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The Best Google Home Commands and Features to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Your Google Home device can do more than set Thanksgiving timers and play party music.

google home next to a thanksgiving dinner plate
Sure, Google Home can help you execute the perfect stuffing recipe, but it can also bring peace to your Thanksgiving Day feast.
Chris Monroe/CNET

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Thanksgiving day is just over a week away. If your family is anything like mine, gatherings can get hectic -- more like something you'd see on Military History than the Hallmark Channel. Food scattered across every surface, battles over which football game goes on the TV and running out the door because you forgot to buy stick butter can make the Thanksgiving holiday feel more like guerrilla warfare. If all that sounds familiar, you're going to need your Google Assistant device for a lot more than playing music, reading recipes and setting timers (though it does these things well, too).

From settling disputes and checking facts to dropping in on both the big game and the kids everyone forgot about in the other room, Google Home can help bring some semblance of order to the otherwise madness that is many families' Thanksgiving dinner.

We have heaps of other tips to help you handle Thanksgiving like a pro, including the best way to defrost a turkey, Thanksgiving mistakes to avoid and how to perfectly roast a turkey. And now, here are Google Home features that come in extra handy during your Thanksgiving feast.

Explore Thanksgiving recipes and plan your menu

You probably already know you're making mashed potatoes and stuffing this Thanksgiving, but if you want a twist, Google Assistant can help. You can explore thousands of delicious recipes with Google. 

If you have a smart display like the Google Nest Hub, you can pull up the recipes and watch cooking tutorial videos to easily make your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes or learn how to brine a turkey. Just say, "Hey, Google, show me Thanksgiving recipes" and you'll be able to select one of many tasty Thanksgiving dishes.

Even if you don't have a smart display, your smart speakers, like the Google Home or Google Nest Mini, can still help. Just ask, "Hey, Google, find me a sweet potato casserole recipe" and Google Assistant will give you a rundown on the recipe, how long it takes to make and what temperature to set the oven to. You can ask Google to "prepare the ingredients" as you get everything out of the pantry and fridge. Once you've got the ingredients in hand, ask Google to "skip to instructions" to begin baking.

screenshot of google smart display with recipes

The Google Assistant can find recipes and help you cook.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Create your Thanksgiving grocery list

In the chaos on hosting guests and cooking, it can be easy to let things slip your mind. Trust me, I somehow always forget to buy pecans every Thanksgiving. Google Assistant can help keep you organized by allowing you to easily add ingredients to and edit your shopping list. 

To make a shopping list, just say:

  • "Hey, Google, create a shopping list"

And from there, you can easily add to your list or check on what's already on your list by asking:

  • "OK, Google, add cereal to my shopping list"
  • "Hey, Google, what's on my shopping list?"

You can also remove items on your list or share your list with others.

Google hub with recipes on the display

From exploring recipes to purchasing ingredients, you can easily use Google Assistant to help prepare your Thanksgiving meal. 

Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Purchase your ingredients 

While Google Assistant-compatible devices don't have all the power of Amazon like Alexa devices, Google Assistant is still great at shopping. Your Google Home can help you order last-minute essentials from big box retailers like Target and Walmart.

First, you'll have to set up payments. Once you've downloaded the Google Assistant or Google Home app, open it and navigate to the Settings menu. Tap Payments, then enter your credit card information. 

With this set up, you'll be able to easily buy items through voice commands. Just say, "Hey, Google, buy [whatever item you need]." Google will tell you where the item is available at a number of different retailers, such as Target, Walmart and Costco, and how much it costs. 

For all our shopping tips, explore our guide on how to shop with Google Assistant

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Resolve conflicts with Google's fact-checking 

A big enough Thanksgiving Day celebration is likely to draw family and friends from a wide swath of opinions and values. And unfortunately, that may include a few who try to hash out all the world's problems over mashed potatoes and stuffing. But even if everyone remains civil, sometimes holiday discussions arrive at an impasse when two people can't agree on certain historical facts. That's when it's time to bring in Google Home to mediate.

With the power of Google search at its core, Google Home can resolve almost any fact-based dispute. Just ask it a question on any topic, from history and politics to sports and culture and beyond. Some examples:

  • "Hey, Google, what year was the Battle of Normandy?"
  • "Hey, Google, how many electoral votes did Ronald Reagan get in the 1980 election?"
  • "Hey, Google, which countries have sent people into space?"

If there's no right or wrong answer but a decision must be made, like when the kids can't agree whether to watch Home Alone or Home Alone 2, just have one person pick heads or tails and say, "Hey, Google, flip a coin." If it's good enough to decide which team gets the kickoff, it should be good enough to pick a movie or settle any other turkey day dispute.

When sports are more than background noise

If your family is anything like mine, football on the big screen is a hallmark of the Thanksgiving holiday. Is there anything better than checking the big game in between checking on the turkey? But if you get bogged down in chopping vegetables, you can check the score or get information on pretty much any game by asking Google Home. And the best part is, you don't have to pull out your phone to do it, so you won't be offending anyone by getting sucked into your screen. Just ask:

  • "OK, Google, what's the score in the Lions-Bills game?"
  • "Hey, Google, what time do the Vikings play today?"
  • "OK, Google, who do the Giants play today?"

If that's not going to cut it and you need up-to-the-minute coverage, you can also use Google Home to tune into any game being broadcast on any radio station anywhere in the country (and many from around the world). All you need to know is which station broadcasts your favorite team's games. If you don't know already, you can ask Google Home that, too. Like this:

  • "Hey, Google, which radio station broadcasts Dallas Cowboys' games?"
  • Right after Google Assistant answers, say the name of the station. For example, "Play WJR 760 AM."

Keeping track of all the kids

If the guests spread to multiple rooms in a single house, you'll be able to check in without having to get up. With multiple Google Home speakers, you'll be able to broadcast the necessary messages.

You start the conversation by summoning Google Assistant, then using the words "broadcast," "announce," "shout" or "tell everyone," followed by the message you want to broadcast. Some examples:

  • "Hey, Google, broadcast, 'Dinner's ready!'"
  • "Hey, Google, announce, 'Does anyone need more turkey?'"
  • "Hey, Google, shout, 'Who wants to help with the dishes?'"

After Google Home plays your message, anyone on the receiving end will have a chance to respond. Note, however, that while broadcast messages go out to all the Google Home devices in your house, replies only go back to the speaker the message came from, so not everyone in the house has to hear the conversation.

google nest sitting next to children's books

If there's a Google Home in the kids' room, whether that's a bedroom, den or just where the kids' table is set up, you can check in on them with Google Home's broadcast feature.

Angela Lang/CNET

Create a Thanksgiving playlist

If you're hosting it's important to set the mood for your guests. One of the best ways to do that is by creating a fun Thanksgiving Day playlist. You can listen to all your favorite tunes across several music streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora or Google Play Music.

A valid subscription to the music service is required to get started. Once you've linked your music streaming account to your Google Home speaker, you can start adding songs to your playlist. (I won't judge you if you start playing Christmas music.)

Thanksgiving Google Home voice commands

  • "Hey, Google, what grocery stores are open on Thanksgiving?"
  • "Hey, Google, how do I roast a whole turkey?"
  • "Hey, Google, play Thanksgiving music." 
  • "Hey, Google, how much time is left on my turkey timer?"
  • "Hey, Google, order paper plates from Walmart."
  • "Hey, Google, how long does it take to defrost a 15-pound turkey?"
  • "Hey, Google, remind me to take the turkey out of the freezer."
  • "Hey, Google, how much turkey per person do I need to make?"
  • "Hey, Google, how do I make a turducken?"
  • "Hey, Google, look up a recipe for cranberry sauce."
  • "Hey, Google, how do I brine a turkey?"
  • "Hey, Google, how do I carve a turkey?"
  • "Hey, Google, what wine should I serve with Thanksgiving turkey?"
  • "Hey, Google, what is the difference between dressing and stuffing?"
  • "Hey, Google, dim dining room lights."

Want to show off your Google Home to all your family and friends? Check out five Google Home settings that will enhance your experience, how to turn your Google Nest into a Bluetooth speaker and how Google Home can help you get better sleep. Plus, you can learn how much building a Google smart home will cost you

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