<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=372168762945783&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Less Stress, More Thanks: A Beginner’s Guide to Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner

Less Stress, More Thanks: A Beginner’s Guide to Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner

October 16, 2018

Holiday time is fast approaching, which means one thing: time to cook (and eat!).

If the thought of making a whole Thanksgiving dinner causes you major anxiety, don’t worry — I’m here to show you that it’s not only doable, but it’s actually pretty simple. Even for those of you who aren’t super comfortable in the kitchen!

Whether you’re having three people or thirty, traditional turkey is probably on your menu and, if you’re like a lot of people, you’re totally nervous to cook that big bird. Don’t let turkey intimidate you, though. If you can roast a whole chicken, you can roast a turkey. Turkey is just a big chicken! Stay with me here…you can do it!

You’re going to love this turkey and these two sides I’ve developed for you.


Let's Get Cooking


These recipes are for 6 people (with turkey leftovers). When deciding how big of a turkey you need, you’ll want to allow 1-1.5 pounds of turkey per person. All of these recipes can be doubled. If your turkey is bigger than 12 pounds, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time. Just remember this: the first 1.5 hours should be at 400F, then turn the oven down to 350F.

Squash and Brussels go into the oven one hour before the turkey is set to be done. Gravy is made at the very end, once the turkey is on the platter. It takes only a few mins, don’t stress.

The cooking time for turkey is about 15 minutes per pound (for an unfrozen, unstuffed turkey, at 350F). My recipe calls for a 400F oven, so the bird will take a bit less time. A turkey should be 165F when cooked. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you’ll need one.

To make your turkey breathtakingly gorgeous, let me give you a little food styling tip: brush it all over with Bragg’s liquid aminos. This light soy sauce-type liquid will give you the turkey of your dreams (golden brown, just like in an ad). Garnish the turkey with rosemary and whatever else you like. I used figs and cranberries, which gives a pop of color and up the ‘wow factor’.

When handling raw meat, please be careful. Don’t wash the turkey off in your kitchen sink - all you need to do is use paper towel to dry the bird straight out of the packaging. Make sure you wash your hands and any counters/utensils that come into contact with the raw turkey.

Before you put it into the oven, don’t forget to take the bag of giblets and the neck out of the turkey’s cavity, aka the butt. In the last hour of cooking time, you’ll have three things in the oven at the same time: the turkey, the squash, and the sprouts, all cooking at 350F.





  • 5.5 kg (12 lb) turkey
  • 1 orange quartered
  • 1/2 stick of butter, softened
  • Salt, pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • Fresh rosemary, stripped off the twigs


Orange Glaze

  • 1/2 cup thick cut orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup thawed orange juice from concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 sprig rosemary



  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan and pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Rub the bird all over with the butter and garlic, and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the orange quarters inside the turkey cavity.
  5. Spray the liquid aminos all over the bird.
  6. Sprinkle the turkey with the rosemary.
  7. Put the bird, uncovered, into the oven and set the timer for 90 minutes.
  8. Baste once more, about 40 minutes into cooking, with the aminos.
  9. When your timer goes off at 90 minutes, reduce the oven heat to 350 and continue cooking the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165F, around another 2 hours for a 12 pound bird.
    10. In the last 45 minutes of cooking, place the marmalade, juice, butter, and rosemary into a small saucepan on medium heat, whisking to combine.
    Baste the turkey all over every 10 minutes with the orange glaze.




  • Pan drippings plus:
  • 2 cups broth
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose or gravy flour, stirred into 1/2 cup cold water to dissolve.



  1. Remove the cooked turkey from the roasting pan and set on a platter to rest (cooking is hard work for a turkey, you know).
    Dissolve the flour into the water and set aside.
  2. Scrape the drippings and browned bits from the turkey roaster into a medium-sized saucepan and add the Marsala, broth, flour-water mixture, and rosemary.
  3. Simmer the gravy on medium-high heat, whisking often (get one of the guests to do this for you), until thickened.
  4. Serve with the turkey.



Brussels Sprouts


  • 3-3.5lb Brussels sprouts
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • Sage leaves for garnish (optional)



  1. Trim the bottom 1/4 off the sprouts, plus take any yucky leaves off them.
  2. Place on a sheet pan and toss with the oil, garlic, and salt.
  3. Put into the oven 1 hour ahead of time, turning every 20 minutes to avoid burning.





  • 1 butternut squash, unpeeled, microwaved for 3-4 mins
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar



  1. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, peel the rind off the squash.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out.
  3. Use a sharp knife to cut hasselbeck slits all down the back of the squash. Here’s how to do it, although I just wing it without chopsticks.
  4. Rub the squash with the butter and then the brown sugar.
  5. Place into the oven at the same time as the Brussels sprouts, which is an hour before the turkey is set to be done.
  6. Garnish with sage leaves.
Abby Langer
Abby Langer

Abby Langer RD is a communications and consulting dietitian based in Toronto, Canada. Abby has been a dietitian since 1999, and has recently moved into the media and culinary areas of the profession. She is a regular HuffPost blogger and has been featured in radio, print, and television media in both the US and Canada. Abby also loves to develop recipes and most of all, she loves to eat! She’s an avid kettlebell-lifter and runner, and is always up for trying fun new foods and experiences. Abby lives at home in Toronto with her husband, her two sweet daughters, and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Sammy.