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We Tried Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner Out of a Box, and It Turned Out Pretty Great

The Daily Meal logo The Daily Meal 10/11/2018 Taylor Rock
a close up of a sign: This box cuts Thanksgiving dinner prep in half. © Courtesy of HelloFresh

This box cuts Thanksgiving dinner prep in half.

HelloFresh is making Turkey Day dinner drama-free this year with its first-ever Thanksgiving Box. For $159, the meal kit company will send you a turkey and all the ingredients you need to make garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, ciabatta stuffing and apple ginger crisp. (If you want to get your own turkey, you can order just the side dishes for $99.)

The kit provides portions designed to comfortably feed between eight and 10 people. While a typical Thanksgiving meal takes half a day or more to complete, this one promises dinner in just four hours. That sounds like absolute wizardry, so one Daily Meal staffer put the kit to the test and spoiler alert: It’s true.

Both kits come with a playbook, which details supplies you’ll need from your own kitchen, how to cook each recipe and the order in which you should make them.

Turkey

The editor who demoed this product has never cooked a turkey in her entire 24 years of existence. She was a little spooked by the giblets, but HelloFresh puts them in a bag, so you can swiftly take it them out of the cavity and throw them away without a fuss. After you pat the bird down with paper towels, you have to leave it out for an hour, which was perfect because we needed to run to the store for a disposable roasting pan and a meat thermometer. Upon our return and after seasoning and stuffing the turkey with garlic butter and other goodies, it went inside the oven for only an hour and 45 minutes. We are not lying.

OK, so we had to keep it in for an extra 25 minutes or so because it wasn’t quite up to temperature yet. Once it was done, we consulted the playbook for its step-by-step guide to carving, so that was very easy. But how did it taste? That’s the most important part! This turkey was sent from the heavens above. It was thick, juicy, moist and delicious, and the skin was super crispy. We were honestly very surprised about how fantastic it tasted. We give this turkey a 10 out of 10.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

If we were creative enough to write a love song about these potatoes, we would. They were so easy to make and we didn’t even have a masher! Truth be told, we used a grill spatula. Sorry not sorry. We also kept the skin on, which is a game changer. HelloFresh’s hot take on this classic side dish uses some fried sage for a little extra flavor. Although we already gave the turkey a perfect score, we are going to give this one an 11 out of 10.

Ciabatta Stuffing

Unfortunately, we were not able to create the ciabatta stuffing, but we don’t think it had anything to do with HelloFresh. All of the ingredients for the sides came in a cardboard box with ice packs. We discarded the ice packs, but left the shelf-stable items in the box (because, ehem, New York City apartments don’t have any counter or cupboard space) and closed the lid while we waited for the turkey to thaw in the fridge for a few days. We think there was still a little moisture in the box, and since it wasn’t able to ventilate properly, the bread got moldy and we had to throw it away.

Green Beans and Caramelized Shallots

This green bean dish was very simple. They’re boiled and blanched, which gives them the perfect texture and a vibrant green color. They also get almonds and toasted bread crumbs for an added crunchy element. The shallots had some great flavor, too. This turned out really well, but we are huge fans of traditional green bean casserole made from the can, so we feel like we missed out on that here. Give us cream of mushroom soup or give us death!

Cranberry Sauce

OK, full disclosure: the editor who made this cranberry sauce literally has never eaten it at past Thanksgiving dinners because it has always been left it in its molded-to-the-can form and that does not look appetizing on fine China. Here, have some congealed cranberries, Debbie. HelloFresh’s variety comes from a can, but the instructions say to mix it with zested and chopped orange and minced ginger. It takes all of 10 minutes to do, and the result tasted way better than I could’ve imagined my own family’s wack version of cranberry “sauce” ever would. The ginger was the star of the dish. It made the shelf-stable fruit more artisanal.

Classic Gravy

The gravy wasn’t our favorite. Everything went according to plan and we still ate and enjoyed it, but it might have been a little too oniony because of the shallots. Maybe just cut back a little on the suggested shallot allotment if you don’t want onion to overpower the other flavors in the recipe.

Apple Ginger Crisp

Something went very wrong with this apple ginger crisp. We did everything the instructions said, but our topping came out a little on the chunky side. It was supposed to have the texture of sand, but it stuck together more than we would have liked it to. It actually looked like we baked chocolate chip cookie dough on top of apples. With that being said, it was still pretty good! We plopped some vanilla bean ice cream on the side and ate it happily, but we wish it had been pumpkin pie.

HelloFresh’s new Thanksgiving Box is going to save at-home cooks a lot of time and stress this season. Almost every ingredient comes pre-portioned, the instructions are foolproof (except maybe for that apple ginger crisp), and it only takes four hours. The cleanup was even faster than lightning. Is this a dream?

Thanksgiving Day hosts interested in this meal kit can order it now to be delivered November 13 through 18. They come with the cutest little menus too, and on the backside you can write what you’re thankful for. If you want to do everything the old-fashioned way, you can still save some time by cooking these make-ahead dishes you need this Thanksgiving.

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