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TIPS & TRICKS

How to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner in Your Villa

Thanksgiving is a time to reminisce over old memories and make new ones. It’s also a time to feast on comfort food and decadent cuisine!

If you're staying at one of our resorts this Thanksgiving, we want you to settle into your villa—and its fully-equipped kitchen—like it’s your own. Venture to the local market for ingredients, prepare your favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and embrace the spirit of all things festive (preferably with a pumpkin spice latte in hand).

For those of you looking to craft the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner in the comfort of your villa, we have the list of ingredients and all the tips and tricks you need for the perfect meal. From a menu filled with creamy mashed potatoes and Ina Garten’s perfect roast turkey, right down to the orange-hued florals, we’re here to help.

Bring your shopping list and let’s dive in!

What’s Included at Our Locations

Image of the kitchen in one of the villas at Welk Resorts San Diego. The kitchen includes granite counters, sink, stove, oven, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, and dining table and chairs

As you plan your list of delicious things to make for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s always a good idea to keep your appliances in mind. At Welk Resorts, your kitchen comes fully equipped and ready for you to whip up a gourmet meal. Whether it’s hot coffee and whipped cream with toasted pumpkin bagels in the morning or a full Thanksgiving dinner in the evening, you’ll be set. Plus, after all is said and eaten, you can just pop your Thanksgiving dishes in the dishwasher, pour a cup of tea, and unwind.

Here’s what’s included in our spacious private villas..

  • Full-size refrigerator

  • Full sink

  • Dishwasher

  • Toaster

  • Oven

  • Microwave

  • Dinnerware, glassware, flatware

  • Knives

  • Pots, pans, strainer

  • Coffee maker

  • Tea kettle

  • Blender

  • BBQ utensils

Note: Before your arrival, please verify which exact items are available in your villa.

What to Bring From Home

Image of a variety of spices, displayed in small glass bowls.

Depending on which Thanksgiving dishes you choose to make, there are a handful of items you may want to bring from home. Of course, cooking—and the ingredients and accessories that accompany it—is all about personal preference. A selection of bulk spices may be riches to some, while others prefer to travel only with their beloved knife set.

Here are some ideas to get you started. Keep in mind, as you plan your menu, individual needs may fluctuate.

Spices

No cooking creation is complete without spices, especially during the autumn season. Check out the recipes you’ll be following and see what they call for. Consider bringing along things like cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, oregano, thyme, sage, salt, and black pepper. Spices can be packed in small, food-safe containers or plastic baggies.

Basic Ingredients

Buying ingredients like flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar can delay starting all the fun while on vacation. If you’re driving—consider packing some kitchen essentials and bringing them along for the trip to dive into family time sooner.

Roasting Pan

There are other methods to turn to if you don’t have a roasting pan on hand. A cast-iron skillet, extra-large sheet pan, or large casserole dish can do the trick, too. But if you’re into the idea of adding convenience to your Thanksgiving dinner meal plan, bring along that roasting pan. Stainless steel roasting pans with a rack will hold your turkey well and ensure it cooks perfectly.

Meat Thermometer

If you’re planning to make a turkey this Thanksgiving, don’t forget the meat thermometer. A meat thermometer is an essential tool that measures the internal temp of the bird (and can save you tons of unnecessary pre-Thanksgiving dinner stress).

Pie Pan

You’d be surprised just how many things you can actually bake a pumpkin pie, or some version of it, in (cake pan, muffin pan, even a tart pan). The most classic of pumpkin pies, however, call for a traditional pie pan to give it that ideal crust-to-pumpkin ratio.

Crock-Pot

If you’re planning on an adventure during the day, a crockpot is the ultimate game-changer. In a crockpot, you can whip up everything from butternut squash soup to hot apple cider. The best part is that after the prepping is done, it’s hands off—which means you can spend more time relaxing with your family and friends.

Hand Mixer

There are plenty of Thanksgiving dishes that call for whipped cream. If you’re planning to make whipped cream in your villa, and don’t want to spend time doing it by hand with a whisk, bring your hand mixer along.

The Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Image of roasted turkey on a serving platter

Roast Turkey

When it comes to the perfect roast turkey, Ina Garten is the queen. Her Perfect Roast Turkey recipe calls for butter, lemon, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and turkey—of course. If you’ve never done the full bird, this is a good, gourmet, go-to recipe to get you started without giving you mild, day-of panic. Keep in mind, after you’ve prepared the bird, it will roast for about 2.5 hours, which is the ideal amount of time to kick back with a warm Thanksgiving beverage (or a cool one, if you’re at our Palm Springs or Sirena del Mar locations) and relax.

Classic Stuffing

There’s nothing that completes a roundup of Thanksgiving dishes quite like a fragrant, herby stuffing. It’s easy to go for the boxed options, but if you want something truly spectacular this year, give yourself the gift of homemade stuffing. The pros at The Kitchn have it down to an art with their recipe for Best-Ever Classic Stuffing. With a good amount of turkey broth and butter, this fluffy and rich side dish becomes a delicacy. Rustic bread combines with fresh sage and thyme, celery, yellow onions, eggs, salt, and black pepper for a remarkably simple side dish that will leave your belly content and your family happy.

Mashed Potatoes

When you’re fine-tuning your Thanksgiving dinner meal plan, you can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes. Whether you’re making vegan mashed potatoes with coconut oil, savory mashed sweet potatoes, or opting for a classic, this comforting dish is sure to please. If you’re on the hunt for something traditional, Gimme Some Oven does a creamy and full-of-flavor recipe for The Best Mashed Potatoes we just can’t get enough of. It even comes with a list of expert tips—such as seasoning with salt along the way and cutting your potatoes before you boil. Pair your mashed potatoes with gravy made from your turkey pan drippings, and you’ll be all set (just don’t forget the key ingredient: fresh herbs).

Green Beans

While prepping for Thanksgiving dinner, there are so many ways to go with green beans. Perhaps they’ve been thought of as a simple side dish in the past, but as the eager holiday cook gets more and more creative, the green beans are stealing the spotlight. Masters of creativity, Bon Appétit, have you covered with 21 Thanksgiving Green Bean Recipes That Are Actually Exciting. Slow-cooked, caramelized green beans with harissa and cumin, green bean casserole with fried onions, or snap peas and green beans with arugula-mint pesto? The delicious choice is yours.

Corn

A tried and true corn recipe can be wonderful. And sometimes, there’s nothing as sentimental as an easy canned corn recipe that’s reminiscent of Thanksgivings past. This year, as you prepare your menu of Thanksgiving dishes, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and start a new tradition with your family. This Creamy Confetti Corn with Bacon is just as beautiful as it is tasty and calls for a variety of ingredients to appeal to your taste buds like chopped bacon, onion, cream cheese, bell pepper, and green onions. It’s festive and fun, plus it only takes 15 minutes to throw together.

Dinner Rolls

You may not feel ambitious enough to craft the entire Thanksgiving meal from scratch, but if your family loves bread, now’s as good a time as ever to try homemade dinner rolls. These Easy Homemade Dinner Rolls call for active dry yeast, warm water, sugar, flour, salt, whole milk, and butter. The key ingredient? Large-flake sea salt for a touch of elegance and a hint of all things gourmet. If you have kids (or a spouse) who is interested in the culinary arts, round up your kitchen team, flour your work surface, and get right to it.

Cranberry Sauce

Forego the can this year and make your cranberry sauce from scratch. One of the most quintessential things to serve at Thanksgiving, cranberry sauce is easy to make and perfect alongside turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and just about anything else on your Thanksgiving dinner plate. This Cranberry Sauce Recipe from Simple Recipes calls for just sugar, water, and fresh or frozen cranberries. You can also customize your sauce with pecans, orange zest, currants, nutmeg, or whatever else your heart desires. And, although the recipe calls for a cup of water, you can substitute that in equal proportions for orange juice to give this stellar side dish even more depth of flavor.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is synonymous with Thanksgiving dinner (or after dinner, if you’re well-behaved). There are plenty of places where you can buy one store-bought, but if you’re crafting everything else from scratch, you may as well do the pie, too. Enlist the help of your family, turn on some pre-Thanksgiving day tunes, and get to work on your pumpkin pie masterpiece. Sally’s Baking Addiction proves that pumpkin pie can be simple and beautiful with just a handful of key ingredients in her recipe for The Great Pumpkin Pie. We love her use of like freshly grated nutmeg and a hint of black pepper, along with the addition of heavy cream, for a sumptuous, decadent dessert. Pumpkin puree keeps things easy and a homemade pie crust brings it all together. If you’re staying for a while at your villa, and want to prep beforehand, you can make this pie in advance, freeze it, then thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.


At Welk Resorts, we think that the key to many of the best vacations is the food enjoyed together. The memories to be made are endless! If you’re spending your holiday at one of our resorts, we hope this guide helps you along with your Thanksgiving dinner meal plan.

From our team to you, Happy Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful day spent with those you love (and don’t forget about leftovers)!

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