How do you cook the biggest feast of the year…with only one oven? It is possible with the right prep work done and a rock-solid Thanksgiving cooking schedule. And no worries if you don’t know how to make one because I’ve got the perfect free tool for you to create your own in just a couple minutes!
Let’s be honest, cooking the full Thanksgiving feast on your own with only one oven is a beast of a job, but it can be done. It will require you to complete some prep work in the two days before Thanksgiving and be sure to have your exact oven schedule nailed down.
Thanksgiving Dinner Dishes That Can Be Made Ahead of Time
Honestly, you can make every dish ahead of time, but that isn’t ideal so this list is one that allows you to create it ahead of time without losing any quality in the finished dish.
- Mashed Potatoes – yes, they get thicker after sitting in the fridge but a few dashes of milk when you are reheating them and they are perfect.
- Pie Dough – if you are using homemade pie crusts in your pies, make the dough 3-4 days before but don’t roll them out. Form each crust into an one inch tall disk, wrap with plastic wrap and store until you are ready to bake your pies. You can roll them out right from the fridge.
- Pies – the majority of pies served at Thanksgiving will actually be better if you make them the day before. Apple, cherry, pumpkin, pecan, and cream pies all need significant time to cool and set up before serving.
- Stuffing – no matter if you are baking your stuffing inside or outside the turkey, you can do all the prep and assembly the day before, then bake it off on the day. If you make this in a pan, you could completely bake it the day before, then reheat covered in the microwave the day of as well.
- Sweet Potatoes – whether you are making Praline Sweet Potatoes or the standard marshmallow topped, all of the prep work can be done the day before and baked the day of. Like the stuffing, these could be completely baked the day before, then reheated in the microwave the day of.
- Green Bean Casserole – this one can definitely be made the day before and baked the day of, but don’t add the crispy onions on the top until you are ready to bake it so they don’t get mushy. If you want to completely bake this the day before, leave off the onions on the top until after you microwave it, then sprinkle them on and place under the broiler for a few minutes to brown them up a bit.
- Any salad, veggie tray, fruits, or cranberry relishes
Dishes That Should Wait Until Thanksgiving Day to Be Prepared
- Turkey – this is a given but reheated turkey just isn’t the same. If you are worried about oven time, use an electric roaster oven. It frees your oven for the whole day and it makes a perfectly tender, juicy turkey every time.
- Rolls – whether you are making them from scratch or doing brown and serve rolls, wait to put them into the oven until after the turkey is done cooking. It has to rest for 20 minutes before you can slice into it anyway, so put them in after the turkey comes out and have piping hot rolls for Thanksgiving!
- Gravy – obviously, you need the pan drippings from the turkey to make a proper gravy, but even more importantly, reheated gravy just can’t compare to fresh in both flavor and texture so wait on this one.
I’m going to walk you through the overall process of creating a schedule that works for just one oven, but I’ve also put all this information into a free printable you can use to easily work through the whole process.
Creating the Perfect Thanksgiving Cooking Schedule
- Decide on your menu. If you need help creating one and the shopping list to accompany it, go grab your free Thanksgiving menu & shopping planner as well.
- Categorize your menu into items that can be made or prepped before Thursday, and those who need to wait until the actual day.
- Now that you have them categorized, pull out your recipes and determine how long each will need in the oven and at what temperature.
- Determine what time you want to begin eating.
- From here it is a game of math, working backwards from what time you want to eat and the amount of time each dish needs in the oven.
This FREE Thanksgiving cooking schedule planner will walk you through each of these steps and allows you to customize exactly to your menu for the big day. Just click the picture to get yours!