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Dishes Your Kids Can Own on Thanksgiving

How to avoid too-many-cooks chaos.

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The least helpful thing on Thanksgiving is when friends and family (young and old) wander into the kitchen and offer to “help,” only to suck away your time while you show them where the flour lives and how to set the oven timer. While we can’t tell you how to keep Grandpa from taste testing the stuffing, we can help you put little ones to use with recipes that require minimal oversight and can be made a few days ahead of time.

Whether you’re sitting down to a feast for two or crowding around a table of twenty, next week’s marathon of food and family is a great time to invite kids into the kitchen—if you can give them tasks that will be both fun for them and not create more work for you on what’s already the craziest cooking day of the year.

The trick is to give kids control over dishes they can call their own. We found four recipes that fit the bill, plus most of them can be made ahead, so the kid(s) can take over the kitchen the weekend before and avoid any last-minute, too-many-cooks scenarios.

Cranberry sauce: No, we don’t mean they can be in charge of opening the can. A quick and easy oven-roasted method is a shortcut to great flavor without needing to stand over a stovetop, and cranberry sauce can hang out in the fridge for a few days before you use it.

Two-ingredient biscuits: It sounds too good to be true, but a simple 1:1 ratio of whole-fat greek yogurt and self-rising flour yields a biscuit to rival any dinner roll—let The Kitchn show you how. You can encourage your kid to improvise by adding some fresh herbs, cheddar cheese, or crumbled bacon.

Compound butter for the turkey (and biscuits): While you can’t roast a turkey the week before Thanksgiving, kids can give the big bird a head start by making a batch of compound butter. Chef Tom Colicchio’s recipe is a real winner, but we recommend doubling it so you can smear the surplus on dinner rolls and/or mix it into hot mashed potatoes.

Make-ahead mashed potatoes: Speaking of spuds, is there anything more fun than smooshing a potato masher into a pot of boiled taters? Mashed potatoes actually freeze well (as long as they’re not low fat, and who wants low-fat mashers?!)—so follow a simple recipe, freeze the mash in a bag, then thaw it out on Wednesday before heating it up on the stovetop (or in the microwave) on Turkey Day.

Did you know? Little Sous offers a monthly themed kids cooking box that will help your family connect in the kitchen. Check out our subscription options!