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October 28, 2013

Burnt Stuffing on Food52 Turkey on Food52

Don't freak out, but Thanksgiving is exactly one month away. 

We're here to set you up for success -- we're even launching a new Holiday Cheat Sheet today -- but we've all got a few disastrous stories up our sleeves. And we love talking about them. Maybe you burnt your stuffing one year, or you've survived a deep-fried turkey catastrophe, or you've got a really funny story about that time your uncle Bobby got drunk and fell asleep in the mashed potatoes.

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Whatever your greatest Thanksgiving bloopers may be, we want to hear them in the comments! And we'll be giving away 50 promo codes for our Holiday App, to prep you for all the meals ahead and soothe the burn of past disasters.

Tell us: What are your most memorable Thanksgiving bloopers? We'll be choosing 50 (yes, fifty!) winners at random this Friday, November 1 at 4 PM EST.

Photos by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • smonfor
  • SundayCooking
  • cookinginvictoria
  • Karina
  • Judi
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


smonfor November 4, 2013
I Was living in Croatia and wanted to put on Thanksgiving dinner for my friends. It was to be my first Turkey. A friend hooked me up with a Granny who sold me a turkey and All I had to do was pick it up. Back home, I opened up the black garbage bag and discovered it was a WHOLE turkey - sans feathers. Figuring out how to get the neck, feet etc off and what to do with all the organs took many phone calls across 8 time zones. I finally finished prepping it in the wee hours of the morning. The next year, back in the States, I bought a Turkey from the supermarket and was amazed at how easy it was - just pop it in the oven. I couldn't figure out why such a fuss is made about cooking the turkey after the experience of the year before.
SundayCooking November 3, 2013
I was just learning how to cook, and decided to put on an American Thanksgiving spread for some musician friends who'd come up to Canada for a gig. I wasn't ready for homemade pie crust, but made the pumpkin pie filling from scratch, scooping it into a frozen pre-made crust in its tin-foil plate. Unfortunately, I picked up the flimsy pie plate by its sides. It crumpled in half from the weight of the filling, pouring the unbaked pumpkin sludge directly into the heat vent. The house smelled of slightly burned pumpkin for rest of the winter. Then, as a crowning touch, once everything was set up and my guests were lining up at the buffet, one of my cats jumped onto the table and swooped away with one of the drumsticks. We had a good time, though.
cookinginvictoria November 1, 2013
A few years ago, we were celebrating Thanksgiving at my in-laws house. It was a really big gathering with lots of family going in and out of the kitchen preparing side dishes, plating appetizers, setting the table, pouring wine, etc. My brother-in-law pulled the turkey out of the oven to baste it and then put it back in to finish cooking. About twenty minutes later, he lifted it out to test it for doneness. The bird still needed more time. No big deal -- the turkey went back in the oven and everyone had another drink. The turkey was pulled out again about twenty minutes later, and it still needed more roasting time. So the turkey was returned to the oven and more drinks were poured and appetizers were consumed. Finally, the turkey was checked yet again and it still hadn't finished cooking. Someone (not me!) actually had the foresight to check the oven. Duh! The oven was no longer on! Turns out that when someone was putting the stove timer on, they somehow accidentally turned the oven off at the same time. So the turkey was put back in the oven, the heat was cranked way up and we ate considerably later than we had planned!

Love reading everyone's bloopers. So hilarious! :)
Karina October 30, 2013
It was the very first holiday meal in the first house we bought. We were just a week away from our wedding and had a houseful of guests coming. 30 pound turkey was defrosting in the jacuzzi tub full of cold water (turkey got to use the tub before I did!). The day before Thanksgiving we learn our oven no longer works. Complete dud. I had NO experience prepping a turkey, let along something this big. Imagine as I wrestled with the nearly thawed, still super cold, slippery turkey across the counter with a cleaver in my hand and less than stellar knife skills.

I was sweating and exhausted by the time I got the bird into small enough pieces to cook in the slow cooker, a steamer, and even the microwave. I feel lucky I made it out of there with all my fingers. But I tell ya, that slow cooked turkey was the best I've ever had!
Judi October 29, 2013
I've had at least four major Thanksgiving disasters, not counting one that I wouldn't really consider a disaster but just a total overproduction – when I boned out an entire turkey so that I could make a roulade a la Julia Child -- but the one that really stands out in my mind is when I dropped a lovely platter full of ready to be served beautifully roasted and stuffed butternut squash all over my kitchen floor. Thank heaven the dining room I had at that time was not within direct sight of the kitchen, and that I was able to convince my guests that the scream emanating from the kitchen was due to my burning myself. And thank heaven none of the guests ingested any shards of china (of course I served the squash!).
fiveandspice October 29, 2013
Our best Thanksgiving blooper was one year when we were having the holiday at a friend's and she had decided that we should have oysters on the half shell as an appetizer. While she and I worked on stuffing and the bird, etc. we set my then boyfriend, now husband, Joel and another friend of ours, named Peter, to the task of shucking. Of course we didn't have proper equipment. I think they were using dull-ish kitchen knives and a screwdriver. Suddenly we heard Peter start shrieking and yelling "oh my god!" Joel came running into the kitchen calling, "I need a towel!" He grabbed a towel and wrapped it round his hand, which was gushing blood. Peter continued to yell and jump up and down in a panic even though it was Joel who had rammed a knife well into the palm of his hand. Megan and I ran to find bandages and antibacterial ointment. Megan's roommate was a nursing student so we figured she had to have medical supplies. Unfortunately in this situation, turned out that her bent was more toward alternative medicine. All we could find was calendula oil, "for minor cuts," and no bandages anywhere. We improvised and Joel wound up spending Thanksgiving with his hand wrapped in a maxi pad!
mattmill October 29, 2013
Peeling carrots for a dinner of 23 I wasn't thinking about the volume of peels I was sending down the garbage disposal. Why would I? a few peels for the four of us had never been a problem...

About an hour later the kitchen sink wouldn't drain. I looked into the disposal and it was all clear (what I could see past the water). Unplugged and fished around with my hand and nothing...

The mass of carrot peels had lodged in the main drain to the street and needed to get a plumber out pronto! $300 later and several lost pounds to stress of the dinner I had clear drains. We all had a good laugh after dinner was finished.
Lichi October 29, 2013
In my first year in the USA i didn't know anyone, so was not invited to any holiday meal. I decided to treat myself with a nice fancy meal only to find that EVERYTHING, including the grocery store, is close. After wondering in the streets for an hour i found one restaurant in China Town that was open, but soon discovered they only sells duck.
I'm a vegetarian.
Desert D. October 29, 2013
My Thanksgiving disaster hasn't had time to become a funny memory yet, but one day I'll look back without cringing. My mothers-in-law host a huge orphan's Thanksgiving, and we arrived a little early to help out. My contribution was deep-fried brussels sprouts, and I'd brought over my deep fryer to make the dish there so the sprouts would crispy. I'd not used it before - my husband is the real cook - but I gamely filled it with oil, turned on the heat, and lowered the basket of sprouts when the oil was hot. But the oil was too hot, and there was too much of it - and when it started cascading all over the counter and the floor, I panicked and dropped the basket entirely instead of snatching it out of the oil. Catastrophe! The kitchen floor was flooded with oil, and it spattered everywhere, . Five minutes later the guests arrived, and of course everyone expected to use the kitchen. I'm still mortified by what I did to that beautiful kitchen. Luckily the sprouts were so delicious that my mothers-in-law not only forgave me, but insist I bring them to every gathering I host. I'm just not allowed to make them at their house!
Licia October 29, 2013
Hello, My name is Jane and I am an overbaker... I cannot decide which is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert, so although we generally have only one turkey with the traditional sides, the kitchen counter is filled with an assortment of our favorite desserts: pumpkin and pecan pies, pumpkin fools, chocolate cake, chestnut roll, cookies and blueberries pecan bars (from the genius recipes). Our dog is on the smaller side and our desserts are safely out of reach on the kitchen counter. We enjoyed the meal and when it came time to bring the dishes back to the kitchen and serve our assortment of desserts, I frantically remembered that we were fostering an adorable shelter dog that was a lab-whippet mix, meaning that he had the ability to jump over 4-feet fences without missing a beat. Of course, my counter was no match and we entered frantically into the kitchen and could only stand there with our jaws dropped, looking at the remains of my prized pies, broken dishes, crumbs of cookies and two very sheepish dogs in the middle. We were lucky that the chocolate did not harm them. I had a cherry pie from the summer in the freezer that we popped into the oven and made sure to keep it away from our canine guests. To this day, I remember the look on their face and the rumbling in their stomach for the next couple of days as they recovered from this Thanksgiving sugar coma. I made sure to notify the dogs new owner of his sweet tooth and that he could jump on kitchen counters, just in case.
Maria M. October 29, 2013
I was making a pumpkin pie, from scratch, as is our tradition. It went into the oven around 8 pm the night before Thanksgiving. 4 hours later, it was not yet set - I had forgotten the eggs! I'm sure that in time, the pie would have kind of set but runny, watery pumpkin pudding is not really the same as pie.
GMcQuade October 29, 2013
My best friend and I had cooked Thanksgiving together for 5 years, starting in graduate school with an "orphans' Thanksgiving" for everyone who couldn't afford to go home. Though there are numerous stories from these occasions, the one actual almost-disaster has to do with the turkey itself, and occurred in year 5 - when we thought we had the Thanksgiving-for-20 thing totally under control. I had purchased all of the groceries earlier in the week, loaded up the fridge, and waited for her arrival on Tuesday night. As is tradition, we spent Wednesday chopping and prepping and labeling ziploc bags with stuffing ingredients, not yet worrying about the turkey, as I'd (quite intentionally) selected an unfrozen Butterball. On Thursday morning, we woke up early, ready to slather turkey skin in sage-pancetta butter and get him roasting. When my friend went to pull out the gizzards, however, she couldn't get her hand in the cavity. It was frozen shut. Well, maybe just because the skin is thinnest around there...? Nope, the ENTIRE 19-lb. bird was frozen solid. We spent some frantic time with a water bath, but in the end simply had to purchase a new turkey right before the grocery store closed, and ply our guests with cocktails and crackers (leading to some of the aforementioned other stories). To add insult to injury, the next day when we went to have leftovers for breakfast, they, too, were frozen in the tupperware. (Needless to say, the next purchase was a new fridge.)
drlbennett October 29, 2013
A few years ago, we had gutted our kitchen at the holidays (both Thanksgiving and Christmas). In the meantime, I had a temporary kitchen set up in our newly remodeled utility room--microwave, large toaster oven, slow cooker, utility sink for dishwashing.
Some friends were kind enough to invite us over for Thanksgiving dinner, but you know how it is--you want a few dishes with your own favorite recipe. So the day after Thanksgiving, I set out to make as large a pan of cornbread stuffing as would fit in the toaster oven. What I had forgotten was how hard it was to get a large, heavy pan out of that tiny space without burning myself. In the process, the entire hot, heavy ceramic pan flipped upside down onto our brand new vinyl floor. I wasn't sure whether to cry about ruining the stuffing, potentially ruining the new floor, or having nearly broken the dish. (In the end, the dish and floor were fine, and only the stuffing perished.) Writing back with hindsight, it doesn't seem so bad, but in the midst of a torn apart house full of holiday guests, it was pretty nearly my last straw.
Cindy D. October 29, 2013
To this day we repeat the famous words my Aunt sang one Thanksgiving. "Fire in the oven! Fire in the oven!" She didn't sound panicked or upset, but literally sang these words as if it was a funny nursery rhyme we all knew already. The adults ran to the kitchen, while us kids calmly sat around the tv, which was definitely her intention. There's not much the adults did other than keep the oven door closed and watch for a bit. We had a slightly charred turkey that year, but her words will be remembered for a long time in our family.
Cindy L. October 29, 2013
This brings a smile, now, but was a tragedy on that cold Thanksgiving Day. The meal had been completed. A little time before the highlight of the day----fresh pumpkin pie heaped with whipped cream. The pie was served. We were "hungry" again. The fork held the perfect morsel. We all were ready to savor----but wait . Something was wrong. Upon tasting that heavenly piece we all frowned. I had forgotten the sugar, leaving our pie lacking in a most important ingredient. Now, it is funny-----not at that time.
nycnomad October 29, 2013
Well there haven't been too many cooking disasters in my family, but I can share a humorous holiday anecdote. This is the true story of Little Jack Horner, aka my half-brother. I was about 8 years old and it was, as you can imagine Thanksgiving Day. My mother had been slaving in the kitchen all day. She had just taken the pumpkin pie out of the oven and had set it on the counter too cool. She left strict instructions that I was not to touch it. So like any small child confronted with her absolute favorite dessert and the directive NOT to touch, I stood and stared at it willing it to cool faster, salivating copiously all the while. Overcome by impatience, I very gently put one finger on the top of the pie, very careful not to leave any marks. It was still quite warm. Unbeknownst to me, my half-brother must have been watch because a few hours later I was called into the kitchen and asked if I had touched the pie. I knew I had, but since I had taken such care to leave no evidence, I did what any normal child would do, I lied through my teeth. I swore up and down that I hadn't touched the pie but my mother wouldn't believe me...and then she revealed why. SOMEONE...had stuck their finger right into the middle of the pie leaving a 2 inch pit dead center! Years later while reminiscing with my mother, she reminded me of this story, which honestly I had completely forgotten. After 20 years I was finally able to convince her that it hadn't been me...although I did have to cop to being a little bit naughty at the time. The moral of this story, cover your pies! ;)
bonbonmarie October 28, 2013
Here's a note to industrial designers and manufacturers everywhere from our official user field test: if you put the touch-pad oven controls at bum-level, they will be bumped. If it is pre-turkey cocktail hour--which always ends up in the kitchen by the way--nobody will notice, and dinner will be served promptly at midnight! It was a very fun Thanksgiving!
Fairmount_market October 28, 2013
We were hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner with a number of friends and neighbors. In my hurry to prep the vegetables, I put too many peels down the disposal, causing a major plumbing crisis with a completely clogged kitchen sink and shredded tuber rinds rising up from the guest bathroom sink. My husband tried to unclog the drain with our 25 foot plumbing snake, but to no avail. We called the neighbors and were almost ready to change the venue to their house, but they also offered to bring over their 30 foot snake. They came over and we all rolled up our sleeves and ran back and forth checking drains, and miraculously the extra five feet did the trick and we had gotten the sink unclogged just when the rest of the guests started to arrive. It definitely made me thankful to have such helpful and understanding neighbors.
Mary L. October 28, 2013
Well, it's my Nana's story, but a favorite in my family: A huge family Thanksgiving dinner was being prepared at my grandmother's house. She and my great-aunt took the turkey out to check it, put it on the counter, decided it needed a bit longer and put it back in the oven. A little while later, when they noticed a strange smell, they realized that when they'd put the turkey back into the roasting pan, a bar of soap had come along for the ride! The bird was fortunately fine, but the drippings were ruined. They would have gotten away without telling anyone except that my great-aunt couldn't stop giggling every time someone asked for gravy!
Felix October 28, 2013
First off I rarely cook myself, so cooking fails are pretty common for me. Even when I follow recipes exactly they still don't turn out right. One year I attempted to make a simple chicken noodle soup, but it just ended up tasting like buttery carrots in warm water. Hopefully if I win an app it will help me cook a tasty meal. Or maybe I'm a helpless cook.