Brow Beat

The Best Order in Which to Cook Things on Thanksgiving, in One Chart

For most of the year, having just one oven in your home is no problem at all. On Thanksgiving, having just one oven can feel like having just one arm. The challenge of Thanksgiving isn’t so much the sheer quantity of dishes you’re expected to prepare; it’s the fact that most of those dishes—with the blessed exceptions of mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce—need to cook in the oven. Figuring out the correct order in which to bake your turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, biscuits, Brussels sprouts, and pies can feel like a demented LSAT logic game.

When Slate presented our complete Thanksgiving game plan in 2012, we offered you step-by-step instructions telling you what order to cook everything in—but we kind of cheated by telling you to deep-fry your turkey, which freed up the oven for other stuff. We stand by that advice (deep-frying is a great way to cook a turkey), but it seems fair to assume that most readers are going to cook their birds the old-fashioned way, in the oven, which complicates the question of oven timing. Which is why this year—inspired by a clever visualization that recently made the rounds on Reddit—we are offering you a way to visualize everything you need to bake on Thanksgiving, in one simple chart.

We made a few assumptions in creating this chart. For one thing, we assumed you’d be using Slate’s recipes for stuffing, pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, Brussels sprouts, and buttermilk biscuits (or angel biscuits). However, if for some reason you decide to use other recipes, you’ll probably find that they call for similar temperatures and times. We also assumed you’d use the tried and true brown-then-bake method for your turkey, where you start the bird at a high temperature to crisp its skin and then lower the oven to a more moderate temperature to cook it through (as described here by Williams-Sonoma). The time given in the chart is more or less appropriate for a 14- to 18-pound bird. (If you have a bigger or smaller turkey, you’ll obviously need to budget a correspondingly longer or shorter amount of time.) Finally, we assumed you’d want to serve dinner around 4 p.m., but naturally you can just slide everything earlier or later depending on your timing preferences.