Preparing a full Thanksgiving dinner is a bit of a juggling act. Not only do you have to roast a 10-pound bird, but there are all the different sides and desserts to consider. Even skilled cooks can get overwhelmed, and novice chefs are likely to throw up their hands in frustration. As you consider the logistics of prepping a big meal, who can blame you if you consider buying premade mashed potatoes at the store, serving canned cranberry sauce, or relying on Marie Callender to make the pie?
Before you outsource the entire meal, know that there’s another way. Plenty of Thanksgiving recipes are actually quite easy and can be prepared in about 15 minutes. Some can be made ahead of time, then reheated or brought to room temperature before serving. While there’s no way you can roast an entire Thanksgiving turkey in a this small amount of time, here are seven other easy Thanksgiving recipes you can make fast.
1. Warm Brie with Ginger-Citrus Glaze
Tasty appetizers will keep guests happy while you put the finishing touches on the big meal. Warm Brie with a ginger-citrus glaze is an easy-to-make crowd pleaser. When baking the cheese, place some slices of bread on the baking sheet; they’ll toast while the cheese melts and can then be served alongside it. Recipe from Southern Living. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
- 1 (8-ounce) round of Brie
- ¼ cup ginger or fig preserves
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons orange zest
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Assorted crackers and fresh fruit, for serving
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim and discard rind from top of Brie. Place Brie on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until cheese is just melted.
Meanwhile, microwave ginger preserves and next six ingredients in a small microwave-safe glass bowl on high for 30 seconds; stir until blended and smooth. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Let stand while cheese bakes.
Transfer Brie to a serving dish; drizzle warm glaze immediately over Brie. Serve with toasted bread or assorted crackers and fresh fruit.
2. Really Simple Cranberry Sauce
Your Thanksgiving meal wouldn’t be complete without cranberry sauce. Cooks in a hurry don’t have to resort to the canned version of this holiday staple, though. Making homemade cranberry sauce requires little effort — this recipe from BBC has just three ingredients and only needs to cook for 10 minutes. Creative chefs can adapt it to their taste, adding ingredients like orange zest or ginger. Plus it can be made several days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serves eight.
- ½ cup light muscovado sugar
- 3½ ounces orange juice
- 9 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
Directions: Tip the sugar and orange juice into a pan, then bring to a boil. Stir in the cranberries, then simmer until tender but still holding their shape — this will take about 5 minutes if using frozen cranberries or 8 to 10 minutes if using fresh. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Before serving, bring to room temperature. Will keep in the fridge for one week.
3. Microwave Mashed Potatoes
Don’t reach for that box of dried potato flakes! Homemade mashed potatoes don’t have to be a lot of work, especially when you use the microwave to cook them. You can use russets, Yukon gold, red, or white potatoes in this five-ingredient dish from Relish. Serves 4.
- 4 medium russet, Yukon Gold, or white potatoes, or 6 to 8 red potatoes
- Milk, to taste
- Butter, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Wash potatoes. Peel, if you prefer.
Place the whole potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl or dish, then cover. If covering with plastic wrap, poke a small hole in it to allow the steam to vent. Microwave potatoes on high for 8 minutes, or until fully cooked.
Carefully transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Add the milk, butter, salt, and pepper. Use a potato masher to mash until potatoes reach the desired consistency. Taste and season again with salt and pepper if necessary, then serve.
4. Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Sherry
Simple, healthy sides are the perfect antidote to some of the heavy dishes that dominate the Thanksgiving table. These stir-fried Brussels spouts are ready in just 15 minutes and can even be made ahead of time. Recipe from The New York Times.
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts
- 3 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (low-sodium if desired)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced shallot
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup roasted pine nuts
Directions: Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and remove and discard any discolored outer leaves. Shave a scant ¼-inch-thick slice off one side of each sprout and put cut side down. Cut scant ¼-inch-thick slices to make about 6 cups. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to the colander of a salad spinner and rinse under cold water. Put the colander into the salad spinner and spin to remove excess water. Combine the sherry and soy sauce in a cup. Combine the salt and pepper in a small dish.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan, then add the shallots and garlic and stir-fry no more than 10 seconds, until the aromatics are fragrant. Add the Brussels sprouts, sprinkle with the salt mixture and stir-fry for 1 minute, just until the Brussels sprouts are bright green. Swirl the sherry mixture into the wok, cover and cook 1 minute, until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Uncover and stir-fry for 2 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are crisp-tender and the liquid has just evaporated. Sprinkle with the pine nuts.
5. 15-Minute Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Making these roasted sweet potatoes is almost ridiculously easy. First, you microwave them for a few minutes, then add some butter and seasonings and broil until they’re just a little crispy. Simple and delicious! This recipe from Layers of Happiness serves 1, but you can easily scale it up to feed everyone at your table.
- Sweet potato
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
- Pinch of chives
- Dollop of sour cream
- Pinch of Parmesan cheese
Directions: Scrub sweet potato. Pierce a few times with a fork, then microwave on high for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the potato every 2 minutes to ensure even cooking.
Remove potato from microwave. Cut in half lengthwise. Then, slice each half into squares, but do not cut all the way through the potato’s skin. You want to potato to roughly hold its original shape.
Place a few slices of butter in the grooves of the sliced potato. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.
Broil on high for 6 to 12 minutes, depending on how crisp you want your potato to be. Once potato is cooked fully, garnish with chives, additional Parmesan cheese, or other toppings. Serve.
6. Broiled Apricots with Ginger Whipped Cream
We know, pie is the traditional Thanksgiving dessert. But if you didn’t have time to bake your own apple or pumpkin pie, consider serving this sweet treat of broiled apricots. The ginger whipped cream adds a touch of fall spice. Recipe from Martha Stewart.
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 8 apricots, halved and pitted
- 4 teaspoons light-brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
Directions: Heat broiler to high, with rack set 4 inches from heat. Squeeze juice from grated ginger, which should be about 1 teaspoon, into a large bowl; discard pulp. Add cream and granulated sugar. Whip until soft peaks form; refrigerate.
Place apricots, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Dividing evenly, top with brown sugar, butter, and cardamom. Broil until apricots just begin to char, 2 to 5 minutes. Top apricots with whipped cream, and serve immediately.
7. No-Bake Cranberry Orange Cheesecakes
There’s enough going on in your oven on Thanksgiving Day without trying to shoehorn a pie or other baked dessert in there, too. These no-bake mini cranberry cheesecakes with a gingersnap crust can be made hours ahead of time. Prepping the petite treats should only take 15 to 20 minutes, but they do need to sit for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator to set (they can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before serving). Recipe from My Baking Addiction. Yields 8 servings.
For the crust
- 6 ounces crispy gingersnap cookies
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
For the cheesecake
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese at room temperature
- 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping
- 1 cup homemade cranberry sauce (use recipe above or follow this one)
Directions: Combine the gingersnaps and pumpkin pie spice in a food processor or blender. Pulse until crumbs form. Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl. Press about 2 heaping tablespoons into the bottom of individual ramekins or other serving dishes.
Add the cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and orange zest to the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment and beat for 3 minutes. You can also use an electric hand mixer. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 1 minute more.
Spoon or pipe cream cheese mixture into the individual serving dishes on top of the crust. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Top with cranberry sauce before serving.