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Feastly Insider’s Thanksgiving Tips & Recipes From Chefs

We polled our chefs and food aficionados for their best-of Thanksgiving tips and recipes for you. Got a tip you want to share? Add it below in the comments.

Tip 1: Prepare a 4-day game plan.

It’s never too early to start planning!  Build your menu and grocery list now. Avoid the last minute rush by shopping two days before you need ingredients. Here’s an extended game-plan from Chef AdamThe Four Days of Thanksgiving. 

Tip 2: Change up the classics (but not too much).

Tired of eating the same dishes but still want to cater to friends and family with a hankering for Thanksgiving classics? Chef Leo uses tangy Granny Smith apples to perk up his gravy. Chef Philip suggests giving your stuffing a refreshing zing with yuzu, a Japanese citrus (check out his cookbook here). Or, make a meal on the grill starting with this simple, smoked mashed potatoes recipe.

Brining Turkey by Scott Feldstein

Tip3: To brine or not to brine – either way, this is the year to get scientific!

Chef Phi recommended this in-depth story from Serious Eat’s “The Food Lab” by editor, Kenji López-Alt: I don’t brine my birds, because I like my birds to taste like birds, not like watered-down birds. Salting your meat is nearly as effective at preventing moisture loss, and the flavor gains are noticeable. Want to know the truth? Even advance salting is not a necessary first step. I see it more as a safeguard against overcooking. It provides a little buffer in case you accidentally let that bird sit in the oven an extra 15 minutes. As long as you are very careful about monitoring your bird, there’s no reason to brine or salt it in advance.

Tip 4: Don’t forget the vegans in your family.

Don’t have vegan recipes? Chef Rachel has 10 plant-based recipes that will satisfy everyone, from chili and maple-glazed yams to pecan-sage Wellington.

Vegan meatloaf is traditional dish that is a real crowd pleaser! This recipe comes complete with mashed potatoes, barbecue sauce, gravy and onion rings. Make the complete meal or just the meatloaf. This entree has a gluten free option as well! Photo and recipe: Chef Rachel Carr

Tip 5: Buck traditions. If you don’t like turkey, skip the turkey.

Chef Francis makes Filipino stuffing with pork, not turkey. Chef Adam even uses the seasonal Dungeness crab to add a San Francisco spin to the seasonal menu. 

Tip 6: Everything is better with booze.

America’s Test Kitchen’s foolproof pie crust uses vodka. Vodka (and practically any other booze) can improve most situations.

Tip 7: Cruise Pinterest for decorative pie ideas.

Decorate pies are almost too pretty to eat…but that hasn’t stopped us! We like Pinterest for aspirational pie and table settings, even if we never make the Pinteresting things we see.

Tip 8: Ask Mom.

Feastly’s wordsmith Cleo sent over tips from her mom, who dug up a tattered and taped-up gem of a cookbook we haven’t seen in ages. She went old-school and scanned images of delicious, new-to-us recipes: Roast Turkey with Grand Marnier Apricot Stuffing or Walnut Beer Bread. Mom’s tips: don’t substitute for the Grand Marnier — use the good stuff. And for a lighter beer bread, mix a bit of white flour into the wheat. Even if you are a professional chef, you can probably learn a thing or two from Mom.  

Read about how this 35 year-old gem is still slaying.

Tip 9: Ask a Feastly Chef.

You can cook practically anything for Thanksgiving… have you checked our archives for chef recipes? If you don’t see anything you like, post a question in our Feastly Feasters Facebook group and we’ll try and source an answer for you.

Tip 10: When all else fails, medicate yourself with gifs. 

Check out our collection of Thanksgiving themed gifs – versatile as an aperitif or digestif.

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