Thanksgiving dinner has a bad rap. It’s lamented as a huge production, fraught with stress and too many details. When should you put the turkey in, again? Did Elizabeth mention she was bringing her new boyfriend? How did Nana say to keep the mashed potatoes warm without drying them out?
If you’re new in the kitchen, you might find yourself day-dreaming of bowing out of this year’s festivities, with promises that you’ll be better prepared in 2014.
But don’t give up just yet! Instead of offering to bring a bottle of sparkling cider and call it a day, take Thanksgiving head-on. With simple, delish recipes that aren’t difficult (But hey, your guests don’t need to know that, right?), even the newest cooks can feel confident about putting these dishes on the table.
Why it’s a great appetizer for beginners: This is a seasonally inspired app that guests assemble themselves. If you can slice bread and have approximately 10 minutes, then this crostini recipe is for you.
And don’t let the potential challenges of chopping a butternut squash scare you – pre-cut options abound at your local grocery store. Or, you can follow these simple instructions and do it yourself.
Why it’s a great turkey option for beginners: With only six ingredients, this recipe is as simple as it is delicious. Skip the big bird this year and go straight for savory, white meat that everyone will love.
It also roasts in less than an hour, meaning that impatient eaters (nothing wrong with that!) get to dig in sooner and stressed hosts have more flexibility to get it in the oven.
Why it’s a great gravy for beginners: Because gravy needs to thicken, some recipes require a few more ingredients or whisking stages to achieve the desired consistency.
This gravy has five ingredients and minimal steps, so you’ll have it whipped up without breaking a sweat. Be sure to keep an eye on it though (or designate a guest to be the babysitter), and give it a stir every now and then to prevent burning.
Why it’s a great stuffing for beginners: Let’s first answer this: Who doesn’t like muffins? They’re not only tasty, but fun to eat and simple to serve.
This recipe is a cinch because you simply enhance a corn muffin mix with spices and (everyone’s favorite!) bacon for extra pop. Toss ‘em in a basket with a little butter on the side, and you’re ready to go.
Why it’s a great cranberry sauce for beginners: While it may look difficult to make your own cranberry sauce and skip store-bought, the prep here isn’t complicated. Everything gets thrown into one pot for easy clean-up, the name is punchy, and the orange-cranberry combo here is perfectly paired.
Why it’s a great potato recipe for beginners: Sour cream and onion is a flavor combo that practically everyone goes crazy for.
This recipe is not only easy, but has a big payoff in a surprise flavor-twist for your guests. Four ingredients and about 25 minutes of prep and cooking time yield a mean pot o’ mashies that will go in a flash.
Why it’s a great dessert for beginners: Rachael always says that baking isn’t her speciality, and it doesn’t have to be yours either.
The secret to this tasty treat is grabbing some pies from the store and creating your own whip for a personal touch. An added bonus? You get to double-up on ingredients and use Grand Marnier (or the orange liqueur of your choice) again.
The last step? Watch your food magically disappear, relax, and grab a glass of wine. You’re a pro now!
Feeling bold? See our new Thanksgiving recipe collection, with family favorites and new twists on classic dishes that anyone can pull off!
(Top image via Flickr/suckamc)