From your day-by-day plan of attack to how much turkey to serve per person to fixing that lumpy gravy, here's everything you need for the best Christmas dinner yet.
It's time to pick your favourite recipes! We've put together some of our favourites here:
Or pick your own adventure!
THE TO-DO LIST
A work-back schedule helps ensure your feast will be as flawless as possible — and your day-of stress as minimal as possible. Here, what to do and when:
ONE WEEK BEFORE
- Make a budget. Hosting can get expensive! We tell you how to save without compromising on the festive spirit.
- Order the turkey. Let the butcher know which day you want to pick it up. Mark that date on your calendar!
- Print out recipes and make your grocery list. Don't forget cranberry sauce—and ice cream for the pie.
- Prepare pastry for any pies/desserts.
- Delegate appetizers to family and friends—you have enough on your plate!
- Place an order with a florist so you can guarantee that you get the flowers you want.
THREE DAYS BEFORE
- Head to the grocery store and shop your list.
- make sure to pick up any wine or beer you'll be serving. Try one of these under $20 bottles.
- Prepare any hearty make-ahead recipes you chose (i.e. potatoes, squash, salad dressings).
- Call the appetizer gang for a check-in.
TWO DAYS BEFORE
- Defrost the pie pastry in the fridge overnight. Set up a baking station with rolling pin, flour, maple leaf cookie cutter and pie plate.
- Plan any entertainment for your party, like games that will make everyone laugh.
ONE DAY BEFORE
- Pick up the flowers and turkey.
- Roll out pastry, bake piecrust and any pastry decor.
- Make any side dishes that can be reheated (i.e. green beans, carrots, hearty veggies).
- Pull out serving dishes. Attach sticky notes with recipe names for what goes where. Don't forget the gravy boat and small bowls for cranberry sauce.
- Set the table. Check out our favourite wintry tablescape inspiration.
- Pour yourself a well-deserved glass of wine.
- Prepare pie filling and bake the pie.
- Roast the turkey. As it rests, you'll free up oven space for other dishes.
- Reheat any side dishes you were able to make ahead of time.
Every question you could ever ask about a turkey, answered:
No matter how much you prepare, hiccups happen. Here, a few of our tips, straight from the Test Kitchen, that will ensure your feast is memorable for all the right things.
Achieve that golden and crispy finish: Mix together a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar and a quarter cup of melted butter, then generously baste the turkey during the last 15 to 20 minutes of roasting.
Make gravy lump-free: In a blender, purée the gravy in batches, then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve. Whisk in a knob or two of butter.
How to fix lumpy gravy: Follow this guide.
How to boost flavour of turkey gravy: Follow this guide.
Avoid dry breast meat: Roast the turkey breast side down for the first two hours, then turn it over and continue with the recipe. If that's too unwieldy, try brining instead. Brining before roasting is a foolproof way to keep meat moist. Failing that, revive dry meat with a drizzle of warm chicken broth just before serving.
When the turkey is too big for the oven: Ask a butcher to carve it, then cook the legs separately from the breasts. Or buy two smaller birds; large turkeys often cook less evenly—and they take a long time, too.
Keep food warm: It's OK to serve stuffing and turkey at room temperature (for no more than two hours) as long as the gravy isn't! Pour piping-hot gravy into an insulated bottle or carafe; transfer it to a warm gravy boat just before serving. Free up oven space by using a slow cooker to keep mashed potatoes warm. Butter the insert first and coat the bottom with a little cream; spoon in the spuds and set the temperature to low, stirring occasionally.
When is it done? Never guess! Invest in an instant-read thermometer to know when the turkey is cooked to perfection. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast until the temperature reads 170°F (see resting tip, below).
MORE Christmas Dinner TIPS
For more great recipes, tips and tricks, check out the Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner Guide.
10 Savoury Potluck Ideas