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How to Make Thanksgiving Dishes in a Dorm

Can't make it home for Turkey Day? Don't fret! There are plenty of dishes you can easily make in your dorm so you and your campus-bound pals can have an epic "Friendsgiving."

So, this started out as a “how to make Thanksgiving dinner in your dorm” blog post . . . but then we remembered how most college dorms are smaller than a Kardashian’s closet, and hosting a “Friendsgiving” in your forced triple might not make a lot of sense. However, if you’re blessed with a little more space, whether through a suite-style dorm or a nearby common room, there’s no reason why you can’t organize a fun little potluck meal on or around Thanksgiving for you and your college friends. 

Here you’ll find a collection of Thanksgiving dishes modified for dorm-bound students. You can always buy premade rolls, pies, and jellied cranberry sauce (which everyone knows is superior to homemade cranberry sauce anyway). And you can even prepare boxed stuffing mix in a microwave; just follow the microwave-specific directions.

For our purposes, we’re going to assume you do not have an oven or stovetop at your disposal, but you do have a microwave. If you do have access to a full kitchen, you can upgrade your cooking methods (and bake times are provided where relevant) while benefitting from these super-simple, low-mess, low-cost recipes. All serve approximately six people as written and can be easily doubled.   

Chicken or turkey pot pie

For the love of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, please do not microwave a turkey. In fact, don’t try to microwave any raw meat. If you and your buddies can’t bake a bird, opt for a rotisserie-style chicken or turkey breast. Or you can try making a chicken or turkey casserole like this:

  • 2 cups frozen peas and carrots blend
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked rotisserie-style chicken or turkey breast
  • 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
  • ½ cup milk or cream
  • 2 cups garlic-flavored croutons, roughly crumbled

Combine frozen peas, carrots, and pearl onions in a microwave-safe dish. Thaw in microwave for 2–3 minutes. Remove from microwave and add all remaining ingredients except croutons. If mixture seems too thick, add up to ¼ cup of water. Microwave covered on high for 8–10 minutes. Turn and stir halfway through. Top with crumbled croutons. Let stand 5 minutes. (Or bake for 25–30 minutes at 350 degrees.)

Green bean casserole

  • 2 cans of green beans (approximately 1 pound of green beans)
  • 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 can of fried onion strings

Mix all ingredients except fried onion strings in a greased microwave-safe dish. When thoroughly combined, fold in half of the fried onion strings. Microwave covered on high for 8–10 minutes. Turn and stir halfway through. Sprinkle remaining fried onion strings on top of casserole. Let stand 5 minutes. (Or bake for 20–30 minutes at 350 degrees.) You can also substitute chopped steamed broccoli for green beans.

Sweet potato casserole

  • 1 large can of yams or sweet potato pieces
  • ½ cup milk or cream
  • ¼ cup brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

Mix all ingredients except marshmallows in a greased microwave-safe dish, making sure sweet potatoes are thoroughly mashed. Microwave covered on high for 7–9 minutes. Turn and stir halfway through. Top with marshmallows and cook for an additional 1–2 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. (Or bake for 25–30 minutes at 325 degrees.)

Banana pudding “cake”

  • 1 box vanilla wafer cookies (such as Nilla Wafers), finely crushed
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 box of instant banana pudding, prepared as directed (using milk)
  • 2 fresh bananas, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 container of frozen non-dairy whipped topping

Mix crushed vanilla wafer cookies and melted butter in a baking dish; when thoroughly combined, spread mixture along bottom of pan and press into place. Line crushed cookie mixture with a single layer of sliced bananas. Cover banana slices with prepared banana pudding, then with non-dairy whipped topping. Garnish with any remaining banana slices. Best if allowed made one day ahead.

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