Food & Recipes

The Only 26 Dishes & Tips You’ll Need For Thanksgiving

by Rachael Ray Show Staff 9:00 AM, November 21, 2014

Rachael Ray Show

Aired November 21, 2014

This year, Rachael Ray and celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse, Carla Hall and Ryan Scott are breaking down some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes from A to Z! Don't forget, though: Thanksgiving isn't just about the food! Design guru Nate Berkus is also giving unique hosting and holiday decor tips. Get these recipes and tips for one epic, unforgettable Thanksgiving meal. Check out our full A-to-Z guide, below!

A.) Apple Stuffing

This recipe has been in Rachael’s family for over 40 years, so you know it’s going to be good! Delicious Pinky Lady, Honeycrisp or Macoun apples really compliment the buttery stuffing mix. Rach then throws in fresh parsley, sage rosemary and thyme to throw your taste buds into over drive. The explosion of flavors will have your guests asking for seconds (or maybe thirds).

B.) Basting

There is no better smell in the world than when you open that hot oven door, pop out the turkey and begin to baste that crispy, golden brown skin! Are we right?

C.) Orange Cranberry Sauce

Sure, adding a little orange zest, ground cinnamon and cardamom to this cranberry sauce is a delicious twist, but what really makes this show-stopping side stand out is adding Ruby Port! These flavors were just made for each other. Pile this cranberry sauce onto your Thanksgiving plate!

D.) Decor

Design guru Nate Berkus believes that everyone deserves to have a beautiful and elegant Thanksgiving table setting, even if you don't have the money to spend -- and we couldn’t agree more. Your Thanksgiving guests will whip out their phones and start snapping photos of your phenomenal table setting thanks to these tips. Grab your DIY hats and get started!

E.) Pimiento Olive-Stuffed Deviled Eggs

We love this recipe because it’s super-flavorful. The combination of egg yolks, mayo, grated onion, dill relish & minced pimiento, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce is the perfect appetizer before your Thanksgiving meal. Plus, what makes this dish devilsh is the hot sauce. Warning: You won't beable to have just one!

F.) Family

Having good food, family and friends is what makes Thanksgiving so special. Good, healthy food is something Emeril Lagasse’s daughter, Jilly Lagasse, shares with us in this amazing recipe. Prepare for your taste buds to explode when roasted sweet potatoes and squash get a makeover with the help of cayenne pepper, dark brown sugar and ground cinnamon. You won’t be able to turn down this knockout combination of sweet and spicy.

G.) Garnish 

Take a deep breath. It’s now it’s time for the main event: plating the Turkey! It’s cooked, basted and ready to be served.  Add some simple garnishes like sage, cranberries and roasted citrus to really make your turkey the star of an unforgettable Thanksgiving meal.

H.) Hostess Gift

If you’re traveling for Thanksgiving, don’t forget to bring a gift for your host! They’ve worked so hard preparing a delicious meal, and giving a gift will go as long of a way as you traveled. Our pal, Nate Berkus, has a few, inexpensive ideas to help you. After all, it’s Thanksgiving. Let’s give thanks to those we love!

I.) Ice in Glasses

This happens to us all! We get so caught up in cooking and setting our Thanksgiving tables that we always end up running out for more bags of ice! Don’t press the pause button on your Thanksgiving feast (or worse, make your guests go out and buy some more); instead take Nate Berkus’ advice to keep your party stocked with ice.

J.) John’s Drink

If you’re the Thanksgiving Chef this year, make sure to save a little time for yourself. It’s the perfect cocktail to be cooking with or to rest after with your guests. Rachael’s husband, John, serves us a cran-apple cosmo. Seriously, there's no better way to say "Cheers!" than this!

K.) Knife

Deep breaths. You can do this. Now that your turkey is perfectly roasted, grilled or fried, it's time to get carving! The most important tip is to always make sure you're using a sharp knife. It doesn't matter what kind of knife you use, just make sure it's sharp. Then, start by cutting off the legs. For the breast, draw a link with your knife down the center. Using your turkey fork, slowly pull along the sides. Now, watch as your guests "Oooh!" and "Aaah!" over your delicious turkey. Enjoy!

L.) Leftovers

Leftovers are sometimes better than the main Thanksgiving meal.(Come on: You've totally opened your fridge and had seconds hour after Thanksgiving dinner has ended.) Make a mile-high Thanksgiving sandwich, or try Emeril’s turkey quesadillas, for a unique twist on your leftovers this year. Whatever it is, go crazy and dig in all weekend long!

M.) Maple-Orange Sweet Potatoes

Move over, mashed potatoes! The classic sweet potato casserole is getting an upgrade. The sweet combination of maple syrup and orange juice whipped into sweet potato mash will make you salivate. Rachael garnishes the casserole with chopped candied pecans, smoky bacon and chives for added flavor. This savory side is the perfect dish for your feast.

N.) Nutmeg

One super ingredient that will set your pumpkin pie a part from the others is nutmeg! Freshly grated nutmeg provides a robust, sharp flavor. It’s the perfect spice to add on a pumpkin pie.

O.) Oven Temperature

Whether you’re making stuffing, veggies or turkey, your oven is going to be getting a serious workout. As the dishes go in and out of the over, make sure to keep an eye on the temperature throughout the day. You can do this by buying an oven thermometer at the grocery story -- a great tip for people whose ovens have been around for years.

P.) Potato

A buttery, garlicky taste explodes in your mouth when you eat these mashed potatoes. It's a staple every Thanksgiving menu needs. (Seriously, just ask our good pal, chef Curtis Stone.)

Q.) Quantity

With a big holiday like Thanksgiving, you need to plan ahead so that everyone can enjoy all the turkey, veggies and sides on your menu! The key to success is quantity, and chef Ryan Scott's got you covered on how to buy the right amount of turkey, potatoes and, for all you sweet-lovers out there, dessert!

R.) Roasted Root Veggies

Emeril Lagasse will change your opinion on vegetables. Period. This simple dish requires your favorite root veggies like carrots, beets, parsnips, potatoes and shallots chopped into wedges or quartered. Slather some EVOO and sprinkle kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. When you pop them out of the oven, we dare you not to try one until serving!

S.) Slow Cooker Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious Thanksgiving dessert to bring, look no further. Carla Hall shares her recipe for decadent pumpkin swirl cheesecake on a chocolate graham cracker crust. The best part? You make it in a slower cooker (and we know how much you love slow-cooker dishes!). Your guests will devour this creamy, sweet pie, then beg for seconds!

T.) Turkey

When we decided to do our Thanksgiving A-to-Z event, there was only one food that could own the letter T: Turkey! Of course, the most important part of the menu can often create the biggest problems – which is why chefs Emeril Lagasse, Carla Hall and Ryan Scott are here to share their top three turkey tricks to get you through Thanksgiving dinner in one piece.

U.) Unsalted Butter

During the holidays, many recipes call for unsalted butter. Stock up now, so you don't have to leave in the middle of cooking a dish! And in the event that you don't have unsalted butter on Thanksgiving? Rach, Ryan, Emeril and Carla all agree: just use salted butter! Easy.

V.) Veggie

Ryan Scott’s classic creamy green bean casserole is mouthwatering. Creamy on the inisde and crispy, crunchy on top this casserole is one you have to make. Topped with crispy onions, bread crumbs and thick-cut bacon. If this doesn't satisfy your Thanksgiving sides, get the recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Balsamic Vinegar, Emeril Lagasse's Kicked-Up Corn Maque Chouz or Carla Hall's Candied Acorn Squash.

W.) Waffle

Wake up the next morning, walk over to your fridge, grab your stuffing and scoop it out on to a waffle iron. That’s right: We just told you to make Waffle Stuffing. How do you get started? Pile on warm turkey, maple syrup and cranberry sauce and you now have Thanksgiving Brunch. You’re welcome.

X.) Cross-Out

To keep yourself sane (and others), make a list of everything you need to do. Even more important: Don’t forget to cross things out as you go! It sounds simple, but it’s imperative that you keep your food on time and your guests not waiting.

Y.) Yams

News flash! Ryan Scott tells us that yams are actually sweet potatoes. That’s right!

Z.) Zest

Zest from lemons, oranges and limes really punch up flavor in so many dishes. Emeril Lagasse recommends tasting each dish first. If you’re gravy feels a little bland, add some lemon zest. BAM!