Planning ahead for Thanksgiving? Our guide to Thanksgiving baking offers the recipes, tips, techniques, and inspiration you need for a truly memorable holiday.
The complete guide:

Thanksgiving Baking

It's all about family, football... and food.

Thanksgiving, for most of us, is the biggest baking holiday of the year. Family and friends gather for an all-day feast — love in their hearts, and a green bean casserole in their hands. Cranberry scones kick things off; rolls appear on the dinner table, and again later on for turkey sandwiches. The day-long feast ends with — of course — a tableful of pies.

Family and friends gather
for an all-day feast...

Thanksgiving and your
bread machine

Did you know your bread machine can pull double duty when Thanksgiving rolls around? Not only can it mix and knead the dough for your yeast rolls; you can use your machine to cook cranberry sauce, and bake stuffing and scalloped potatoes. Zo tasty! Thanksgiving the easy way.

Thanksgiving survival tips:

  1. Shop for ingredients ahead of time (including canned pumpkin) to take advantage of pre-holiday sales and availability.
  2. Choose your recipes early; test-bake any new ones.
  3. Put your freezer to good use: find make-ahead freezing tips below.
  4. Make yourself a food prep timeline for Thanksgiving week, listing everything you're going to make, and when. Break dishes down into easier make-ahead steps whenever possible.
  5. Assess your fridge space; coolers are a handy solution when you run out of room.
  6. Test your oven temperature with a free-standing oven thermometer. Recalibrate if necessary.

Get a head start.

When it comes to Thanksgiving food prep, your freezer is your best friend. Pies, rolls, quick breads and muffins, scones, biscuits, cookies, and cake can all be prepared ahead — fully, or in part — then frozen. Here's our to-do list of make-ahead baked treats:

  • Bake cake layers or cupcakes, quick bread loaves, or muffins; wrap and freeze. Thaw at room temperature.
  • Prepare pie crust dough, shape into disks, and freeze. Or roll bottom and top crusts, stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze flat. Thaw before using.
  • Fruit pies (apple, berry, etc.) can be prepared up to the point of baking, then frozen. See Freeze: the fastest way to fresh-baked fruit pies for step-by-step photos and directions.
  • The dough for biscuits, scones, and cookies can be made ahead, shaped, frozen on baking sheets, then stored in plastic bags in the freezer. Bake right from the freezer, adding a minute or two to the baking time. See Make & Freeze Treats.
  • Prepare the yeast dough for dinner rolls. Immediately shape it into rolls, wrap (without rising), and freeze. Thaw, let rise, and bake. Unbaked dinner rolls have a shorter shelf life in the freezer than other types of baked goods; please read our blog post on freeze and bake rolls for more information, as well as step-by-step photos and directions.
  • Bake yeast bread or cornbread for stuffing; wrap well and freeze. Thaw before using.

Freezing is a great option, but it's not foolproof.

Some things don't freeze well (e.g., pumpkin pie). And most everything deteriorates ever so slowly once it's in the freezer. Thankfully, if you minimize time in the freezer to a month or less, most dishes thaw and reheat beautifully.

Freezer wrap pays off

Baked goods demand protection from freezer burn. Your best bet? Freezer wrap, a thicker-than-normal plastic wrap that also usually comes in a wider roll, the better to completely enclose your pie or loaf of bread. Another good option: over-sized all-purpose plastic bags, large enough to easily hold an entire pie or double batch of rolls.

Choosing your recipes.

So many recipes, so little time! While it's tempting to try that fancy new stuffing recipe you saw online, be sure to offer guests a wide variety of tried-and-true favorites as well. If nothing else, Thanksgiving is all about tradition.

The bread basket

"Pass the bread, please" — from morning to night, have your bread basket ready, filling it with a yummy mix of scones, muffins, sliced bread, doughnuts, and yeast rolls.

Pie rules the dessert table

"Who saved room for dessert?" Everyone, we hope! While cheesecake and cookies certainly have their champions, pie is without a doubt the most anticipated Thanksgiving dessert. Want to bake your best pies ever this year? Here's the perfect place to start.

A gluten-free Thanksgiving

Will you have guests needing gluten-free choices at your Thanksgiving feast this year? You can make them happy, from breakfast right on through dessert.

At the end of the day...

Every feast eventually has to end; and inevitably, you'll be dealing with leftovers. But that's not a bad thing! Mashed potato or squash become the basis for extra-moist bread and rolls, perfect for turkey sandwiches. Meat and vegetables morph into a savory dumpling dinner. And turkey noodle soup? It's the perfect way to relax after a hectic Black Friday.

Troubleshooting

Thanksgiving baking can be an intricate dance, trying to get everything perfectly baked and onto the table at the same time. The last thing you need is a recipe that's not cooperating! Experiencing a baking "challenge"? Contact us: we can help.

While we're a wealth of holiday baking knowledge, we're here for you year-round. Our seasoned staff of bakers knows bread and pizza, cookies and cake, scones and biscuits and muffins. If you can't figure out why your cupcakes crumble or your sourdough isn't sour enough, we can help. We're available via phone, email, or live chat 7 days a week.