Host Thanksgiving Dinner Like A Pro
Food and Drink

Host Thanksgiving Dinner Like A Pro

It’s hard to believe how fast this year has flown by. How can we already be in the month of November? This is such a special time of the year as we gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Are you planning to host Thanksgiving dinner and not sure where to start? Once you know how many people will attend, it’s time to decide on the menu. Let’s try to keep things simple and not go overboard. Remember its ok to ask your guests to pitch in and help!

Pick the turkey: At least two weeks in advance, order a fresh turkey or buy frozen and keep in the freezer. Depending on the guest list size, you may need to include another meat. Ham always goes well with turkey. Secure the ham at the same time as the turkey. Smoked ham on the grill is simple and always a hit.

Plan the menu: Pick your favorite turkey recipe and plan the side dishes. We suggest serving 1-2 appetizers, 3-4 sides and 2-3 dessert options. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, people will be happy to bring a side dish, rolls, or dessert. This will take away some of the stress as you host the big day. Just be sure everyone doesn’t show up with sweet potato casseroles!

Prepare the meal: If your turkey or ham is frozen, start the thawing process at least 24 hours in advance. The turkey and ham can be cooked in the oven or smoked on the grill.

Casseroles and side dishes can be assembled the day before. Desserts should be prepared ahead of time as well. Bake casseroles and reheat sides while turkey is cooking and resting. Remember, your outdoor grill is an extension of your indoor oven, be sure to utilize this extra cooking capacity for baking and reheating. Enlist help from your guest so that things come together smoothly.

Here’s a few recipes to consider as you start planning the menu. You will be ready to host Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy this special time of the year while spending time with those you love!

Sister Mary’s Heavenly Deviled Eggs

Courtesy of the American Egg Board,

"Amped up deviled eggs with bacon and cheddar cheese. Perfect finger food for a game day gathering or holiday party appetizer. Quickly prep ahead of time in only 30 minutes with no mess. Your guests won’t be able to resist the temptation of this twist on a classic appetizer."

Prep: 30 minutes Servings: 24


14 large hard-boiled eggs

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1/3 cup cooked bacon, crumbled

1/4 cup (1 ounce) sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

Cut the eggs lengthwise in half. Remove the yolks to a medium bowl. Set 24 of the white halves on a plate. Finely chop the remaining four white halves and set aside.

Mash the yolks with a fork. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice and pepper. Mix well until smooth. Add the chopped egg whites, bacon, cheese and chives. Mix well.

Spoon the yolk mixture evenly among each egg-white half. Refrigerate, covered, to blend flavors. Sprinkle with paprika just before serving, if desired.

Turkey Sausage Rolls with Pecans

Recipe and Photo courtesy of The Daley Plate and

"These bite-sized finger foods can be dipped in the easy homemade cranberry sauce for a filling and flavorful appetizer that’s perfect for the holiday party season. "

Cook: 50 minutes Makes: 24


For Turkey Sausage Rolls:

5 ounces pecan pieces

½ yellow onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

4-6 fresh sage leaves

½ cup fresh parsley

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon mace

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound fresh turkey breakfast sausage

1 17.25-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

½ whole or chopped pecans for topping

fresh cranberry sauce, to serve


For the Cranberry Sauce:

1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

To Make the Rolls:

Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Place pecan pieces, onion, garlic, sage, parsley, and spices in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Pulse until it resembles a fine crumble, then place into a medium bowl. Add sausage and gently mix with a fork until combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Place puff pastry sheets on a clean surface and roll each until they are about ⅛ -inch thick. Turn pastry on its side so that you’re facing the widest edge. Divide the sausage mixture into 6 equal portions and form logs. Place three logs on each rectangle, with enough pastry on each side to wrap them completely with the seams facing down.

Divide each log into eight equal portions and cut using a serrated knife. Place on a lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash, placing chopped or a whole pecan on top.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and the meat is cooked, tenting with foil after 15 minutes to prevent the pecans from getting too dark. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Can be made ahead and cooked from frozen by adding 10 minutes to your cooking time.

To Make the Cranberry Sauce:

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer until thickened. Serve warm.

Buttermilk Slider Rolls

Excerpted from Wicked Good Barbecue, by Andy Husbands, Chris Hart and Andrea Pyenson, FairWinds Press, 2012

"These delicious rolls are soft and pillowy inside, with a nice crunchy crust. In addition to going perfectly with the sliders, they are heavenly wrapped around a dollop (or two) of Bacon Jam."

Makes: 18 rolls


6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

4 cups flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 packet (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast, dissolved in ½ cup (120 ml) warm water

Muffin tins with 4-ounce cups

In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the butter and sugar until the butter melts. Add the buttermilk and blend well. In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend flour, salt, buttermilk mixture and yeast with a large rubber spatula until moistened. Using the dough hook, beat the dough at lowest speed until it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.

Place dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and a towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4).

Divide dough evenly among 18 greased muffin cups. Cover loosely with oiled or sprayed plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and bake until tops are puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey

Recipe courtesy of John McLemore. Excerpted from “Dadgum That’s Good! ”Kickbutt Recipes for Smoking, Grilling, Frying, Boiling and Steaming by John McLemore. Used with permission of Concept Inc.

"Frying a turkey in hot oil calls for a cool head and a fair measure of caution. Fortunately, Masterbuilt developed the Butterball® Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer so you can perfect this great recipe with peace of mind. You want to start with a turkey that’s fully thawed and dry; oil and water do not mix. Just follow the safety instructions included in the operation manual closely and you’ll fry a turkey so good, you’ll never want to roast one in the oven again."

Serves: 6 to 12


1 10–14 lb. fresh or frozen turkey

2 gallons cooking oil, preferably peanut oil

1 16 oz. bottle Butterball Buttery Creole Turkey Marinade

Butterball Cajun Turkey Seasoning



1 10–12 oz. bottle of your favorite hot sauce

1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

THAW TURKEY if frozen. To properly thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 pounds. Fill Butterball® Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer with oil to the MAX line; heat to 375°F. Remove giblets and neck. If present, remove and discard plastic leg holder and popup timer. Rinse turkey thoroughly with warm water or completely cover with warm water and soak for no more that 30 minutes to ensure cavities are free of ice.

PAT TURKEY completely dry on the outside and inside of cavity with paper towels. Using an injector syringe, inject ½ cup (4 ounces) Butterball® Buttery Creole Marinade in each breast. Inject ¼ cup (2 ounces) marinade into each leg and thigh. Sprinkle turkey generously with Butterball® Cajun Turkey Seasoning, completely coating the outside of the turkey and inside of the cavity. 

PLACE TURKEY breast side up in fryer basket. Slowly lower the basket into hot oil, being careful not to splatter hot oil. Fry turkey for 3 ½ to 4 minutes per pound. Lift the basket from the hot oil slowly, hooking the basket’s drain clip into drain clip mounting hole to stabilize as you check doneness. Insert a meat thermometer in the meaty part of the breast; turkey is done when it reads 165°F. If the turkey is not done, lower it carefully back into the oil for an additional 5 minutes. Once the turkey reaches the desired.

Cornbread Dressing

Image: Deposit Photos, bhofack2
Adapted from Allrecipes,

"Cornbread dressing is a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner delight. It’s also perfect for friend and family gatherings throughout the year."

Prep: 20 minutes, after making cornbread Cook Time: 35 minutes Serves: 8


3 cups crumbled cornbread

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, diced

½ cup chopped celery

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon dried sage, or more to taste

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Use a cornbread mix or your favorite recipe to make a batch of cornbread. This can be done a day or two before making the dressing.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 7×11-inch baking dish. Place crumbled cornbread in a large bowl.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add sautéed onion and celery to the crumbled cornbread. Stir in chicken stock, eggs, sage, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour dressing into the prepared baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven until dressing just starts to turn golden brown around the edges, about 30 minutes.

Cowboy-Broiled Cheesy Broccoli

Reprinted with permission from “Food by Fire” by Derek Wolfe, ©2021 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc Photos: © 2021 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc. - Photography: Mood Board

"If you’re not using charcoal, the final step to replicate a top-down broil would be tricky. Lids or foil will certainly give you the melted cheese, though, and the skillet-charred broccoli in the initial cook will still reign supreme in flavor."

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Serves: 4


2 cups broccoli florets, washed

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

In a large bowl, stir together the broccoli, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil. Set aside.

Preheat your fire using the instructions for the Skillet method, bringing it to a medium-high temperature, about 375°F.

Place the butter in a cast-iron skillet and place the skillet over the coals for 2 minutes before cooking.

Add the broccoli to the skillet. Cook for about 8 minutes until the broccoli is soft, bright green, and slightly charred. When done, pull the broccoli off the heat.

Top the broccoli with the cheese. Carefully cover the skillet with aluminum foil, and top the foil with enough hot coals from the fire to cover the foil (about three-fourths of the skillet should be covered).

Cook the broccoli for 2 minutes, adding more coals, as needed, to “broil” all parts of the skillet. Remove the foil and let cool for 2 minutes.

The dish will be cheesy, bubbly, and nicely caramelized. Top with bread crumbs before serving.

Roasted Smashed Potatoes

Image: Deposit Photos, skylinefree
Recipe by Chef John,, Image: Deposit Photos, skylinefree

"These super simple scrumptious Herb Roasted Smashed Potatoes are the perfect comfort food to serve for the holidays. Prepare the potatoes the day before and refrigerate overnight. Your friends and family will devour them!"

Prep Time: 20 minutes Additional Time: Refrigerate overnight Cook Time: 1 hour Makes: 16 smashed potatoes


3 ½ pounds medium yellow potatoes, washed

⅓ cup kosher salt

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste


For the Infused Butter:

½ cup unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, thickly sliced

4 sprigs fresh rosemary, or to taste

4 sprigs fresh thyme, or to taste

Place potatoes into a 5-quart stockpot and cover with 3 quarts of cold water. Add kosher salt and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well. Let potatoes cool just until they’re safe to handle.

Transfer potatoes onto a sheet pan and continue cooling to room temperature. Make 4 or 5 shallow cuts down the sides of each potato, about every inch or so, to ensure the skin splits evenly when smashed. Refrigerate until completely chilled and ready to smash; 8 hours to overnight is best.

Combine butter, sliced garlic, rosemary, and thyme in a small pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and begins to bubble, and garlic softens and starts to turn translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line 2 metal baking sheets with silicone baking mats (such as Silpat®) and generously brush on some of the infused melted butter.

Remove potatoes from the fridge and gently smash each between two pieces of plastic using a flat, heavy object until 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Season generously with salt, pepper, and cayenne on both sides. Be careful not to break potatoes up into small pieces. Transfer onto a sheet pan, being careful not to overlap potatoes. Generously drizzle and brush most of the melted butter on top.

Bake potatoes in the preheated oven until well browned and crunchy around the edges, 35 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, reheat the remaining garlic and herb butter over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until garlic starts to turn a very light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Transfer potatoes onto a serving platter and scatter over the golden brown slices of garlic. Crumble the toasted herbs on top if desired. Serve with sour cream and chives if desired.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies

Courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin; visit, photo: © Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

"Mascarpone resembles cream cheese or ricotta cheese but with a bit more sweetness and acidity, bringing a velvety smoothness and layers of flavor to this dessert."

Makes: 12


for brownies:

1 box (18.3 ounces) fudge brownie mix (+ egg(s) + sub milk and melted butter for water and oil)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon chili powder


for spiced pecans:

2 tablespoons butter, cubed

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon chili powder

2 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans

2 tablespoons sugar


for mascarpone frosting:

4 tablespoons butter, cubed and softened

1 8-ounce container Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Mascarpone cheese

4 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, divided

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


for ganache:

8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup heavy whipping cream

¼ teaspoon chili powder

For the brownies, line a greased 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing excess paper to hang over the sides. Grease the paper. Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions adding egg(s) and substituting milk for water and melted butter for oil. Stir in cinnamon and chili powder. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake according to package directions. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the spiced pecans, reduce oven to 300°F. Line a 15 x 10-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Grease foil. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add the cinnamon and chili powder. Remove from the heat and stir in pecans and sugar. Spread the pecans onto the prepared pan and bake for 15–20 minutes or until nuts are toasted, stirring once. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting, cream the butter, mascarpone, and 2 cups confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add remaining confectioners’ sugar, beating each addition until combined. Beat in milk and vanilla. Frost brownies. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the ganache, place the chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream just to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 3 minutes. Stir until chocolate mixture is smooth. Stir in chili powder, and cool slightly. Spread the ganache over the frosting. Sprinkle with pecans. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until set.

The Chewiest Peanut Butter Cookie

Excerpted from The Ultimate Sports Fans Cookbook by David Bowers, Skyhorse Publishing/January 2014

"This recipe is no secret, but if you haven’t tried it, you may be surprised to find that it makes the peanut butter cookie of your dreams! It’s chewy and dense and bursting with peanut butter flavor. Use any brand of peanut butter, chunky or smooth, but you’ll get a particularly good flavor and texture from natural peanut butter with salt but no added sugar."

david bowers
Makes: 2 dozen


1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar, plus more for dipping

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream together the peanut butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl, and then beat in the egg.

Shape the dough into 24 balls and divide them between two ungreased cookie sheets. Put a little sugar in a saucer or flat dish and dip a fork into it. Make a crisscross mark on top of each, to flatten the cookie.

Bake for eight minutes, until just golden and set. Don’t over bake! As soon as the cookies smell as if they’re done, they probably are.