Holidays | Food

10 Recipes That Take The Stress Out of Making Thanksgiving Dinner

Bart Everson via Wikimedia Commons / Jon Lee Clark via flickr

Are you stressed about what to make for Thanksgiving this year? You're not the only one! Instead of feeling relaxed, my holidays are mostly spent worrying about what to make to feed the crowd of hungry relatives visiting for dinner. Not to mention fitting in time for grocery shopping and then the hours spent preparing and cooking this giant feast. And please don't get me started on the mountain of dishes that will soon take over my kitchen!

Sound familiar?

Don't worry! I've got you covered on all your holiday recipes needs with delicious sauces, sides, sweets and stuffing that the whole family will love. These meals are tried and true so you know they're going to be good.

Below you'll find delicious appetizers, side dishes, main courses, desserts and drink options to make for your upcoming holiday meal. What are your favorite recipes to serve at Thanksgiving?

Appetizers

Perfect Fall Cheese Ball

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First of all, you can't go wrong with cheese and crackers. But did you notice that this cheese ball is shaped like an adorable pumpkin AND is crusted in Doritos? It's cute, delicious and bound to be a hit with your family.

Get the recipe here:

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons salsa
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups nacho cheese chips, crumbled
  • Top of 1 bell pepper for stem garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine cream cheese, cheddar, onion, salsa and cumin with a hand mixer in a large bowl until creamy.
  2. Scoop mixture onto plastic wrap and use wrap to form a ball out of the cheese. Wrap rubber bands around the ball to form the ridges of the pumpkin. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or until ready to serve.
  3. When ready to serve, roll the ball in crushed Doritos chips and place a bell pepper stem on the top (this will be your pumpkin's stem).
  4. Serve with crackers, chips, veggies or pretzels!

Watch our step by step video below that shows you how to make this tasty fall cheese ball.

Sausage and Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce

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After you try these bite-sized sausage and stuffing balls you will wonder why we don't eat stuffing all year round - yup they're that good! The sausage takes an otherwise typical stuffing to a whole other mouthwatering level. You might actually want to make a double batch of this recipe because they're going to be gobbled up quick!

Get the recipe here:

Ingredients:

For the stuffing balls

  • 1 pound ground breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely minced onions
  • 1 stalk celery, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, minced
  • 1 box stuffing mix (unprepared)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup chicken broth

For the cranberry dipping sauce

  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • pinch of Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Brown the ground sausage in a skillet, adding in the sage, salt and pepper while it cooks.
  3. Add in the onion and celery, cook until vegetables are soft.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 - 15 minutes. Then, in a mixing bowl, add in cheese, cranberries, and stuffing mix.
  5. Then add in your eggs and chicken broth, stirring until combined.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop and place the sausage and stuffing balls onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes.
  7. In a sauce pan, add your can of cranberry sauce, orange juice, and kosher salt and stir until thinned.
  8. Let it simmer together for a moment and then transfer into a serving dish.

Watch our step by step video below that shows you how to make these addictive little sausage and stuffing balls:

Pumpkin Baked Brie

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Buttery, flaky puff pastry wrapped around a warm, ooey gooey wheel of brie might just be what heaven tastes like. This is a seriously delicious cheesy appetizer that people are going to love devouring. Serve it with crackers or crusty bread for a satisfying treat to wet your appetite!

Get the recipe here:

Ingredients:

  • 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
  • Small brie wheel
  • ¼ cup pumpkin butter
  • 1 cheese straw
  • Red & yellow food coloring
  • 1 egg white
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • Butcher twine

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Begin by cutting 5 strands of twine about 1 foot long and lay them in a web pattern on your baking sheet. Unroll the puff pastry and lay it centered on the twine web.
  3. Center the brie wheel on top of the pastry sheet, then evenly spread the pumpkin butter on top of the cheese.
  4. Bring the corners of the puff pastry into the middle, gently pinching the edges to seal any openings. Tie the opposite ends of twine around into the center, then flip everything over so the nearer side is on top.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white with 3 drops yellow food coloring and 1 drop red food coloring. Lightly brush this onto the surface of the puff pastry.
  6. Bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Once removed from the oven, allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then carefully cut and remove the strings.
  8. To decorate, cut a small slit in the top center and place a cheese straw in to become a “stem,” as well as a sprig of sage. Serve with crackers or crusty bread. Enjoy!

Watch our step by step video that shows you how to make this pumpkin baked brie:

Side Dishes

Whipped Bourbon Bacon Sweet Potatoes

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Sweet potatoes are delicious on their own, but when you add a little bacon and some bourbon they magically transform into the most delicious side dish you've ever had. Your guests are going to be begging you for this recipe!

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 13 - 20 sage leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp brown butter
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the potatoes into a large bot with water and bring to a boil. Continue cooking until you can easily pierce them with a fork (about 20 to 30 minutes).
  2. In a skillet, cook your chopped bacon until all the fat is out. Pull the bacon out of the grease, scooping about 1 tbsp of the fat out of the pan and set it aside.
  3. Add your butter to the same skillet. Once melted, add the sage leaves into the skillet and cook about 1-2 minutes per side or until crispy, then pull them off the heat and set them aside.
  4. When your potatoes are ready, put them in a bowl and mash them a little bit with a fork or a hand masher.
  5. Then add in the reserved bacon fat, the bourbon, the milk, and the brown butter. Use a mixer to whip them up. Add salt and pepper, using more or less if desired, mixing it in as well.
  6. Scoop all the potatoes into a dish, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the bacon all over the top, and then add the sage leaves.
  7. Serve with your holiday dinner this year if you want to try something new!

Watch our step by step video that shows how to make these delicious sweet potatoes:

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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What is Thanksgiving dinner without mashed potatoes? It's a classic recipe that everyone loves. These roasted garlic mashed potatoes are just as good as the traditional, but with a garlicky kick that your guests won't be able to get enough of. Give them a try and let us know how they are!

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds potatoes
  • 8 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water until firm but tender then drain and let rest.
  2. Mash the potatoes and incorporate the garlic, cream, butter, truffle, thyme, coriander.
  3. Mash until desired consistency: smooth or rustic/country.
  4. Season with salt and pepper then serve.

Watch our video below that shows you step by step how to make these creamy mashed potatoes:

Main Course

Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast

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Have you ever had the pleasure of enjoying turkey wrapped in bacon? Let me tell you that it's divine. Honestly, turkey isn't even that exciting on its own (isn't that why we cover it in gravy, cranberry sauce or stuffing?), so adding a little bacon kick is just what your Thanksgiving dinner needs. What's even better is that you don't need to roast a whole turkey for this recipe, which means you have more time to relax and drink wine.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless turkey breast
  • 1/2 loaf of multigrain bread
  • 1 1/2 stocks of celery
  • 1 Spanish onion
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 4 leaves fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven 375 degrees.
  2. Start by chopping your bread into small cubes.
  3. Then, chop up 4 strips of bacon into to tiny pieces, and heat in a skillet with celery and onion until bacon is lightly cooked and veggies are soft and translucent. Mix together with the bread, pouring the chicken broth in as well.
  4. Lay your turkey skin-side down and slice it "open" so you can spread the meat so as much is visible as possible. Use plastic wrap to cover the meat, then pound it out to an even width.
  5. Season the turkey with herbs and salt and pepper, then spread the stuffing mixture out inside the turkey until it is flat.
  6. Roll the turkey breast as tight as it can go. Season it with salt, pepper and herbs.
  7. Lay out your bacon on on a flat surface so the edges slightly overlap. Place your turkey on one edge, then roll it until it's totally covered with bacon.
  8. Wrap it in tinfoil lightly and cook for 2 hours at 375. Reduce heat to 350 and remove the foil, put it back in the oven for another 30-45 minutes until internal temperature is at least 165 degrees.
  9. This turkey is beautiful, delicious and going to make your dinner feel like a special event any time you make it!

Watch our video below for the step by step instructions for how to make this mouthwatering bacon wrapped turkey:

Hasselback Turkey

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Once again, you don't need to roast a whole bird for this easy turkey recipe. The best part about this recipe is that the stuffing is baked into each slice made into the turkey breast, so you get all that delicious flavor in each bite.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey breast (boneless with skin)
  • 1 box stuffing mix
  • ¼ cup butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare stuffing according to box instructions, let cool.
  3. Slice turkey breast almost all the way through 1 inch between slices. Place turkey on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Stuff stuffing between each slice, season to turkey with salt and pepper, then bake for 60 minutes.
  5. Brush top with melted butter and broil for 3-4 minutes to crisp up the top.
  6. Allow turkey to rest for 25 minutes under a loose tin foil covering.
  7. Slice and serve with all your holiday favorites.

Check out our video below that shows you step by step how to make this super moist turkey for Thanksgiving this year:

Dessert

Mason Jar Lid Pies

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Aren't these little pies just so cute? Mason Jar Lid Pies are the perfect dessert to make for Thanksgiving. Not only are they easy, but you can make a few different flavors so guests can choose which one they want. Each pie is just the right amount for one person, but you can get away with eating a couple - we won't tell!

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 12 regular-sized mason jar lids and rings
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans canned pie filling
  • 1 14 ounce box refrigerated pie crust (2 pie crusts)
  • 1 egg, well-beaten
  • Turbinado sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the inside rings of the canning lids on it with their rubber seals facing down.
  2. Open canned pie filling and set aside. Unroll the pie dough. Using a canning ring as a guide, cut a circle ¾-inch larger than the canning ring itself (alternatively, you can also use a cookie cutter or other object to cut out circles that are 3-¼-inch in diameter). Cut out 12 pie crust circles, rerolling the dough as needed. These circles will be the bottoms of your pies.
  3. Make the top crusts by using a canning lid as a guide and cutting out circles ¼-inch larger than the lid itself. Cut out 12 tops, rerolling the dough as needed.
  4. Score each top by making 3 slits in the center of the dough. Make sure each canning ring on the sheet pan is fitted with its lid. Place the pie crust bottoms inside the rings fitted with lids, pressing up the sides.
  5. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of pie filling into each bottom shell. Do not overfill the pies or they will burst.
  6. With your fingertip, rub a bit of water around the edge of each crust. Cover each pie with a top crust and, using a fork, gently crimp the edges together.
  7. Brush the tops of each pie with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with the raw turbinado sugar.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Watch our video below that shows you step by step how to make these yummy Mason Jar Lid Pies:

Pumpkin Caramel Cream Cheese Poke Cake

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Anything pumpkin spiced is delicious! This cake takes the best of pumpkin spice and mixes it with caramel and cream cheese to make the ultimate Thanksgiving dessert. You definitely won't be missing the pumpkin pie if you're eating this!

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box, spice cake mix
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping, divided
  • 1 (8oz) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whipped topping (Cool Whip)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, add the cake mix, water, eggs and vegetable oil. Add in the pumpkin puree and then mix with a hand mixer.
  3. Pour it into you 9 x 13 pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
  4. When you pull the cake out of the oven and while it is still warm, poke holes into it using the end of a wooden spoon.
  5. Put 1/2 cup of caramel sauce into a microwave safe bowl and heat it up for 20-40 seconds so it will pour easier. Pour over the entire cake, making sure it gets into the holes.
  6. While your cake is cooling, you can prepare your cream cheese frosting. In a bowl add your cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk and mix until smooth.
  7. The add in the whipped topping and fold it into the cream cheese.
  8. Spread the icing over the cake, filling the holes until it's smooth.
  9. Warm up another the rest of the caramel sauce and drizzle over the cake. You can use a toothpick if you want a more decorative effect.

Watch our video below for the step by step instructions for how to make this delicious cake:

Drinks

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider

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This is the perfect drink to keep you cozy before or after your big family meal. Toss everything in your slow cooker and let it do all the work while you sit back and relax. A nice perk to making this is that it fills up your home with wonderful fall scents of cinnamon and clove. If you're feeling in the mood you might want to add a dash of your favorite alcohol before serving.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter apple juice, pure unsweetened
  • 2 cups orange juice, pure unsweetened
  • 1 liter cranberry juice, unsweetened
  • ½ cup sugar, stevia, honey or other sweetener (to taste)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, whole
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 orange, sliced (optional)
  • 1 apple, sliced (optional)
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries (optional)

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Stir.
  2. Cook at least 3-4 hours on low or until hot. Keep warm as long as needed on the low or warm setting.
  3. Refrigerate and reheat any leftovers.

Watch our video below that shows you step by step how to make this delicious fall drink:

Have any of these recipes caught your eye? Are you going to try one at your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner? Let us know!

Ashley has been with Shared for more than two years. She's a food, puppy and travel lover. You can contact her at ashley@shared.com.