Zo tasty! Thanksgiving the easy way

Ah, Thanksgiving!

One of my favorite holidays.

What’s not to like? A day spent with family and friends; football; and, best of all, comfort food galore.

Think about it: everything about Thanksgiving food is soft, mild… comforting.

Warm stuffing. Creamy potatoes. Soft, buttery white rolls. Tender turkey. To say nothing of your Aunt Marie’s famous green bean casserole, and your cousin’s marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes.

Cranberry sauce stands out from the crowd, with its bright color and vibrant flavor. But rather than being a black sheep, it’s a welcome complement to the mellow players around it.

And besides, you just can’t celebrate Thanksgiving without cranberries. Along with pumpkin, it’s the holiday’s quintessential flavor.

So, now that I’ve waxed eloquent about traditional foods, let me take a 180° turn and share with you a remarkably untraditional way to make them.

Your Zojirushi bread machine.

No, I’m not kidding. Everything you see in the picture at the top of this post was made with the help of the Zo – with the exception of the turkey. And I have no doubt that, given a moment to think about it, I could have used my Zo to roast that, too.

Plus I’ll definitely be using my bread machine to bake up a batch of turkey tetrazzini on Black Friday.

Thanksgiving dinner from a Zo – have I piqued your interest?

Since cranberry sauce is easily made ahead and refrigerated for several days, let’s start with that.

Select the jam cycle on your Zo. Leave the paddles in the bucket.

Pour a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries (or thawed, if they’ve been frozen) into the bread machine bucket.

Bring 3/4 cup sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 to 1 cup water to a boil atop the stove; use the greater amount of water for softer sauce, which is what I’m making here.

Pour the boiling water over the cranberries.

Press Start. Walk away.

Put your feet up. Read a magazine.

Come back 80 minutes later.

Cranberry sauce!

It’ll thicken overnight. So this sauce, somewhat thin when hot out of the Zo, is just how I like it.

Next, the dinner rolls.

Select the Dough cycle on your Zo.

Put the ingredients for Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns in the bucket.

Press Start.

Just about 90 minutes later, you have risen dough.

The pre-set Dough cycle includes a rather useless warm-up period, so long ago I set one of my three Homemade cycles for a dough cycle with no preheat; it takes 90 minutes – without the preheat.

Next, shape the buns, let them rise, bake…

…and 90 minutes after you’ve pulled that risen dough out of the Zo, you have Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns.

No, these buns don’t bake in the machine; you need to divide the dough, shape into buns, put them in a couple of 8” or 9” round pans, and bake.

But isn’t it nice to have risen dough all ready for the end game?

The dough for any of your favorite rolls or yeast breads can be prepared in the Zo using the Dough cycle. Up to about 4 cups of flour, the dough can rise right in the machine. For 4 to 6 cups, it’s best to remove the dough once it’s kneaded, and let it rise in a bowl (so that it doesn’t pop the top on your Zo!)

Next up – scalloped potatoes.

Program your Zo for a 70-minute bake; include the “keep warm” option at the end.

If you’ve never used the Homemade cycle, where you can program in your own times, check out our step-by-step directions for programming your Zojirushi.

Start with 2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes.

Can you use some other type of potato? Yes, I’d wager any boiling potato would work; but don’t use a baking potato – e.g., Russet. You want a thin-skin, “waxy” type potato, like chef’s potatoes, red potatoes… anything with a noticeably thin (rather than thick and “dusty” looking) skin.

Peel the potatoes, and slice them 1/4” thick. If you have a food processor with slicing discs, the 4mm disc is perfect.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil on the stovetop. Add 2 teaspoons salt, and the potatoes. Start timing as soon as the potatoes hit the water; when 5 minutes is up, immediately remove the potatoes from the stove, and drain them.

Heat 1 1/4 cups half & half, milk, light cream, heavy cream, or a combination. The cream should be very hot, though not boiling.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter.

In a tiny bowl, mix 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional), and 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (also optional, though tasty).

Remove the paddles from the bread machine bucket, and spray the bucket with non-stick vegetable oil spray. We use Everbake in the test kitchen.

Layer 1/3 of the parboiled potatoes in the bucket. Sprinkle with some of the salt, pepper, and onion powder. Drizzle with some of the butter, then 1/3 of the hot cream.

Repeat the layers three times, ending with the cream.

Press Start. At the same time, set a kitchen timer for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, the milk/cream should be bubbly.

Gently press the potatoes down into the liquid.

Reset your timer for 65 minutes.

When it goes off again, your potatoes are done.

For nicest presentation, scoop them into a serving bowl. Kind of tacky serving from your bread machine bucket, wouldn’t you say?

Next, the buttery stuffing: Plain-But-Good Stuffing, we call it. Start with 8 cups lightly packed bread cubes; about 16 ounces. You want bread cubes that’re slightly stale, so if you’re using fresh bread, cube it the night before, set it on a baking sheet, and let it rest overnight, uncovered.

I made a loaf in the Zo the day before, programming the machine for basic bread and using the Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns recipe.

First, finely chop 3 medium-sized onions, and 2 medium celery stalks (including the leafy tops, if you have them). You should have about 4 cups of chopped onions, and 1 cup of chopped celery. As you can see, I opted to use a food processor.

Put 2 sticks of butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Yes, this is BUTTERY stuffing – the butter stands in for the fat from the roasting turkey. Add the chopped vegetables. Microwave for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the butter is melted and the celery and onion have softened somewhat.

Remove the bowl from the microwave, and add the following:

2 tablespoons dried parsley, or ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Stir to combine.

Add the bread cubes.

Toss a bit to combine, then add 1 cup (8 ounces) chicken broth.

Stir until everything is thoroughly moistened.

Remove the paddles from the Zo bucket, spray with non-stick vegetable oil spray, and gently pack the stuffing into the bucket.

Program a Homemade cycle in your machine for 60 minutes.

If it’s already programmed for 70 minutes, that’s fine, too; just leave it. The “keep warm” cycle at the end is optional.

Press Start.

Sixty minutes later – stuffing. Yes!

The aroma while this was baking was driving everyone near the test kitchen crazy!

So there you have it: cranberry sauce, golden dinner rolls, scalloped potatoes, and stuffing – with a big helping hand from your Zojirushi.

Let’s take one more look – mmm, MMM!

Now, let’s see… There MUST be a way to bake turkey in the Zo…

Speaking of – check out our in-the-Zo recipes for peach cobbler, risotto, and sloppy joes!

Again, if you’re uncomfortable with technology, check out our step-by-step directions for programming your Zojirushi.

Note: All of these recipes were tested in the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme bread machine (BBCC-X20, or BB-CEC20). The cranberry sauce recipe should work in the Zo Mini, as well, since it has a jam cycle; but the remainder of the recipes require the larger, programmable Zo.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Paul from Ohio

    Aren’t YOU the CRAFTY baker! Ah yes, very useful ideas as this year we’re sharing Thanksgiving with two neighbor ladies (sisters) across the street. I’m bringing KAF awesome Pumpkin Pie (made the usual way) and I was going to do the rolls – how slick is this, and cranberry sauce, I can do that tooooooo thanks to youuuuuuuuuuuu! Happy T’Day!

    Paul, when you think about it, there are all kinds of things you can make in your Zo – my mom uses it like a tiny little oven to make stew, meatloaf, and other layered meat/veggie/pasta comfort-food stuff… PJH

  2. kericharles

    Oh boy… just yesterday I was extolling the virtues of the Zo to my mother, trying to convince her to invest in one. I told her it could make jam and meatloaf and she was shocked! I forwarded to her this blog posting – I’m pretty sure she’s going to be sold once she reads this!

    It’s great for older moms – esp. those cooking for just one or two. They don’t have to worry about heating the whole big oven for a small dish; and they also don’t have to worry about remembering to turn the oven off when they’re done! PJH

  3. AmandaLP

    Why not take a turkey breast, and bake it in the machine like you did with the potatoes? Might take longer 🙂

    Last year, I did my stuffing and green bean casserole in the slow cookers, since my oven was full with turkey.

    I’m not sure I could fit a whole turkey in a bread machine (would be fun to try :)), but just a turkey breast might work! Let us know if you do! kelsey@KAF

  4. amy

    this is the most crazy-awesome thing i’ve ever seen. i mean, seriously. thanks for the links to the machines- they’re actually more affordable than i thought they’d be. and apparently 1000x more versatile 🙂

  5. copperbeech

    I’m the happy owner of a Zo, and I love to read new ideas for using it. I’m especially interested in the homemade settings. I’ve never felt confident enough to make up my own settings. I’d love to hear more suggestions for this feature. For those on the fence, it’s a good quality machine with a heavy pan, and lots of features.

  6. argentyne

    OOoooooh! I love my current bread machine, but it is getting older and it does not have any kind of programmable or sourdough settings. I bake sourdough every week and while I love doing it by hand, would really like to have something to rise in during the winter, other than the oven.

    I think one of these is going on my christmas list.

    Thanks for the other recipes as well! I use my slow cooker for everything on this list and will never give up any of the slow cookers, but it is always nice to have options! 🙂

  7. maduckie

    For the past 8 years, I have made a crockpot stuffing, as we smoke our bird. The night before the big day, I make a turkey stock from the neck and wing tips and use this instead of chicken broth called for.

    This is the recipe I use, but I double for a stuffing loving crowd.

    2 cups chopped onions
    1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
    1 cup diced tart apple, peeled and cored
    1/4 cup butter
    1 tablespoon ground sage
    1 teaspoon ground marjoram
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon pepper
    1/2 teaspoon savory
    1/2 teaspoon thyme
    12 cups lightly toasted bread, cubes
    1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    1 1/2 cups chicken stock or 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

    1 In a large fry pan saute onions, celery and apple in butter until onion is just translucent.
    2 Stir in sage, marjoram, salt, pepper, savory and thyme.
    3 Combine vegetable mixture with the bread cubes and parsley.
    4 Toss well.
    5 Pour stock over mixture, tossing well.
    6 Spoon into your crock-pot.
    7 Cover and cook on high for one hour.
    8 Reduce to low and continue cooking for 2-3 hours, stirring every hour

    An excellendt way to free up oven space.


  8. milkwithknives

    Yay! I’m so FREAKING EXCITED for Thanksgiving this year! My sister is taking over the bread this time, so I’m doing the turkey, dressing and gravy. I don’t have a bread machine, but am planning on trying Amanda’s genius idea of doing the dressing (stuffing) in the slow cooker. I may even pull a sneak attack and try to make cranberry sauce, which has always (oddly enough) been one of the few canned or store bought items at our Thanksgiving.

    Thanks a million for the great post!

  9. phylbart

    Oh, My!! I use my Zo almost every day for bread. You can be certain I am now going to try it for all of these other ideas! I can hardly wait! Thank you so much for all of the ideas and direction links.

  10. daphnewoman

    Oh, PJ! I love this! I bought my Zo from KAF several years ago. There are some tools in my kitchen I could do without but my beloved ZO is not one of them! I haven’t figured out the homemade settings – I think I need to give that another try! Thank you so much for keeping the wonderful ideas coming!

  11. reneepinzon

    I have been considering getting a slowcooker. Is it a stretch to say that a Zo is a slow cooker?

    No, I definitely don’t think it’s a stretch to say a Zo is a slow cooker. However, I do feel crock pots have their place in the kitchen as well! kelsey@KAF

  12. Cupcake Princess

    I can’t wait for thankgiving it’s my favorite holiday ever! This year I decided that i’m going to make homemade dinner rolls and the recipe that is on this blog sounds great! I’ve been wanting a bread machine for a while, hopefully i’ll get one this Christmas.

  13. FlyingRoo

    Why, oh why, are you showing all these to poor us who do not have “the ZO”?!? Don’t we suffer enough that we have to use our hands or a meek stand mixer when we make bread???
    I’m amazed you didn’t cook your turkey in it too! ;^)

    1. TNGrandma

      I HAD to reply to this – as I LIVED it. I would make bread – by hand – 3or 4 times a week. The bread would disappear before the slathered butter melted. BUT (finger in air) would anyone want to learn HOW to do it themselves? NOOooo. So start your campaign: Right next to the hot loaf, a small note reads, “With a bread machine, I could have made 2 loaves.” Draw or clip images of dinner rolls and place them on a plate – with a small note, “Didn’t have a bread machine, so I didn’t have time.” You get the idea. Don’t say a word! And stop baking bread for a few days, and leave, on the counter, a bread knife and bare bread board with a stand up note for your family, “A bread machine would SOLVE this.” I can assure that a bread machine will “show up” within a few months – holiday or not. I got to the point where I “accidentally” left my King Arthur Flour catalog on the kitchen counter.; on the page with a Zo. (toothy grin) YUP, I got it. NINE relatives and two friends chipped in, Heh.

  14. bgabioud

    Could you give us the step-by-step for programming the Zo to eliminate the preheat step for dough? The link you give is programming for bake only. That would make my bread baking so much easier!

    Go to the homemade cycle; and follow the same method for programming as shown in the “Bake” step-by-step, except make all of the cycles say OFF except knead (which I set to 25 minutes); and rise 1 (which I set to 65 minutes). Hope this helps – PJH

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Go to the homemade cycle; and follow the same method for programming as shown in the “Bake” step-by-step, except make all of the cycles say OFF except knead (which I set to 25 minutes); and rise 1 (which I set to 65 minutes). Hope this helps – PJH

  15. lyna

    I LOVE my Zo! But need to learn more; thanks for this post!
    Request–especially when you post about breads could you also include any relevant bread machine hints? Kind of like you give both volume and weight in the recipe? Could a bread machine recipe book be added to the catalog?

    We’ll certainly keep this in mind for future bread machine posts. Maybe someday there will be a KAF bread machine cookbook! kelsey@KAF

  16. KimberlyD

    How would you make the cranberries with out using the ZO, for us people who can’t afford one. lol
    (Yeah I am finally able to post a comment!!!!!)
    Thanks Maduckie for the recipe and how to make stuffing in the crockpot, your recipe is close to my dear mother’s. Apples are the only thing different.

    Hello Kimberly – You could make the cranberry sauce the good-ol’ fashioned way – on the stove top! In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, bring the 3/4 cup sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 to 1 cup water to a boil atop the stove. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. I’ve also seen some recipes for baked cranberry sauce. Might be something to look into! kelsey@KAF

  17. Mizzmezz

    Hi PJ,

    Is there any chance we could get that Turkey Tetrazzini recipe as well?

    Your T-day dinner looks awesome BTW!! 🙂

    Hi – You can actually take any turkey tetrazzini recipe using about 2 to 3 cups leftover turkey and 8 ounces of spaghetti, and simply bake it in the bread machine instead of an oven. I bake mine for about 45 minutes. Sorry I can’t do the whole recipe here – it’s too long! Maybe I should try to post it in our online recipes prior to Thanksgiving though, eh? I’ll try to get around to it… PJH

    P.S. – Recipe for turkey tetrazzini is now posted on our community site, thanks to “didickins” – 🙂 PJH

  18. lyna

    I clicked on the link in your reply to dewlon, found the three recipes and reference to a “Beyond Bread” booklet. Is it still (or will it be again) available? The Search box came up empty when I entered “Beyond Bread.” Thanks for anything to expand the Zo’s horizons.

    The merchandise team is working on a second printing. We hope to have it available for Autumn 2011. Frank @ KAF.

  19. dldickins8218

    I have the recipe booklet that PJ wrote for the Zo, although I haven’t made anything yet. I have been wondering what is the difference between baking on the Jam cycle and baking using the Homemade Settings. Also, some recipes have you leave in the paddles and others have the paddles removed. I would love get some tips, if possible.

    If it’s okay, I can post the recipes from the booklet on the Baking Circle so others can have access. I don’t want to post the recipes without permission though, in case KAF would rather I didn’t do that. I wonder if it would be possible if PJ’s mom could post some of her recipes on the Baking Circle that she makes in the ZO?

    We’d be thrilled to have you post those ‘bake in the Zo” recipes on the community – thanks so much! The jam cycle uses the paddles, and stirs (like for risotto, or soup, anything that benefits by stirring); that’s why you leave the paddles in. The homemade bake cycle does nothing but bake, so you don’t need the paddles. My mom doesn’t have any recipes – she’s been cooking so long, she just does it by sight. She’ll layer apples and sweet potatoes, then a couple of pork chops, then maybe some chopped onions; pour broth in to moisten, then bake. Or she just bakes her favorite meatloaf recipe in the Zo (also nothing written down, though I know she uses oatmeal). Enjoy – PJH

  20. vel

    what, no mash potatoes? No GRAVY? sacrilege!

    but it’s too cool that you can do so much with a Zo. Wish I had any counterspace for one, but with about one square yard in my old kitchen, it just ain’t happening.

  21. dldickins8218

    For anyone that’s interested I have started posting the Beyond Bread recipes for baking in the Zo on the Baking Circle site. The recipes are in the recipe section. Happy baking!

    Thank you so much! We appreciate your efforts. PJH

  22. milkwithknives

    This might be completely bonkers, but what do you think about doing broccoli/cauliflower in the bread machine or crockpot? I’m also in charge of roasted veg this year, but I’d really like to pull the turkey out of the oven and skedaddle over to my mom’s with it instead of waiting another half hour for the vegetables to roast. What do you think?

    I don’t think they’d roast very well – you need more pan contact. They’d steam, for sure, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re after. Why not roast ahead of time, then reheat over at your mom’s, while everyone’s having their pre-dinner drinks and appetizers? PJH

  23. newbiebaker81

    I made the cranberry sauce using my Zo Mini just to test it out and it turned out really well! I halved the recipe thinking the orig. recipe might be too much, but I think I will try the orig. amount called for next time. It was already pretty thick when it was done so I may increase the amount of water. This sure beats the canned version! I’m def. making this for our Thanksgiving meal! Thanks, KAF!! I’m always looking for ways to use my bread maker other than making bread or dough in it. This is awesome!!

    Glad it worked out for you, NB- it’s just so much fun to find new ways to use your tools, isn’t it? PJH

  24. georgemixon

    can,about a half cup of honey,be used in place of the sugar,in the cranberry recipe?

    Yes, the sauce may be softer/looser, but it should taste just fine. You might want to cut back the other liquid a bit… Good luck – PJH

  25. steelekirk

    Everything looks great except that totally dried out piece of turkey breast. Smoked, sauce, or something is needed to help that poor bird.

    See, if it had been cooked in the Zo instead of roasted in the oven… 🙂 PJH

  26. Aaron Frank

    I love this post. I look forward to it! It’s so cool and creative.

    I noticed there is a “cake” setting so could I make cakes in this?

    I have some silicone cupcake holders that look as if they would fit in this. Could I use those for making small batches of cupcakes in here? That would be so much nice than using our oven in the summer.

    Could I use cake pans so long as they fit in the Zo?

    Yes, it does have a cake setting, Aaron. The silicone cupcake holders will not work in the ZO, however. I am afraid you will have to turn your oven on for that one. Elisabeth

  27. sweetminnie

    Hi PJ
    The last two days I have baked a loaf of bread and I used your recipe BREAD MACHINE BREAD…EASY AS CAN BE in mt ZO.
    When it is done and go to remove , the center top has collapsed.
    I put all ingredients in proper order. Can you help me get a
    round top. Thank you!
    Hi Sweetminnie,
    It sounds like it could be a couple of things. Check out the back of your Zo manual, there is a great troubleshooting page, and a sunken loaf is the first thing on the list. There are directions on how to adjust the flour, water, yeast, and which to adjust first and how much. It’s a huge help in getting that loaf to stay nice and round. ~ MaryJane

  28. ZenSojourner


    Do not ever spray any nonstick item with commercial spray oils. They will gum your nonstick surface up and remove the “non” from “nonstick”.

    The recipe itself (for the potatoes) looks good, but just skip the spraying of the spray oil. I don’t really see the need for it anyway, given the butter in that recipe!

    As for serving from the Zo bucket being “tacky” – PFFFT! I wouldn’t serve from the pan because I don’t want hungry heathens damaging the pan interior, LOL!

    I will report back after making the recipe. It’s always good to have yet another excuse for owning a Zo…
    We look forward to hearing from you after you try the potato recipe. Thank you! Elisabeth

  29. shawn

    good article PJ!
    we love the tips.
    we use a Zojirushi bread machine we got off of zojirushibreadmachine.net for the holidays and we have looked to your blog for inspiration. Thanks so much! Our current favorite right now is Zucchini Bread! YUM!

  30. Carolyn

    I never thought of cooking cranberry sauce in the Zo but I just might this year. This is the recipe I use. I have always made it on the stove. It’s quite simple, doesn’t take long and it’s very delicious.
    Spiced Cranberry Sauce
    1 pound fresh cranberries
    2 cups sugar
    2 cups port wine
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    Wash and pick over cranberries. In 3 quart saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar and port wine. Heat over high heat until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered 4 to 5 minutes (or a little longer) until cranberries have popped and liquid has developed a good red color. Turn off heat, add ground spices and stir well. Cool and serve or pour into small, clean canning jars. Cover. Refrigerate when cooled.
    Yields 5+ half pint jars
    Don’t worry about the alcohol in the wine. It will all cook off while the cranberries simmer.

  31. Wendy Farkas

    Thanks for some great Zo recipes! So do you get up at 3 AM to use the bread machine to make all these things for that day’s feast? Make the rolls and the cranberry sauce the day before? How do you time your recipes when you’re using the machine for several things?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Wendy, I make the dough for the rolls, the cranberry sauce, and the stuffing ahead. The dough becomes rolls and bakes in the regular oven, the stuffing is reheated just before (microwave works fine), and the sauce is served cold. I like making the potatoes last, right before dinner. Hope this helps – PJH

  32. kandy

    I do not have a ZO breadmaker but I do have one that makes bread, butter, jams, puddings, cheesecakes and other cakes. Is it possible these recipes would work for me in mine? My pan is deeper.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’ve just made your holiday a lot easier! As long as the ingredients don’t come too close to the top (see the photos for guides), your bread machine will work just fine. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

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