Do you need help with your turkey dinner timeline? One of the most challenging things cooks face is getting every dish hot and ready at the same time. If you are hosting and cooking the traditional turkey dinner, the best thing you can do is make a timeline to help you.
Because all of the dishes have different timings, even the most seasoned cook can find time management in the kitchen challenging. Perhaps you've seen it on television on Hell's Kitchen? Many times I've seen professional cooks sending undercooked and overcooked food to "the pass". It seems even these pros have trouble getting everything timed to be hot and ready at the same time!
Having a Timeline is the KEY
As a seasoned home cook, I help myself by making a timeline. After many, many years of cooking, I still find it helps me feel stress free to have a written plan when cooking many dishes for many guests. You "know" how long it takes to cook a variety of dishes, but it really helps to write it out to be crystal clear of what gets done and when.
Another key way to be sure you have a stress free day is to do as much as you can before the day you host. This means make the dessert the night before and prepare the bread cubes 2 nights before your event day.
A Perfect Timeline for a Small Gathering
So, for this Thanksgiving I am sharing my detailed and no stress timeline for the dinner I am cooking, my One Pan Turkey Dinner, which is for a small gathering of 6. There is a basic timeline in the recipe for serving at 2:30 PM. But, this version is more detailed and is very specific to ensure every dish is hot and on time for guests to enjoy at 12:30 PM. Even if you are not making my One Pan Turkey Dinner, this timeline will help you organize your big cooking day!
I wrote this timeline specifically because some people want to eat early before all of the televised football games. Although the total time is 5 hours for this "day of" timeline, you are only actively working for only 1 hour and 15 minutes!
Lastly, even if you are not making my specific recipe, you still can use this timeline as a guide. Calculate the time needed to roast your turkey breast or whole turkey by using a guide of 25 minutes of roasting time per pound of turkey.
If you need more help to on how long to roast a turkey, the very best resource you can find on the web is Butterball Calculator. This tool will help you calculate how long to roast a whole turkey and also how much to buy, and how long it will take to thaw a frozen turkey.
Turkey Dinner Timeline for a Small Gathering
7 Day Timeline for a Turkey Dinner for Guests 7 days and 5 hours.
Detailed Timeline for my One Pan Turkey Dinner for a Fresh or Thawed, 8 Pound Turkey Breast.
- One Week Before
• Decide on menu.
• Get out all serving dishes and cooking pans to make sure you have everything you need.
• Make shopping list.
• Clean the house.
- Five Days Before
• Purchase fresh food and grocery items.
- Two Days Before
• Prepare bread cubes for dressing. Cut bread and dry bread cubes in oven.
- One Day Before
• Puchase last minute needs and flowers for the table.
• Make pie or dessert of choice.
• Set dining table
- Day of Dinner 7:30 AM Start Time for Serving Dinner at 12:30 PM
• Remove turkey breast from refrigerator to allow it to come to room temperature before roasting it.
• Take French style green beans from freezer to thaw.
• Chop celery and onion.
• Remove leaves of fresh thyme from stems.
- 8:00 AM
• Make dressing.
- 8:25 AM
Preheat oven to 325°F/163°C.
- 8:30 AM
• Make aluminum roasting rack from heavy duty aluminum foil.
• Wash and thoroughly dry turkey breast.
• Center turkey breast on coiled aluminum roasting rack.
• Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of meat, but not touching bone.
• Tent turkey breast in roasting pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.
- 8:45 AM
• Put turkey breast in oven.
- 8:50 AM
• Wash, dry, and put away skillet, cutting board, and knives.
- 9:05 AM
• Combine thawed green beans with dried cranberries in a large bowl.
- 9:10 AM
• Make basting sauce. Melt butter in small saucepan and add paprika and fresh thyme leaves. Cook 1 minute and remove from heat. Set aside.
- 9:15 AM to 10:45 AM
• 1 Hour and 30 Minutes of Free Time!
(while Turkey Breast continues to roast in the oven)
This is a great time to take a shower or set the table if you didn't set it the night before.
- 10:45 AM
• Take turkey breast out of oven.
• Remove aluminum tent and add dressing, green beans with dried cranberries, and apples and pears to pan.
• Baste turkey breast with basting sauce.
• Fold tent foil in half and use it to cover the dressing and green beans.
- 10:55 AM
• Return dinner to oven. Bake for 75 minutes, or until thermometer reads 165°F/74°C.
- 10:55 AM
• Meanwhile, wash, dry, and put away both mixing bowls and any other prep items and utensils.
- 11:10 AM
• 1 hour of free time.
Have a nice glass of wine or cup of good cheer!
- 12:10 AM
• Take Turkey Dinner out of the oven.
• Allow turkey to rest for 15 minutes before carving for maximum juiciness.
• Transfer side dishes to decorative bowls and platters.
• This dinner is so beautiful you can also leave the side dishes in the roasting pan for serving buffet style.
• Once the turkey is carved it can be plated and placed on top of the coiled aluminum roasting rack.
- 12:30 PM
• Dinner is Served!