Editor’s note: This article originally ran in November 2018. The following responses were edited for clarity and length.
There’s nothing like sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast. The rolls, the pies, the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, and, of course, the turkey laid out before you, ready for the consuming. It’s the perfect meal—sometimes.
Sometimes, something goes horribly wrong. Sometimes, there’s an epic Thanksgiving cooking disaster.
We asked you what your most epic Thanksgiving cooking disasters were, and we have to admit, these took us by surprise. Because we hope none of these are repeated, by anyone, ever, we decided to warn you about these disasters you should try to avoid at all costs this year.
1. Someone had hidden a plastic bowl of candy on the top shelf of the oven. When we went to bake several Thanksgiving pies, the plastic bowl began to melt everywhere, all over everything. It took me several hours to clean the mess before we could even start the rest of the meal, and the house stunk for several days of burnt melted plastic.
—Kristin McArthur Bishop
2. Toasted Coconut = kitchen fire. Kitchen fire = 20+ relatives (children) running into the snowy outside w/o coats while Uncle unleashes the fire extinguisher!! Plus, no coconut cream pie 😭 🤷 Bonus: no one asks me to cook anymore. . . WIN for me!
3. The power went out and we had to cook the turkey outside in the snow and wind on the barbeque. It finally got done but it was REALLY late!
4. I looked out the kitchen window and the turkey fryer was on fire with flames shooting toward the awning. The thermostat had broken and the fryer was running on high!
—Amy Taylor Watson
5. First of all, I am usually a really good cook! But, as a newly wedded Mrs., I wanted to fix my new Mr. his favorite Thanksgiving treat—my first pecan pie. I made my own pie crust, mixed sugar, eggs, corn syrup, and nuts together and poured it into the crust and popped it in the oven. When the timer beeped, the pie wasn't set—it was still jiggly and soupy, so I left it in for another few minutes. Timer beeped, pie still jiggled. Left it in again. Fast forward about 45 additional minutes and I was assuming my oven was malfunctioning. I asked my husband to come check it. He informed me that a pecan pie would gel as it cooled. Oops! That pie was un-cuttable and hard as a rock when it cooled. We made a Walmart run for more corn syrup, nuts, and a premade crust so my hubby could have his pie!
6. Two years ago, I was in the middle of cooking the mashed potatoes. I went to get a ceramic tray out of my cupboard and another one fell, hit my granite counter top, and shattered. One piece shot out and hit my leg!! I bled like crazy!!! So I spent Thanksgiving at the emergency room getting stitches. And my 18-year-old son made the mashed potatoes. Now that's one way to get out of cooking!!
—Julie Van Leeuwen
7. The time I put the turkey in and left the house, only to return hours later and discover that the turkey was bad. How bad, you ask? The horrifying stench pervaded every inch of my house for days. I still shudder when I think about it.
8. Making a pumpkin pie after cooking the leftover pumpkin from Halloween. Didn't turn out as good as I was hoping.
9. When I was in labor and we had to leave the dinner behind. . . .
10. The turkey blew up in the oven not one year but 3 years in a row. We have no luck with turkey.
11. When my mom used powdered sugar instead of cornstarch to thicken her homemade gravy and wondered why it wouldn't thicken.
12. Losing some of my press-on nails in the dressing while mixing.
—Elizabeth Hyde Rose
13. Salt in the homemade cranberry sauce instead of sugar.
14. Accidentally set the oven to “clean” when putting the turkey in. It had an auto-lock feature on it and the turkey ended up cremated. We ended up eating cheese, crackers, side dishes, and pie.
15. Made 20 lbs. of mashed potatoes one year. Loaded up the baby and the husband in the van, drove almost two hours to where my family was having Thanksgiving dinner. Realized as we pulled up that the mashed potatoes were still in the fridge at home. Luckily, my mom knows how forgetful I can be and had backups made, just in case.
16. Was newly married, excited to host my parents for Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. Thanksgiving morning I decided it was time to take the 21-pound turkey out of the freezer to defrost. . . we had ham.
—Maren Smith Butcher
17. My brother bragged and bragged for several days how his turkey was going to be, hands down, the best turkey we’d ever eaten. We have a large family so several people made a turkey that Thanksgiving. He was so full of pride when he arrived with his beautiful smoked turkey. . . only to start cutting into it and realizing he’d accidentally left the gizzard bag inside. He gagged, started cussing, and threw the whole turkey away. We all laughed and laughed and never forgot that very special turkey!
—Amy L Davies
18. Dumping burning, smoking sugar syrup (for sweet potatoes) down the toilet to get rid of it quickly. Does anybody remember what happens to a boiling sugar syrup when it hits cold water??? And that was also the year that I (attempted to) carry in homemade whole-berry cranberry sauce into a family get-together—in my purse. Not enough hands. Anybody want to guess what happened inside my purse before I unloaded the cranberry sauce??
—Virginia Moll Peters