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Less Stress Thanksgiving Dinner for 8

If you have busy days leading up to Thanksgiving, but want to put a beautiful dinner on the table, this is the guideline for you. Start 5 days ahead of time, do a bit each day, and end up with a gorgeous meal.
Start 5 days ahead of time and do a little each day.5 d
Total Time5 d
Course: Holiday Meal, Thanksgiving Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Dinner Menu, holiday menu, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Dinner for 8
Servings: 8 dinners
Author: Anna

Special Equipment

  • Roasting Pan large enough to hold the turkey
  • Rack for roasting pan
  • Slow cooker




    • 12 pound turkey, fresh or frozen
    • ½ pound bacon


    • 3 yellow onions
    • 1 small red onion
    • 1 head garlic
    • 5 pounds russet potatoes
    • 2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes
    • 8 large fresh sage leaves
    • 14 large fresh thyme stems
    • 2 lemons
    • 7 Granny Smith Apples, medium to large
    • 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries


    • 1 quart milk, whole
    • 1 ¼ pound unsalted butter
    • 1 pint half and half, you'll have extra
    • 1 pint heavy cream, you'll have extra
    • 3 eggs

    Frozen Foods

    • 24 ounces green beans, frozen
    • 1 quart vanilla ice cream, if you want to serve it with the pie


    • 32 ounces turkey or chicken stock
    • 1 small bottle port wine, you'll use ½ cup
    • Dry white wine, Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay. You only need ½ cup.
    • Ingredients needed for your stuffing
    • 1 bag miniature marshmallows
    • 4 ounces pecans, to chop (you'll need ½ cup)

    Pantry Items

    • Kosher or Sea Salt
    • Table Salt
    • Black Pepper, I use a pepper grinder
    • Olive Oil
    • Granulated Sugar
    • Brown Sugar
    • Flour
    • Worcestershire Sauce
    • Kitchen Bouquet, Optional
    • Cooking Spray
    • Maple Syrup
    • Red Wine Vinegar
    • Ground Nutmeg
    • Ground Cinnamon
    • Ground Ginger
    • Vanilla Extract


    Saturday - 2 hours

    • Read through the recipes.
    • Grocery shop.

    Sunday - 1 hour

    • If your turkey is frozen, put it in the refrigerator to thaw.
    • Make the Cranberry Apple Sauce, cool, put into your serving dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
    • Make the Apple Pie filling, Steps 4 & 5, place into a resealable plastic freezer bag, freeze.
    • Make the pie crust dough for double-crust pie. After chilling, roll out two rounds, lay a piece of parchment over half of each round, fold in half; lay another piece of parchment or wax paper over half and fold over. Use sprinklings of flour to prevent sticking. You should have two triangles of rolled dough ready to be laid into a pie plate and unfolded. Lay flat in separate resealable plastic bags and freeze. (Or, just buy frozen pie crusts!)

    Monday Evening - 1 hour 15 minutes

    • Make the gravy.
    • Then put your feet up and figure out your Thursday time line:
    • What time do you want to eat?
    • Work backwards to figure out when the turkey should go in the oven, remember, it needs to come out of the oven AT LEAST 15 minutes before serving. It can even sit for 30 minutes.
    • Figure out when the other dishes should go in the oven.
    • This is your time line for Thursday.

    Tuesday Evening - 1 hour (or more, depending on how much detail you put into the table)

    • Pick up flowers for the centerpiece. I love fresh flowers and always think I have time to arrange them (sometimes that's true and sometimes not so much). If you want to arrange them yourself, Gr8! If not, just pick up a pre-arranged bouquet.
      Less Stress Thanksgiving Flowers
    • Set the table; you will be amazed at how nice it is to have the table set ahead of time.

    Wednesday Evening - 1 ½ hours

    • Remove the apple mixture from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.
    • Make the Sweet Potato Casserole, and make the topping separately. Cover separately and refrigerate. The recipe serves 12 to 16 and it's rich. If you like, it can be divided in half and baked in an 8"x8" pan. OR, you can send leftovers home with your guests!
    • Follow the Gr8 Do Ahead Tips for the Green Beans, Bacon and Onion. This recipe is for 4 servings, please double for 8, the grocery list already includes the doubled amounts.
    • Chop and cut up the ingredients for your stuffing and refrigerate. If you start with a cooked onion mixture, then go ahead and cook these up and then refrigerate the mixture.

    Thursday Morning - 5 hours, don't panic! Some of this time is active and some is just oven time.

    • Remove the pie crusts from the freezer to defrost. This should take about 45 minutes at room temperature.
    • Prep the potatoes and put in the slow cooker.
    • Lay one pie crust into the pie pan, dump the defrosted apple mixture in.
    • Follow the recipe to complete the pie.
      apple pie
    • Bake.
    • Clean and prep the turkey. Put it in the oven or on the grill when your time line requires. In the meantime, you can keep it covered in the fridge.
      less stress Thanksgiving turkey raw
    • Make your stuffing and bake it per your time line.

    At Least One Hour Before Eating

    • Put the toppings on the Sweet Potatoes and bake for 30 minutes.
      Sweet Potato Casserole
    • Mash the potatoes per the instructions.
    • Finish the Green Beans, Bacon and Onion dish.
    • Remove the turkey from the oven.
    • If you are making the gravy, do that while the turkey rests.
    • If you are using a jar of gravy, heat it up. You can add some of the turkey drippings for extra flavor.
    • Put the food on the table and give thanks for your Gr8 Family and Friends!
    Tried this recipe?Mention @Great8Friends or tag #gr8food!