6 common Thanksgiving cooking mistakes (and how to fix them)

So it’s Thanksgiving Day, you’ve got a house full of hungry people, and you’ve just experienced a kitchen catastrophe that threatens to ruin your perfect meal.

But unless you’re a professional chef, chances are not everything will go as planned when you’re juggling all those dishes. But don’t panic. Instead, just follow these tips to fix six most common cooking disasters — your guests will never know the difference.

Dry turkey


If you got distracted by the parade and overcooked the bird, don’t fret. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with some broth or gravy.

Epicurious recommends a fool-proof way to add some moisture back into your turkey: Carve up the bird, then ladle warm broth over the sliced meat. NYC chef Andrew Carmellini, who spoke with the site, also recommended adding "butter to the gravy and brush[ing] that mixture over the top."

Another option, suggested to Epicurious by Virginia-based chef Nate Waugaman, is to slice the turkey somewhat thin, place them pack in the pan, then cover them halfway with equal parts stock and gravy. Cover the pan, then throw it back in the oven at a low temp just to warm it through. This should help the meat absorb some of that sauce.


Soggy stuffing

The traditional accompaniment to turkey, the stuffing, should be light and fluffy, not soggy and gooey. But some stuffings can develop this unpleasant texture during the cooking process. Luckily, there’s a simple way to improve the stuffing’s texture without having to start from scratch.

Food Network star Alex Guarnashelli told NY Daily News two tricks to improve the dish. “If your stuffing is too loose or needs more structure, stir in some toasted croutons to give it more body,” she says. And if it's gummy, Guarnashelli recommends heating vegetable oil in a large pan, then adding the gummy stuffing "a single layer" at a time. Sear it off in batches to until it gets some texture, then repeat with remaining stuffing.

Sticky mashed potatoes


Potatoes are delicious in pretty much every form, but mashed potatoes aren’t so good when they more closely resemble cement. According to the Food Network, if you get carried away with the whipping or mashing, your potatoes will likely become sticky instead of fluffy. But rather than throw them away, the site recommends transforming them into cheesy "mashed potato cups" by mixing with grated cheese and egg, and baking them in a muffin pan.

POPSUGAR also suggests flattening your sticky potatoes across a baking dish, then topping with cheese and breadcrumbs and baking until the top crisps. It's not quite mashed potatoes anymore, but it sure beats the alternative.


Lumpy gravy

Gravy a little lumpy? Don't worry, it won’t affect the flavor. But if you’re stilled worried how it looks, just keep whisking, Seattle chef Kim Brauer told Hello Giggles. “If that’s not doing anything, push the gravy through a fine mesh strainer with a rubber spatula to break up the lumps.”

Bitter cranberry sauce

For anyone making cranberry sauce from scratch, you run the risk of having it taste bitter or overly tart. If this ends up happening, Reader’s Digest suggests adding maple syrup or apple juice — but not sugar, as it won't properly dissolve. You could also try adding your favorite fruit jam for a more complex flavor.


Cracked pumpkin pie


If you’re worried about presentation and your pumpkin pie came out with cracks in it, there's really only a few ways to fix it.

First off, as Fine Cooking notes, you can avoid this problem altogether by taking your pie out of the oven before the filling sets completely and let the residual heat finish the baking process. If it's too late for that, AllRecipes suggests chilling the pie completely and using a heated metal spatula to smooth out the cracks.

And when all else fails? Just hide your work. After all, it's nothing a healthy dose of whipped cream can’t hide.