12 Pioneer Woman Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks

The Pioneer Woman has the tips to make a delicious Thanksgiving feast as easy as possible. Follow these tricks and you'll be spending less time in the kitchen and more time with your loved ones.  

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Ree Drummond, a.k.a. “The Pioneer Woman”

Over the years, Ree Drummond has given Thanksgiving tips and shortcuts on her cooking show, The Pioneer Woman. These include transforming store-bought dishes, making recipes ahead of time and preparing creative leftovers. We gathered some of her best tips and tricks so that you can serve a Thanksgiving feast in a pinch to all of your loved ones, and focus more on what matters.
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Woman looks at shopping list while in the grocery store
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Get Organized

In her home, Ree Drummond has Thanksgiving organization down to a science, and she explains how you can too. Create a detailed meal plan, organize your ingredients and cooking equipment, and do as much preparation as possible in the days before your gathering. With the help of these food storage containers, and an organized fridge, you can start your shopping and even some meal prep the Monday before Thanksgiving.

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Mashed potatoes
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Make Your Mashed Potatoes Ahead of Time

The Pioneer Woman makes mashed potatoes a few days before Thanksgiving and suggests that you do the same. Grab your Pioneer Woman masher, mash your potatoes, mix with the creamy ingredients and store in a covered dish in the fridge for up to two days. On Thanksgiving, remove the dish 45 minutes before it needs to go into the oven and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes. Learn how to make buttery mashed potatoes.

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Image of cook carving a turkey
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Roast and Carve Your Turkey Ahead of Time

The Pioneer Woman offers a stress-saving piece of advice: roast your turkey the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Have your butcher cut up the turkey into pieces so you can douse them with herbs, butter and olive oil. Then, roast and carve the turkey the day before Thanksgiving and refrigerate it overnight. Before mealtime, drizzle a little chicken broth over the slices, reheat at 350° and serve on this floral serving platter.

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Chicken broth
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Chicken Broth Is Your New Best Friend

Chicken broth is Ree’s go-to for make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes—she suggests having plenty on hand for the big day. With reheating mashed potatoes, stuffing or turkey, the one thing you’ll have to battle is dryness. Luckily, a little chicken broth can go a long way to ensure that everything you’re serving is moist and decadent. Keep it hot and ready on a backburner in this holiday Dutch oven from the Pioneer Woman.

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Homemade Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce
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Doctor Up Canned Cranberry Sauce

Skip your usual labor-intensive cranberry sauce recipe, and follow Ree’s advice by adding a few simple ingredients to canned cranberry sauce. Simply mix the canned cranberry sauce with orange zest, orange juice, a splash of port, maple syrup and some chopped thyme.

By the way, if you’re looking for more tips on making holiday classics, read these Thanksgiving tips straight from grandma.

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thanksgiving dinner table set
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Set the Table and Designate Cookware the Day Before

The Pioneer Woman not only suggests setting the table for Thanksgiving a day ahead but laying out all of the cookware and cooking utensils you will need as well. Ree lays out all the pots and pans and cooking utensils she needs to cook with the night before Thanksgiving. She even labels them with sticky notes so she doesn’t end up short a pan at the crucial moment! This simple trick will make your holiday cooking efficient and fail-proof.

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Cranberry pear stuffing
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Dress Up a Stuffing Mix

Drawing on her mother’s tradition, Ree Drummond suggests mixing a pre-packaged stuffing mix with your favorite vegetables and seasonings. You can serve it in the Pioneer Woman pumpkin Dutch oven for a festive touch. Plus, you can make this ahead of time—giving the stuffing time in the fridge allows for the flavor and moisture to marinate. Finally, be sure to check out the best leftover stuffing recipes to add to your meal plan for the week.

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thanksgiving turkey brine with lemon and rosemary
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Wine, Dine and Brine

For a perfect Thanksgiving meal, Ree insists that you brine your own turkey. However, she cautions that this should only be done with a fresh, never frozen turkey, as most frozen turkeys are already preserved with sodium and will turn out too salty with brining. (The exception is some frozen organic turkeys.) And when you’re ready to put it in the oven, this nonstick roaster is the ideal dish to cook your masterpiece in.

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thanksgiving dinner rolls in a basket on the table
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Serve Store-Bought Rolls

Since frozen rolls turn out perfectly every time, the Pioneer Woman encourages you to buy store-bought rolls and keep Thanksgiving stress-free. Brush the tops of these rolls with butter and herbs before popping them in the oven. Serve immediately—guests will love passing these fail-proof, flaky rolls around the table in this farmhouse serving bowl.

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Homemade Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving
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Store-Bought Pie: A Cinderella Story

Ree suggests transforming a regular, store-bought pumpkin pie into a triple-layer treat. This can also be done to the Pioneer Woman pecan pie. Simply add a chocolate ganache layer on top of the pumpkin layer, chill it, then top it with a gorgeous marshmallow whip layer. Lastly, place your spruced-up, store-bought pie in this lovely Pioneer Woman pie dish. No one will ever doubt that you made it from scratch!

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Homemade gravy in a sauce dish with turkey in background
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Make Pioneer Woman “Gussied Up Gravy”

The Pioneer Woman proves that you can add a few ingredients to make “gussied up gravy” from store-bought gravy. (Pro tip: The Pioneer Woman sells a Turkey Gravy Mix you can order ahead of time.) Sautee celery, carrots and fennel in a saucepan. Pour in the jar of gravy. Splash in the drippings from the turkey for fresh flavor, and a bit of chicken broth. Then sprinkle in fresh sage and thyme. Let it simmer for a bit and serve in one of our favorite gravy boats. You’ll be amazed at the flavorful results!

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two mini turkey pot pies with spoonful of peas on dark background
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Plan Creative Leftover Meals 

Take a tip from the Pioneer Woman herself: Get creative with your turkey leftovers. And it doesn’t have to be turkey sandwiches! Ree recommends turning Thanksgiving leftovers into pot pies, turkey paninis, turkey spring rolls and even a turkey tetrazzini for repurposing that’s anything but boring. Check out how to reheat Thanksgiving leftovers to optimize taste, texture and temperature.

Hannah Pugh
Hannah Pugh is a former assistant editor for Taste of Home. She focused on writing affiliate content product reviews, newsletters and recipe collections. In her free time, she can be found sipping coffee at cafes, reading or rock climbing with her husband.