9 easy Thanksgiving dishes that take an hour or less to make

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

Few holidays demand more than Thanksgiving. It takes up every inch of your kitchen, consumes your oven and requires every last ounce of your patience.

It doesn't have to be this way. 

Here, we've put together a collection of dishes — even dessert — that should take less than an hour to execute. Many of them spend most, if not all, of their cooking time on your stovetop. The roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes and apple hand pies all come together on a sheet pan. Most are easy to reheat in the microwave. Some can be made in advance.

Thanksgiving turkey tips and tricks:The best way to rest, carve and serve your bird

These recipes were selected for their relatively short lists of ingredients, most easily found at any local store — and possibly even your pantry. Most are also adaptable, should you forget to stock some ingredients. 

This is not the menu for people who can swing souffle with ease. This is not a list for people who can easily knock out a loaf of sourdough without breaking a sweat. This is Thanksgiving for the masses.

Mere mortals can pull each of these off in a reasonable amount of time, so take a deep breath, pour a glass of wine and get to work. But don't work too hard.

Looking for turkey methods? Try these on for size. 

Extra Cheesy Mac And Cheese

Easy, cheesy mac and cheese

Most of the cooking in this classic mac and cheese recipe happens on the stovetop, which means more room in your already taxed oven. If you skip the red pepper flakes and hot sauce, you're looking at just seven ingredients, including the noodles. Get the recipe

Roasted cauliflower with raisins and dill

Roasted cauliflower with fresh herbs

Roasted cauliflower seems fancy. It isn't. This recipe calls for golden raisins, but you can use any raisins at all. You could even substitute dried cranberries. The world's your oyster.

It also calls for fresh dill, but you don't have to do that, either. Parsley or chives will work just fine. Also, if you can't find fresh thyme, no worries. Just substitute a few pinches of dried thyme instead. Easy. Get the recipe

Buttery Mashed Potatoes

Quick and easy mashed potatoes

How do you make mashed potatoes even faster? Leave the skins on. No one will care.

This recipe calls for Yukon Gold potatoes, which we love for their buttery, fluffy flesh and thin skin. You could also use russets, but the skin is thicker, so we'd recommend at least a partial peel.

Additionally, this recipe calls for cracked pepper, which is fine, but you could also use white pepper for a more consistent look.

One more tip: Handle the mashing lightly. The more you work your potatoes, the more starch they release, which means gummy, pasty potatoes. This is one of those many occasions in cooking in which the less you touch something, the better. Get the recipe

Almond brown butter green beans

Green Beans with Almond Brown Butter

Six ingredients, all the accolades. This is another one of those dishes that makes you look like a star with minimal effort. It calls for making brown butter, which isn't hard. Just go slow, and once the butter starts to smell nutty and turn golden brown, you're in the sweet spot. That's when you throw in your beans. Just remember: it's better to undercook your butter and nuts than overcook them, which will make everything bitter. No one wants that. Get the recipe

Roasted sweet potatoes 

This one takes a bit longer than an hour, but hear us out: We're asking you to be a quitter.

You can execute this whole recipe if you want, making the brown butter, removing the sweet potatoes from their skins and pureeing the flesh with the butter and seasonings.

Or, you could just stop at the point when you have your perfectly roasted sweet potatoes, split them open and serve them, seasoned, with a pat of butter. We'd call that perfect. Get the recipe

Smoky bacon and black-eyed pea salad

Smoky Bacon and Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Everyone wants something cooling and crunchy on the Thanksgiving table, whether they know it or not. This recipe delivers. It's also incredibly adaptable. 

Want to leave out the bacon? That's fine. Pressed for time? Forget the frozen peas and open up some cans. Want to save even more time? Buy pre-chopped vegetables at the store, buy a vinaigrette of your choice and toss it all together with a handful of parsley leaves. Done and done. Get the recipe

Skillet corn

Skillet corn comes together quickly.

This easy recipe comes with an extra bonus: You can serve it right in the cooking vessel. A few easy switches could make this even easier. Absolutely use frozen corn. Buy your red peppers pre-diced if you can find them that way. And dried thyme is absolute magic with butter and corn, so skip the fresh basil if you want. It's not in season, anyway. Get the recipe

Easy cranberry sauce

Cranberry Sauce

The easiest way to make cranberry sauce is to open a can. No judgment. But it's also easier than you think to make cranberry sauce, and it's frankly pretty nice to have a pot of it slow-simmering on the back burner. Also, you can make this well in advance. If you don't have the ginger this recipe calls for, you can skip it. No one will be the wiser. Get the recipe

Apple hand pies

Apple Hand Pies

Quick dessert? Yep, you can do this. Here's how:

Make the apple filling the day before dinner. On Thanksgiving Day, roll out some store-bought puff pastry, cut it into squares, drop in your cooled filling, top with more pastry and bake, washed with egg, for 15 or so minutes. Bam: You've got dessert. Get the recipe

Cocktails:Classic to modern sippers, 13 festive cocktails to get you through the holidays

Sides:A collection of Southern Thanksgiving sides from chefs and home cooks

1904 dinner:Calves brains and consommé: What Biltmore Estate Thanksgiving dinner looked like in 1904


Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South Region. She's the editor of Southern Kitchen and a correspondent for The American South.

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