25 Thanksgiving Cooking Tips Straight from Grandma

Grandma has all the top tips to cook the best Thanksgiving feast ever, from the stuffing to the cranberry sauce.

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Cubed French baguette bread and cornbread baked for Thanksgiving stuffing; Shutterstock ID 1228066081; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Lynne Ann Mitchell/Shutterstock

Up Your Stuffing Game

“A one-pound loaf of bread will make up about 8 cups of loosely packed crumbs for stuffing,” says Edna Hoffman of Hebron, Indiana. We can guess where you’re from based on how you make your Thanksgiving stuffing.

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Baked apples stuffed with cheesecake and caramel; Shutterstock ID 1192631479; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock

Serve Amazing Appetizers

“Use cranberry sauce to fill the holes in baked apples for a tasty appetizer,” says Dorothy Petersen of Columbus, Nebraska. Cranberry-stuffed apples are one of our favorite baked apple recipes.

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Steam Your Squash

“Steaming is a great way to cook winter squash—it preserves both the nutrients and the pretty color,” says Brenda Thompson of Chicora, Pennsylvania. Here’s how to steam all your favorite veggies.

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Cranberry sauce in ceramic bowl with fresh berry on wooden background; Shutterstock ID 166304078; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Splash Vanilla into Cranberry Sauce

“For extra rich cranberry sauce, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract after cooking,” says Ruth Fenner of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Learn more tips for making homemade cranberry sauce.

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Sliced Apples on a Wooden Chopping Board; Shutterstock ID 1370470283; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Lisa Holmen Photography/Shutterstock

Cook Apples for Pie

To keep apple pie crust from getting too brown, give the apples a head start so they wont have to bake as long to get tender. Shirley Miller of Browns Valley, Minnesota, says, “Put sliced apples in a pie plate (not metal) the same size as the pie you’re making. Cook in the microwave for 8 to 10 minutes. Place partially cooked apples in your prepared crust along with the other filling ingredients. Put the top crust on and bake.” No microwave? Here’s another way to cook down apples for apple pie.

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Orange Sweet Potato cut into small cubic shapes and boiled in hot water to soften the texture; Shutterstock ID 1318952024; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Pornprapa Korprasert/Shutterstock

Take a Sweet Potato Shortcut

Wanda Leaders of Neola, Iowa, says, “A sticky ring won’t form around the pot if you add a spoonful of vegetable shortening to the water when boiling sweet potatoes.”

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Homemade Bread Stuffing for Thanksgiving Dinner with Sage; Shutterstock ID 1207094089; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Spruce up Stuffing

For moist and colorful stuffing, Lisa Nyquist of Cokato, Minnesota, says you should add one diced unpeeled apple to your favorite dressing recipe. Then, check out Grandma’s secret turkey tips.

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Baked acorn squash; Shutterstock ID 212693800; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
itay uri/Shutterstock

Scoop out Squash

To remove cooked squash from its shell, use an ice cream scoop. “No mess, no fuss,” says Sharon Hallack of Hart, Michigan. Here are all the types of winter squash you should know about.

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Overhead shot of a pumpkin pie with a slice cut out on a cooling rack. Horizontal format on a rustic white kitchen table.; Shutterstock ID 268798316; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock

Cut Even Pie Slices

“To cut a pie into five pieces, slice a ‘Y’ into the pie and then divide the two large pieces in half,” says Mildred Sherrer of Bay City, Texas. This is how to bake the best-ever pumpkin pie.

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Cranberries in a bowl and cranberry jam in a jar.; Shutterstock ID 623001326; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Krzysztof Slusarczyk/Shutterstock

Freeze Your Cranberries

Carol Schultze of Fairmont, Minnesota, says, “Fresh cranberries are easier to grind in a food processor or grinder if you freeze them first. Allow ground berries to drain well before using.” Try them in one of our best cranberry sauce recipes.

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Alona Cherniakhova/Shutterstock

Save Time Chopping

To make stuffing prep easier, Susan Buch of Baldwin, Illinois, says, “Cook the giblets until done, cool and chop with celery and onion in a food processor.” Here’s how to make Marilyn Monroe’s stuffing recipe.

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close up of a pot with mashed potato; Shutterstock ID 583739809; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock

Make Better Mashed Potatoes

For lighter, creamier mashed potatoes, Barbara Gracy of Spring City, Tennessee, adds a teaspoon of baking powder before mashing. These recipes take mashed potatoes to a whole new level.

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Strawberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, Raspberries And Blackberries Compote; Shutterstock ID 1550590796; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Radu Bercan/Shutterstock

Add Raspberries to Cranberry Sauce

Doris LaVerne of Newport, Rhode Island, says, “After the cranberries have popped, I add fresh or frozen raspberries (without syrup). This homemade cranberry sauce is delicious with turkey.” Yes, you can shop for your whole Thanksgiving at Costco.

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Trim off the excess of pastry. Making Apple Pie Tart Series.; Shutterstock ID 255711346; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Master Your Lattice

Making a lattice pie crust? Shirley Roberts of Brea, California, says, “Use a pizza cutter to trim the crust into strips.” These are our prettiest lattice pie recipes.

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Assorted bread in a basket; Shutterstock ID 549008677; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Hussein Shaharuddin/Shutterstock

Keep Bread Warm

To keep rolls warm longer, Hannah Sagehorn of Long Beach, California, says, “Place a sheet of aluminum foil under a cloth napkin in the bread basket.” Bake up one of these Thanksgiving roll recipes.

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Organic Yellow Steamed Corn in a Bowl; Shutterstock ID 266295782; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Serve Sweeter Corn

Joan Dirkman of Ahmeek, Michigan, recommends that you “give frozen or canned corn a fresh summertime flavor. Substitute milk for the cooking water and add a teaspoon of sugar. Cook on top of the stove as usual.” Here are dozens of things to do with frozen corn.

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Apricot juice bubbling in sauce pan as candy thermometer reading passes the boiling point.; Shutterstock ID 107252102; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Warren Price Photography/Shutterstock

Grab a Thermometer

It pays to be precise. Reader Betty Helm of El Paso, Texas, says, “I use a candy thermometer to get the correct water temperature for all recipes using yeast. No more failures!” Here’s why you truly need an instant-read thermometer.

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Sweet Homemade Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Ready to Eat; Shutterstock ID 1185116455; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Perk up Pumpkin Pie

Try this tasty twist on pumpkin pie. Mrs. Edwin Hill of Santa Barbara, California, says, “Put a layer of marshmallows in the bottom of the pumpkin pie, then add the filling. It will make a nice topping as the marshmallows come to the top as it bakes.” Try the trick with our classic pumpkin pie recipe.

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Thanksgiving turkey; Shutterstock ID 724951966; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Sara Louise Singer/Shutterstock

Send Leftovers to Go

“I send Thanksgiving guests home with meals of leftovers in disposable tins. They can pop them right into the oven from the fridge, and no one has to return containers,” says Kathleen Phelps of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Winter squash cut in half with spoon and seeds scooped out.; Shutterstock ID 175357406; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Charlotte Lake/Shutterstock

Do Double Oven Duty

Here’s a no-fuss way to cook winter squash. Carol Battle of Heathsville, Virginia, says, “Wash the outside, and without cutting, pop into a hot oven. Set the temperature for whatever you’re cooking for the rest of the meal. Cook until squash is fork tender. When you remove the squash, cut it open and scoop out the seeds. It’s never watery and retains all the nutritional value.” You’ll love these baked squash recipes.

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Pie crust filling with pumpink filling; Shutterstock ID 1433758553; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Skip Soggy Bottoms

Susan Elliot of Bancroft, Ontario, says, “To keep custard and pumpkin pie crusts from becoming soggy, pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes. Then add the filling.” Put the trick to good use with one of these Thanksgiving pies.

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Cooking boiled potatoes in the mashed potatoes in a metal pan; Shutterstock ID 1061454149; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Heat the Milk for Mashed Potatoes

When mashing potatoes, use hot milk. “If you have been using cold milk, you’ll be surprised at the difference in the lightness of the potatoes,” says Sarah Dickinson of Sagle, Idaho.

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Pot of simmering pork stock on the stove with a skim of fat on the surface, and steam rising from it.; Shutterstock ID 758373580; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Daniel Bruce Lacy/Shutterstock

Skim off Fat

Linda Hoadley of Paradise, California, shares a neat trick for removing excess fat from soup or gravy. “Skim the surface with ice wrapped in a cheesecloth. The fat congeals and clings right to the cloth,” she says. Make sure you don’t make these common mistakes with homemade gravy.

Lots of people also use a cheesecloth while cooking their Thanksgiving turkey. For those without a cheesecloth, Martha Stewart advises using this cheesecloth substitute for turkey.

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peeled pumpkin shell; Shutterstock ID 1128928226; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
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Peel a Pumpkin

Edna Sutherland of Clintonville, Wisconsin, says, “To easily remove pumpkin peels, cut a hole and remove seeds and pulp. Set the pumpkin in a pan of water and bake at 300 degrees for about an hour. The rind will peel right off. It works for me!”

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Making pie crust from scratch to bake pumpkin pie.; Shutterstock ID 769002988; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Rolling Pin Trick

Here’s a helpful baking trick. Mrs. Dean Jones of Reading, Kansas, says, “I just roll the pie crust up onto the rolling pin, put it over the pan, and unroll it again.” Learn the secrets to making perfect homemade pie crust.

Originally Published in Country

Lori Vanover
Lori has been a writer and editor for 16 years, fueled by plenty of coffee and chocolate. She hopes to retire someday and become a hot pepper farmer, cake decorator or barbecue pitmaster.