Elevated Classics – Secret Ingredients and Tips to Give the Thanksgiving Staples A Boost

Turkey Day is just around the corner! For some of you that means delight, and for some of you that means dread. Either way, we’re here to help.

Think of this post as your Thanksgiving survival kit. It’s chock full of tips and tricks for putting the best meal on the table possible, including a cocktail to take the edge off.



The ultimate Thanksgiving struggle: How do you keep it from drying out? Some of the tips are easier than you think. First of all, buy fresh instead of frozen. Second, smaller turkeys are easier to maintain ideal juiciness and flavor. If you’re cooking for a crowd, make two small ones, as opposed to one large one.

Brine the turkey rather than doing a dry rub, as the flavor will actually seep below the skin that way. And lastly, add more butter than you think is necessary, then add more butter. Do this both before and during roasting. It adds moisture and boosts flavor.


Mashed Potatoes

 The secret ingredient to perfectly creamy and flavorful mashed potatoes? Cream cheese. Of course, you’ll still need to incorporate some butter, heavy cream/milk, and salt as well, but cream cheese adds delightful creaminess and a slight tanginess that you can’t get anywhere else. Many recipes also recommend using Yukon Gold potatoes for extra flavorful mash.


Pumpkin Pie

Don’t worry, you don’t have to make your own pumpkin puree to get a delicious pie. But a homemade crust does go a long way! Sally’s Baking Addiction has a solid recipe featuring homemade crust, a secret ingredient, and a tip for avoiding a cracked pie.


Mac n Cheese

There are too many variations of mac to count – baked or no? Breadcrumbs? What type of cheese? Many of these elements come down to personal preference, but a few ingredients are consistent throughout the best and creamiest mac n cheeses.

Many recipes recommend a combination of cheddar (medium or sharp) and gruyere cheeses. Use whole milk or heavy cream in the roux for thick, creamy cheese sauce. Black pepper is a must, but you can add an unexpected flavor or two for an extra kick as well. Red pepper flakes, garlic powder, cayenne, Italian seasoning, mustard, and hot sauce are all popular additions.


Cranberry Sauce

You didn’t think we could go through a whole recipe article without throwing in a fruit-related tip, did you? After all, fruit is what we live for here at ThirdLeaf NW, and it’s not Thanksgiving without fresh cranberry sauce.

Our best tip for cranberry sauce is to start with fresh, local berries. They’re grown all throughout the state, so support local and feel better about what’s on your table. Add orange zest, orange juice, and a little vanilla extract, and you’re sure to have a crowd-pleaser on your hands.


Bonus: a cocktail to keep you sane

For some of you, Thanksgiving is one of your least favorite days of the year because you spend hours working on a meal while dozens of family members and friends invade your home.

If the thought of next week already has you on the verge of tears, we’ve got just the fix. This Apple Cider Old-Fashioned may look like innocent cider, but it packs a punch. It’ll keep you sane and protect your mother-in-law from leaving with a black eye.

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