Ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner

For Thanksgiving Dinner by Hilltop Acres

Undoubtedly, this year has been a year of unknowns. However, we can always count on Thanksgiving weekend. As we move into fall, we tend to search for those comfort foods we grew up eating. And, what better time to host a dinner than Thanksgiving. There are benefits to having regular family dinners, you know.

On that note, if you’re itching to try your hand in the kitchen – check out some of these ideas for Thanksgiving dinner. Are you ready to wow your friends and family? From turkey prep to table settings, we’ve got you covered.

Choosing and Prepping a Turkey

Choosing and Prepping a Turkey by Hilltop Acres

Firstly, we will cover the basics. Traditionally, turkey is served for Thanksgiving dinner. So, we thought we should start there. Whether you are new to the kitchen, or an old pro, we have tips for you.

There are a few things to always consider:

How many people do you need to feed?

And, what type of turkey would you like?

For the recipes in this blog, we suggest choosing a fresh turkey. Alternatively, you can also buy frozen and thaw out a few days before. However, be sure to avoid turkey products that contain additives. Just keep it simple, and get back to basics. All the flavor you need comes during cooking. A few ingredients and a little love go a long way in the kitchen.

We have started taking fresh turkey orders for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Often, we sell out fast. Therefore, it’s best to get your order in as early as possible. Check out our website. From there, you can choose your product and pickup date/time. We take the hard work out of it.

Once you have your turkey, it’s time to think about prep. Unfortunately, you can’t just throw it in the oven and call it a day. It takes a little work ahead of time. But, trust us, the result is worth it.

Follow these easy steps to prepping your turkey:

  1. Make the stuffing in a separate dish – this helps the turkey to cook evenly. Plus, you get perfect stuffing every time.
  2. If you are trussing the legs – do it loosely. Again, this helps the legs and breasts to cook at the same time.
  3. Rub the turkey with butter all over. This creates that perfect crispy skin.
  4. Invest in a good roasting pan – a real roasting pan.

How to Cook a Turkey

Cooking a Turkey by Hilltop Acres

Now, it’s time for the real feat. It’s time to cook that turkey. And guess what? You’ve got this. Whether you are cooking a small turkey or one for a large crowd, the process is the same.

Firstly, we suggest using the “low and slow” method. Often, it recommended blasting the turkey with high heat for the first 30 minutes. However, why add more stress to your day? Cooking your turkey at 325 for the whole time works just as well. Plus, its one less thing for you to think about.

In terms of timing, it depends on the size of your bird. As a general rule, follow these guidelines:

WeightCooking Time
 8 to 12 lbs 2.5 to 3.5
 12 to 16 lbs 3.5 to 4
 16 to 20 lbs 4 to 4.5
 20 to 26 lbs 4.5 to 5.5

These guidelines are for un-stuffed turkeys. Therefore, if you choose to stuff your turkey and then cook, you must add 20-40 minutes to your cooking time.

After that, it’s time to keep an eye on the doneness. As with any poultry, it must be thoroughly cooked. Although, you don’t want to end up overcooking either. For that reason, it’s best to check with a proper thermometer. If you’re looking for an easy read, try out a digital one. By inserting the probe into the thickest part of the thigh, you get the best read. Remember, the legs take longer to cook than the breasts. Therefore, use this spot to check for doneness.

Does your thermometer read 170 degrees Fahrenheit? You’re done! Similarly, if it’s less, it needs to go back into the oven. Keep a close eye, as things can change quickly.

Lastly, it’s time to let your bird rest. Wait 20 mins before carving.

Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes: Turkey, Sides & More

Above all, what would Thanksgiving dinner be without the accompaniments? Mashed potatoes, or grandma’s pumpkin pie? There is usually something nostalgic about Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving Side Dishes by Hilltop Acres

Certainly, we have some new dinner ideas for you to try out this year. Mix it up this year with a bit of traditional, and non-traditional offerings. (We even tried to include some food intolerances, so all your guests are covered.) Vegan and gluten-free recipes, for instance.

Main Course

Without a doubt, turkey will always be the go-to choice for Thanksgiving dinner. Surprisingly, there are a lot of options to choose from. As a result, you can cater the flavor to your own likes. By all means, this is your time to let your creativity juices flow. Of course, it’s essential to remember who your guests are. Especially if you have children coming.

Classic Roast Turkey & Gravy

Roast Turkey with Cranberry Orange Glaze

Sage Roasted Turkey with Crunchy Maple Crust

Alternatively, stuffed acorn squash is a perfect option for those looking to eat “meat-free”. If you want to keep it simple, use the same stuffing as you would for your turkey. Otherwise, this Vegetarian Stuffed Squash is full of fall flavours.

Must- Have Side Dishes

Obviously, the main course is the centrepiece of the table. Not surprisingly, it only takes up about 10% of your plate. So, what about the other 90%?

Give your sides for Thanksgiving dinner some attention too. Here are a few recipes that are bound to impress your guests. More importantly, most of these can be made ahead. Less time in the kitchen equals more family time for you this year.

The Greatest Creamed Greens

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Gluten-Free)

Cheese Stuffed Dates w/ Prosciutto (Gluten-Free)

Lemon Maple Squash (Gluten-Free)

Of course, you can’t forget the Fancy Cranberry Sauce.

Thanksgiving Decor for the Dinner Table

As promised, we have a few tips to jazz up your Thanksgiving dinner table. Firstly, remember this saying: KISS (Keep it simple sunshine) Just add a few simple touches, and let the food speak for itself.

Thanksgiving Decor by Hilltop Acres

However, add these little details and it will make all the difference.

  • Get creative with pumpkins – paint them, arrange them, and create focal points.
  • Use fresh fruit & nuts as part of the decor.
  • If you have linens, use them. It adds class to your dinner. Otherwise, find a fun disposable napkin.
  • Above all, let your food do the talking. In the end, it’s really all that matters.

For more tips & tricks this holiday season, check out our Ultimate Guide to a Healthy & Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

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Hilltop Acres Poultry Products
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Bloomingdale, Ontario
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