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How to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner for Beginners Easy and Delicious

I have to admit that, even for the most experienced cooks, the task of preparing Thanksgiving dinner can be challenging.

There is a logic puzzle in trying to figure out how to make ten different dishes on one stove, while ensuring that they remain hot and delicious for when they are served.

It is very fortunate that I am a puzzle enthusiast. To help guide any newbies out there, I have compiled this guide on How to Make an Easy Thanksgiving Dinner for Beginners to ease them into the rite of passage that is cooking a Thanksgiving dinner.

Please same Apronese start anybody.

Thanksgiving Dinner – A Beginner’s Guide

About This Thanksgiving Dinner Guide

Including an appetizer, a cocktail, a main dish, seven side dishes, and a dessert, this Thanksgiving Dinner for Beginners plan includes 11 recipes to make your Thanksgiving Dinner for Beginners a success.

It is very easy to follow all the recipes and they all come together in an extremely straightforward way so that new cooks can follow along easily.

You don’t need to make Thanksgiving dinner for twenty people for the first time; therefore, this menu serves roughly six people. Start small, my friends.

As part of the guide, you will also receive a complete guide with tips and tricks to make sure that you get everything done in time for Thanksgiving dinner, no matter what time of day you like to eat.

If you have helpers, you are better off preparing this Thanksgiving dinner for beginners. I have done it myself, but it would be even better if you had helpers.

Please subscribe to my newsletter (it’s free!) so you will receive a pdf of the menu, prep schedule, and a handy grocery list as well.

Our Holiday Recipes category, Thanksgiving Dinner for Two, and Friendsgiving Recipe Roundup will help you find the best Thanksgiving recipes to make your own dinner, or if you’re attending a larger gathering where you’re only required to bring one item, so please do not forget to look through them for more delicious Thanksgiving recipes.

The Shortcuts

The secret to making Thanksgiving dinner a breeze is to take a few shortcuts, especially if you’re a beginner. Below you’ll find 2 shortcuts I included, to help keep you from pulling your hair out.

  • Store bought pie crust – It may seem as if pie crust is an easy thing to make, but in fact it is something that requires a little finesse. It is a skill that you will need to learn sometime in the future, when you don’t have ten other dishes to prepare.
  • Boxed stuffing mix – It is possible to use boxed stuffing mix in the stuffing recipe below, but you will also find a bunch of fresh ingredients to add extra flavor and texture. It’s just too much work to cube, dry, and serve a huge loaf of bread on Thanksgiving. Make the from-scratch stuffing for Thanksgiving when you have just one dish to serve.
  • Roasted turkey pieces – There will be no whole turkey roasting in this plan. Through the use of full turkeys, it takes up far more time, is a lot less work than roasting pieces of turkey, and is still insanely delicious. I urge you to roast turkey pieces first, and then go for the whole turkey next year.

Close up view of a full Thanksgiving dinner plate with other dishes on the table in the background

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

There are a number of recipes included in this Thanksgiving Dinner for Beginners plan, including:
Appetizers/Drinks

  • Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip
  • Cider Mimosas (fill glasses half way with Apple Cider, top off with Brut or Prosecco).

Side Dishes

  • Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce
  • Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes
  • Cornbread Muffins (prepare cornbread batter, bake in a muffin tin, 10 muffins, same temperature, 16-18 minutes)
  • Apple Walnut Stuffing
  • Mushroom Herb Gravy
  • Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans
  • Lemon Butter Green Beans (double recipe, only one lemon needed)

Main Dish

  • Cider Roasted Turkey (double recipe, using a full 4 lb. bone-in, skin-on turkey breast and two drumsticks, roast about 2 hrs. total)

Dessert

  • Maple Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie

Overhead view of a table full of Thanksgiving side dishes

Thanksgiving Dinner Timeline

The Day Before:

COOK:

  1. Maple Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie – The mixture should be cooled until it reaches room temperature, then covered and refrigerated.
  2. Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip (make cranberry sauce, assemble the dip and platter the next day) – The alternative would be to make a double batch of the plain cranberry sauce and use it both as an appetizer in the appetizer recipe and as part of the dinner meal (the sauce that goes with the appetizer recipe contains jalapeño).
  3. Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce – cool, then refrigerate.
  4. Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes – cool, then refrigerate.

PREP:

  1. Dice sweet potatoes for Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  2. Clean and remove stems on green beans for Lemon Butter Green Beans
  3. Chop apple, onion, and Celery for Apple Walnut Stuffing

Basing Cider Roasted Turkey Breast with Apples and Onions

Thanksgiving Day:

4 HOURS BEFORE:

  1. The butter should be warmed up to room temperature before being added to the cider roasted turkey after it has been taken out of the refrigerator.
  2. Make Cornbread Muffins. Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, remove from the heat.
  3. Assemble and serve Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip.
  4. There are two ways to serve Cider Mimosas – to serve them now or wait until dinner (you should save one cup for roasting the turkey).

3 HOURS BEFORE:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF for turkey.
  2. Assemble Cider Roasted Turkey and begin roasting (will take approx. 2 hrs).

2 HOURS BEFORE:

  1. Start by reheating Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes over low heat in a pot on the stovetop with a lid, stirring often to keep the mashed potatoes moist, and adding extra milk to keep it moist, as needed).
  2. Cook Apple Walnut Stuffing. Keeping it warm is easily done by placing it on the stove top in a pot that has a lid on it.
  3. Cook Mushroom Herb Gravy. Cover the gravy boat with foil once the gravy has been poured into it.
  4. In preparation for roasting the Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans, you will need to assemble them as follows.

1 HOUR BEFORE:

  1. When done baking the turkey, remove it from the oven and let it rest for ten minutes (make sure to check the internal temperature first).
  2. Make Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans by turning the oven temperature up to 400oF. Let them roast for about 40 minutes.
  3. Cook Lemon Butter Green Beans.

AT DINNER

  1. Assemble and serve Cider Mimosas.
  2. Enjoy the good food, good company, and good memories!

Close up overhead shot of Apple Walnut Stuffing in the casserole dish with a wooden spoon in the corner

How to Make Cider Mimosas

Seeing as you’re going to have leftover apple cider from the Cider Roasted Turkey Breast, you may as well make it into a cocktail while you’re at it.

  1. It is recommended that you fill your champaign flutes half full of apple cider.
  2. If you want to top off your meal with champagne (I recommend a Brut or another dry sparkling wine), you can do so.
  3. If you would like, garnish it with a small sprig of rosemary, then you are ready to serve.

Overhead view of a Maple Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie with a slice cut out, on a plate on the side with whipped cream.

If you have any questions, please comment below to let Apronese know. We will answer for you.

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