Turkey Troubles: Hilarious Thanksgiving Disasters That Will Leave You Thankful It Wasn’t You

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Safety mishaps don’t always have to be tragic—sometimes, they’re downright funny. Thanksgiving is a time when families come together to give thanks, feast—and occasionally—unleash culinary chaos upon their loved ones.

One year, the glass dish I was baking stuffed mushrooms in exploded when I pulled it out of the oven. Needless to say, we had to ditch every dish that was potentially infused with glass shards (including the mushrooms and the mashed potatoes I'd just finished preparing).

With that fiasco in mind, I pulled together a roundup of Turkey Day disasters. As we embark on another Thanksgiving season, let's take a moment to relish the misadventures of these brave souls who've survived their own turkey day tribulations.

Cute little girl having fun while about to bite a stuffed turkey during Thanksgiving dinner in dining room.

Image: skynesher, iStock

Smokin' turkey fiasco

Paul Moe of Jacksonville, Florida, told the Washington Post his Thanksgiving nightmare. His fiancee's extended family promised the "best ever" turkey cooked in a smoker. The catch? They designated midnight as the start time. Fast forward to 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and they realized they still needed to plug in the smoker. With temperatures in the low 60s, they decided to scrap the bird. Panic ensued, and all they could find was a frozen turkey. Nearly 11 p.m. before they sat down to eat, they learned that sometimes, the best-laid turkey plans can go up in smoke.

The turducken tango

Reddit user Clodhoppa81 embarked on an epic journey to create a shrimp-stuffed turducken (a three-bird roast). After hours of labor and meticulous preparation, disaster struck. As Clodhoppa81 reached for the platter, the turducken executed a daring escape, crash-landing onto the car seat and then onto the floor, leaving a trail of shrimp and meat carnage. The moral of the story? Turduckens are elusive creatures best left unattempted in moving vehicles.

Flaming fryer fiasco

Amy Taylor Watson's Thanksgiving took a fiery turn when she glanced out her kitchen window and witnessed her turkey fryer ablaze with flames threatening the awning. The culprit? A broken thermostat that caused the fryer to go rogue at maximum heat. Who needs fireworks when you have a turkey fryer ready to light up the Thanksgiving sky?

Be ready for fire danger in the kitchen

Kitchen fires are the number one cause of house fires, and Thanksgiving is the number one day for cooking fires. Make sure all of your smoke alarms are working properly, and brush up on how to properly use a fire extinguisher

Cat-astrophe in the turkey

Diane Harlan of Portland, Oregon, and her mother had a feline surprise during Thanksgiving dinner. As they carved the turkey, they discovered a black tail emerging from the turkey cavity. It wasn't a Thanksgiving miracle—it was the family cat's misguided quest for a turkey-themed hideout. Clawing ensued, and the cat was finally freed, albeit covered in turkey juice and stuffing remnants. Perhaps the cat just wanted to join the feast?

The oven mitt blaze

According to Serious Eats, Jenn Pool's attempt to impress her then-boyfriend (now husband) with a grand Thanksgiving feast ended in fiery fashion. A smoldering oven mitt led to a fire alarm symphony and a flaming fridge in their minuscule kitchen. Fortunately, her boyfriend saved the day with a fire extinguisher, though the turkey unintentionally received the extinguishing spray. At least they still had three side dishes to enjoy, right?

Pumpkin pie lesson learned

One Thanksgiving, an ambitious Reddit baker decided to use a porch pumpkin for a homemade pumpkin pie. Sadly, the result was inedible. Lesson learned: Sugar pumpkins exist for a reason, and sometimes, porch decorations should stay put.

Powdered sugar mac 'n cheese

When cousin chefs get creative, things can get interesting. This family decided to add baked mac 'n cheese to their Thanksgiving menu. However, a mixup with flour and powdered sugar led to a sweet surprise. The "flour" turned out to be powdered sugar, but thanks to the culinary skills of the chef, the mac 'n cheese was still a hit. Who knew sweet and savory could coexist so harmoniously? (Surprisingly, this was just one of many powdered sugar mixups I found out there!)

The hidden candy catastrophe

Imagine a plastic bowl of candy hiding on the top shelf of the oven, unbeknownst to the cook. When it was time to bake pies, disaster struck as the plastic bowl melted, creating a sticky, plastic-y mess that took hours to clean. The house smelled like burnt plastic for days. Note to self: The oven is not a secret candy stash.

Mashed potatoes: A real pain in the leg

Julie Van Leeuwen's Thanksgiving took an unexpected turn when a ceramic tray took a nosedive onto her granite countertop, shattering into a million pieces. One shard even made a cameo appearance on her leg, resulting in a trip to the emergency room. Her 18-year-old son stepped up to save the day, becoming the unexpected hero of the mashed potato department. Sometimes, accidents lead to newfound Thanksgiving traditions.

So, as you prepare for your Thanksgiving feast, remember these tales of turkey tribulations and culinary capers. No matter what happens, be thankful for laughter, mishaps, and the stories that make your Thanksgiving uniquely yours. Happy Turkey Day!

Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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