Kid-Friendly No-Cook Turkey

It’s the ultimate edible Thanksgiving craft and the perfect boredom buster for kids who tire of making handprint turkeys and construction paper cornucopias.

This veggie and cheese turkey can be made up to 48 hours in advance of serving. It requires quite a bit of prep work and the assembly takes a while too, but it’s easy stuff that kids can help out with.

Cheese Ball (Base of Turkey)


8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 one-ounce packages dry Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix

3 cups shredded cheese

4 three-ounce packages of real bacon bits or cooked crumbled bacon


In a large mixing bowl mix cream cheese and ranch dressing mix until smooth.

Fold in shredded cheese and bacon pieces.

Remove about 3/4 cup of mixture and store separately in refrigerator to use as “glue” when assembling turkey breast and head.

Line a large mixing bowl with plastic wrap; let the wrap extend up and over the sides of the bowl. Press the cream cheese mixture into the bowl using the plastic wrap to help form a ball.

Cover the cheese ball with the wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble turkey.

Turkey Head and Body


Romaine lettuce to cover large platter

4 large carrots cut into feathers (cut carrots into planks and slice into “V” shape for tail feathers)

2 seedless cucumbers cut into planks

2 yellow squash (don NOT peel; cut into planks)

1 bag of cut-up cauliflower

1 bunch parsley

1 each red, green, yellow, and orange peppers cut into strips (set aside a small piece of yellow or orange for the beak)

2 bunches of green onions

Celery stalks cut into sticks

16 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 large bunch of radishes, sliced

1 large radish for turkey’s head

2 whole black peppercorns

2 sundried tomatoes for the waddle

2 pounds of your favorite cheese cut into squares

1 three-ounce package of cream cheese, softened


Arrange lettuce leaves to cover entire surface of platter.

Place base of turkey (cheese ball) on the platter and add carrot and cucumber feathers to it. Slightly overlap the carrot planks with a row of seedless cucumber planks.

Add yellow squash, cauliflower, and parsley to base of turkey.

Place the green onions and half of the celery sticks from center to outer edge to create the effect of the turkey fluffing out its feathers.

Add cut-up pepper strips over the top of the white part of the onions.

At the front of the platter stack cheese squares and any remaining veggies on the tray.

Use radishes to fill the gaps between the cheese ball and veggies.

Apply a small amount of the plain cream cheese to each mushroom slice and apply slices to cover the cheese ball.

Cover the backs of the sun dried tomato slices with cream cheese and arrange to create a waddle.

Use whole radish for turkey’s head.

Place a dot of cream cheese on each peppercorn and attach as turkey’s eyes.

Add small piece of reserved yellow or orange pepper to the radish head as a beak.

Serve as part of Thanksgiving buffet.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.