Last-minute Thanksgiving prep, tips to defrost a turkey and day-before timeline

The Spruce Eats shares some helpful last minute turkey day prep!

Video byBrittany Berkowitz, Jessica Naudziunas, and Chris Cirillo
November 21, 2023, 12:49 PM

It's T-minus one day until Thanksgiving!

Heather Ramsdell, editorial director at The Spruce Eats, shared with "GMA" how she will make the most of the day before the big holiday. She also included a helpful checklist to ensure your dinner -- from turkey timing, to plating -- goes off without a hitch.

PHOTO: Thanksgiving dinner set on a table in a stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

What to do one day before Thanksgiving

Thaw the bird: "Make sure that your turkey is thawed. If it's not, there's time," Ramsdell encouraged. Click here for more info on how to safely thaw the turkey in time.

PHOTO: Raw turkey in an undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

"Do meal math. Sit down with a mug of coffee and a pencil. Work backwards from the time you want to serve dinner," she said.

Turkey timetable math

  • Serving time
  • Subtract 10 minutes for carving
  • Subtract 20 minutes for resting
  • Subtract the amount of time you will be cooking your turkey (usually about 14 minutes per pound)
  • Put your turkey in the oven at this time
  • Subtract 30 minutes to preheat the oven
  • Subtract 20 minutes to season the turkey
  • Subtract 1 hour to take the chill off the turkey

PHOTO: A turkey is roasted in the oven in a stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Other meal math
Once you know what time to start your turkey, write out your time plan for the day

Tips to make Thanksgiving Day easier

PHOTO: Thanksgiving dinner set on a table in a stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Clear the fridge.

Review your recipes. This will ensure you have everything on hand and to pick up any last-minute ingredients or tools to get through Thanksgiving.

Map the kitchen plan: What's cooking and in what location? Make some things in the oven and some on the stove. Don't forget the grill, the microwave, the slow cooker and the instant pot.

Find and clean all of the serving stuff, platters, servers, gravy boats, dessert plates, glasses, a cooler and make room for extra beverages and wine.

Check-in with guests (casually ask them to remind you of any dietary restrictions).

If you are bringing food to someone else's house, find out what they need, see if they need a platter, and if you need to heat it, ask the host if there's room to do so.

It there's time, make turkey broth with some turkey wings, the turkey neck, heart and gizzard.

Get some shut-eye!

This story was originally published on Nov. 21, 2021.

Related Topics