Thanksgiving Meal Planner: How to Prep & Time Your Meal

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Make turkey day easier by using my Thanksgiving Meal Planner printables! There’s one to guide you through making everything in the pressure cooker and another to help you maximize both your Instant Pot and oven space. 

A plate of sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce

The key to a stress-free holiday meal is planning!

If your goal is to spend less time in the kitchen and more time on the football field with your family, then you’re in the right place.

Not only do I have two easy Thanksgiving planning guides to print and follow, but one includes how to make the whole dinner in an Instant Pot / pressure cooker! 

Focus on enjoying your food and family, not all the prep work. Scroll to the bottom to download the guides and enjoy your easiest and most stress-free Thanksgiving yet.

Note: This year many of us are planning a much different Thanksgiving than in years past. If you’re cooking for a smaller crowd—or even just for two—this holiday, the All Pressure Cooker Planning Guide will help you make Thanksgiving staples in smaller portions.

Pinterest image promoting the Meal Planner, with a picture collage featuring turkey, pumpkin pie, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes, plus a very small version of one page of the planner

The Two Best Thanksgiving Meal Planners

My two turkey day planning guides means there’s something for everyone.

For the Instant Pot lover, choose my pressure cooker-only guide. Every delicious dish on your holiday table will take a fraction of the time and still be full of all of your favorite flavors.

From juicy turkey to creamy mashed potatoes to custardy pumpkin pie, there’s no need to turn on the oven this year. 

However, if you’d like to stick to a few more traditional Thanksgiving recipes, there’s a guide for you too! My second Thanksgiving plan lays out how to make a meal with all of the fixings using both a pressure cooker and oven. 

Collage featuring a large image of sliced turkey on the left, with a small image of cranberry jelly and sweet potato casserole on the top right, and mashed potatoes on the bottom right

All Instant Pot Thanksgiving Plan

The All Instant Pot Thanksgiving Guide is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have or doesn’t want to use an oven. It includes a detailed timeline of how to cook the entire meal in a single pressure cooker.

Plus, we’ve compiled the ingredients in each recipe so you can whip up your grocery list quickly.

It serves 4 to 6 people and features classic Instant Pot Thanksgiving recipes:

Instant Pot Thanksgiving meal, with all elements prepared in the pressure cooker including turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and stuffing (dressing)

Tips for Best Results on Your Turkey

If you’re all in on using your Instant Pot for Thanksgiving this year, here are a few tips to make the best turkey in an electric pressure cooker / Instant Pot:

❄️ Make sure your turkey is fully defrosted; if there’s even a chance the center of the turkey is still frozen, you’ll need to add extra cook time.

⏲️ For thaw timing: See the USDA’s recommended defrosting schedule here. It always seems to take longer than expected to defrost the turkey, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time.

🕑 If you’ve never made a turkey in your pressure cooker before, give yourself a little extra time to cook so you’re not stressed about getting dinner on the table. It stays warm and moist in the pressure cooker if you finish early.

📏 Before preparing the turkey breast, check to make sure it fits inside your pressure cooking pot. (Take your cooking pot to the store if necessary.)

🍗 Check the meat: Is your turkey breast bone-in or boneless? If your turkey is boneless, the thickness of the breast will determine the cook time. If your breast is long and skinny, your cook time will be less. However, if your breast is more rounded, you’ll need a longer cook time.

⏲️ For cook timing: I use a 30 minute cook time with a 10-minute natural pressure release to cook both a 6-pound bone-in, skin-on turkey breast and a 3-pound boneless, skinless breast.

🌡️ Take the guesswork out of cooking and use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your turkey is cooked to 165°F at the thickest part of the breast.

Image promoting the Thanksgiving Meal Planner Guides, featuring a one-page preview of the guide on the left and a picture of a Thanksgiving dinner with mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, and cranberries on the right

Instant Pot + Oven Thanksgiving Meal Planning Guide

My second Thanksgiving Planning Guide includes recipes that make the most of the Instant Pot and oven. I usually use this guide to make a larger Thanksgiving dinner, and it offers something for everyone. 

From flaky pie crust to savory stuffing, this guide is a rundown of every must-have Thanksgiving side dish, entrée, and dessert.

Plus, it includes a detailed step-by-step timeline, right down to when to set the table.

Here are the recipes mentioned in the guides, including a few oven recipes from my baking blog, Barbara Bakes:

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope it’s filled with great food and loved ones.

Sample page of the Total Instant Pot Thanksgiving Meal Planner, that provides one of the five pages in the free downloadable guide
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