Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be a daunting task: picking out the right turkey for your guests, choosing the perfect cooking method, making sure you have it cooked just right so your guests aren't eating an undercooked bird.

And then there are the sides — mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes? What bread do you use for the stuffing (or is it called dressing?)? How do you make sure the gravy isn't lumpy? 

What do you do when it seems like all your efforts are careening toward disaster?

A whole industry of hotlines now exists to help cooks through one of the biggest meals of the year. Here are a few you should keep handy.

Butterball's Turkey Talk Line

The original turkey hotline. It's been around since 1981, answering thousands of questions from callers in the United States and Canada. 

The Turkey Talk Line is 1-800-288-8372 (BUTTERBALL).

In recent years, Butterball has added a text line (844-877-3456), social media sites, live online chat at the Butterball website, and even help through Amazon Alexa. 

The only thing the hotline doesn't have is 24-hour staff. Head to the website to find more tips on everything from cleaning the bird to using a meat thermometer to having a gluten-free dinner to step-by-step instructions on your preferred cooking method.

You can also find hours of operation for the Turkey Talk line.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline

Want to make sure you won't poison your family this Thanksgiving? The USDA has experts to answer food-safety questions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday all year long, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving. The number is 888-674-6854.

Ask Betty

Your mom and grandma probably relied on Betty Crocker for cooking recipes and advice, and now you can, too. 

The Betty Crocker website has an Ask Betty section where you can ask cooking questions and get recipe advice on pretty much everything you would put on a holiday table. 

Fleischmann's Yeast Baker Hotline

Skipping the crescent roll tins this year and attempting to making your rolls? 

To help out, Fleischmann's, one of the companies that makes those little packets of yeast you may need for rolls, has a baker's hotline. Call 1-800-777-4959. NOTE: Not be available on Thanksgiving. You can also visit the Fleischmann's Bread World website, which has an education section.


Green bean casserole has become a Thanksgiving staple. Campbell's Soup says it was created in its test kitchen in 1955, and standard recipes do use the company's cream of mushroom soup. Need advice or help in making this or other side dishes? You can head to the Campbell's website, which has a live chat, or call their customer line at 1-800-257-8443. The line will not be open on Thanksgiving or the day after, but it will be open Monday-Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ocean Spray Holiday Helpline

If you think cranberries are just that jellied stuff you squeeze out of a can, apparently you're wrong, and Ocean Spray is here to help you with all your cranberry-related questions. The toll-free hotline is 1-800-662-3263. It's open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Thanksgiving from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.