Chefs' 50 Best Thanksgiving Tips

Food Network Magazine turned to seven reigning Iron Chefs—and dozens of past competitors—for some holiday advice.


1. Start three days out with dicing your onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Keep them in Ziploc bags or in airtight containers.
Michael Cimarusti
Providence, Los Angeles

2. Go to your butcher weeks in advance and order a fresh turkey instead of buying a frozen one. The difference in taste is incredible.
Jesse Schenker
Recette, New York City

3. Make it all from scratch—from the gravy to the cranberry sauce to the stuffing. Your dinner will be tastier and even more memorable.
Michael Psilakis
MP Taverna, New York City

4. I feel like I've failed as a chef 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.
Michelle Bernstein
Michy's, Miami

5. I always use bourbon in my brines. Most bourbons have smoky, woody notes, which give a turkey fantastic flavor.
Rob Feenie
Cactus Club Cafe, Vancouver

6. Depending on how many guests you have, it may be a good idea to buy a cooked turkey. There are a lot of great barbecue joints that have turkeys ready to go, requiring only a worry-free reheat.
Tim Love
Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth, TX

7. Make sure all of your side dishes are done the day before. That's right, you heard it here: They all should be done. There is no reason to stress about cooking the big meal!
IRON CHEF Geoffrey Zakarian

8. Have lots and lots of homemade chicken or turkey stock (or really good prepared stock) on hand. I use stock to baste the turkey and make gravy. And I use more than most people would deem necessary to make sure my bread stuffing is very moist.
IRON CHEF Bobby Flay

9. Serve a couple of dishes that you know how to make just in case you mess up the turkey. That way, you will still have something good to eat.
Jon Shook
Animal, Los Angeles

10. Don't get sucked into ingredient ego. You don't need to source every last ingredient directly from the farm.
Andrew Carmellini
The Dutch, New York City