Turkey day is here and "GMA" is on call to help with last-minute recipes, tips and tricks to make everything in the kitchen run as smoothly as possible!

Famous chefs answered our questions on how to defrost the turkey, how to make a fast, tasty gravy and more.

Geoffrey Zakarian

The Iron Chef, Food Network host and executive chef of The Lamb's Club in New York City shared a couple delicious and easy to make Thanksgiving sides.

*Geoffrey's Tips*

"Defrost [the turkey] in cold water and put it in the fridge," he said. This should be done two or three days beforehand but if you missed your window he suggests you "take the breast off and cook the breast alone that way it will cook quicker."

Want homemade cranberry sauce rather than the canned stuff? Zakarian said it can be prepped in just a few minutes.


"Cranberries in a pot, very simple -- sugar, lemon and lime juice, the zest of a lemon and lime, [cook for] five to six minutes, let it cool down and you have beautiful cranberry relish," he said.

Geoffrey Zakarian's roasted Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts

Ingredients:1 lb Brussels sprouts

1/2 tablespoon minced shallots

1/2 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup peeled hazelnuts, halved.

1 teaspoon hazelnut oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lemon to zest


Remove the bottom on the Brussels sprouts and outer leaves if they are brown and discard.

Using a paring knife, carefully remove each leaf until you reach the small core and the leaves can no longer be pulled off.

Heat a large saute pan. Add the shallots, nuts and butter and cook until lightly browned.

Add the Brussels sprouts, cook until tender. Finish with the nut oil and salt and pepper.

Toss in a bowl with lemon zest before serving.

Mashed fingerling potatoes

2 lbs large fingerling potatoes, peeled

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1/2 cup cream

1/2 cup milk

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste (fresh ground)

1 tablespoon chopped chives


Cut the potatoes into large chunks. Place in a medium sized pot and cover with plenty of cold water. Season the water well with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 mins.

Bring the milk and cream to a boil together in a small pot. Set aside.

Strain the potatoes. Using an electric mixer or potato masher or ricer, mash the potatoes until smooth with the butter. Add the cream slowly until smooth.

Season with salt and white pepper (which won’t leave black specks like black pepper).

Keep the potatoes warm until serving. It will get gummy if it cools.

Garnish with chopped chives.

Recipe reprinted courtesy of Geoffrey Zakarian, The Lambs Club

Hawaiian sweet roll stuffing

*Geoffrey's Tip*
-- The flavorful side has two secret sweet and savory ingredients, golden raisins and hot Italian sausage. -- Use stale bread; it will allow the mixture to soak into the bread easier.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
One 12-count package Hawaiian sweet rolls, such as King's Hawaiian, cut into 1-inch pieces4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
3 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1 1/2 cups small-diced onion
1 cup small-diced carrots
1 cup small-diced celery
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups turkey stock, or more as needed
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the softened butter in a medium baking dish or gratin dish.
Toss the cubed bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the Italian seasoning in a large bowl. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 10 minutes.Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the sausage. Cook the sausage, stirring and breaking up the meat, until brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the rosemary and sage and cook for 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper.Combine the toasted bread, sausage, vegetable mixture and raisins in a large bowl. Combine the stock and egg in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. Add the stock mixture to the bread mixture and fold together.Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish and bake until the top is crispy and hot through the center, 35 to 45 minutes.

Recipe reprinted courtesy of Geoffrey Zakarian, Food Network

Jamika Pessoa

The celebrity chef and co-host of "Let's Eat!" on the Food Network shared her takes on turkey. With a Jamaican marinated bird and simple lemon pepper legs, her recipes and tips are perfect for Thanksgiving.

When it comes to checking on your bird in the oven, she suggests using "a digital thermometer. It's the easiest and most accurate." Pessoa also said you need to stick it in the thigh to get a good read.

The chef shared a secret ingredient to make the perfect last-minute gravy. "My secret is Dijon mustard. It will hold it together and gives that tanginess and your guests will be like," she said.

Roasted lemon pepper turkey legs

*Jamika's Tips*
-- Mix butter and lemon pepper seasoning and place in the oven uncovered for up to two hours.

4-6 turkey legs (skin on, bone in)
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 cup of chicken broth or water
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 lemon, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix butter and lemon pepper seasoning.
Pat turkey legs dry with paper towels. Use your fingers to carefully raise skin from the flesh and rub the lemon pepper butter underneath and on top of turkey skin. Place turkey legs in a roasting pan. Pour broth or water into pan and add thyme and lemon slices.
Basting turkey every 30 minutes with liquid in the bottom of the pan, roast turkey in the oven uncovered for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until internal temperature on meat thermometer is 170-180 degrees.
Chef’s Notes: Feel free to make your own lemon pepper seasoning blend with coarse ground black pepper, Kosher salt, lemon zest, garlic powder and a pinch of sugar.

Jamaican Jerk Spiced Turkey
Yield: 12-pound turkey serves 6-8 people

*Jamika's Tips*
-- Rub marinade over the turkey, under the skin and inside the cavity for more flavor.
-- Tent foil over the turkey to allow heat circulation while cooking and to prevent burning.

Jerk Spice Mix
4 teaspoons ground allspice
4 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons dried parsley
4 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 bunch green onions
½ cup Dijon mustard
4 Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers
1 orange, juiced
½ cup olive oil

Blend jerk spices, green onions, Dijon mustard, peppers, orange juice and oil in a blender or food processor.
Remove giblets from turkey cavity and pat skin dry with paper towels. Put on plastic or latex gloves and generously rub marinade all over turkey, under skin and inside cavity. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
Remove from refrigerator and allow turkey to sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to come to room temperature. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey and tie the legs together using kitchen twine or string.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place wire rack inside of roasting pan and rest turkey on rack. Tent foil over turkey leaving one inch of space between top of turkey and foil for heat circulation. Roast turkey approximately two-and-a-half to three hours, basting every 30 minutes, until thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 180 degrees.
Turn oven up to 375 degrees, remove foil, baste and continue roasting for an additional 30 minutes to crisp and brown skin.
Remove from oven and let turkey rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
Chef’s note: If making a larger turkey, roast approximately 15 minutes per pound to ensure it is cooked throughout.

Recipes courtesy of chef Jamika Pessoa.

Desserts from Eddie Jackson

The Christmas cookie challenge host tackled desserts for turkey day on "GMA" and offered his sweet tips and tricks for two tasty confections.

Pecan Pie

*Eddie's Tip*
-- To prevent the pie crust from getting soggy brush egg whites mixed with water on the unbaked crust.

9 inch Prepared pie crust
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a baking sheet on middle rack.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt.
Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.
Put pecans in pie shell and pour corn syrup mixture evenly over them.
Bake on hot baking sheet until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely.

Sweet Potato Mousse

*Eddie's Tip*
-- For better presentation use a piping bag to add mousse and cheesecake to vessel. You can also pulse the crackers and cookies in a food processor for a finer crust.

4 sweet potatoes
4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
2 cups crushed ginger snaps
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven at 425 degrees.
Prick sweet potatoes with a fork several times and place on large sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake sweet potatoes become tender to touch 1 hour.
Turn oven off and leave potatoes in oven for an additional 30 minutes. Peel and place potatoes in bowl of food processor. Remove potatoes and allow to cool. Peel and add to processor pulse until nearly smooth.
Add 1/2 cup whipping cream, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Continue to process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Add remaining whipping cream along with vanilla and confectioner sugar to bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold whipping cream into sweet potato mixture.
In a medium bowl combine graham crackers with gingersnaps. Add a layer of graham crackers mix to the bottom of each vessel. Alternate between mousse and graham crackers until vessel is filled top with whipped cream.
Chill at least one hour before serving.