Plan Your Thanksgiving Thaw and Cooking Timetable

Heather says:

Today you need to grab your Thanksgiving day recipes and look at the cook times and temperatures and figure out to get everything cooked and ready at the same time.

If you plan on oven roasting your turkey, know that you’ll probably only be able to fit a baking sheet beneath the turkey, unless you have one of those super cool ovens with the rack that morphs to allow a bird and another item in the oven. I’m not that fancy. Are you? If so, I’m kind of jealous.

How to plan your Thanksgiving Dinner Timetable

Your turkey needs to be fully thawed by Thanksgiving morning and since life is what it is. A fully thawed turkey will be fine for more than 24 hours in the coolest portion of your refrigerator. Remember your turkey, to thaw fully, will need 24 hours in the refrigerator for every 5lbs.

Begin your timetable plan by adding 15 minutes of Oops factor into the scheduled serving time. If you want to eat dinner at 4pm, plan on 3:45. Remember the turkey needs to rest before carving, so plan on it coming out of the oven or fryer by 3:15.

Make sure you also have counter space or a table set up for the turkey to rest – Don’t be afraid to cover it  and set it out of the way somewhere like the laundry room or some other convenient surface, just make sure all family pets and scavenging children are accounted for before leaving the turkey alone.

You can often cook pies, dressings, and casseroles the day before, so all they’ll need is a quick warm up in the oven. Make sure you have enough racks and space to account for each dish and any refrigerated items should be taken from the fridge about an hour before they are scheduled for the oven. This will reduce the amount of reheat time needed.

Don’t be scared to utilize your stove, a roaster oven, toaster oven or crockpots on the big day. Some slow cookers have a warm setting that will hold gravy, so it won’t have to be made at the last second.

Use this information to create a schedule.

Start with the time you should get the turkey ready for the oven to get it in with the expectation it’ll be done 45 minutes prior to serving time.

Add each recipe name, the time it needs to be started, and its scheduled time and temperature in the oven. Put these in order, then on the big day, you won’t forget a dish or procrastinate anything with a long cook time.


Some items aren’t going to be very picky, dressings are going to be okay at 350 or 400F. Delicate baked goods? Well, you’ll need to adhere to their preferences and let the sturdier dishes cope.

If you are serving salad, don’t forget to allow time to toss it before taking it to the table.

If you are going to have helping hands in your kitchen you should probably write this time table down in legible handwriting or better yet, type it out. Post this in a prominent location so people can refer to the sheet when your hands and mind are otherwise occupied.

While you’re at it, print out a copy of each recipe. Put everything in a folder or 3-ring binder and put this in a SAFE location. Not a location you think you’re going to remember on Thanksgiving. Heck, comment here with where you’re putting your notes. I won’t mind, it’ll be here on Thursday and you can come back and check to see where you hid it.

We’re getting close.

I’m getting excited.

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