Ina Garten’s Tips for a Perfect Thanksgiving Include the 1 Ingredient for Fluffy Mashed Potatoes That ‘Works Every Time’

Ina Garten has been successfully cooking and entertaining for years so she has some tried-and-true secrets for pulling off a stress-free Thanksgiving holiday. In a 2016 InStyle rapid-fire Q&A session, Garten revealed some of her wisdom on everything from turkey to table settings, including how to get perfectly fluffy mashed potatoes.

Jeffrey Garten and Ina Garten attend the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Opening Night Gala 2012
Jeffrey Garten and Ina Garten | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Ina Garten shared her secrets for planning the perfect Thanksgiving

In the video, Garten explains she’ll share “some of my easy secrets” for Thanksgiving, a holiday that revolves around food. For many people, that level of planning and timing can be stressful, but Garten has some tips that will help make things go smoother.

The Barefoot Contessa begins by explaining the secret to a juicy turkey, since many people overcook it and it comes out dry. “The secret to moist turkey is two things,” she explains. “First, don’t overcook it and second, set it aside, wrapped in foil, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. It’ll be moist every time.”

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The secret to fluffy mashed potatoes, perfect stuffing, and delicious gravy

Everyone wants fluffy mashed potatoes on their Thanksgiving table and Garten says it’s just one ingredient that gets the job done: more butter. “Works every time,” she shares.

As for making perfectly cooked stuffing, Garten offers up what might be an unpopular opinion: “Don’t stuff it in the turkey. Make a bread pudding with lots of custard and make sure it’s just done when a knife comes out clean,” she explains.

Garten’s tip for making good gravy is to have it ready a day ahead of the big day. “The secret to good gravy is to make it the day before so you know that if you add a little bit of flour and water together, it won’t be lumpy … and it’s done,” Garten notes.

Garten has the perfect Thanksgiving dessert and table setting tips

While turkey, stuffing, and potatoes might be the main attraction for your Thanksgiving feast, Garten also shared her best tips for dessert and table decorating.

When asked about a crowd-pleasing dessert for the holiday, Garten explains, “The secret to a crowd-pleasing dessert is something old fashioned but also decadent, like pumpkin flan. Everybody loves it.” She also shares a tip for elevating the delicious dessert, noting, “And caramel sauce adds to it. Anything with caramel sauce is crowd-pleasing.”

When it comes to a beautiful thanksgiving table, the Barefoot Contessa has some solid ideas that revolve around the idea of keeping things simple. “The secret to a beautiful Thanksgiving table without too much stress is pick one color and have everything coordinate with it,” she shares. “If it gets too busy or too many glasses, it gets too complicated to make beautiful. Simple always works best.”

Her general philosophy about having a stress-free Thanksgiving is to really plan ahead, with a “week-long game plan.” She explains, “Figure out what you can do three days before, two days before, and one day before … and do it really carefully. Plan it and you’ll have a really good Thanksgiving.”