The perfect Friendsgiving should be everything that a holiday with crazy family members and a ton of travel is not — relaxed, stress-free and EASY. That includes the cooking, too. Preparing a full Thanksgiving meal may conjure up scenes from Christmas Vacation, but it doesn’t have to. If the thought of spending this Thanksgiving kicking back with your besties over a few (or several) glasses of wine sounds like the best idea ever, then allow us to help you out. We’ve put together a guide of the very best and simplest dishes, from the centerpiece turkey to the perfect pie. These are traditional recipes that require little fuss but deliver big results, so you can breeze through your first Friendsgiving as if you’ve been hosting holidays for years. All you need is a solid grocery list, a water-tight kitchen schedule and checklist and a big appetite. Your friends will be making reservations at your house for next year before the meal is over.
1. Simple Turkey: The bird is always the main source of stress, so let’s tackle that first. This guide from our friends at The Kitchn is a no-frills approach that’s perfect for novice cooks, but serves up pro results. Guesstimate your cooking time based on the size of your turkey (instructions in the link) and work backwards so you know when to start. Plan the rest of your meal around oven time for the turkey. (via The Kitchn)
2. Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup: It might seem overwhelming to throw a soup into the mix, but consider the benefits. You can make it a day or two ahead of time and it’s something warm you can offer hungry guests when they arrive. This buys you more time in the kitchen, which is always a welcome gift on Turkey Day. Serve it up in mugs and pass around as your guests walk in the door; it will establish a relaxed and cozy vibe right off the bat. How very Friendsgiving of you! (via Gimme Some Oven)
4. Baked Brie With Cranberry Sauce: There’s nothing like an elevated cheese plate to get the party started, and this one takes things to a whole new level. Plus, it only takes one great piece of cheese, a few pantry staples and 8-12 minutes in the oven. Voila! (via The Kitchn)
5. Mashed Potatoes With Cream Cheese: Not only are mashed potatoes a Thanksgiving staple, but they’re an easy side to go with if you’re short on oven space since they’re made entirely on the stovetop. Finish them at the end with cream cheese, whole milk, cream and butter to make them feel extra luxurious. (via Martha Stewart)
6. Simple Dressing: When it comes to dressing, we agree with the legendary mag — simple is best. This recipe is straightforward and doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, so you can go ahead and relax over that pre-dinner glass of wine. You can also make it a day ahead of time and simply reheat in the oven before the meal. (via Bon Appetit)
7. Walnut + Mushroom Thanksgiving Stuffing: This veg-friendly stuffing is full of flavor but only looks fancy. Seriously — you could whip this up with finds from any local grocer without having to go the boxed-mix route. (via P+K_ on Snapguide)
8. Homemade Turkey Gravy: There’s no getting out of this one; you’re going to have to make gravy. We know it’s scary, but we’ve found a recipe so simple it will make you wonder what all the fuss is about. It will also make you wonder why you don’t make it 365 days a year. This recipe comes together while your turkey is resting (in fact, you’ll need the drippings to make it) so make sure everything else is ready to go and you can throw this together at the last minute. (via What’s Gaby Cooking)
9. Creamy Green Bean Casserole: There’s a reason green bean casserole has stood the test of time; it’s decadent, comforting and delicious. This classic version is worth mastering, and it’s yet another recipe you can make a day in advance and reheat in the oven. Or, even better, assign it to a friend. Sharing is caring! (via Sally’s Baking Addiction)
10. Easy Garlic Parmesan Knots: As if you needed more convincing, these buttery rolls come together in literally 20 minutes, so they’re totally beginner-friendly. Make and shape them while your turkey is still in the oven and pop them in when the bird comes out. They’ll be ready in the time it takes to make your gravy. (via Damn Delicious)
11. Warm Roasted Sweet Potato Salad: If the bottom rack of your oven is available, this sweet potato side is worth considering. Roasting cubed sweet potatoes is a super easy method for preparing them, and the rest comes together as quickly as a salad. You can make the vinaigrette completely ahead of time and reheat in a saucepan just before tossing with the potatoes. (via The Cozy Apron)
12. Kale Salad With Warm Cranberry Vinaigrette: A fresh salad is a cook’s ally when it comes to putting together a meal. It instantly adds vibrant color to the table and requires little to no cook time. This one comes with a warm vinaigrette of sauteed shallots and garlic, so it feels extra special. It’s perfect for a prized spot on the Friendsgiving table. (via Gimme Some Oven)
13. Garlic, Lemon and Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Toss and bake — this dish is seriously that easy. These crunchy Brussels sprouts have a clean flavor profile, and they’re the perfect complement to all of those other indulgent sides. Did we mention they’re also easy? (via Cooking Classy)
14. Apple Pie With Cranberries: A good Friendsgiving involves pie, but a great Friendsgiving involves multiple pies. Including colorful cranberries in your apple pie lends it a seasonal twist. You can also leave this at room temperature for a day, so it won’t take up precious fridge space. (via King Arthur Flour)
15. Ultimate Pumpkin Pie: You need a pumpkin pie in your recipe arsenal, and this is the one. Serve it with freshly whipped cream and a hot cup of coffee and your friends will definitely have something to be thankful for. (via Brit + Co)
What’s your best tip for hosting a Friendsgiving dinner? We want to know! Tell us in the comments below.