Thanksgiving Meal Prep Timeline


Thanksgiving Meal Prep Timeline

10 days before Thanksgiving

  • Determine your menu* and delegate dishes to guests (Menu below).
  • Clean out the refrigerator to make room for extra food.
  • Purchase your turkey.   If frozen, put the turkey in the refrigerator to thaw. This will take about 5 days. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature on the counter.

Friday or Saturday before Thanksgiving

  • Purchase groceries 
  • Sunday before Thanksgiving
  • Prepare dry brine for turkey and coat the turkey with the herbed salt mixture. If using a different brine, prepare the brine and make sure it is cool. Place in a container large enough for both the turkey and the brine. Refrigerate the brine and the bird. Follow directions for the brine method you choose. 
  • Make pie crust; store wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.
  • Make Cranberry Sauce; store in the refrigerator.


  • Assemble tableware, regardless of type, candles and centerpieces. Get out serving/baking dishes and label them all with post-it notes.
  • Purchase last minute fresh ingredients needed and wine, if serving.


  • Make the roll dough. Allow one rise then punch it down and cover with plastic wrap then foil;  store in the refrigerator.
  • Bake two pans of Buttermilk Cornbread. Store covered in foil in refrigerator until ready to make into dressing.
  • Make Pecan Pie. Store at room temperature covered with plastic wrap.


  • Make the Cornbread dressing. Place in baking pan and store in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.
  • Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Store in a large container completely covered in water.
  • Make Sweet Potatoes and place into baking pan- all but the marshmallows. Store covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator.
  • If dry brining, uncover turkey and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Make pumpkin pie. Store in refrigerator covered with plastic wrap.
  • Set the table.

Thursday- Thanksgiving Day

4-5 hours before serving

Remove turkey to counter to come to room temperature

  • Bake rolls till just beginning to brown. Remove from oven to cool. Reheat and brown before serving.

3 hours before: 

  • Preheat oven for turkey

2.5 hours before: 

  • Bake turkey 
  • Make Cole Slaw and refrigerate.

2 hours before: 

  • Make mashed potatoes; place in a low oven (200 degrees) or crock pot to keep warm.

1 hour before: 

  • Remove turkey and tent with foil.
  • Bake Dressing
  • Make Gravy
  • Make Green Beans
  • Whip the cream; refrigerate.
  • 30 minutes before: Carve turkey
  • Brown rolls; brush with soft butter.
  • Uncork and decant wine




Mashed Potatoes


Green Beans

Sweet Potato Casserole

Cranberry Sauce


Additional Vegetable

Additional Vegetable

Rolls & Butter

Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Whipped Cream

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