and cover until ready to serve.

5:00pm: Remove stuffing from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and put in the warming drawer until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 450 F

Prepare roasted veggies: In a measuring cup, combine 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 3 Tbsp. maple syrup, 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Lay the cut Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, and 4 slices of diced bacon (uncooked) in a single layer on one (or two) baking sheets.  Toss the veggies in the maple syrup mixture.

5:15pm: Put roasted veggies in oven for 45 minutes

Place slow cooker on “keep warm” setting to make sure the turkey is nice and hot.

5:30pm: Make gravy: Pour the turkey drippings into a large measuring cup and let it rest until the fat comes to the top. Spoon off the fat and add enough stock to the measuring cup to equal 4 cups of stock/drippings combined. Place a sauce pan on the stove over medium heat and melt 3 Tbsp. butter. Add ¼ cup flour to the pan and whisk until you form a dark, golden roux. Add the stock/dripping mixture to the roux and whisk to combine. Turn the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil while still whisking. Once the liquid reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium and stir occasionally until the gravy is as thick as you’d like it. Taste for salt and pepper, and keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

5:50pm: Place dinner rolls on the sheet tray, brush with melted butter, and pop in the oven for 5 minutes until warmed and golden.

6:00pm: Take veggies out of oven

Carve that turkey and eat!

The Complete Guide to a Stress Free Thanksgiving for Four:

Grocery List

Thanksgiving grocery list


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Written by Ally