Ah, Thanksgiving.  One of my favorite holidays…the arrival of my Thanksgiving Bon Appétit every year is practically a Henricksen holiday in it’s own right.  One of the reasons I love it is because we have a 5 year tradition of renting a house with friends in fun places like Paso Robles and Palm Springs.  This year we’re headed back to Palm Springs for a 2nd year with a crew of 13.  It’s the first year we have to rent two houses and we have a record high of 5 people flying in from the East Coast…so it’s going to be a fun long weekend full of good friends, fun in the sun and great food.

I have to admit though, I also love Thanksgiving because I truly enjoy the challenge of planning out the meal and strategizing for how to bring it all to life in a way where I can still relax and enjoy the day with friends by the pool.  The fact that I have to cart half of my kitchen and brining turkey to our destination certainly makes for an added challenge, but that just makes a successful meal all that more satisfying!

My menu for this year with links to recipes is below.  I’ve also provided my “week-of” schedule since that’s the secret to my success.  Lots of cooking and prepping the week leading up to Thanksgiving so the day of it’s mostly just cooking and assembling.  The day of, hour-by-hour schedule is also included since timing is everything on Turkey Day!   Wish me luck as I scale up to cook my largest Thanksgiving yet…and of course if you have tips and tricks of your own I would love to hear them…


  Dish Source # of Servings Make Ahead
Appetizers Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese & Figs Bon Appétit Makes 12 No
Union Square Cafe’s Bar Nuts Food Network 2 1/4 cups Yes
Butternut Squash, Ricotta & Sage Crostini Bon Appétit Makes 12 Yes – 1 day then assemble
Thyme Gougères Epicurous Makes 55 Yes – 1 month, freeze then rewarm 10 minutes
Fruit Platter DIY 6 No
Veggie Platter & Ranch Yogurt Dip DIY (Hidden Valley Ranch Dry Packet with 2% Greek Yogurt) 6 Yes
Dinner @ 4pm Beer Brined Turkey Homebrewchef Website 8 Brine 2 days in advance
Suz’s Famous Sweet Potatoes SavoryGirl Recipe 8 Yes
The Fluffiest Mashed Potatoes Bon Appétit 8 No – but can warm for 2 hours
Classic Stuffing Bon Appétit 10 No
Mixed Mushroom & Tarragon Gravy Bon Appétit 7 cups Yes – 1 day
Turkey Stock Bon Appétit 8 1/2 cups Yes – 4 days
Iron Skillet Succotash Bon Appétit 10 Yes – 1 day
Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad Bon Appétit 8 Yes – 8 hours & mix last minute
Cranberry-Pepper Jelly Bon Appétit 2 1/2 cups Yes – 3 weeks
Cranberry Sauce Storebought 6 N/A
Dessert Rum Pumpkin Pie (with Paula’s Perfect Pie Crust) Food Network 8 Yes
Apple Crunch Pie & Vanilla Ice Cream (same crust a above) Food Network 8 Yes
Cheesecake A friend is bringing 8 Yes


Make gougères and freeze Pick up Turkey! Start brining turkey Make pumpkin & apple pie
Make cranberry-pepper jelly Make bar nuts Make turkey stock Bake sweet potatoes & butternut squash
Make pumpkin pancake batter & freeze Carmelize pecans for pie Chop all succotash ingredients Mix sweet potatoes & cool/chop squash
Make pie crusts & freeze   Prep bread & veg for stuffing Make gravy
Mix  & bag dry ingredients for pies     Make succotash, but undercook slightly
      Make veggie dip & fruit dip
      Set up bar and chill wine


9am Crisp pancetta & take out pre-cooked squash
10am Put Turkey in oven…
11am Build veggie and fruit platters
  Assemble pancetta crisps & butternut squash crostini
  Rewarm gougères
12pm Put out appetizers
1pm Prep kale salad, but keep separate
2pm Make mashed potatoes & keep warm
  Prepare stuffing & take sweet potatoes out of fridge
3pm Put pre-made sweet potatoes & stuffing in oven
  Reheat succotash & gravy
  Set table & put out cranberry sauces & wine
6pm Make whip cream & assemble pumpkin pie.  Warm apple pie



Attached is the spreadsheet I use for all of the information above, but it also has a dish by dish shopping list included!  When I’m ready to go shopping, I take that shopping list and sort by ingredient to get totals for everything I need.  Then I add a couple of columns…one to mark if it’s a pantry item or perishable item (so I know how early I can buy it) and another column to indicate if I already have it on hand, and therefore can delete from the shopping list.  If necessary I then break it out by store (I tend to like to get my nuts, olive oil and a few other things at Whole Foods vs. the rest at my standard Safeway) and aisle/section, check online for coupons and then go shopping!

Note: there is no Turkey on the shopping list…I pre-order mine from a local store about a week in advance, but if you haven’t done so make sure to add it to the list!