Turkey Day Prep Check List

Sometimes, it can feel as though the hardest part about cooking a festive meal is coming up with your plan! Don’t let Thanksgiving fall into that place. Here’s a quick get-it-done road map to making this Thanksgiving a stress-free experience


  • Make your list, by day
  • Make and freeze pie dough, dinner rolls and stock (make space in your freezer!)
  • Finish your shopping
    • If you’ve held off on some items for freshness, now’s the time to get your herbs and other veggies
    • Order your bird. Better still, go and get it today.
      • If the bird is frozen, start defrosting in the refrigerator now
        • Turkeys take a long time to defrost: one day for every 5 pounds
          • If you have a 20-pound bird, it needs to begin defrosting four days ahead
          • 15 pounds, defrost three days ahead
          • If you are planning to brine your bird, you’ll need it thawed Tuesday evening, so plan to defrost it accordingly
    • Pie dough
      • Make your dough now and freeze for a few days before rolling it out
    • Dinner rolls
      • Bake your rolls and freeze so they’re ready to be popped in the oven, for a quick warm, on Turkey Day
    • Turkey stock and gravy
      • If you’re making homemade turkey stock for your gravy (highly encouraged!) you can make and freeze the stock now
        • You can also make the gravy itself and freeze for a few days before reheating on the stovetop the day of


  • Make gravy, prep stuffing and start defrosting the turkey
    • Gravy: if it hasn’t been made and frozen yet, time to make and store in your fridge
    • Stuffing (or dressing)
      • Stale or toasted bread is best. Cube and toast the bread and store in an airtight container so it’s ready when you are


  • Start your brine. If it’s a traditional liquid brine, you’ll start on Tuesday. Make the brine according to directions. Submerge a thawed turkey in your refrigerator for 24 hours. Take it out of the brine Wednesday evening. Cover with foil and allow to air-dry, overnight
  • Start a dry brine. Dry brine is salt or a mixture of salt and herbs that you apply to the turkey ahead of time to bring out the maximum flavor and juiciness.
    • You can start dry brining up to 72 hours in advance
  • Fruit pie filling. These fillings will stay good in the refrigerator for a few days as well as any crumb topping
  • Veggies
    • Time to wash, peel and cut most vegetables
    • Store the veggies wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a zip-lock bag
    • Pie dough
      • Time to thaw, roll out into disks and store in the fridge until it is time to bake



  • Depending on your recipe, combine dry and wet ingredients and bake ahead of time or prepare the wet and dry ingredients to be put together on the day of

Pie fillings and pie

  • Prepare your pie filings
    • If you’ve premade and frozen your pies, today’s the day to let them thaw overnight

The Big Day

Roast the turkey, reheat, assemble and enjoy!

  • Roast that turkey to the proper temperature
  • Prepare your mashed potatoes
  • Bake your pies if needed and store on the counter until ready to eat
    • Frozen pies will have defrosted and can be popped in the oven to warm up
  • Time to assemble and finish the stuffing
  • Finish any remaining sides such as your Brussels sprouts dish and glazed carrots
  • Reheat or cook your dinner rolls and casserole