Mission Possible: Thanksgiving Dinner in Two Hours or Less

October 30, 2008 | By | Comments (5)

Turkey During the fall, when one holiday tends to roll into the next, I find myself constantly looking for shortcuts.  Fast appetizersNo-cook dessertsMake-ahead sides.  This year, I’ve decided to put my time-saving efforts to the test and cook a complete, from scratch Thanksgiving meal in two hours or less.

On paper it can be done.  I know because I’ve devised a very detailed time-line starting at 5pm with “Prepare turkey” and ending at 7pm with “Dinner is served!”.

The first thing I did was pick the menu.  Because I’m cooking in my apartment (ergo, no second oven or specialty equipment), I had to find a turkey that would cook all the way through in less than two hours, so I’d have time to make the gravy and cook the rolls in the oven before time was up.  My best whisk for a microwaveable roll recipe!

This Monday, November 3, I’ll get cooking in the kitchen with the help of one loyal friend and maybe a glass or two of wine.  At 7, our friends will arrive to sample the goods and, hopefully, take home some of the leftovers.  Don’t forget, this is a serious Thanksgiving dinner.  No turkey breast for us, we’re going with the 12-pound bird.

Check out the menu, then check back all next week for updates on the shopping list, the grocery trip, the cooking plan, and the minute-by-minute execution.  Perhaps I should also point out that, while this is not my first Thanksgiving to orchestrate, it is my first time cooking a turkey. Case in point, I just realized that I should probably already have one thawing in my fridge.

The Menu

Blast Furnace-Roasted Turkey

Garlicky Green Beans with Pine Nuts

Creamed Corn

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Sweet-Potato Mash

Wild Rice Stuffing

Last-Minute Gravy

Apple-Pecan Crisp

Quick Yeast Rolls



  1. Pamela Nelson-Munson

    Oh my gosh… the turkey recipe has possibilities.. but as for the rest… yawn. Especially the gravy… call it school paste.
    A two-hour window for sides could have done much better than this!

    October 31, 2008 at 8:12 am
  2. Ashley

    There’s still time, Pamela. What would some of your side suggestions be? Keep in mind that the turkey takes up the oven for the whole time, save for the time for the rolls and to brown the sweet potatoes with some marshmallows (a must!). If you’ve got some stove-top, crock pot, or microwaveable favorites, I’d love to hear them.

    October 31, 2008 at 8:31 am
  3. askmom3

    I would add some cranberry dish which can be made ahead. Other than that it sounds wonderful!

    November 3, 2008 at 4:12 pm
  4. How to Shop for Thanksgiving Dinner – You've Got To Taste This | MyRecipes.com

    […] Part 1 of Thanksgiving Dinner in Two Hours or Less, I gathered the menu for the great cooking adventure and got a shopping list together for the big […]

    May 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm
  5. Thanksgiving Dinner in Two Hours or Less: Main Event – You've Got To Taste This | MyRecipes.com

    […] Part 1 and Part 2, I planned a menu and grocery shopped for our big event.  Then, on Monday, the cooking […]

    May 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm

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