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Last-Minute Thanksgiving Dishes

Make sure to check out all of our Thanksgiving coverage, including T-Day Troubleshooting and the best way to pair booze with the big dinner.

Holy gravy boat, Batman! When did it become Thanksgiving Day all of a sudden? Worry not, loyal sidekick, Food Republic’s got you covered. Here in our handy utility belt we have a grappling gun for effortlessly stealing the turkey from next door, tiny impact grenades shaped like bouillon cubes and tranquilizing bat-darts to knock everyone out before they realize you have neither shopped nor cooked.

No, whipping up a Thanksgiving feast is not as difficult as saving Gotham from the nagging in-law who wouldn’t shut up. In fact, it’s as easy as raiding the fridge.

Cranberry sauce

Contrary to popular opinion, it IS still Thanksgiving without cranberries; however, you do need a sweet and tart fruit-based sauce to go along with the meal. Supermarket closed or out of cranberries? (Just ignore the look they give you). Try a gastrique.

Take a cup or so of berries or juicy fruit like peaches that you have in kitchen and smash them up with a fork. Place in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup vinegar (sherry works nicely), 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. There you have it: sweet, tangy sauce that goes on everything. 

Mashed potatoes

Surely you have potatoes, and there is literally no excuse except for not having them that will keep you from serving fluffy mounds of mashed goodness along with the rest of your salvaged meal. Peel, cube and boil your taters in very salty water, return to pot and mash along with any of the following to your desired consistency and flavor:

  • Milk
  • Goat cheese
  • Olive oil (be generous)
  • Chicken broth
  • Butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Plain yogurt

Green bean casserole

This is an easy one, should you somehow find yourself with neither green beans nor a can of the increasingly-obscure cream of mushroom soup. Simply stir-fry the green vegetable of your choice with the shelled nut of your choice in some olive oil, maybe toss in a pinch of chopped fresh herbs, and you have something people might actually want to eat. Some ideas:

  • Bok choy with sliced almonds
  • Kale with chopped walnuts
  • Asparagus with crushed hazelnuts 
  • Snow peas with roasted peanuts
  • Swiss chard with chopped pecans   


Junior year of college, my 12 or so roommates and I all decided to stay at school and make Thanksgiving dinner at the beautiful 8-bedroom Victorian we systematically destroyed. We found a 20-pound turkey in one of the freezers when we moved in several months prior, which we figured would be perfect had we only remembered to stick it in the fridge a couple of days before.

With no legit way to defrost the thing, I gathered up my wits and 4 picnic packs of poultry pieces and made four varieties of oven-fried chicken from Cajun to Asian. My secret formula: …psh, you wish. Kidding, it’s a dunk in egg and breadcrumbs with your choice of seasoning, a quick spritz with cooking spray and a 45-minute stint in a 400-degree oven. Plus there’s no leftover carcass to pretend you’ll be making into stock until it gets too gross and you throw it away. Of course, you could simply roast a few far less wieldy chickens.


There is no viable substitute for stuffing. You are a lazy sh*t and don’t deserve it.

And there you have it — perfectly tasty holiday fare, no crypographic sequencer necessary. But if you need it, you know where to find it.