How to Prepare a Turkey Dinner

Six Parts:Preparing the TurkeyPreparing the Stuffing or DressingAdding Side DishesMaking DessertAdding a Few Finishing TouchesPrintable Place Setting Template

Christmas, Thanksgiving, or British Sunday Roast, whether you're preparing a turkey dinner for the holidays or for any other reason, you're going to need both not only a well cooked turkey but also a range of complementary dishes and trimmings that are typically associated with turkey meals. While roasting a turkey is the traditional approach, it's not the only way and there are some delicious alternatives you might like to try too.

Part 1
Preparing the Turkey

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    Roast the turkey. A traditional roasted turkey is easy to make with minimal equipment and little experience. Sprinkle the cavity and the outside with salt and pepper. You can chop up onions, garlic, lemon and herbs to stuff into the cavity. For a unique twist, rub white truffle butter under the skin of your turkey.
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    Cook the turkey breast in a crock pot. If you have a slow cooker, this method makes a tender and delicious turkey with minimal fuss. You'll need to stick to a turkey breast that weighs 7 pounds (3 kg) or fewer so that it will easily fit in your slow cooker. You'll also want to broil (grill) the turkey after you finish cooking it, so that you can brown the skin and make it crispy.
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    Deep fry the turkey. For something different, make deep-fried turkey. The turkey takes less time to cook and comes out moist and delicious. You'll need a deep fryer or a large pot for your cooking oil. If you don't have a deep fryer, then you'll need to rig a metal handle to raise and lower your turkey in and out of the hot oil.
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    Make smoked turkey. A smoked turkey needs to be thawed and pre-cooked for half an hour before placing it in your smoker. If you cook turkey in a smoker, then you'll definitely need a meat thermometer to check the temperature. The interior meat can look pink while the outside of the turkey looks dark, even if the turkey's internal temperature measures 165ºF (74ºC).

Part 2
Preparing the Stuffing or Dressing

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    Make sweet potato stuffing. This recipe combines raisins, sweet potatoes and cornbread to create a nutritious alternative to traditional stuffing recipes. While it's fine to use canned sweet potatoes, you can boil or roast sweet potatoes for an even fresher flavor.
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    Make chestnut stuffing. Combine sausage, cooked vegetables and roasted chestnuts to make a stuffing that will serve 4 to 6 people. The inside should be fully cooked while the top is browned and crispy.
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    Make bread stuffing. This stuffing recipe is great if you have no more room in your oven to prepare additional dishes. The dish is cooked in the microwave, which will both free up room and save lots of time.
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    Stuff your turkey. Whether you're cooking your turkey for Thanksgiving, Christmas or another time of year, you need to follow some important safety instructions before you roast a stuffed turkey. Check out the method for stuffing the turkey in the suggested article, and the delicious stuffing recipes included.

Part 3
Adding Side Dishes

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    Make cranberry sauce. Skip the canned glop and try this recipe for making cranberry sauce from fresh or frozen cranberries. To give the sauce additional flavor, add some fresh orange zest.
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    Make sweet potato casserole. This recipe involves cooking sweet potatoes and then adding a crunchy nut and brown sugar topping. Add marshmallows to the top if you want. Also, try 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract in the sweet potato filling. You'll be surprised how good it tastes.
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    Make asparagus wrapped in bacon. Take fresh asparagus and wrap it in lightly cooked bacon before you grill it or roast it. A dash of balsamic vinegar also makes a good addition to this dish.
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    Bake your own dinner rolls. Fresh-baked dinner rolls will be a hit when served along with your turkey dinner. Add some chopped thyme to your dough to give the rolls a holiday twist. But if you don't have time to make fresh rolls, just pick up some fresh rolls at your local bakery or grocery store.

Part 4
Making Dessert

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    Bake an apple pie. Autumn is a great time to enjoy freshly harvested apples, but you can make apple pie any time of year by following this delicious recipe. Granny Smith apples are traditional, but you can also try Galas or Cortlands.
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    Make pumpkin pie straight from the pumpkin. Are you tired of using squished pumpkin from a can? Use a fresh sugar pumpkin to add class to this traditional autumn dessert. Fresh pumpkin requires a bit of extra prep time, but the taste difference will be worth it.
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    Make mince pies. Mincemeat is a suitably spicy, cinnamon infused addition to the traditional turkey dinner. You can easily prepare meatless mincemeat by combining chopped raisins, candied orange peel, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and the zest of an orange or a lemon. Combine these ingredients and soak them in brandy for a day or so before baking your pie.
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    Bake a carrot cake. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting will let you use up those carrots in your fridge while also creating a great dessert. You can adapt the recipe to make carrot cake cupcakes if you want to prepare something a little less formal.

Part 5
Adding a Few Finishing Touches

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    Select some wine. Good choices for turkey include a hearty chardonnay or a light pinot noir. Look for wines with flavor notes, like apple or pear, that complement the other dishes.
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    Dress the table elegantly.
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    Throw a fancy dinner party.

Printable Place Setting Template

Place Setting Template


  • Save yourself some cleanup time by using disposable plates and napkins. They may not be the most elegant options, but they can save you a great deal of effort, particularly if you're making your first turkey dinner.
  • Create a kids' table if you have kids coming to your dinner party. Set out some crayons, coloring books, games and snacks. When dinner is ready, prepare their plates and serve them just like the grown-ups.
  • If any of your guests are vegetarian, be sure to have alternative dishes available that they can eat. Try a nut roast or a vegetarian "turkey", or make sure that you serve a wide variety of roasted vegetables without broth or other animal ingredients.

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