25 Holiday Cooking Tips We Learned From Our Grandmothers

These traditional tricks and smart shortcuts have stood the test of time.

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Colourful holiday stuffing
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Holiday Cooking Tips That’ll Save You Time, Money and Effort

Spruce up stuffing

For moist and colourful stuffing, Lisa Nyquist of Cokato, Minnesota, says you should add one diced unpeeled apple to your favourite dressing recipe.

Read on for more holiday cooking tips that’ll make this season the most festive—and delicious—yet!

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Holiday cooking tips - baked apples
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Serve an easy appetizer

“Use cranberry sauce to fill the holes in baked apples for a tasty appetizer,” says Dorothy Petersen of Columbus, Nebraska.

These old fashioned Christmas cake recipes will take you back to your childhood.

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Holiday cooking - Butternut squash cut and sliced
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Steam your squash

“Steaming is a great way to cook winter squash—it preserves both the nutrients and the pretty colour,” says Brenda Thompson of Chicora, Pennsylvania.

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Holiday cooking hacks - Cranberry sauce
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Splash vanilla into cranberry sauce

“For extra rich cranberry sauce, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract after cooking,” says Ruth Fenner of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Check out 30 Depression-era cooking tips worth trying today.

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Holiday cooking tips - apple pie
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Cook apples for pie

To keep apple pie crust from getting too brown, give the apples a head start so they wont have to bake as long to get tender. Shirley Miller of Browns Valley, Minnesota, says, “Put sliced apples in a pie plate (not metal) the same size as the pie you’re making. Cook in the microwave for eight to 10 minutes. Place partially cooked apples in your prepared crust along with the other filling ingredients. Put the top crust on and bake.”

Psst—these are the best apples for apple pie.

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Holiday cooking - mashed sweet potatoes
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Make clean-up a breeze

Holiday cooking inevitably leaves behind a lot of stubborn baked-on messes—but being proactive can save you some elbow grease later on. Wanda Leaders of Neola, Iowa, says, “A sticky ring won’t form around the pot if you add a spoonful of vegetable shortening to the water when boiling sweet potatoes.”

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Ice cream scoop
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Scoop out squash

To remove cooked squash from its shell, use an ice cream scoop. “No mess, no fuss,” says Sharon Hallack of Hart, Michigan.

Discover 40 kitchen hacks that’ll change the way you cook.

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Holiday cooking - pumpkin pie sliced
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Cut even pie slices

“To cut a pie into five pieces, slice a ‘Y’ into the pie and then divide the two large pieces in half,” says Mildred Sherrer of Bay City, Texas.

These Christmas cookie baking hacks will also come in handy.

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Frozen cranberries
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Freeze your cranberries

Carol Schultze of Fairmont, Minnesota, says, “Fresh cranberries are easier to grind in a food processor or grinder if you freeze them first. Allow ground berries to drain well before using.”

Find out the best way to freeze cheese.

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Holiday cooking tips - man prepping turkey
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Save time chopping

To make stuffing prep easier, Susan Buch of Baldwin, Illinois, says, “Cook the giblets until done, cool and chop with celery and onion in a food processor.”

Discover more brilliant ways to hack your kitchen appliances.

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Holiday cooking tips - stuffing
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Up your stuffing game

“A one-pound loaf of bread will make up about eight cups of loosely packed crumbs for stuffing,” says Edna Hoffman of Hebron, Indiana.

Could a hairdryer be the secret to your best-ever turkey?

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Mashed potatoes
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Make better mashed potatoes

For lighter, creamier mashed potatoes, Barbara Gracy of Spring City, Tennessee, adds a teaspoon of baking powder before mashing.

Check out the trick for peeling potatoes that’s taking over the Internet.

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Strawberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, Raspberries And Blackberries Compote; Shutterstock ID 1550590796; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Radu Bercan/Shutterstock

Add raspberries to cranberry sauce

Doris LaVerne of Newport, Rhode Island, says, “After the cranberries have popped, I add fresh or frozen raspberries (without syrup). This homemade cranberry sauce is delicious with turkey.”

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Lattice pie crust
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Master your lattice

Making a lattice pie crust? Shirley Roberts of Brea, California, says, “Use a pizza cutter to trim the crust into strips.”

Check out our all-time favourite apple pie recipes.

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Hussein Shaharuddin/Shutterstock

Keep bread warm

To keep rolls warm longer, Hannah Sagehorn of Long Beach, California, says, “Place a sheet of aluminum foil under a cloth napkin in the bread basket.”

Here are more aluminum foil hacks you’ll wish you’d known sooner.

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Organic Yellow Steamed Corn in a Bowl; Shutterstock ID 266295782; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Serve sweeter corn

Joan Dirkman of Ahmeek, Michigan, recommends that you “give frozen or canned corn a fresh summertime flavour. Substitute milk for the cooking water and add a teaspoon of sugar. Cook on top of the stove as usual.”

These pantry organization ideas make meal prep so much easier!

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Candy thermometer
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Grab a thermometer

It pays to be precise. Reader Betty Helm of El Paso, Texas, says, “I use a candy thermometer to get the correct water temperature for all recipes using yeast. No more failures!”

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holiday cooking tips - Sweet Homemade Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Ready to Eat; Shutterstock ID 1185116455; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Perk up pumpkin pie

Try this tasty twist on pumpkin pie. Mrs. Edwin Hill of Santa Barbara, California, says, “Put a layer of marshmallows in the bottom of the pumpkin pie, then add the filling. It will make a nice topping as the marshmallows come to the top as it bakes.”

You’ll also want to add these amazing Christmas cookie recipes to your repertoire.

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Holiday cooking leftovers
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Send leftovers to go

One of the best parts of holiday cooking? Enjoying the leftovers! “I send Holiday guests home with meals of leftovers in disposable tins. They can pop them right into the oven from the fridge, and no one has to return containers,” says Kathleen Phelps of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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holiday cooking tips - Winter squash cut in half with spoon and seeds scooped out.; Shutterstock ID 175357406; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Charlotte Lake/Shutterstock

Do double oven duty

Here’s a no-fuss way to cook winter squash. Carol Battle of Heathsville, Virginia, says, “Wash the outside, and without cutting, pop into a hot oven. Set the temperature for whatever you’re cooking for the rest of the meal. Cook until squash is fork tender. When you remove the squash, cut it open and scoop out the seeds. It’s never watery and retains all the nutritional value.”

Find out the cooking mistakes that are making your food unhealthy.

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holiday cooking tips - Pie crust filling with pumpink filling; Shutterstock ID 1433758553; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Skip soggy bottoms

Susan Elliot of Bancroft, Ontario, says, “To keep custard and pumpkin pie crusts from becoming soggy, pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes. Then add the filling.”

Pressed for time? Check out 30 easy desserts that start with cake mix.

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holiday cooking tips - Cooking boiled potatoes in the mashed potatoes in a metal pan; Shutterstock ID 1061454149; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Heat the milk for mashed potatoes

When mashing potatoes, use hot milk. “If you have been using cold milk, you’ll be surprised at the difference in the lightness of the potatoes,” says Sarah Dickinson of Sagle, Idaho.

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holiday cooking tips - Pot of simmering pork stock on the stove with a skim of fat on the surface, and steam rising from it.; Shutterstock ID 758373580; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Daniel Bruce Lacy/Shutterstock

Skim off fat

Linda Hoadley of Paradise, California, shares a neat trick for removing excess fat from soup or gravy. “Skim the surface with ice wrapped in a cheesecloth. The fat congeals and clings right to the cloth,” she says.

Scaling back on your celebrations this year? Take inspiration from these small Christmas dinner ideas.

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holiday cooking tips - peeled pumpkin shell; Shutterstock ID 1128928226; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
neil langan/Shutterstock

Peel a pumpkin

Edna Sutherland of Clintonville, Wisconsin, says, “To easily remove pumpkin peels, cut a hole and remove seeds and pulp. Set the pumpkin in a pan of water and bake at 300°F  for about an hour. The rind will peel right off. It works for me!”

You’ll wish you’d known these brilliant cooking shortcuts sooner!

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holiday cooking tips - Making pie crust from scratch to bake pumpkin pie.; Shutterstock ID 769002988; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Rolling pin trick

Here’s a helpful baking trick. Mrs. Dean Jones of Reading, Kansas, says, “I just roll the pie crust up onto the rolling pin, put it over the pan, and unroll it again.”

Now that you’ve got these holiday cooking tips under your belt, check out 10 Christmas turkey dinner recipes from Canada’s top chefs.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

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