Find the best kid-friendly easy Thanksgiving recipes, plus a game plan to make cooking the holiday meal as stress-free as possible!
Easy Thanksgiving Recipes
I know firsthand how challenging it can be to cook a big holiday meal with kids running underfoot and with all of the changes that 2020 has brought, this year might be even harder–especially if you aren’t planning to be with family. And so, this is meant to give you tips on how to make one or two dishes each day during the week of Thanksgiving so you can pop the turkey into the oven, make the gravy, and simply warm up the rest of the meal.
TIP: This is how I’ve approached holiday meals since I’ve had kids and it’s low stress and totally doable!
Recipes to Make the Weekend Before Thanksgiving
- Orange Cranberry Sauce
- It’s also a good idea to put any frozen turkeys into the fridge to thaw as it can take a few days to thaw completely from frozen. I put mine into the roasting pan, still in the packaging, in case any liquid comes off as it thaws.
Recipes to Make the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (optional)
Muffins or quick breads are great options to make ahead. (You could make these further out if you want to freeze them and then thaw in time for the holiday). You can pick one of these or ignore this all together!
Recipes to Make the Wednesday before Thanksgiving
Let the potatoes and stuffing cool and store them covered in airtight, heat-safe containers in the fridge so they’re ready to go right into the microwave. Pull the pie out of the fridge on Thanksgiving morning so it can come to room temperature (you can also warm it to serve it warm) and you can serve the cupcakes right out of the fridge or at room temperature.
- Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Stuffing (You pick your favorite recipe! I like this Simple Dressing.)
- Butternut Squash Pie or Cranberry Apple Pie
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
TIP: You can also do your casseroles the day before the holiday too, or in the morning of the holiday.
Easy Thanksgiving Recipes to Make on the Holiday
I always make a split-roast turkey, where you cut down the backbone and lay the turkey flat, since it cooks much faster and more evenly that way in about 3 hours. You can also make the gravy ahead of time if you make it with fat other than pan drippings.
- Split Roast Turkey (I’ve made this every year for the past 8 years and it’s the best!)
- Boiled Green Beans
Simple Store-Bought Sides to Add
You can of course buy any of the other traditional elements of the meal that you want. Take shortcuts where you need them my friends!
- Rolls or Cornbread
- Whipped cream
Thanksgiving Breakfast Ideas
These are in contention for an easy, yet festive Thanksgiving breakfast. You can also make these ahead of time!
Thanksgiving Printables for Kids
To help keep the kids busy, these free printables are here to help! My kids have been loving these coloring pages for the past week and I can’t wait to use the Turkey Taste Test on the holiday to see what they like.
Tips for Stress-Free Easy Thanksgiving Recipes
- If you’re doing the meal just for your family this year, consider streamlining things.
- You don’t have to recreate other people’s specialties and hopefully other years will be more traditional.
- It’s okay if things aren’t perfect!
- It’s okay if the kids don’t eat all of the food! They are new to the world and they’ve only experienced this holiday a handful of times in their lives (if that), so have empathy that they haven’t seen most of these foods many times before.
- Try to remember that the day is about being grateful, not about a perfect meal. Enjoy your family!