Ina's Tips for an Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is Ina’s favorite meal of the year, but that doesn’t mean that she stresses out over it. Follow her top tips for making the most-delicious meal ever with none of the anxiety.

Photo By: William Reavell ©This content is subject to copyright.

Photo By: Rich Freeda ©2013, Cooking Channel, LLC, All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rich Freeda ©2013, Cooking Channel, LLC, All Rights Reserved


Keep Things Traditional

"I have to say I'm a traditionalist for Thanksgiving. I think that I might do sweet potatoes a different way for Thanksgiving. I might do them with sautéed apples for the grownups and marshmallows for the kids, but I don't think Thanksgiving is the time for unusual things. When I had a specialty food store, people would come in, and they'd say, 'I'd like sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving.' And I'd say: 'Well, we make them this way. How would you like them?' And they would go, 'I want them the way my mother made them.'"

Get the Recipe: Sweet Potato Puree

Make the Gravy Base Ahead of Time

“One thing I really hate is when everybody is sitting and waiting for dinner and I’m making the gravy. So I figured out a way to make it ahead. The key: a base ... The nice thing about this is you can make it up to three months in advance and just freeze it, so it’s ready any time you want it.” Once the turkey roasts, she adds white wine to the pan to scrape up the drippings and reduces it before adding her base and letting that simmer while she carves the turkey.

Get the Recipe: Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy with Onions & Sage

Cook the Stuffing Outside of the Turkey

"Here’s the thing about turkey: if you stuff the turkey and then cook it, you have to actually overcook the turkey in order for the stuffing to cook. So, you end up with dry turkey and soggy stuffing. I cook a turkey without the stuffing and then I make a savory bread pudding, which is kind of like stuffing, but it’s crusty on the outside and moist on the inside."

Get the Recipe: Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding

Don’t Let Turkey Intimidate You

"When I’m roasting a turkey, I think about it as a big chicken. It’s not that complicated."

Get the Recipe: Perfect Roast Turkey

Don’t Make Everything in the Oven

"I choose a menu where some of the sides are made in the oven, some are made on the stovetop and some are made in advance. The ones that are made in advance can be reheated while the turkey is resting. Easy!"

Get the Recipe: Peas & Pancetta

Use Dishes that Can Go from Oven to Table

When Ina makes her Root Vegetable Gratin she loves to put it in a pretty dish so that she doesn't have to transfer it after baking. Just make sure to warn your guests that the dish is hot!

Get the Recipe: Root Vegetable Gratin

Make a Lot of Turkey

"I make way too much because I think everybody that goes to a Thanksgiving dinner wants to have turkey sandwiches the next day, so I always send the guests home with leftovers."

Ina is hosting a Thanksgiving special on November 17 at 8|7c highlighting her favorite part of Thanksgiving, the sides, with special guests Jennifer Garner, Nigella Lawson and Marcus Samuelsson.