Banish Your Condiments to a Cooler for Stress-Free Thanksgiving Prep

Cramming a whole Thanksgiving’s worth of ingredients into an already full fridge can be a physically impossible task. If you’re cooking a big meal in a tiny kitchen this year, temporarily evicting the non-essentials will give you all the fridge space you need to stay on top of prep.

This idea comes from yesterday’s NYT Cooking video with cookbook author and small kitchen owner Alison Roman. The whole thing is worth a watch for menu inspiration alone, but my favorite part was this genius fridge management tip: the day before you start cooking, move your least relevant and most spoilage-resistant fridge contents into a cooler.

Small Kitchen, Big Thanksgiving with Alison Roman | NYT Cooking

Stick to preserved and/or fermented items like pickles, jams, jellies, miso paste, hot sauce, fish sauce, mustard, and soy sauce, all of which will be absolutely fine in an insulated container for 24 hours—no ice needed. If you’re anything like me, this will free up a significant amount of real estate. Then, once the turkey’s been carved and the leftovers thoroughly picked over, you can put everything back in the fridge where it belongs.

With all your condiments out of the way, you’ll suddenly have plenty of space for a 16 pound turkey and all the sides. “It’s going to make you feel like you have so much more space and breathing room—and not make you feel like an insane person when you go to put stuff in your fridge,” Roman says. And honestly, when it comes to Thanksgiving prep, that’s pretty hard to beat.

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Details are often what make a meal feel special. Little extras, like nice napkins, a crackling sugar crust on your pumpkin pie, or your own personal head of roasted garlic can help the annual meal standout in years to come. Crispy, flash-fried sage leaves can do the same.

Thanksgiving dinner often goes ungarnished. There are so many components, so many dishes moving in and out of the oven, that a finishing flourish of small green leaves can seem very low on the list of priorities. But fried sage leaves offer more than a pop of green—they offer texture and flavor.

Fried sage has a toastier, warmer, less pungent flavor than the fresh bois. It’s still sage—a classic Thanksgiving flavor—but it’s more approachable. (Have I been known to eat them like little green chips? Yes.) Fried sage is also crispy, which is a sensation people like to experience in their mouths. And, though I said the “pop of green” wasn’t crucial, it does look quite pretty in an Instagram photo, which you (or several of your guests) will definitely be posting. Truly, there are no downsides to fried sage.

If time is a concern, know that sage can be flash fried—from start to finish—in about 10 minutes. If you are too harried for a 10-minute task, delegate the frying of the sage to that one person who keeps milling around and asking what “they can do to help.”

Flash-Fried Sage Leaves


  • 1 bunch of leaves (about 30)
  • 1/4 cup of neutral oil (plain vegetable is good)
  • Salt

Heat the oil in a skillet or small dutch oven until it starts to shimmer. Add a single leaf. If it floats and sizzles, your oil is ready. Fry the sage, working in batches of five or six leaves, about three seconds per side. Fish them out of the oil with a fork, set them on paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with fine sea salt. Sprinkle them whole on your turkey, crumble them into mashed potatoes, or place them in a pretty bowl and let guest adorn their plates as they please.