Answers to Your Most Pressing Culinary Thanksgiving Questions


Here at Plated, it’s practically a job requirement that we be obsessed with all things food. Around coffee or before meetings, our conversations revolve around food—last weekend’s incredible restaurant experience, the Plated recipe we loved making for our friends, what we’re bringing to the office Thanksgiving potluck etc. But most of us aren’t exactly kitchen experts, and every year, without fail, there are scary cooking disasters to avoid (we won’t be deep-frying a turkey anytime soon…), special dietary requests to satisfy (seems like every relative is gluten-free or vegan!), and techniques we want to master but just aren’t sure where to start (is crunchy yet still moist stuffing actually attainable?). We pitched our toughest questions—along with yours—to the expert chefs on our Culinary team, and their answers have us feeling more confident than ever:

1. How about a good recipe for Thanksgiving dressing that isn’t dry?!
– Ann (@aspope)

Check out our Cornbread Stuffing recipe from our Thanksgiving menu. It can be made with or without the sausage. The cornbread helps keep it super moist!

2. How many pounds of turkey should I buy?
– Kateri (@kateribenjamin)

The rule of thumb is 1.5 pounds to 1 person. However, because turkey bones are quite large (and therefore weigh a lot), if you’re feeding a smaller crowd, aim for about 2 pounds per person.

3. Does flipping the turkey ‘breast down’ actually work if brining isn’t an option?
— Kristine (@priemerk)

Yes! That’s how we do it every time, brined or not. As Elana states above, the key is to start with the breast side down, then flip it over about halfway through cooking. You’ll get a juicy turkey every time.

4. What’s the best, easy to make appetizer to whet people’s appetite without filling them up, but still seems fancy enough for the holiday?
– Jean

Our spicy roasted nuts are the perfect holiday appetizer. They’re really simple to prepare and will make your house smell amazing when guests arrive!

Spiced Roasted Nuts

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 fresh red Thai chiles
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
3/4 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup raw walnuts
3/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine Ingredients:

Melt the butter. Thinly slice the Thai chiles. Finely chop the rosemary and thyme leaves. While the butter is still warm, pour it into a large bowl and add the herbs, fresh chiles, nuts, chili powder, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Be sure the nuts are mostly submerged. Allow to soak at room temperature for about 20 minutes.


Transfer the mixture to the lined baking sheet and spread it into a single layer, discarding any excess butter. Season the nuts lightly with kosher salt and heavily black pepper, then toss to combine. Roast until golden and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the sea salt. Serve warm or at room departure.

5. How do you make the perfect Turkey?

Three simple tricks will help you cook the perfect turkey every time.
One: Make a compound butter and rub it under the skin (see below).
Two: Start cooking the turkey upside down. This will help keep the breast juicy while giving the legs enough time to cook all the way through.
Three: Make a glaze; something a little sweet and a little savory. A glaze brushed on in the last hour of cooking will help the skin get perfectly browned and crisp!

Compound butter

Zest 1 orange and place in a large bowl. Roughly chop 3 sprigs each rosemary, sage, and thyme leaves, discarding stems, and add to bowl with orange. Add 1 stick softened butter to bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired, and mash using a fork until fully combined.

6. How do you time everything to come out at the same time?
– Andrea
If you have (or want to purchase) our cookbook, turn to page 182—we have a timeline there for you that helps ensure everything comes out at the same time (and is hot when you eat it!)

7. How can I make sure my stuffing has a crunchy top without being overly dry?
– Colleen

Be sure to cover your stuffing with foil before baking, then, right before serving, dot the top with butter and place it in the oven at very high heat or under the broiler. Bake until the butter has melted and the top is golden brown- this will give you the perfect crunchy layer without drying out the stuffing underneath.

8. What’s a great vegetarian alternative to the traditional turkey centerpiece?
– Clayton

If you’re looking to replace the turkey with a vegetarian centerpiece, you’ll want something that looks and feels substantial. Peeling a halved butternut squash and keeping it whole makes for a beautiful presentation and a hearty main dish. We paired it with our favorite arugula and quinoa salad for a filling and satisfying Thanksgiving meal.

Whole Roasted Squash

1 butternut squash
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Olive oil


Prepare Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 425F. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out and discard seeds. Peel off skin and discard. Season squash all over with chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt and as much pepper as desired. Rub all over with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Roast Squash:

Arrange squash on a baking sheet, rounded side up. Roast until the tip of a knife goes in with some resistance, about 40 minutes.

Whisk and Brush:

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small pot and whisk in maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Remove squash from oven and brush with a quarter of the maple syrup mixture. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Continue to brush with a quarter of the maple syrup mixture every 10 minutes until mixture is done and squash is tender.


Serve whole squash over a bed of quinoa and arugula salad.

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