Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Tips 2021 (Cook your turkey in half the time)

Thanksgiving Tips 2021 – Last year we had a lot of tips regarding Covid. This year, most people are gathering, not forgetting totally about Covid, but trying to get back to something resembling normal. We will approach this article with that reality in mind. So, here is our annual Thanksgiving Tips article, updated for 2021.

Thanksgiving Turkeys
Thanksgiving Turkeys

Spatchcock your turkey

Spatchcock or butterflied turkey allows you to cook the bird more evenly. And in about half the time. You sear the skin on the dark meat and get a nice, overall browning of the skin. And if you brine the turkey beforehand, the breast meat will not dry out. You will end up with a moist, tender delicious Thanksgiving Turkey that cooks in a little less than two hours (depending on the size, of course). Either a wet or dry brine will work for turkeys.

There are many ways to cook a splayed turkey. My favorite recipe is the one from Melissa Clark of the NY Times Not only is the recipe easy to follow, but I think she is a fabulous cook and an engaging person in her cooking videos.

Or choose one of the following recipes below. But they all get to the same place eventually – a great Thanksgiving Turkey that is evenly cooked, moist, and ready in half the time.

Martha Stewart – Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Epicurious Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Bon Appetit Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

How to carve a turkey

Every Thanksgiving, I would roast a beautiful turkey, bring it to the table to show the admiring guests, and proceed to butcher it into an unrecognizable mess. Until I learned how a turkey should be carved. Watch this NY Times video about how to carve a turkey. It shows you how and tells you why you do it this way. And the presentation at the table is far more elegant and functional for guests.

NY Times How to Carve a Turkey Video

Other Thanksgiving Tips

  • I know this will be heresy to many, but if you are cooking for a large group at Thanksgiving, save yourself a lot of time and effort and buy Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes. To peel a couple of dozen potatoes, cut them into 2-inch pieces, all the same size, boil them, cool them, put them in a big pot, and mash them is a lot of work when you have 10 other items to cook. Mashed Potatoes are not the stars of the meal, just a complimentary item.
  • And if you happen to overcook the potatoes (which I have done) you have to start all over, because the starchy mess can’t be saved. You just hope a grocery store is open and they have a bag of potatoes left – on Thanksgiving Day. The best part is that Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes taste great, and have some minor lumps, so you can fool just about everyone into thinking you made them from scratch.

Shopping for Thanksgiving

  • Shop several days early, especially for non-perishable items (stuffing, cranberry sauce, anything canned, baking supplies, etc). You will avoid the pre-Thanksgiving crush at the grocery store.
Thanksgiving Shopping
Thanksgiving Shopping

Buy these things early and you’ll avoid the last-minute trip to the grocery store. You always forget something. These are the items we always forget to remember. Add them to your list, and you won’t have to make a trip Thursday morning to the store.

Butter – One of my favorite sayings is there is no such thing as too much butter. Make sure you have plenty.

No such thing as too much butter
No such thing as too much butter

Containers for Leftovers – For your guests to take home some leftovers. They don’t have to be fancy; in fact, they should be those restaurant take-out containers you don’t mind giving away.

Aluminum foil – Like paper towels, this is indispensable and in high demand during the holiday—for tenting turkey or wrapping up leftover rolls. Be sure to have plenty on hand.

Enough Ice – Easy to forget, so set a reminder to get a bag the day before, and put it in a cooler outside or your freezer.

Heavy cream – Another kind of dairy you won’t want to forget. Because there’s nothing like fresh whipped cream on a slice of pumpkin or pecan pie.

Paper towels – Cleaning up as you go. Wiping off plates, silverware, and glasses. Lifting the turkey. Drying off anything. What do all of these have in common? The need for paper towels. Buy more than you think you need so you won’t get caught short. A definite Sam’s Club trip before Thanksgiving. If it hasn’t been hoarded in the pandemic.

Beer/Wine/Sodas – After the grocery store, the worst place to be the day before Thanksgiving is the wine or liquor store. Take inventory a week or so before the big day and purchase accordingly. Most wine stores have curbside pickup now, making ordering easier.

Best Tips for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving All the trimmings
All the trimmings
  • When making gravy from pan drippings, use soy sauce to both flavor the gravy and add color. Soy sauce has sodium (for flavor) and the dark color turns the homemade gravy to a nice darker brown hue. You can find this tip in our FREE to download e-Cookbook “Sauces”.
  • Start several days out by dicing your onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Keep them in a freezer bag or a plastic container.
  • Go to your grocery store butcher in advance and order a fresh turkey instead of buying a frozen one. The difference in taste is noticeable. And you can usually pick it up on whatever day you need to start preparing the bird. And it can sometimes take several days for a frozen turkey to defrost.
  • I feel like I’ve failed as a cook when there are no leftovers, so every year I cook a larger turkey, make a little more stuffing and make sure there is a lot of gravy. No such thing as too much gravy.
  • If you are brining a turkey, do not brine a frozen turkey – they have added sodium injected in most cases.

And Even More Holiday Tips

  • Try to get all of your side dishes done the day before.
  • Have lots of chicken or turkey stock on hand. You can use stock to baste the turkey and make gravy.
  • Use your oven space wisely: Do the mashed potatoes ahead and heat them in a double boiler (or microwave) to save room in the oven for things that need to crisp, like stuffing.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the bird.
  • Don’t try to serve the entire meal hot—you usually don’t have enough space or burners. One of my favorite dishes is a green bean salad that you can serve at room temperature.
  • For big groups, don’t be afraid to use place cards. Strategic seating allows for better conversation by placing the extroverts in the right spot. No one wants to be stuck at the boring end of the table.
  • The best of our Thanksgiving tips – Enjoy the day and the time spent with friends and family.
Setting the table
Setting the table

Cooking Secrets for Men 

Please “like” our YouTube Videos and follow us on our YouTube Channel. Cooking Secrets For Men is also on other Social Media sites FacebookPinterestInstagram, and Twitter.

“Cooking Secrets for Men” is listed as one of the Top 30 Men’s Cooking Websites on the Internet.  You can read that article here. See where we rank for Men’s Cooking Websites.

If you liked our Thanksgiving Tips article, you should try our recipe for Spicy African Peanut Stew. And this article on Thanksgiving Dishes Around The World

Unpaid by the following companies

Aloha Honey –

Paradise Fruit Co –

Grillaholics – (Use Discount Code CSFM20 for all products)

Javy Coffee –

ChefsTemp Thermometers – Discount code is in the link.

E-Cookbooks for free Download

(Of course, Free) – E-Cookbook Vol 5 – Poultry and Chicken ready to download

(Free) – E-Cookbook Vol 4 – “Pasta” (written in English and Italian) is available to download.

(Yes, Free) –  E-Cookbook Vol 3 – “Appetizers” available for free download at this link

(Free) – E-Cookbook Series Vol. 2 – “Soups & Stews” is available for free download

(Free) – E-Cookbook Vol 1 – “Sauces you’ll use – A lot”, is available for free download

All of our e-cookbooks are available on our download page.

You can submit your special recipe to us. We would love to recreate it and give you credit. And make a YouTube Video. Just go to this link “Recipe & YouTube Suggestions”. It is at the top of our home page. Click this link for an example of a Recipe Submission from a Subscriber.

We are always looking to collaborate with other bloggers.   If interested in a conversation about some sort of collaboration, please contact me. And, send me one of your aprons. I’ll wear it and promote your channel and merchandise.

If you have comments or questions, please contact us at

8 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Tips 2021 (Cook your turkey in half the time)”

  1. These are really great tips. Although for me, mashed potatoes are one of the best things about the meal – I could eat a wh0le bowlful for dinner, no problem – the pre-packaged ones are really good. So if it makes your life easier, why not? Also, I can’t agree with you more about doing everything you can in advance. Especially the shopping!

  2. Thanks Jeff. I’ve ruined mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving before by overcooking and needed to start over. Luckily a store was open. I just take that chore out of the equation. Thanks fo the visit and I am enjoying your site also

Leave a Reply