How to keep your Thanksgiving sides warm doesn’t have to be complicated. Save oven space with these tips on which kitchen tools and appliances to use so you have enough room to cook your turkey. You’ll find tips on how to transport your food without spilling it in your car, Thanksgiving sample menu and turkey cooking too.
The most important thing to remember is that Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for all of our blessings. It’s a time to focus on what’s most important to us and be grateful for what we have.
Not having a Julia Child looking turkey to present to your guests will NOT ruin the holiday. It’s something you’ll laugh about in years to come. Once, I left twice baked potatoes in a glass pan on my ceramic stove directly on top of a lit burner and it shattered in an explosive kind of way. How embarrassing and dangerous!
It’s also important to stay organized and plan early but, even if you start planning the week of Thanksgiving, you can still get it all done by keeping yourself on track with this Thanksgiving Planner Binder. It’s on SALE now for 50% off with coupon code “givethanks”.
Keep oven space in mind when planning your Thanksgiving menu. Not everyone has a double oven or a second refrigerator for storage but, if you time things right and use your appliances efficiently, you’ll get it all done!
Don’t miss my sample THANKSGIVING MENU and TURKEY COOKING GUIDE at the bottom of this post!
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means, if you make a purchase, I’ll receive a very small commission but, the price you pay is the same.
How to Keep Thanksgiving Sides Warm
I don’t have to tell you how awesome it is to have multiple slow cookers, so I won’t. You already know. It’s probably the best way to avoid foods from becoming room temperature and you can serve the food right from the slow cooker if you’re doing buffet style.
Don’t forget that Instant Pots are multicookers too and many of them have the slow cooker setting. The only thing I don’t like about using the slow cooker setting on an Instant Pot is that it’s not convenient to open the lid and stir or just to see what’s going on in there as it is with a conventional slow cooker.
Nonetheless, it’ll work as an additional slow cooker if you need one.
You may need more access to outlets in your kitchen if you’re using multiple appliances for serving. A six foot cord with 12 outlets (affiliate link) is great to have on hand.
You can also use your slow cooker to make juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast for extra white meat and is perfect for those that don’t like dark meat or for small Thanksgiving gatherings.
You can make baked potatoes or sweet potatoes by wrapping them in foil, cooking them right in your slow cooker and then using the “warm” setting to keep them warm. Serve them from your slow cooker if you’re doing buffet style.
How to keep Thanksgiving sides warm needs some outside of the box thinking. Keep casseroles warm with coolers! Hot Green bean casserole, cornbread stuffing, and sweet potato casseroles will stay warm when put together in a cooler. If only hot items are in the cooler they’ll keep each other warm like body heat from cuddling up with your kids. Aww. Don’t place the cooler outside though.
Use an insulated casserole carrier to transport casseroles or keep them hot at home. They can be expandable and and be used to keep items hot or cold. They’re also great to take to the beach or camping and are a great investment for about $30!
If possible, place coolers in your warm kitchen under a table to keep it out of the way or keep it near a heat source (radiators, base board heating, etc.) Microwave a hot/cold pack (affiliate link) to get it hot and place it in the cooler to aid in keeping the contents warm over time.
Wrap your baked Homemade Green Bean Casserole in aluminum foil and place it in a cooler with a hot pad. Don’t you just love the cooler idea?
Even if your recipe doesn’t call for the casserole to be covered during cooking, use aluminum foil to cover hot casseroles after you take them out of the oven just to keep them warm before serving.
Use baking sheets and cooling racks to make “shelves” in your coolers, which can also be used in the refrigerator for pies you’ll serve cold or cranberry relish. For example, you can cook a side dish in your slow cooker and when it’s done, remove the ceramic insert, cover the top with aluminum foil and then put it in the cooler to stay warm.
Then, microwave a hot/cold pack (affiliate link) to get it hot and place it in the cooler to aid in keeping the contents warm over time.
Everyone has aluminum foil right? I have two kinds- the regular kind and the heavy duty. It’s a simple way to keep hot things hot and not becoming room temperature.
As I mentioned above, covering your side dishes in foil will help keep them warm and you can even cook some side dishes with foil such as baked potatoes, corn on the cob, green beans, carrots, etc.
Don’t you hate having to get up from the Thanksgiving table because something isn’t warm enough to eat? This is me almost every night for one reason or another. LOL
Use an Air Fryer
Wrapping potatoes in aluminum foil and baking them in your air fryer is not only one way save oven space, but you can also keep them warm by then placing them in a slow cooker to keep warm or in a cooler with a hot pad.
You can make green beans in your air fryer, put them in the serving dish, wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in a cooler with a hot pad.
You can use your air fryer to make a Thanksgiving side dish and then keep it warm in there too.
- Garlic Parmesan Roasted Potatoes (reader favorite)
- Parmesan Green Beans
- Butternut Squash
- Baked Potatoes
- Brussel Sprouts
- Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
- Garlic Rosemary Carrots
I can even make turkey tenderloin for extra white meat in my air fryer.
However, I don’t recommend keeping roasted potatoes or green vegetables warm in your air fryer by just leaving them in there cooked and waiting to be served because eventually they’ll dry out depending how long you leave them in there.
Foil wrapped whole potatoes will keep warm in an air fryer after they’re cooked if the oven door or basket is kept closed. I keep the light on in the hopes I won’t forget they’re in there.
Make moist cornbread in your oven and then keep it warm in your air fryer (or slow cooker) for nice warm cornbread. Although cornbread is great at room temperature, it’s extra nice when you spread butter on it and it melts! Yummy!
How to Transport the Thanksgiving Meal
Use a large cooler to transport a Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes. Coolers with two wheels and a long handle make it very easy to wheel into a house.
Use an insulated slow cooker carrier to keep your slow cooker warm and avoid spills in your car on the way to grandma. It’s washable too! I use it to bring the turkey to my in-laws. I still put it in a box, but it has kept leaks out of my car, especially the way I drive. Wink.
Again, using an insulated casserole carrier to transport casseroles is one of the best ways to keep Thanksgiving sides warm. The carriers can be expandable and used to keep items hot or cold. They run about $30-40 and are worth it to keep your car clean from spills too.
If you don’t have enough oven space, this affordable 22 qt. Stainless Steel Oster Roaster Oven with Self-Basting Lid (affiliate link) is perfect for small kitchens with one oven. Don’t forget to brine the turkey!
As I mentioned above, you can also make a turkey breast in your slow cooker or air fryer that’ll transport well.
- The more things you put in your oven, the more volume it takes up. Therefore, the more casseroles you have cooking in the oven at the same time, the longer it will take than if they’re in one at a time.
- Every time you open the oven, hot air escapes and the oven has to work longer to get back to the set temperature. The more you open it, the longer it’ll take to cook whatever is in there. I don’t baste my turkey for this very reason. I just put a lid on it and check on it when the time is up. You’ll smell it cooking!
- When your turkey is done, leave it on the stove or countertop, covered and let it rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Covered, it’ll stay warm for up to two hours or more (depending on the size) while you’re baking the side dishes and making gravy.
How to keep Thanksgiving Sides warm needs some good planning along with a few good appliances and kitchen tools. Here’s an overview of the kitchen tools I discussed above to keep Thanksgiving side dishes warm (and the turkey too.) Don’t miss my sample THANKSGIVING MENU at the bottom of this post along with a TURKEY COOKING GUIDE! All of the links below are affiliate links that take you right to Amazon!
- aluminum foil– keeps hot foods hot/warm
- slow cooker-cooks food, keeps food warm and can be served from it without more dishwashing
- co0ler- Use a cooler to keep hot side dishes warm
- baking sheet-used to add “shelves” to your cooler or refrigerator for easy and minimal mess stacking
- air fryer- saves conventional oven space and keeps foods warm
- pressure cooker/multi-cooker- Can be used to make turkey breast, sides or can be used as a slow cooker.
- hot pack– microwave it and use it to keep food warm in a cooler or for transporting
- insulated slow cooker carrier-use it to transport your slow cooker.
- insulated casserole carrier– keep casseroles warm while transporting them.
- aluminum foil– keeps hot foods hot/warm
Here’s my sample Thanksgiving menu.
dinner rolls & butter
Lemon Ginger Cranberry Relish (featured on Good Housekeeping 2017-2022!)
Sweet Tea, Lemonade, Soft Drinks, Water
In conclusion, now you know how to keep Thanksgiving sides warm with the small appliances and kitchen tools I suggested above. Plus, you’ll be able to transport your delicious Thanksgiving meal with minimal mess. Don’t stress, have fun and give thanks!
Happy Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving!