Friendsgiving tools and recipes
"Friendsgiving" is typically a less formal, potluck-style Thanksgiving meal shared among friends. It can, but doesn't always, stick to traditional dishes; often, it includes an eclectic blend of fixings contributed by a diverse guest list.
If you're hosting this year, expect the unexpected while balancing the mix with a taste of classic dishes. If you've been invited to attend, add your signature recipe to the holiday table. Here are tips and ideas for both hosts and guests to create a Friendsgiving that'll be the best turkey day ever.
(An Instant Pot is a great way to pull together a delicious dish quickly, and the DUO80 8-quart model is one of our favorites and is currently discounted 29% at $99.)
Host like a pro
If you'll be throwing this year's Thanksgiving for you and all your friends, the first thing you'll want to do is organize a food sign-up so that you don't end up with a half-dozen cranberry sauce renditions.
When you send out invites (whether that's via text, social media, or old-fashioned cards in the mail), make sure to let people know how they can sign up for the dishes they'll bring. You can create a list of desired foods for people to select from, or you can enjoy the surprise of letting each person choose their own dish.
A perfect turkey
Whatever size your Friendsgiving, you'll likely want to serve a turkey, a Thanksgiving classic. Of course, if turkey isn't your thing (or if you'll be hosting for a veggie-loving crowd), you can always choose a different meat or plant-based option.
Our favorite solution for prepping perfect turkey -- or chicken, or ham, or marinated tofu -- for gatherings of any size? A sous vide. It's a mess-free way to cook tender meat in any quantity, and you can slow cook it if you have the time, or you can quickly get it ready with just a few hours' notice. (The tool is also great for asparagus and potatoes, too.)
Another great meat prep method is the air fryer. If you don't have the time to wrangle a whole bird, opt for split turkey breasts. It'll taste like crispy oven-roasted turkey -- with less mess and hassle.
A cast iron skillet is the workhorse of the kitchen and is a must for Friendsgivings, brunches, potlucks -- or even nights in. We love preparing cornbread in our skillet, and there's no better way to make fluffy buttermilk biscuits. It's a multipurpose tool that will give you years and years of use.
Another cast iron kitchen implement that we love is our dutch oven; it's a great way to make soups, stews, cobblers, and more, and this Lodge model is nice enough to double as a serving vessel, too.
Holidays are the perfect time to put your KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer to use to make creamy mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, a batch of gingersnaps, or any sweet (or savory) treat you might want to contribute.
Don't forget the dips
Every potluck needs appetizers, and chips and dip is one of the easiest contributions you can make if you have a busy schedule. Break out your food processor to quickly make spinach and artichoke, ricotta, or butternut squash dip. For a fresh crowd pleaser, you could also whip up a big bowl of guacamole or homemade hummus.
For last-minute cooks
Your guest list has suddenly grown. Or, you're blessed with a last-minute invite to a Friendsgiving. Thank goodness for your lightening-fast Instant Pot, because it'll save the day by helping you quickly whip up large batches of soup, cranberry sauce, or stewed greens. Even if you have less than an hour to spare, you'll be able to whip something up that tastes like you spent the whole afternoon.
Keep everything hot
Whether you're the host or a guest, it's always challenging to keep everything warm and toasty while serving. To the rescue: the Crock-Pot Cook & Carry Slow Cooker. From kitchen to table or from your house to your host's home, this essential tool easily transports warm food thanks to oversized handles and a lid that locks into place.
Bringing a casserole that simply needs reheating? Snag a Pyrex Easy Grab Covered Baking Dish with extra-large handles and a sealed cover to keep food neatly contained.
Presentation is key
Welcome guests to your Friendsgiving with a thoughtful and beautifully decorated Thanksgiving table. Let your turkey and colorful trimmings take center stage all served in lovely, classic, and simple white ceramic casserole dishes. Remember to have extra flatware and hostess serving sets on hand to accommodate guests. It's perfectly fine to mix and match designs for Friendsgiving gatherings.
No need to go formal for Friendsgiving. Just go festive with a cornucopia of linens including tablecloths, napkins, and table runners that let guests know where to gather. And don't forget a sleek pair of salt and pepper shakers, such as Nordstrom's luminescent brass set with all the colors of autumn.
Finish off Friendsgiving by wowing guests with a sweet treat from a box of Maggie Louise Confections Thanksgiving chocolates. It's a parting gift that would be worthy of any holiday gathering, and your guests will be talking about your Friendsgiving until next year.
Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.