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How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner in Your Tiny Kitchen

Whether you live in an apartment or your home just has a tiny kitchen, these smart tips will make it easy to cook a massive Thanksgiving feast in a small space.

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Woman preparing apple pie crust dough in the kitchen by the old wooden tableShutterstock / Zivica Kerkez

Cooking a huge meal in a small space can seem daunting. But with thorough planning, smart substitutions and some quick thinking, it’s totally doable. We’ll let you in on a handful of tips that promise to make cooking Thanksgiving dinner in your tiny kitchen more manageable.

Need some menu inspiration? Try these delicious Thanksgiving dinner ideas. 

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Taste of Home

Consider a Turkey Breast (or an Alternative Main Dish)

If your range isn’t full-sized, fitting a massive turkey and roasting pan in the oven can be a challenge. To save space (and ensure a properly cooked meal), opt for a turkey breast—like this one—instead of the whole bird. The end result will still be delicious, but you’ll avoid the hassle of storing, thawing and cooking a whole turkey in your tiny kitchen. If you’re feeling really bold, nix the turkey altogether and prepare Cornish game hens for each of your guests or one of our other non-turkey main dishes.

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Homemade cranberry sauce ingredients of cinnamon, oranges, cranberries, bay leaf simmering in a crock pot isolated on a white backgroundRonda Kimbrow/Shutterstock

Use Appliances Other than Your Oven

If you do opt for a traditional, whole turkey, it will likely take up the entire oven—so you’ll need to get creative when making side dishes. Reach for your slow cooker, Instant Pot or air fryer to round out your meal. These appliances are perfect for whipping up mashed potatoes, spiced carrots or roasted Brussels sprouts.

These are our favorite slow cooker Thanksgiving recipes.

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Steam from frying pan. Black portable cooker. Cooking tasty food requires mastery.Shutterstock /

Invest in a Portable Cooktop

If you only have two burners, consider investing in a portable cooktop. These electrical gadgets plug into the wall and give you more space to boil potatoes, reduce gravy and pop cranberries. Plus, since the appliance is so versatile, we promise that you’ll use it more than once a year.

Buy a portable cooktop here.

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Thanksgiving home made pie assortmentShutterstock / AForlenza

Set Up an Extra Table or Two

If your kitchen is cramped, set up a card table in another area of your home to place prepared pies, baked rolls and other dishes. The extra storage area gives you more space, but also lessens the chance of accidentally placing your elbow in a pie or knocking over a drink pitcher.

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Chopped root vegetables in the kitchenShutterstock / Brocreative

Work a Few Days in Advance

Working in a small space can be stressful, so it’s best to give yourself plenty of time to get things done. Many Thanksgiving recipes (including the turkey!) can be made in advance of the big day. When you plan your holiday menu, make note of any dishes that can be prepped ahead of time, then make a schedule of when you plan to cook each dish. Dinner rolls, for example, can be made days in advance—just pop them in the freezer, thaw the night before you need to use them, and warm in the oven right before serving. Pies, cranberry sauce and drinks are other great make-ahead contenders.

Get our best make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes here.

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Young cook ties violet ribbon on white cake packagingShutterstock / Akaberka

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Don’t be so quick to turn down guests’ offers to bring a dish—there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. You can also make life a little easier by picking up some pre-made items from the store or a local bakery. No one’s going to notice if your dinner rolls aren’t homemade.

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Pedantic woman wiping down kitchen countertop with pink cloth, wearing blue jean shirt and rubber gloves for household

Clear the Kitchen Clutter

Before you start cooking, make sure your kitchen is as tidy as it can be. Temporarily replace everyday countertop appliances (such as your toaster) with gadgets you need for the big meal (like your slow cooker). Make room in the fridge and freezer for make-ahead dishes. And give any other unnecessary items—like paper clutter, coupons or decorative accents—a new home. While you’re at it, quickly wipe down kitchen surfaces so you’re starting dinner prep in a clean area. 

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Thanksgiving table settingShutterstock / AnjelikaGr

Wait to Set the Table

If your kitchen lacks counter space, you’ll likely need your dining table for rolling out pie pastry and peeling potatoes. Keep this space open by waiting to set the table until right before guests arrive. You can still iron linens and polish silver in advance, just store them out of the kitchen and dining area.

Learn how to set a beautiful, traditional Thanksgiving table here. 

Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.
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