Skip to main content

9 ways Google Assistant can help with Thanksgiving

Google Assistant is available on all sorts of devices around your home. From a basic smartphone to smart speakers, smart displays like the Nest Hub Max, Google Chromecast, and lots more, the assistant is often only a “Hey Google” away from helping. That feature comes in really handy around Thanksgiving, when there’s a whole lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. Here’s how Google Assistant can help make your holiday gathering a little easier.

Look up recipes and ingredient conversions

Google nest hub in kitchen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you have a Nest smart display or an Android phone, you can tap any recipe you find and say, “Hey Google, add to my cookbook.” Then, when you’re ready in the kitchen, you can simply ask to see your cookbook. With compatible recipes and devices, you can even say, “Hey Google, start cooking,” in a recipe, and Google will walk you through the steps (this trick is primarily for smart displays).

When you actually start cooking, you can use Google Assistant to set important timers, which is really handy when you’re juggling multiple timers simultaneously. Or you can ask any kind of recipe questions, like, “What’s a substitute for zucchini?” or “How many ounces are in a cup?” You can even ask Thanksgiving questions like, “How do I brine a turkey?” or “How long do I thaw a turkey?”

Set important reminders

Drawing of a family with a Nest Hub.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If there’s a lot on your Thanksgiving plate, you can avoid forgetting things with Google Assistant. Ask it to set reminders for important events. That could be anything from “get ready to get the turkey out of the oven” to “remind Uncle Kevin to take his medication.” Remember to specify a time for Google Assistant to send you an alert about the message it saved for you.

Let Google Assistant wait for you when your phone calls are put on hold

Pixel Hold for Me screen message.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Does your Thanksgiving involve tons of booking rooms or making reservations? That can mean a lot of wait time on the phone: If you have a Pixel phone, you should look into Hold for Me, a special Google Assistant capability that will keep the line open and monitor it for a real person. When someone shows up, Google Assistant will send you a notification. You can even monitor recorded messages from afar as Google Assistant will display their text on-screen.

Get cooking with the right meat thermometer

Fireboard Thermometer.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A meat thermometer monitors the internal temperature of large meat dishes (among other things), and smart versions can send alerts to your phone or allow you remote control. Some models work directly with Google Home and Google Assistant, so you can use tools that you are already familiar with and ask questions about the progress of your meat. One of the most popular is FireBoard, but other smart thermometers are compatible, too.

Order your last-minute groceries

Vegetable prep on a countertop.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Are there some last-minute ingredients, utensils, or other important purchases you forgot to make before you started cooking your Thanksgiving meal? Don’t worry – Google Assistant can help you shop right from your kitchen — as long as you are willing to use the Walmart grocery service like this. It even makes suggestions for particular types of food if you aren’t sure what you want! Then just have someone swing by for a quick pickup.

If you’re a few days out, make sure you have a payment method connected to Google Assistant, and then you can use voice commands to order products from a variety of stores, including Walmart, Target, Costco, PetSmart, Walgreens, and others.

Raise and lower the temperature

The Google Nest Audio.

Nest thermostats allow you to easily set a new thermostat temperature with a word to Google Assistant, and a number of other smart thermostats from brands like Honeywell and Emerson also work with Google Assistant. That targeted control comes in pretty handy during Thanksgiving. When the kitchen is going full steam and the house is crowded, you may be glad to have the option to turn the temperature down a few degrees. Or when it’s getting late and grandma is starting to complain about being cold, you can turn up the heat a notch with a word.

Turn on the big games

People watching sports on the 50-inch Vizio V-Series 4K TV.

Sure, Google Assistant can give you the latest scores for any Thanksgiving game. But why stop there? If you have a Google Chromecast or a TV that supports Google TV or Android TV, you can control it with Google Assistant commands, including finding the right sports channel, turning up the volume, and more. If you have a connected speaker that supports Google Assistant, like a Sonos soundbar, even better! That way, you don’t need to find the remote to switch between games or get the channel you want.

Get in touch with distant family members

Nest Hub Max Hands-On Review.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google Assistant can also start a voice chat with anyone in your contacts, including via a Nest Audio speaker — or even a video chat if you have something like the Nest Hub. That feature makes it really easy to connect with family members who may not be able to be present (they’ll need Google Assistant too, but that’s fairly easy to arrange). Don’t let Thanksgiving go by without making sure you make contact with all of your loved ones.

Entertain the kids

Kid and dad looking at Google Max.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remember, Google Assistant is always on hand to entertain the kids for a while. Just ask it to play a game, or pick something specific like Mad Libs. You can even ask for a Thanksgiving game — Google often adds seasonal activities to Google Assistant. This feature works best with a Nest smart speaker if you have one!

Editors' Recommendations

Tyler Lacoma
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
Google Assistant loses 17 features as the company lays off employees
google assistant mobile.

In an attempt to streamline the platform and "focus on quality and reliability," Google is axing 17 features from Google Assistant. The move corresponds with news the tech company is laying off hundreds of employees from its voice assistant division, as well as the exit of Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman.

Google hasn't revealed an exact date for removing features, but in the next few months, you'll no longer be able to use your voice to send emails or audio messages, reschedule events in Google Calendar with your voice, or check your travel itinerary by voice. The full list of removals is staggering, encompassing 17 abilities.

Read more
The best Google smart speakers of 2023
The Google Nest Audio.

Smart speakers are a central pillar of the smart home, offering a quick way to interact with the rest of your gadgets, check the latest weather forecast, or listen to your favorite playlists. Most smart speakers are designed around a specific voice assistant platform — and Google Assistant has built a strong roster of supported devices over the past few years.

Whether you need something cheap to place in the kitchen or want a robust gadget that'll blast tunes to every corner of your home, here's a look at the best Google smart speakers. Many of the picks below were designed by Google, though you'll also find plenty of third-party products that deserve a closer look.

Read more
The best smart plugs for Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit
A Wemo Indoor smart plug on a table.

If there are some non-smart electronic devices in your home that you don't want to get rid of, there's a cheap and easy way of upgrading them -- pair them with smart plugs. Among the features that you can get from them include controlling your devices through a smartphone app, setting timers for switching on or off, and monitoring electricity usage. Smart plugs also integrate well with the different smart home platforms, which will be one of the most important factors to consider when deciding on your purchase. To help you make your choice, we've highlighted our top picks for the three most popular platforms: Amazon's Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit.
The best smart plugs

Best for Amazon's Alexa:
Best for Google Home:
Best for Apple HomeKit:
Best for outdoor:
Best for energy monitoring:
Best for lamps:

Read more