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The Easiest Thanksgiving That Anyone Can Make

Even total beginners. Here are photo instructions for every step, the grocery list, the equipment list — everything. You can do this!

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So you've never cooked Thanksgiving before?

Or maybe you have, but it was a total disaster. NOT TO WORRY: If you find yourself in charge of Thanksgiving dinner but really have no idea what you're doing, here are five very simple recipes that are so delicious.

Here are all the ingredients you'll need for the whole meal:

Graphic by Justine Zwiebel / Photo by Macey J Foronda

This feeds 6–8 people. Buy your groceries Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving (except the turkey, which you'll need sooner; there's more info about that at the bottom of the post). Because Sunday is too early and Wednesday is cutting things a little too close.

1. 1 large bag of ice (for drinks)

2. Kosher salt (NOT table salt, NOT sea salt)

3. One 14-oz. can jellied cranberry sauce

4. 2 medium onions

5. 5 sticks unsalted butter

6. 1 pint vanilla ice cream (optional, for pie)

7. 3 pounds brussels sprouts

8. ⅓ cup all-purpose flour

9. Freshly ground pepper

10. 2 eggs

11. 3 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes

12. Two 1-pound loaves of store bought, sliced white bread

13. 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

14. 4 stalks celery

15. ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed tightly

16. 15 sprigs thyme

17. 4 lemons, halved

18. 2½ cups heavy cream

19. 2 large (or 4 small) carrots

20. One 15 oz. can pumpkin puree

21. 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

22. 1 unbaked 9-inch refrigerated pie shell (found in the dairy case)

23. One 14- to 16-lb. turkey


Remove your fully thawed turkey from its packaging.

Remember that a 16-pound turkey will take FOUR DAYS TO THAW! Learn exactly how to thaw your turkey here.

Take out the plastic bag that's inside the cavity of the turkey. These are the giblets and the neck of the turkey. Throw them away.

Put the turkey in the roasting pan and let it come to room temperature on the counter, along with a stick of butter.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and position two racks like this:

Cut two 1-pound loaves of sliced bread into roughly 1-inch pieces.

Chop the carrots, onions, and 4 stalks of celery into ½-inch cubes.

In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt two sticks (1 cup) of butter over medium heat.

Add the chopped vegetables, picked thyme, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and some freshly ground pepper to the melted butter in the skillet.

Stir with a rubber spatula so that the butter and seasoning is coating all the vegetables evenly.

Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the vegetables for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft but not browned.

Combine bread cubes and vegetables in a very large (at least 5-quart) mixing bowl.

Mix everything with a rubber spatula until the bread has soaked up all the liquid.

Press the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and set it aside.

Unroll the store-bought pie crust and and press it into a 9-inch pie dish, making sure that it is centered and the crust comes up over the side of the dish all around.

Crimp the edges of your crust by making little folds all the way around.

In a large mixing bowl, beat 2 eggs until the whites and yolks are completely combined.

To the eggs, add ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, one 15-oz. can of pumpkin puree, 1½ cups heavy cream, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.

Make sure that the top of the pumpkin mixture is at least half an inch below the top of the crust.

While those bake for 60 minutes, start prepping your turkey. You will need:

Put the turkey on a large cutting board, and dry it thoroughly with paper towels.

When the turkey is completely dry, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of salt and some freshly ground pepper evenly all over the outside of the turkey.

...and spread the soft butter under the skin, all over the breast meat.

Place your turkey breast-side up on the roasting rack, and stuff the lemon halves inside the cavity.

Pour 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup water into the bottom of the roasting pan.

After 50–60 minutes, the top of the stuffing should be slightly browned...

...and the pumpkin mixture should be totally set. You can test this by inserting a knife into the center. The pie is done when the knife comes out clean.

Crank your oven to 450 degrees, position one of the racks on the lowest rung, and take the other rack out of the oven.

Roast the turkey at 450 degrees for 45 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 and continue roasting for another 2–2½ hours.

While your turkey is roasting, start your mashed potatoes. You will need:

Peel 2 pounds of Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, and cut them into roughly 1-inch cubes.

Put the potato cubes in a large stockpot, and cover them by 2 inches with cold, unsalted water.

Put the pot on the stove over high heat, and bring it to a boil.

Meanwhile, put ½ cup (1 stick) butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave until it's completely melted (about a minute).

Continue to boil the potatoes for 40 minutes, then take a cube out do test its doneness. It's done when it's fork tender:

Put the hot potatoes into a large mixing bowl, and add the melted butter, 1 cup heavy cream, 3 teaspoons kosher salt, and some freshly ground pepper.

Beat the mixture with an electric mixer on low for about a minute, until the potatoes are all mashed.

Then, beat the potatoes on high for another 1–2 minutes. This will whip some air in and make them really fluffy.

Check on your turkey. If parts of the skin are starting to burn, cover those parts with foil.

If the liquid at the bottom of the roasting pan has evaporated, add some more water.

Put 3 pounds of sprouts in a colander and rinse them under cold water.

Turn the water off and shake the sprouts to get as much water off of them as possible.

...and cut them in half, lengthwise, then transfer them to a large mixing bowl.

Put ½ cup (1 stick) butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave until it's completely melted (about a minute).

Pour the melted butter over the sprouts, and add ⅓ cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and some freshly ground pepper.

Mix with a rubber spatula so that the butter and seasoning is coating all the sprouts evenly.

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, and set the raw sprouts and the baking sheet aside.

It's probably been about 2 hours and 45 minutes since your turkey went in the oven. Time to check it out.

If it hasn't been that long, chill out for a little while. Watch some football. Maybe eat a spoonful of those delicious mashed potatoes.

Check the temperature by inserting a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the bird, right where the thigh meets the breast.

If it reads 165 degrees, it's done. If not, put it back in the oven for 20 minutes, then check it again.

When the turkey is done, let it sit in the roasting pan for 5 minutes before you do ANYTHING.