Connoisseurs Tell Tasting Table Their Favorite Thanksgiving Shortcut - Exclusive Survey

Preparing a Thanksgiving meal can be an overwhelming and time-consuming process. Making the turkey alone involves several steps, from brining the bird to seasoning it to creating the stuffing, then putting it in the turkey.

Once the turkey is prepped, it's time to roast it in the oven, which can take as long as 5 hours for a bird weighing in at 20 to 24 pounds, per Taste of Home. The general rule is that for each pound that a turkey weighs, figure it should stay in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. You're already at several hours of preparation for the big Thanksgiving dinner and that doesn't even include the sides and desserts. And you know that if you try to save time by forgoing the green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, or cranberries, at least one guest will be disappointed. 

Today recommends starting to prepare two to four weeks before Thanksgiving to get ready for the big day. On the day before Thanksgiving, cooks should peel and cut potatoes, decorate, and brine the turkey. Then, on Thanksgiving, you'll need to roast the turkey and make the rest of the meal. With all of that work, people will often opt for a shortcut for at least one item. Tasting Table asked 601 readers what item they are most likely to take the easy way out to prepare, and the results are in.

An easy swap

The item that cooks are least likely to buy premade is the Thanksgiving dinner centerpiece — the turkey itself — according to the Tasting Table survey. Only 27 people, or 4.49%, said they would buy a precooked turkey for Thanksgiving.

Also, people are not likely to purchase jarred gravy, garnering only 15.31% of the votes and instant mashed potatoes with 79 votes (13.14%). Since many families have their family-favorite recipe for stuffing (think sausage or cornbread), it's not surprising that only 114 people (18.97%) said they are likely to buy boxed stuffing versus making their own from scratch. 

So what item is most likely to be bought at a grocery store? The item people responded they are most likely to take a shortcut on for Thanksgiving dinner is the item that is often loved or hated: cranberry sauce. In total, 166 people (27.62%) said they would buy canned cranberry sauce versus making it from scratch. The second item that home cooks are most likely to take a shortcut on is premade pie (whether pumpkin, apple, or another kind). According to the survey, 123 readers (20.47%) were okay with purchasing a pie rather than baking their own.

Next time you are making a Thanksgiving dinner, don't worry about taking a shortcut on the big meal, after all, almost everyone is doing it.