This Easiest Ever Thanksgiving Dinner is — you guessed it — as easy as they come. If you’re barely hanging on stress level wise, or if you just want a quick but still super delicious semi-homemade Thanksgiving dinner, you’re in the right place! This post contains affiliate links. Updated 11/2019 with new coupon codes.
So this Easiest Ever Thanksgiving Dinner was created out of desperation. A few years ago, my husband spent an unexpected and scary week in the hospital in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. It was one of the most stressful weeks of my life (it’s a long story and a post for another time, but he’s fully recovered now!) and when he was finally able to go home, I was so drained on every possible level and he was still very weak and in recovery mode. I know some of you deal with chronic illness everyday or have seen more than your fair share of the inside of hospital rooms and my heart truly goes out to you.
So why not give up on the Thanksgiving dinner altogether? I was just so incredibly happy for a chance for things to be semi-normal that I wanted to embrace that. But I also had nothing left to give and very little time to prepare since I didn’t know when/if he would be released. So maybe you’ve had a health scare, or you have a new baby and are running on zero sleep, or maybe you just want to relax to the max and put a delicious Thanksgiving dinner on the table with as little effort as possible. Bottom line: if you want to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner at home, I want to make that possible for you. These recipes require a total of about 30 minutes of your active time working on them, but if your stress level is “literally can’t even” and it’s an option for you to do so, don’t forget you can always order a fully cooked turkey dinner and just pick it up and call it done. I know Cracker Barrel has a great ready to serve option you can order ahead of time and you just drive up to the back door on Thanksgiving Day and they hand you the meal to take home.
But if you’ve got a little something to give and want some homemade elements, the theme here is “easy peasy homemade”. So for each option, I’ve made you a timing sheet so you’ll know when to do what . I’ve got the printable shopping list here and below and then under each recipe the instructions, so you can just leave this up in the browser and follow along as you go. Also, click here for a printable PDF of all this info including the recipe how to’s. As much as I love technology, I’m a “cross things off a list” kinda person. Then you can get ingredients all over your paper without worry. I’m definitely in a mode right now where I would drop my phone in the mashed potatoes.
Easiest Ever Thanksgiving Dinner Shopping List (click here to print it):
- Plastic plates/napkins/cups/silverware/tablecloths if needed/wanted
- 1 8 oz. container of sour cream
- 1 16 oz. container of French onion dip (I used Dean’s and it was right by the sour cream)
- Sister Schubert’s rolls (in the freezer section)
- Cool whip/whipping cream
- Butter (for the rolls)
- Drinks: 2-liters of pop, wine (yes, go for that!), etc.
- Slow cooker liners (optional)
- 2 8 oz. Buttery Idaho potatoes pouch mixes
- Pumpkin Pie spice
- Brown Sugar
- 1 yellow cake mix
- 2 15 oz. cans of pumpkin (try the center fall baking display first, sometimes they move all of it out of the baking aisle)
- 1 16 oz. can of French Fried onions (these were right above the canned green beans in my store)
- 4 cans of French style green beans
- Jar of gravy (optional)
- Frozen Turkey breast (ordered from Schwan’s or in store)
- Ice for the drinks
Easiest Ever Thanksgiving Dinner: 4 hours before dinner time
Green Bean Casserole
Start it: 4 hours before you want to eat Active time: 7 minutes
Keep it simple recipe details: Drain your four cans of green beans, mix them with two cans of cream of mushroom soup and mix about half of a big can of French fried onions right into the mixture. Pour the mixture into your Crockpot (I didn’t use them for the pictures, but IRL I also use slow cooker liners to cut down on clean up stress. Find them here.) Cook on low for 4 hours. Right before you serve it, sprinkle the top with the rest of the French fried onions.
Crockpot Pumpkin Pie
Start it: 4 hours before you want to eat Active time: 8 minutes
Keep it simple recipe details: Pour two 15 oz. cans of pumpkin into the bottom of your Crockpot and sprinkle it liberally with cinnamon sugar and give it a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice too. No need to measure, just give it a little swoosh. Sprinkle a box of dry yellow cake mix on top. Soften 2 sticks of butter in the microwave and glob it on top of the cake mix. Don’t stir anything. Hit the top with another round of cinnamon sugar. Put it on high for 4 hours and serve it with Cool Whip or whipping cream.
Easiest Ever Thanksgiving Dinner: 2 hours before dinner time
Start it: 2 hours before you want to eat Active time: 1 minute
Keep it simple recipe details: This does require a little planning ahead because you have to order the turkey breast from Schwan’s. But — and this is a big but — there’s no defrosting or messing around of any kind required. It roasts right in a bag in it’s own juices and it was fantastic. If you’re not familiar with Schwan’s, they’re kind of like the original Instacart. You can have a delivery driver come to your door or they’ll ship it UPS. Don’t stress if you don’t want to time the delivery for when you’re home, they can deliver during the day in a stay cool freezer bag so you can just grab it off the doorstep when you get home. You can order the exact turkey I used here. If you order from Schwans using code SHARE19 you can get 50% off your first order and free shipping! Again, no defrosting or prep. As in zero. Straight from the freezer. There are great options to make turkey in the oven for sure, but then you have to defrost, and then if you forget it’s a whole to do. Put in your Schwan’s order (seriously everything I’ve ever had from there is delicious and my mom has been a customer for at least 25 years) and have this step done! Just follow the instructions on the bag which basically equates to turning on the oven and putting the whole thing in a baking dish.
Easiest Ever Thanksgiving Dinner: 45 minutes before dinner time
The Mashed Potatoes
Start it: 45 minutes before you want to eat Active time: 10 minutes
My friend Morgan mentioned that this was her mom’s go to mashed potato recipe to me and it sounded AMAZING. But, I’m not much of a real potato masher. Like zero. So my brain held onto it for seriously like eight years (nope, no idea where I put my car keys, but memorized a recipe and kept it in mind for almost a decade #operationalexcellence). So the credit goes to Morgan’s mom Michelle for this one and I pared down the steps just a bit.
Keep it simple recipe details: Prepare two 8 oz. packets of the Idaho buttery potatoes — definitely go for the Idaho brand as they’re the least fussy ones out there. I heated the water in the microwave, poured it into a bowl, whisked in the potato flakes and then added the second batch of hot water and whisked in my second batch of flakes in the same bowl. Then stir in one 8 oz. container of sour cream and a 16 oz. container of French Onion dip. Put it in a baking dish and pop it in the oven. It cooks at the exact same temp as the turkey (375°) for about 45 minutes.
Easiest Ever Thanksgiving Dinner: 10 minutes before dinner time
Start it: 10 minutes before dinner time Active time: 1 minute
Keep it simple recipe details: Buy Sister Schubert’s frozen rolls — they’re in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Even when I have time to make other variations of rolls, I go for these. They are some of the tastiest rolls out there that are also the lowest of low effort: reach into the bag and put them on a baking sheet. Now I wasn’t cooking these for a huge crowd, so I did mine in the toaster oven because of the different oven temps. If you don’t have a toaster oven, or need a bigger batch, pop out the turkey and mashed potatoes and turn the oven down to 350° and finish up the rolls while the turkey and mashed potatoes rest for a few minutes — the rolls just take 5-10 minutes.
Ta da! Dinner is served!
Any other easy dishes I missed that you always serve for Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Tools I used to make the Easiest Ever Thanksgiving Dinner: