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Tips for Preparing a Thanksgiving Feast in Convection

First let’s stand back and look at the big picture to see how the cooking of the feast will unfold. 

Helpful tips and guide to prepare a Thanksgiving feat by Larissa Taboryski
Preparing a Thanksgiving Feast

Turkey cooks much faster in Convection, a 20 lb room temperature turkey will typically cook in 2 hours a 12-15 lb turkey will take closer to 1 ½ hours. However, you need to factor in resting time, gravy making, and carving so add another 50 - 60 minutes. Key to success is getting the turkey close to room temperature prior to roasting.

Timing Chart

Convection Bake or Convection Roast Mode

20 lbs turkey

2 hrs

50 - 60 min resting & carving

Convection Bake or Convection Roast Mode

12-15 lbs turkey

1 1/2 hrs

50 - 60 min resting & carving

If you use a convection-mode, once the turkey comes out of the oven you can add all your oven side dishes to cook at one time. The timing for cooking roasted root vegetables and casseroles is approximately 40 minutes so by the time the side dishes are cooked everything will be ready to serve at the same time. Dishes with a shorter cooking time can be added in at the appropriate time. 

Stage Your Oven Before You Turn It On

Be sure to stage your oven with all the pans when it is cold, so you know exactly how you can load in all your dishes. 30 and 36” ovens accommodate extra large rimmed baking sheets and two 9 x 13” casseroles side-by-side on a rack. Even my 24” oven accommodates a half sheet pan and two casserole dishes side-by-side. 

stuffing casserole and veggies for Thanksgiving
Stuffing & Veggies

Because of the faster cooking time it is safer to bake a stuffing casserole than to stuff the turkey. If you stuff the turkey, you will need to cook it for a longer time and it will be a little drier.

So now you know the overall cooking time for the turkey and side dishes is about 3 hours. To keep things simple it is ideal to prep the vegetables and casseroles in advance so the only active work you will have is carving the turkey and gravy making.  Let’s face it, it’s far better to take this in stages rather than trying to do everything all at once.

What About Baking Pies or Rolls?

Well pies should definitely be baked earlier in the day or the day before, but rolls are wonderful when freshly baked, so they are best baked before the turkey goes into the oven. 

The advantage of using convection when baking is that you can bake on multiple racks at one time with even results. Remember when baking in a Convection mode always reduce the recipe temperature by 25 degrees to ensure even baking. Uneven baking results indicate that the oven temperature was too high.

Get A Headstart On Making The Gravy

If you can pick up some turkey legs before Thanksgiving and make some stock then you can actually make the gravy while the turkey is cooking. Otherwise use the turkey neck and wing tips to make stock while the turkey is roasting. Then when you have deglazed the pan drippings and captured the pan juices you can add those to the prepared gravy for added flavor.

I usually make my cranberry sauce and bake the croutons for the stuffing the day before to minimize the amount of clean-up and work I have to do on Thanksgiving day. 

Successful cooking begins with planning, so I hope you can use these tips to make a cooking plan that will work for your Thanksgiving feast.  Below you will find links to the many Thanksgiving videos and recipes you will find here at Convection Kitchen.


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