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TODAY Talks Turkey: Celebrity chefs share their best Thanksgiving tips and tricks

Here's what Bobby Flay, Tiffani Thiessen, Camila Alves McConaughey, Alex Guarnaschelli and more are dishing up on TODAY All Day's Thanksgiving special.
TODAY Illustration / NBC
/ Source: TODAY

Dylan Dreyer, Sheinelle Jones and Natalie Morales have teamed up to host TODAY Talks Turkey on TODAY All Day. On the day before Thanksgiving, more than 15 renown chefs and celebrities are dishing out their top turkey tips, dessert recipes, side dish secrets and last-minute kitchen hacks to help everyone celebrate a happier and healthier holiday season — all to benefit Feeding America.

Here's what the chefs are dishing up Wednesday on the TODAY show's new streaming channel.

Bobby Flay knows how to talk turkey

Don't let an overcooked bird ruin Thanksgiving dinner. According to the Food Network star, salvaging the main dish is easier than many may think.

If you think you may have overcooked the turkey, "remove the pan from oven, loosely tent the bird with aluminum foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before slicing," advises the chef. "This resting will allow the juices to recirculate throughout the bird.

"Then, heat a pot of chicken or turkey stock and bring to a simmer. Slice the meat and put it on a platter and ladle some of the broth over the meat. The slices will absorb the broth and rehydrate."

Andrew Zimmern makes tasty staples in a pinch

Andrew Zimmern's Classic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a staple side on many Thanksgiving tables but you really don't need a lot of ingredients to perfect them. Zimmern's no-fuss mash is made with boiled russet potatoes, cream and butter.

Andrew Zimmern's Turkey Gravy

Contrary to popular belief, it's not impossible to make smooth, succulent gravy! Zimmern's technique isn't a quick fix, but it will yield smooth, silky and savory gravy every time.

Andrew Zimmern's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

For dessert, Zimmern takes a unique different approach to the classic chocolate chip cookie: He adds pieces of toasted pecans and favors chips over chocolate chunks or chopped chocolate shards. He also uses three different sugars to achieve a "balance of crispy, chewy and soft."

Camila Alves McConaughey goes gluten free for dessert

Apple pie is a popular staple among many Thanksgiving dessert spreads, but if you're looking for a lighter option, this sweet treat cuts out the refined sugar and is also free of gluten.

Natalie Morales makes light fall flan

Natalie's Pumpkin Flan

Creamy, light and no-fuss flan is the perfect way to end a Thanksgiving feast. Natalie gives this family favorite recipe some added fall flair with pumpkin pie flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Alex Guarnaschelli makes a one-pan wonder with sides

Short on cooking space and time? Making Thanksgiving sides for an intimate feast is much easier when you do the prep work ahead of time and then bake them all on one pan. With this method, sweet potatoes, stuffed mushrooms and Brussels sprouts with bacon can all be ready at the same time.

Alejandra Ramos spices up stuffing

This tapas-inspired twist on a classic bread stuffing uses flavorful Spanish ingredients like chorizo, sherry, sweet dates and tangy tapers.

Connie "Lovely" Jackson shares holiday hacks

Chef Lovely's Pumpkin Pie Mousse

Chef Lovely's Pumpkin Pie Mousse

Connie "Lovely" Jackson

When pumpkin pie is a must-have at the table but you don't have the time (or all of the ingredients), this recipe is quick, easy and tastes just like the real thing. It requires no crust, no oven and no fancy tools. It can also be made a day in advance, too.

Dzung Lewis transforms leftover turkey

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pho

Lewis transforms Thanksgiving leftovers into a nourishing and warming bowl of pho. The savory spices and rich broth are comforting in this take on the traditional Vietnamese dish.

Leftover Turkey Banh Mi

Crunchy pickled vegetables and spicy sriracha mayo pair perfectly with mild slices of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Turkey Soba Noodle Salad

This salad can be made a day or two after Thanksgiving and stored in the fridge until you're ready to enjoy. A tangy ginger dressing, chilled noodles and delicate yet flavorful alliums and veggies give new life to a basic bird.

Dr. John Torres helps with health

When it comes to staying safe, Dr. Torres has plenty of advice to share ahead of the holiday season.

  • COVID-19 precautions: Dr. Torres recommends gathering only with one's immediate household, but if folks are planning to extend their feast to a few other family members and close friends, he urges people to "double down" on social distancing. If weather permits, dine al fresco or even in the garage with all the doors open. In addition, designate one person to serve the food and definitely avoid finger foods. Aside from masks and social distancing, it's critical that anyone feeling under the weather stay home.
  • Food prep safety: Despite many divided opinions, washing your turkey in the sink before cooking it just leads to a greater risk of bacteria spreading in the sink — and all around the kitchen. Brush up on safety tips about how to safely thaw turkey and keep veggies and raw meats separate when chopping and prepping.
  • Leftovers: Everyone loves a good plate of leftovers, but after the meal follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture's guidelines and toss your Thanksgiving Day foods within five days (unless you freeze them). If you do plan to freeze food, do it right away so the dish doesn't start spoiling in the fridge.

Tarek El Moussa and Heather Rae Young go vegan

Heather Rae Young's Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Heather Rae Young's Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Heather Rae Young and Tarek El Moussa

Young, a longtime vegan, came up with this recipe after facing many a dinner with few filling options. Stuffed peppers are an ideal appetizer, or side dish, especially for a large holiday spread. This recipe is totally vegan but also customizable.

Vanessa Lachey gets crafty

Lachey knows firsthand that it can be tricky to keep your little turkeys occupied while you're cooking in the kitchen. She and hubby Nick Lachey have the perfect trick to keep the kids feeling creative and content while you do what you need to do.

Craft No. 1: Kids' coloring table

Lachey loves this trick because it keeps her kids busy and eliminates any worries about making a mess. It also serves as an awesome keepsake. Once her kids color all over the paper-covered table, she rolls it up, dates it and saves it to remember each holiday.

  1. Cover entire table with craft paper.
  2. Set up crayons and washable markers.
  3. Let the fun begin!

When the kids are all colored out, don't worry, try another craft!

Craft No. 2: Kick off the holidays with keepsake ornaments

In the Lachey household, the fam kicks off the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving. Each year, they spend Thanksgiving afternoon crafting cute keepsake ornaments that keep the kids entertained for hours. Lachey buys shatterproof clear ornaments and craft supplies for the kids to fill them with. Then they each write their name and the date, and give them to loved ones or hang them on their own tree.

  1. Buy shatterproof ornaments (clear or different translucent colors).
  2. Choose materials to put inside (like ribbons, glitter, paper shapes, etc.).
  3. Let the kids get creative!

Judy Joo sweetens up the holiday

A super easy, no-bake recipe should be a prerequisite for any holiday menu. This dessert has the perfect balance of sweet and salty, plus the decadent combination of creamy peanut butter, dark chocolate, sweet coconut and salty crunchy pretzels will even make non vegans at the table swoon.

Karamo Brown helps us decompress

The "Queer Eye" star is a pro at de-stressing during one of the most overwhelming times of the year. Here are three of his easy-to-remember tips to stay calm, cool and collected.

1. Set alarms for "me time"

Over the holidays, Brown sets alarms on his phone to go off every 35 to 40 minutes.

“The reminder of the phone going off says, 'For two minutes, I get to walk outside and just breathe in. I get to take a piece of whatever I'm cooking and walk outside and enjoy it before anybody else,'" Brown told TODAY.

2. Set boundaries

Even if you're just spending the holiday with members of your own household, it's important to plan out duties.

"It's really big that boundaries are set beforehand, not in the moment," Brown told TODAY.

He recommends designating requests or little jobs for everyone he's spending time with so they know what to expect beforehand. For example, family members can sit down and decide who is setting the table, who is making what dish, who will oversee cleanup and more.

"Trust that people will know that that's their role because, as the table's not set, you don't need to stress. If it's not set, let it go," Brown told TODAY.

3. Love louder

For the folks out there who tend to be the caretaker in their family or friend group (and there's always one), don't be afraid to ask for more love.

"If you're the one that normally is always handling everything, it's important for you to say, "I need you to love me louder during the holidays,'" Brown said.

And it's not just a one-way street. Brown encourages anyone who enjoys the fruits of the caregiver's labors (the cooking, cleaning and decorating), to "love louder." If dad cooked or your sister made the table more festive, give them some extra gratitude and verbally say how much you appreciate them. Those affirmations will only motivate more giving and foster deeper connections.

Tiffani Thiessen upgrades a classic cocktail

Tiffani Thiessen's Rosemary Greyhound

The greyhound, a time-tested mix of grapefruit juice and vodka, is a light, citrusy cocktail that can certainly be enjoyed year round. Since citrus is particularly delicious in the winter, Theissen plays up this cocktail's warmer, sultry side by adding a rosemary-infused simple syrup.

Karen Akunowicz brightens up broccoli

Grilled Broccoli Caesar Salad

This non-traditional take on the always popular salad borrows ideas from three different countries: The Caesar salad was invented in Mexico, migas (toasted seasoned bread) hails from Spain and the dressing has a dollop of Japanese miso in it. One humble vegetable gets elevated with a symphony of textures and umami-packed goodness in every bite.