Thanksgiving 101: Budget-Friendly Recipes Anyone Can Do

News4's Megan McGrath shares her tried and true — and simple — Thanksgiving favorites

NBC Universal, Inc.

Many families are sticking closer to home for Thanksgiving this year, which means many people will be taking on more cooking than ever before.

Turkey, sides, dessert: It's a lot to handle, even if your holiday table will only host two to four people. News4's Megan McGrath breaks down easy and budget-friendly recipes that will help make this Thanksgiving one to remember.

The Turkey

A turkey breast can be a more affordable and faster-cooking option if you don't want tons of leftover turkey. For a how-to, see the video at the top of this page.

If you want the experience of cooking the whole bird — or are already excited about eating Thanksgiving leftovers — make sure to plan in advance.

As more families decide to celebrate Thanksgiving safely at home, many people are making a Thanksgiving turkey for the first time. Megan McGrath breaks it down step-by-step.

Most of the time, large turkeys are bought frozen and need to thaw in the fridge. That can take as long as three days, depending on the size.

The timing below is for a 14-pound turkey. Butterball has a calculator that can help you figure out how long to cook the size of turkey you pick up.

To thaw the turkey in the fridge, keep it wrapped in its original packaging. Put the bird in a pan to catch any liquid and avoid a mess.

Frozen turkeys typically come with extra giblets in the main cavity and the neck area. Remember to remove all of it before you start cooking (Save the giblets for the bonus gravy recipe in the video above!).

Seasoning the turkey is as easy as rubbing olive oil, then salt and pepper over the skin. Put roughly chopped celery, carrots and onion into the main cavity.

To cook the turkey, use an oven bag or tent it with aluminum foil.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees then roast. Use a meat thermometer to start checking the temperature after about an hour and 45 minutes. For any size turkey, you want the thickest part of the thigh to reach the safe temperature, 165 degrees.

If you use aluminum foil, remove it during the last 25 minutes so you get nice, browned skin.

You can use the juices of the turkey for a hearty gravy. Watch how Megan McGrath does it in the video above.

Sausage Stuffing

Megan McGrath's sausage stuffing

Especially if you go for a smaller turkey breast, a meaty sausage stuffing can give some extra oomph to your Thanksgiving table.

  • 16 ounces bread crumbs (unseasoned)
  • 1 lb pork sausage
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 C celery, chopped (2-3 stalks)
  • 1/2 C flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped sage
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 3 C chicken broth-Salt and pepper

Sauté sausage until brown and crumbly. Add celery and onions. Cook until tender. In a bowl, combine chicken broth and wine. In a large bowl, add bread crumbs, the sausage, sage, parsley and salt and pepper. Mix in the broth and wine mixture. Cook in a greased, ovenproof pan until warmed through and brown.

Roasted Veggies

You can roast a variety of veggies in a single pan, but make sure to cut your veggies into similar-sized pieces

A platter of roasted veggies looks colorful and completes the main Thanksgiving meal. You can get a beautiful variety of veggies but make clean-up easier by cooking them all in one pan.

The most important thing is cutting your veggies so they're a similar size: That way, they cook at the same rate.

  • whole cauliflower
  • whole carrots, 4
  • Brussels sprouts
  • sweet potatoes, 2-3
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • balsamic vinegar or glaze

Cut veggies into roughly the same size. Toss with several tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer and roast at 350 degrees until tender (start checking after 20 minutes). Drizzle with balsamic vinegar or glaze.

Apple Pie

Nothing is better than a homemade apple pie. Luckily, it's one of the easiest things to make from scratch for the holiday season. Here's how Megan McGrath makes her delicious apple pie, using a recipe passed down from her grandmother:

  • Granny Smith apples, 6
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • roll-out, ready-made pie crust, 2

Preset your oven to 425 degrees.

Peel, core and cut the apples into thin, 1/4 inch slices. In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the apples and toss.

Roll out a ready-made pie crust and put the bottom layer in a pie pan. Add in the apple mixture and top with small chunks of butter.

Place the second pie crust over the pie and pinch the edges closed to seal. Cut small slits in the top crust to allow the steam to escape and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cover the outer edge of the crust with aluminum foil.

Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes until the apple pie is brown and bubbly.

Bourbon Whipped Cream

Making your own whipped cream is a great way to elevate a favorite store-bought dessert with your own special flair.

This bourbon whipped cream will be a hit with adults, but you can substitute 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla extract (or any extract!) for a booze-free version.

Here's a tip: Get all your ingredients cold for much faster whipping. Freeze the bowl you'll use for 15 minutes to help keep things cold in the hot kitchen. Large, metal bowls work well for this.

  • 1 C whipping cream
  • 1/4 C powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Bourbon

Add the powdered sugar to the cream and whip with a mixer on high until it begins to hold shape. Add the bourbon and mix a few more seconds. Only whip until it is the consistency of whipped cream. If you go too long, it will be like butter.

Contact Us