8 Food Network Stars Share Their Absolute Best Tips for Making Thanksgiving a Breeze

“I think the biggest thing you can do, for any dinner, is to plan it really well,” the Barefoot Contessa star shares. “Because we end up going, ‘Oh, I love this. And my mother used to make this,’ and you forget that you actually just have one or two ovens.”

To resolve this, Garten believes balance is key. She “makes a few things in advance to reheat while the roast or turkey is resting. Or, I make some things that are on top of the stove, some things that are in the stove and some things that are served at room temperature. You don’t want to end up at the last minute with four different dishes that have to cook at four different temperatures.”

“One of the best tips I can give people for any big holiday is to really organize your guests,” Bobby Flay tells PEOPLE. He recommends getting all your guests involved.

“I’ll say, ‘I would love for you to bring a pumpkin dessert or I’d love for you to bring a chocolate dessert or bring some kind of fruit or can you get this kind of ice cream.’ This way, you don’t have 12 pumpkin pies.”

“Thanksgiving isn’t the time for experimenting and veering off the traditional dishes that everybody likes,” Ree Drummond says. “I always have mashed potatoes, home-baked rolls and pecan pie.”

And turkey, of course. Drummond makes an apple cider roast turkey, which she brines for 24 hours so it comes out of the oven extremely tender. Pro tip: If you don’t have a wire roasting rack, line the borrom of a pan with balled-up piecees of foil—lifting the bird away from direct heat allows it to roast more evenly, she says. Get her full recipe!

We’re all guilty of indulging during the holidays, including Giada De Laurentiis.

“To make the healthiest choices possible I would limit how much of it you eat,” she advises. “Just put one serving of whatever it is on your plate and stop going back every time.” 

As for alcohol, “a glass of champagne or Prosecco is always the best route because it’s lightest in calories, has the least amount of fat and the bubbles and effervescence fill you up.”

If you’re not sure what to drink with your turkey, the Chopped host has you covered.

“Turkey is a game bird—sure you can drink chardonnay with it, but it’s actually better with pinot noir, which is a light red. A very versatile red goes lots of things—it would be good with ham, too,” he says.

Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving according to Valerie Bertinelli.

“Sometimes we’ll just make a nice big turkey for Christmas,” she says, and there is a tasty reason for that: The leftovers become ingredients for gumbo.

“Whenever we have turkey, for Thanksgiving or Christmas, the next day we always make it.”

Her biggest rule: Don’t burn the roux!

Trisha Yearwood relies on husband Garth Brooks’ breakfast bowl when it comes to next morning meals after a holiday.

“If it’s a holiday season and we’ve got family spending the night, he will be doing that breakfast bowl,” she says. “He’s got hash browns going and sausage and bacon going and eggs going and the tortellini, of course, is boiling.”

Yearwood highly recommends the breakfast concoction for a big crowd.

“Even if you get up and you’ve missed it and everybody’s already eaten, it’s all still laid out and you can assemble your bowl. That’s probably the number one thing that we do if we have guests.”

Sunny Anderson believes in supporting your local shops during the holidays.

“It’s okay to have storebought elements. I love to tell people if there’s something that you don’t make, you can always pick it up locally,” The Kitchen co-host says.

“I love supporting local bakeries. They have great pies and cakes and seasonal desserts for the holidays. There may be a local butcher that does a ham special. You know, it’s okay to get help and to not have everything perfect. It’s more about taking time off and spending time with your friends and your family.”

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