You don’t have to plan and cook for days to have a memorable Thanksgiving meal. These simple recipes call for just five ingredients or fewer (not including salt and pepper), so you can get dinner on the table and get to the best part: eating.
1. Brussels Sprouts With Walnuts and Pomegranate
A scattering of pomegranate seeds makes this brussels sprouts dish from Colu Henry look fancy. But it’s really just a matter of roasting the sprouts with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then tossing with chopped walnuts and the ruby seeds.
Recipe: Brussels Sprouts With Walnuts and Pomegranate
2. Buttermilk-Brined Turkey Breast
Samin Nosrat’s buttermilk-brined roast chicken has long been one of NYT Cooking’s most popular recipes. It stands to reason then that the same technique applied to a whole turkey and turkey breast would yield extraordinary results.
Recipes: Buttermilk-Brined Roast Turkey Breast and Buttermilk-Brined Roast Turkey
3. Potatoes Au Gratin
The key to Mark Bittman’s potatoes au gratin is to season as you go so that each slice of potato has flavor. (Potatoes suck up a lot of salt.) If you’re looking to up your game, add fresh thyme or chopped rosemary to the half-and-half before pouring it over the potatoes.
Recipe: Potatoes au Gratin
4. Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce With Port and Orange
Instead of taking up valuable stovetop real estate, let your slow cooker do the work. This complex cranberry sauce from Sarah DiGregorio uses a combination of cooked cranberries and crisp, fresh cranberries. Leave out the port if it’s not your thing, and don’t worry if you don’t have a slow cooker; there’s a stovetop method, too.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce With Port and Orange
5. Candied Sweet Potatoes
This glossy four-ingredient dish, which Melissa Clark adapted from “The Harvey House Cookbook,” calls for just sweet potatoes, butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt. It’s best served warm, not blazing hot, so it’s ideal for Thanksgiving, when sides have to wait around patiently for the turkey to finish.
Recipe: Candied Sweet Potatoes
6. Key Lime Pie
OK, so it’s not traditional pumpkin pie, but this cold and tangy dessert by Joyce LaFray Young will cheer up your taste buds after all of that rich Thanksgiving fare.
Recipe: Key Lime Pie
7. Roasted Green Beans With Pancetta and Lemon Zest
Lidey Heuck adds lemon zest and crisped pancetta to roasted green beans for a simple, yet special side dish. This recipe serves 8 to 10, but it easily halves for a smaller group.
Recipe: Roasted Green Beans With Pancetta and Lemon Zest
8. Make-Ahead Gravy
Save yourself the stress of making gravy under the watchful eyes of hungry diners by making it in advance. Mark Bittman’s version is one of our most popular Thanksgiving recipes because you can make it up to five days early. When you’re ready to eat, reheat and stir in some turkey drippings.
Recipe: Make-Ahead Gravy
9. Creamed Corn
This sunshine-y side from Amanda Hesser can be made with fresh or frozen corn. If using frozen, add a little water when cooking before you add the milk. If you want it creamier, whiz some of the cooked corn in a blender and stir it back into the pot.
Recipe: Creamed Corn
10. Vanilla Crème Brûlée
End the meal with something special and luxurious like this crème brûlée from Mark Bittman. You don’t need a blowtorch; your oven’s broiler will do. One important note: Chill the custard for several hours before browning the top, otherwise you’ll end up with custard soup.
Recipe: Vanilla Crème Brûlée
11. Roasted Butternut Squash With Brown Butter Vinaigrette
Don’t bother peeling the butternut squash. Ali Slagle cuts it in half-inch slices before roasting, then finishes it with a tangy, spicy brown-butter vinaigrette and fresh mint.
Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash With Brown Butter Vinaigrette
12. Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse With Fleur de Sel
Here’s a fun magic trick of a dessert that Melissa Clark adapted from the molecular gastronomist Hervé This: Melt good bittersweet chocolate, place it in an ice bath, then whip it by hand for 3 to 5 minutes (you’ll want help) until thick and fluffy. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
We have a full guide on buying and cooking Thanksgiving turkey, but here are answers to some of your most common questions:
- What’s the easiest way to roast a turkey? You don’t need to brine, stuff, truss or baste a turkey to get delicious results. Try this simple recipe for starters.
- How big of a turkey should I buy? Buy one pound per person, or a pound and a half per person if you’d like to make sure you have leftovers. If you’re ordering your turkey from a butcher or farmer, you’ll need to do so a few weeks in advance.
- How do I thaw a frozen turkey? Allow one day for every four pounds of turkey. A 12-pound turkey, for example, will need three days to defrost. Thaw your turkey in the fridge and make sure to put it in a bowl or on a platter as it may drip.
- How will I know when the turkey is cooked? Take its temperature. A digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read 165 degrees.
- How do I carve the turkey? Watch this video for instructions.
Source: 5-Ingredient Recipes
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