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Buy or DIY? Either Way, These Thanksgiving Dishes Will Turn Out Delish

Created October 14, 2019
cranberries and prepping cranberries
You don’t have to do it all! The Betty Crocker Test Kitchens have the time-tested recipes and the clever hacks that’ll let you serve up a special meal—no matter if you make it all from scratch, with the help of store-bought ingredients or a mix of both.
Does your family gobble up soft buttery rolls but leave the cranberry sauce untouched? Every family has favorite holiday dishes and you know best what those are! So this year, Meredith Deeds, consultant for the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens, is empowering you to make the call on what to make from scratch and what to make with a shortcut ingredient. The four dishes she’s identified below will turn out delicious either way. For dishes starting with store-bought ingredients, Meredith’s got clever hacks to make them taste more like homemade. If you’re on the fence about a particular dish, she’s explained the main benefit of making each one from scratch—plus she’s recommended a few of Betty’s best recipes. So no matter which route you take, you’ll end up with a meal your family will love.

1. Stuffing (or Dressing)

If you like a chewier stuffing, make it from scratch. Starting with hearty, rustic bread—like sourdough or cornbread—ensures there will be some chewy cubes left, even after you add the broth and other ingredients. This control over texture is really the main difference between stuffing that starts with a loaf of bread and stuffing that comes from a bagged mix.

A Hack to Make it Taste Homemade

Stuffing from the bag is pre-seasoned and turns out soft and moist with just a little bit of broth added. Add in sautéed onions and celery, pork breakfast sausage, dried cranberries and toasted pecans to make it extra special.

2. Cranberry Sauce

If you love tart, fresh cranberries, make this dish from scratch. Nothing from a can will compare and cranberry sauce is both easy to make and easy to make ahead. All these berries really need is a quick boil in some sugar and water. After that, they can hang out happily in the fridge until the feast.

Simple Cranberry Sauce

A Hack to Make it Taste Homemade

Chopped candied ginger, grated orange peel, toasted walnuts—any and all of these can be lovely additions to canned cranberry sauce. Want to take it a step further? Cranberry Fluff is a sweet and tangy side that starts with a can of cran.

Cranberry-Orange Fluff

3. Bread

If you have the time, homemade bread or rolls can be a truly memorable part of the feast. Make from scratch, if you want to choose the flavor and texture. Do you want crusty French bread or soft buttery rolls? The choice is yours and the smell of homemade bread baking in the oven? Let’s just say it gets people excited for the meal long before it hits the table. If you want to try something new this year, we recommend our Everything Bagel Dinners Rolls, pictured below—they’re absolutely irresistible.

Everything Bagel Dinner Rolls

Biscuits are another great option, because they’re quick and easily made at home. Gold Medal Classic Biscuits can be on the table in 25 minutes and Bisquick’s beloved Cheese-Garlic Biscuits are even quicker at 15!

A Hack to Make it Taste Homemade

For many people, it’s just not Thanksgiving without Pillsbury™ crescent rolls. Add a little extra holiday seasoning by brushing your crescents with a combination of 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 teaspoon each of dried sage and thyme before baking. They’ll come out tender, buttery and perfectly seasoned for Thanksgiving!

4. Pie Crust

If you want your pie to turn out a certain way, scratch is the way to go. For an impossibly flakey crust, go all butter. For a perfectly tender one, go all shortening. For a crust that tastes just like grandma’s, you might want to try lard. Whatever you have in mind, Betty’s got the right recipe and step-by-step instructions to help you through the whole process.

A Hack to Make it Taste Homemade

Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crust tastes great and is a timesaver that’ll let you can knock out several pies without much effort. If you want to add a special touch, remember the saying, we eat first with our eyes. A pretty lattice certainly makes for an appealing look, especially when brushed with an egg wash for extra browning. For more ideas, check out these simple ways to beautify your pie.


So now that you have all the details, take some pressure off yourself and focus your energy on the dishes you know your family will appreciate—rather than feeling like you have to make every part of the meal from scratch. Want a few more tips to avoid stretching yourself and your budget to the brink? We’ve got advice from the test kitchens about how to shop smart, prep well and put your efforts where they’ll make a difference

Meet Meredith

Meredith Deeds is a professional chef and a consultant for the Betty Crocker Kitchens. She’s an accomplished food writer, the author of seven cookbooks, and has been a working recipe developer and cooking instructor for over 20 years. Meredith has been nominated for the prestigious James Beard award for The Big Book of Appetizers and has also written for various magazines and newspapers such as Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Better Homes and Gardens, Chile Pepper Magazine, Prevention, Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Dallas Morning News. She is currently a weekly columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and also writes frequently for She has three grown boys and has enjoyed cooking on a large scale to satisfy three big appetites. Now, with the boys moved out of the house, she enjoys cooking meals for two.