25 Thanksgiving Cooking Tips Straight from Grandma
Grandma has all the top tips to cook the best Thanksgiving feast ever, from the stuffing to the cranberry sauce.
Up Your Stuffing Game
“A one-pound loaf of bread will make up about 8 cups of loosely packed crumbs for stuffing,” says Edna Hoffman of Hebron, Indiana. We can guess where you’re from based on how you make your Thanksgiving stuffing.
Serve Amazing Appetizers
“Use cranberry sauce to fill the holes in baked apples for a tasty appetizer,” says Dorothy Petersen of Columbus, Nebraska. Cranberry-stuffed apples are one of our favorite baked apple recipes.
Steam Your Squash
“Steaming is a great way to cook winter squash—it preserves both the nutrients and the pretty color,” says Brenda Thompson of Chicora, Pennsylvania. Here’s how to steam all your favorite veggies.
Splash Vanilla into Cranberry Sauce
“For extra rich cranberry sauce, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract after cooking,” says Ruth Fenner of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Learn more tips for making homemade cranberry sauce.
Cook Apples for Pie
To keep apple pie crust from getting too brown, give the apples a head start so they wont have to bake as long to get tender. Shirley Miller of Browns Valley, Minnesota, says, “Put sliced apples in a pie plate (not metal) the same size as the pie you’re making. Cook in the microwave for 8 to 10 minutes. Place partially cooked apples in your prepared crust along with the other filling ingredients. Put the top crust on and bake.” No microwave? Here’s another way to cook down apples for apple pie.
Take a Sweet Potato Shortcut
Wanda Leaders of Neola, Iowa, says, “A sticky ring won’t form around the pot if you add a spoonful of vegetable shortening to the water when boiling sweet potatoes.” Here’s how to cook your entire Thanksgiving dinner in 3 hours.
Spruce up Stuffing
For moist and colorful stuffing, Lisa Nyquist of Cokato, Minnesota, says you should add one diced unpeeled apple to your favorite dressing recipe. Then, check out Grandma’s secret turkey tips.
Scoop out Squash
To remove cooked squash from its shell, use an ice cream scoop. “No mess, no fuss,” says Sharon Hallack of Hart, Michigan. Here are all the types of winter squash you should know about.
Cut Even Pie Slices
“To cut a pie into five pieces, slice a ‘Y’ into the pie and then divide the two large pieces in half,” says Mildred Sherrer of Bay City, Texas. This is how to bake the best-ever pumpkin pie.
Freeze Your Cranberries
Carol Schultze of Fairmont, Minnesota, says, “Fresh cranberries are easier to grind in a food processor or grinder if you freeze them first. Allow ground berries to drain well before using.” Try them in one of our best cranberry sauce recipes.
Save Time Chopping
To make stuffing prep easier, Susan Buch of Baldwin, Illinois, says, “Cook the giblets until done, cool and chop with celery and onion in a food processor.” Here’s how to make Marilyn Monroe’s stuffing recipe.
Make Better Mashed Potatoes
For lighter, creamier mashed potatoes, Barbara Gracy of Spring City, Tennessee, adds a teaspoon of baking powder before mashing. These recipes take mashed potatoes to a whole new level.
Add Raspberries to Cranberry Sauce
Doris LaVerne of Newport, Rhode Island, says, “After the cranberries have popped, I add fresh or frozen raspberries (without syrup). This homemade cranberry sauce is delicious with turkey.” Yes, you can shop for your whole Thanksgiving at Costco.
Master Your Lattice
Making a lattice pie crust? Shirley Roberts of Brea, California, says, “Use a pizza cutter to trim the crust into strips.” These are our prettiest lattice pie recipes.
Keep Bread Warm
To keep rolls warm longer, Hannah Sagehorn of Long Beach, California, says, “Place a sheet of aluminum foil under a cloth napkin in the bread basket.” Bake up one of these Thanksgiving roll recipes.
Serve Sweeter Corn
Joan Dirkman of Ahmeek, Michigan, recommends that you “give frozen or canned corn a fresh summertime flavor. Substitute milk for the cooking water and add a teaspoon of sugar. Cook on top of the stove as usual.” Here are dozens of things to do with frozen corn.
Grab a Thermometer
It pays to be precise. Reader Betty Helm of El Paso, Texas, says, “I use a candy thermometer to get the correct water temperature for all recipes using yeast. No more failures!” Here’s why you truly need an instant-read thermometer.
Perk up Pumpkin Pie
Try this tasty twist on pumpkin pie. Mrs. Edwin Hill of Santa Barbara, California, says, “Put a layer of marshmallows in the bottom of the pumpkin pie, then add the filling. It will make a nice topping as the marshmallows come to the top as it bakes.” Try the trick with our classic pumpkin pie recipe.
Send Leftovers to Go
“I send Thanksgiving guests home with meals of leftovers in disposable tins. They can pop them right into the oven from the fridge, and no one has to return containers,” says Kathleen Phelps of Minneapolis, Minnesota. These are the best ways to use up leftover turkey.
Do Double Oven Duty
Here’s a no-fuss way to cook winter squash. Carol Battle of Heathsville, Virginia, says, “Wash the outside, and without cutting, pop into a hot oven. Set the temperature for whatever you’re cooking for the rest of the meal. Cook until squash is fork tender. When you remove the squash, cut it open and scoop out the seeds. It’s never watery and retains all the nutritional value.” You’ll love these baked squash recipes.
Skip Soggy Bottoms
Susan Elliot of Bancroft, Ontario, says, “To keep custard and pumpkin pie crusts from becoming soggy, pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes. Then add the filling.” Put the trick to good use with one of these Thanksgiving pies.
Heat the Milk for Mashed Potatoes
When mashing potatoes, use hot milk. “If you have been using cold milk, you’ll be surprised at the difference in the lightness of the potatoes,” says Sarah Dickinson of Sagle, Idaho. These mashed potatoes are our hands-down best.
Skim off Fat
Linda Hoadley of Paradise, California, shares a neat trick for removing excess fat from soup or gravy. “Skim the surface with ice wrapped in a cheesecloth. The fat congeals and clings right to the cloth,” she says. Make sure you don’t make these common mistakes with homemade gravy.
Peel a Pumpkin
Edna Sutherland of Clintonville, Wisconsin, says, “To easily remove pumpkin peels, cut a hole and remove seeds and pulp. Set the pumpkin in a pan of water and bake at 300 degrees for about an hour. The rind will peel right off. It works for me!” Here’s every pumpkin recipe you’ll ever need.
Rolling Pin Trick
Here’s a helpful baking trick. Mrs. Dean Jones of Reading, Kansas, says, “I just roll the pie crust up onto the rolling pin, put it over the pan, and unroll it again.” Learn the secrets to making perfect homemade pie crust.