Oven Tetris: How to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner With Just One Oven
Words Kate Gagnon
Fitting an entire Thanksgiving dinner in your oven—especially if you only have one—can definitely feel like a game of tetris. Find out how to win it with these tips for getting everything to table on time and piping hot.
What’s on your classic Thanksgiving menu? From turkey to stuffing to mashed potatoes and more, the typical Thanksgiving menu outsizes a normal family supper by a dish or two (or ten!). Organizing how and when everything will cook can definitely be overwhelming. But with a little (okay, a lot) of pre-planning, you can conquer Thanksgiving dinner and make it a meal to remember.
Plan Way Ahead
Once you’ve finalized your menu, jot down a list of the pots, pans and dishes you’ll need to prepare and serve each. After all, green bean casserole and stuffing can’t be in the baking dish at the same time! While you’re at it, label serving dishes too. We recommend doing this a week in advance in case you need to pick up additional metal or glass bakeware.
Making mashed potatoes ahead of time? Rather than take up space in the oven, we like to keep potatoes warm in a slow cooker or in a pinch, a rice cooker. These handy appliances can work wonders for keeping anything already-cooked at the perfect temperature – gravy, soup, even mulled wine. Just keep anything you want to be crispy out of the slow cooker, like stuffing.
Starting from the time you’re aiming to serve Thanksgiving dinner and working backwards, make a timeline of what needs to be done and when. A day of schedule is essential for planning out how the oven will get used, but we’ve found it’s also very helpful to include other tasks – warming stovetop gravy, tossing salad and even filling water glasses. Bonus: A day of schedule makes it easier to dole out tasks when a guest inevitably asks what they can do to help!
Play Practice Tetris
While the oven is off, test out how multiple pans and dishes fit in the oven together. If you find anything can’t fit in the oven at the same time, it’s time to get creative or cook something ahead of time. We like to cook sides ahead of time in glass bakeware that can go from freezer to oven and transport easy from oven to table.
Don’t Forget Guests
Is Aunt Thelma bringing her famous corn casserole? Be sure to ask if guests will need the oven so the schedule doesn’t go out the window. Having a kids table? Try these fun activities to keep the kiddos occupied. Plus, check out these Thanksgiving cooking tools to make your job easier. What are your Thanksgiving tips and tricks?