You’ve spent days preparing an incredible Thanksgiving meal, and now it’s time to serve. The real challenge now? Making sure everything is warm when it hits the table or, if you’re taking more casual approach to the occasion this year, stays warm for a day of leisurely grazing.
If you’re worried about cold rolls and mashed potatoes, then consider these resourceful ideas for keeping your dishes toasty up until the very last minute.
Option 1: A Chafing Dish
It’s an obvious solution, but chafing dishes are perfect for keeping food warm on a buffet. Fancier versions will also look lovely in your food display. Consider a chafing dish for your mashed potatoes, casseroles or stuffing.
Option 2: A Microwave
While we wouldn’t recommend cooking your entire Thanksgiving meal in a microwave oven, it can be helpful for reheating dishes. Alternatively, use the space without the heat; the microwave is insulated, so it will keep hot dishes warm even when turned off. Simply transfer a dish from the oven to the microwave to hold it for a little while.
Option 3: A Cooler
Like microwaves, coolers are also insulated spaces that will keep food warm. Carefully stack your hot casseroles in the cooler, close it, and they can hold for about 20 minutes or so without losing too much heat.
Option 4: Thermal Carafe
Put your thermal carafe, insulated coffee containers or thermal coffeemaker carafes to good use on Thanksgiving Day by using them to keep your gravy warm while you put the finishing touches on the meal.
The low setting on slow cookers (and often the “keep warm” setting on countertop pressure cookers) can keep sides like mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and corn or gravy warm for an extended period of time. If you’ve made the dishes ahead, you can also use a slow cooker to reheat them with great results.
Option 6: Bread Warmer
Traditional bread warmers are making a comeback, with many attractive vintage varieties available now. Simply preheat the bread warmer in the oven, then serve the bread—or dinner rolls or biscuits—in the basket.
Option 7: Oven Drawer
That drawer under your oven is more than just storage space. When the oven is hot, the drawer is warm, meaning it’s a perfect place to hold casseroles or roasting pans just before the feast is served.
Option 8: Grill
It may be too cold for a cookout, but you can still get value from your grill. Fire it up on the lowest indirect heat possible, and place covered, cooked dishes inside to keep them hot. Just be sure to place the food in heatproof dishes first.
Option 9: Double Boilers
If you have stove top space to spare, double boilers can be used to keep gravy, mashed potatoes and the rest of your side dishes steamy. No double boiler? Bring water to simmer in a heat-safe baking dish or large fry pan and place your prepared side dishes over the water.
A note before you get started: To keep germs from growing, always hold hot food above 140ºF. When reheating the food, bring it up to 165ºF, and don’t leave any food at room temperature for longer than two hours. Tell us: What’s your tried-and-tested way to keep your Thanksgiving dishes warm?