Let’s get real – the unsung hero of Thanksgiving isn’t just the turkey or the pie, it’s that humble box in your kitchen: the microwave. When the oven is jam-packed with turkey and all those sides, this culinary sidekick steps up in a big way. From crisping up nuts to softening brown sugar, it’s about to become your secret weapon for pulling off the feast of the year. So, let’s pivot from the traditional and zap our way to an easier Thanksgiving, where the microwave does more than just reheat coffee. Check out our favorite microwave hacks to simplify your thanksgiving below. 

10 Microwave Hacks To Simplify Your Thanksgiving Graphic with sweet potatoes and carrots in background

Drying Herbs


 Dried Herbs In wooden bowl on blue background  


You know how sometimes you reach for the sage to find it’s wilted like autumn leaves in a rainstorm? Well, the microwave is my secret garden hack. Lay out the herbs on a paper towel, give them short bursts on high, and voilà – you’ve got homemade dried herbs faster than you can say “Thanksgiving miracle.” It’s a game-changer for adding that punch of flavor to your dishes without the wait.

Check out how to dry your own herbs in the microwave here.


Softening Brown Sugar


Close up of brown sugar on wooden spoon


Ever been all set to whip up Grandma’s famous pumpkin pie, only to find the brown sugar is as hard as a rock? Here’s a nifty trick – zap that sugar lump in the microwave with a damp paper towel over it. Keep checking every 20 seconds, and pretty soon, you’ll have soft, pliable brown sugar that’s ready to sweeten up any dessert. It’s like bringing it back from the dessert desert!


Pre-Cooking Vegetables


Steamed Carrots with butters and spices in a white bowl and green towel

When your casserole game is strong, but time is not on your side, give your greens a quick pre-game in the microwave. Steaming your veggies like green beans or broccoli before they take their casserole bath not only saves precious oven time but also locks in that vibrant color and nutrients. Just think, while your veggies are getting a quick spa treatment, you’ve got a moment to actually enjoy that glass of wine.

You can find our microwave veggie how-tos here: 

How To Steam Green Beans in the Microwave
How To Steam Carrots in the Microwave
How To Steam Brussel Sprouts in the Microwave


Easy Hollandaise Sauce


Hollandaise Sauce in a glass bowl with pepper and asparagus on the side

Alright, here’s a little secret for you: that velvety, decadent hollandaise sauce drizzled over restaurant dishes isn’t as fussy as you might think. Especially when you enlist your microwave for a bit of quick magic. Picture this: you’re whisking together egg yolks, lemon juice, a dash of Dijon, and some butter, and in a few zap sessions with stirring in between, you’ve got a creamy, dreamy hollandaise without any of the stove-top vigilance. Drizzle it over your roasted veggies, or give that turkey a glossy, luxurious coat that’ll have your guests raising their eyebrows in a “you-made-this?” kind of way. And you, oh clever one, just saved yourself from the whisking wrist-ache, all thanks to that handy microwave!


Blanching Vegetables


Blanched Broccoli In glass jar and water

Blanching vegetables in the microwave is like having a culinary time machine. Toss your veg in a microwave-safe bowl with a splash of water, cover with vented plastic wrap, and zap them. You’ll have crisp-tender veggies ready for that vibrant Thanksgiving salad or as a bright side to your mains, quicker than you can say “pass the cranberries.”


Cooking Acorn Squash


Cooked acorn squash with brown sugar and pecans

Who knew that the humble microwave could turn a hard-as-hell acorn squash into a soft, spoonable delight? Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and then let the microwave work its magic. You’ll end up with perfectly tender squash ready for a sweet or savory filling. It’s like the ‘easy button’ for a side dish that’s not only cozy but gets bonus points for presentation.


Toasting Nuts

close up of toasted cashews

If your Thanksgiving dishes are crying out for a little extra crunch, don’t sweat it. Your microwave is surprisingly adept at toasting nuts. Spread your pecans or walnuts on a plate, give them a few minutes on high, and keep an eye on them (a minute at a time) so they don’t burn. You’ll be rewarded with toasty, fragrant nuts ready to sprinkle over everything from green beans to that indulgent pumpkin pie.

Check out our how-to on how to toast nuts in the microwave here.


Reviving Stale Bread


Sourdough Bread Slices on wooden board



Stale bread is not a lost cause, especially when you’ve got a microwave up your sleeve. Wrap that loaf in a damp towel, give it a quick nuke, and just like that, you’ve got bread that’s soft and ready to tear into chunks for your stuffing, or to serve up on the side. It’s almost like it’s fresh from the bakery – minus the crisp crust, but hey, we’re after soft and squishy here.


Making Flavored Oils


Flavored Oils with different flavors and herbs on orange background

Flavored oils are like liquid gold when it comes to drizzling over your Thanksgiving spread. And guess what? Your microwave can infuse olive oil with the rich flavors of garlic, rosemary, or chili flakes in mere minutes. Just heat and let the aromas mingle, then drizzle that elixir over your roasted veggies or brush it on your turkey for a flavor bomb that’s straight-up drool-worthy.


‘Baking’ a Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potato Casserole with marshmallows in dish and plate

Oven real estate is prime during Thanksgiving, but that’s no issue for a savvy cook with a microwave. You can ‘bake’ your sweet potatoes in there until they’re mashably soft. Whip ’em up with your favorite toppings, and give them a final zap to warm through. Voilà! A sweet potato casserole that’s as comforting as the oven-made classic, with none of the scheduling stress.

Check out how to microwave sweet potato cubes here!


Well, folks, there you have it – a Thanksgiving that’s a little less traditional oven-centric and a whole lot more microwave-friendly. We’ve zapped, softened, and quick-pickled our way to a feast that’s both scrumptious and smart. Remember, even on Turkey Day, your microwave is more than just a reheating wonder; it’s a full-fledged kitchen ally. So embrace these hacks, enjoy the extra time saved, and give a toast to the trusty microwave – your countertop comrade in culinary efficiency. Cheers to a happy, stress-free Thanksgiving!


Other Thanksgiving Recipe Posts You May Enjoy: 

  1. Thanksgiving On A Budget
  2. Thanksgiving Menu For Two
  3. 7 Day Meal Plan for Thanksgiving Leftovers
  4. 8 Thanksgiving Desserts That Steal The Show