30 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes to Save Time & Stress (2024)

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There are some dishes that have be made on Thanksgiving day. Turkey cannot be roasted—or deep fried—ahead of time, mashed potatoes will not stay fluffy, and Pot-Stuck Brussels Sprouts will not remain crisp.

But to help you deal with the stress of the holiday and keep everything running smoothly, we've compiled a list of recipes that can be made (or their components prepared) a day, a couple of days, or even a week ahead of time. Our list includes salads and stuffing (yes, you can make Thanksgiving sides before the big day) as well as breads (that last in the freezer for up to five months) and batchable co*cktails.

So take a deep breath: Thanksgiving just got a whole lot easier.

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The DayBefore

1. Northern Spy's Kale Salad

According to our resident Genius, Kristen Miglore, this squash-studded kale salad actually tastes better when you prep all the ingredients the day before and toss the dressing in just before you're ready to serve.

Northern Spy's Kale Salad

2. Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie

Consider dessert solved by making this chocolatey, toasty pecan pie drizzled in salted caramel the day before the holiday madness.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie

3.

Feel free to whip up this vegetarian-friendly stuffing the day before and store it covered in the fridge. Just make sure to let it come up to room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour before heating it up in the oven.

4. Angel Corn

This creamy, golden-brown corn casserole is sure to be a hit at any Thanksgiving table. Best part: make and bake the whole thing the day before, then on the day of, let it come up to room temperature and reheat at 350F° for 20 or 30 minutes.

Angel Corn

5.

Assemble this light and herby carrot and potato gratin from our co-founder, Merrill Stubbs, the night before the big day then simply heat it up in the oven just before you want it to hit the table.

Carrot and Potato Gratin with Parmesan and Thyme

6. Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These season-ready pumpkin chocolate chip won't lose their chewy softness if you bake them the night before and store them in an airtight container. Another option: Make the batter a day ahead and pop them in the oven as guests arrive to fill your kitchen with that inviting cookie aroma.

Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

7. Carrot and Radicchio Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

You'll have one less thing to worry about on Thanksgiving day if you assemble all the parts of this fall-inspired salad the day before, from roasting the carrots and toasting the pistachios to mixing up the fig-y balsamic vinaigrette.

Carrot and Radicchio Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

8. Moroccan Carrot Salad With Harissa

“[This is] one of those dishes that really wakes up your tongue: the garlic keeps on giving (in the best possible way); the harissa lends both sweetness and heat (you can control the latter by choosing a milder or more spicy harissa); and the perfume of the preserved lemon lingers after each bite,” writes our Editors. “And yes, it is even better the next day.”

Moroccan carrot salad with Harissa

9. Apple Rye Moonshine Punch

This easy party drink tastes like fall. To make ahead, combine the rye, bitters, and apple cider and then place in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, add the hard cider to the mixture and pour over ice.

Apple Rye Moonshine Punch

10. Deviled Eggs, Purgatory Edition

These eggs swap mayo for greek yogurt, a change that adds that depth, tang, and levity to the classic hors d'oeuvres. For best results, make the eggs and yogurt-filling a day in advance, then—using a homemade piping bag—combine them hours before serving.

Deviled Eggs, Purgatory Edition

11. Sesame Boulevardier

Similar to the apple rye punch, you can batch John deBary’s fall-inspired Boulevardier days in advance of serving. Developed as a digestif-style, palate-cleansing co*cktail, this drink is best enjoyed during the gap between savory and sweet courses.

Sesame Boulevardier

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A Few DaysAhead

12. Chevre Devils

The spicy candied pecans you need to complete this appetizer-ready recipe can actually be prepped a few days ahead and stored in an airtight container until you're ready to assemble your spread.

Chevre Devils

13. Homemade Cranberry Jelly, In a Can

Skip the store-bought cranberry sauce this year and make this homemade version (still in a can!) that you can make days ahead of time.

Homemade Cranberry Jelly, in a Can (or Pan)

14. Sour Cream Dinner Rolls

You can bake these lightly tangy dinner rolls just a few minutes before the point of golden perfection, let them cool, wrap them tightly, and store them in the freezer. On Thanksgiving morning, pull them out of the freezer to come up to room temperature and reheat for 10 or 12 minutes in the oven.

Sour Cream Dinner Rolls

15. Leek and Greens Tart with Cornmeal Crust

You can prep the dough and filling for this creamy-cozy tart a few days ahead of time and assemble the day of.

Leek and Greens Tart with Cornmeal Crust

16. Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

Make this easy-yet-impressive applesauce cake two or three days ahead of time—just wait to glaze the cake until a few hours before you're ready to serve.

Applesauce Cake With Caramel Glaze

17. Homemade Green Bean Casserole

Assemble the greens beans and creamy mushroom dressing separately a few days ahead of time. Combine them on Thanksgiving day and bake the whole thing with crispy fried onions.

Homemade Green Bean Casserole

18. Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Sherry

Nothing says fall like this creamy butternut squash soup seasoned with cozy nutmeg and a splash of sherry. Whip up a big batch a few days before Thanksgiving dinner and simply reheat over the stove before serving.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Sherry

19. Everything Sheet Tray Crackers

These simple crackers dusted in addictive everything-bagel seasoning get even simpler when you use a sheet pan. Bake a batch a few days before and store them in airtight containers for Thanksgiving nibbles and dips.

Everything Sheet Tray Crackers

20. Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

This recipe requires a bit of advanced planning, but the extra effort becomes well worth it when you realize how much flavor this gravy brings to the table (even though you made it in advance).

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

21. Turmeric Tahini Dressing

Mix up this unfussy, but totally packed-with-flavor salad dressing up to five days before the holiday and store it in the fridge. Just give it a good shake before tossing it with your favorite salad!

Turmeric Tahini Dressing

5 Days Ahead (orMore!)

22. Little Mushroom Pinwheels

Our favorite part about these little mushroom pinwheels (aside from their supreme snackiness): you can stash 'em in the freezer until they're ready to bake.

Little Mushroom Pinwheels

23.

Recipe developer Alexandra Stafford recommends freezing this simple, hearty stuffing before cooking it straight from the freezer.

24. Tuscan Onion Confit

This sweet-and-sour onion confit, perfect for a charcuterie spread or dolloping over slices of roast turkey, will last in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Tuscan Onion Confit

25. Cardamom Currant Snickerdoodles

Classic snickerdoodles get a cardamom-infused update with a dash of the spice in the batter and the sugary coating. Chill the pre-scooped cookie dough balls in the fridge before tossing them in the freezer, where they'll last for up to three months.

Cardamom Currant Snickerdoodles

26. Cook's Illustrated's Foolproof Pie Crust

This foolproof pie crust has a secret ingredient that makes it more tender and flaky than all the rest—it doesn't hurt that you can make it ahead and freeze it, either.

Cook's Country Pie Crust

27. Apple Peel Bourbon

Instead of whipping up individual co*cktails on the fly, make a few jars'-worth of apple peel-infused bourbon, which tastes great with little more than lime and a splash of ginger beer.

Apple Peel Bourbon

28. No-Churn Pumpkin Ice Cream

Up the pumpkin ante this fall with this couldn't-be-easier no-churn pumpkin ice cream that'll keep in the freezer long after the holidays are over.

No-Churn Pumpkin Ice Cream

29. Gingered Cranberry Fig Chutney

“I made this chutney for the first time for Thanksgiving 2014, a week in advance, and it's divine!” writes Community Member marsiamarsia. “My grown son said he's never been fond of cranberry sauce of any sort, but that this was fantastic.”

Gingered Cranberry Fig Chutney

30. Brown Butter and Butternut Loaf

Rich, nutty, and deeply warming, this butternut loaf pleasantly combines notes of pumpkin and butterscotch to create the ultimate fall bread. While delicious fresh out of the oven, you can also tightly wrap and freeze it months in advance.

Brown Butter and Butternut Loaf

This article was updated in August 2023 to include more of our favorite recipes.

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How do you get ahead of Thanksgiving cooking? Let us know in the comments below!
30 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes to Save Time & Stress (2024)

FAQs

What Thanksgiving dishes can be made ahead of time? ›

Get a head start on all the classics—like green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and corn casserole—so you can breathe easier on the big day. Another example is stuffing. Most stuffing recipes want to be made of stale, crunchy bread that can soak up all the yummy flavors without getting soggy.

How do you simplify Thanksgiving? ›

Tips To Simplify Thanksgiving Entertaining
  1. Pick the menu early. Don't leave menu planning and shopping to the last minute. ...
  2. Brine your bird. Turkey is the centerpiece of the feast, so give it every opportunity to shine. ...
  3. Start prep work a few days before Thanksgiving. ...
  4. Serve batched co*cktails. ...
  5. Create simple centerpieces.
Nov 1, 2023

Can you prepare uncooked stuffing ahead of time and refrigerate? ›

If you don't plan on stuffing the bird, but preparing the dressing as a side dish, you can prepare uncooked stuffing ahead of time as long as you freeze the stuffing immediately after mixing the wet and dry ingredients. USDA recommends that you never refrigerate uncooked stuffing.

Is it OK to make stuffing a day ahead of time? ›

No matter where you fall, getting a head start on what can be prepared before the big day is essential. One question that always crops up: Can you make stuffing ahead of time? The short answer to whether you can making stuffing ahead of time is yes.

How can I make Thanksgiving less stressful? ›

Here a few ways to keep stress at a minimum:
  1. Ask for help. Divide and conquer your to-do list with the help of family member or guests. ...
  2. Take a deep breath. Practice deep breathing. ...
  3. Enjoy the atmosphere. ...
  4. Make time for a turkey trot. ...
  5. Keep the meal manageable. ...
  6. Don't beat yourself up.

Can you make stuffing ahead of time and reheat? ›

Can you prepare stuffing ahead of time and reheat? YES! This stuffing is baked to golden perfection the day before the big meal. You store it in the fridge overnight and then simply warm it in the oven before dinner.

What is one thing you can do to make Thanksgiving a day for your family to be thankful for? ›

Make a family contribution

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and count your blessings. One way to show gratitude is by helping others. Pool your money together for an annual contribution to a cause of your choice or simply ask dinner guests to come with canned goods and donate them to a local shelter.

What is the least favorite dish for Thanksgiving? ›

"For the third year in a row, cranberry sauce takes first place as the most disliked traditional Thanksgiving food. Over 31% of respondents, 82 million American adults, do not want cranberry sauce for their Thanksgiving dinner.

How many side dishes should you have for Thanksgiving? ›

How many dishes should I serve with the turkey? For 4 people, choose 1-2 appetizers and 3 sides. For 8 people, choose 1-3 appetizers and 3 sides. For 16 people, choose 2-3 appetizers and 3 or more sides.

How do you make a Thanksgiving schedule? ›

Thanksgiving Schedule
  1. 10 DAYS BEFORE. Make a master shopping list. ...
  2. 6 DAYS BEFORE. Defrost frozen turkey in the refrigerator. ...
  3. 5 DAYS BEFORE. Make items that will freeze well. ...
  4. 3 DAYS BEFORE. Do your final shopping. ...
  5. 2 DAYS BEFORE. ...
  6. 1 DAY BEFORE.

Can Thanksgiving turkey be made ahead of time? ›

It's easy: Simply cook it a day or two in advance, let it cool completely, then carve the bird into large pieces—breasts, wings, thighs and drumsticks. Store in a container in the refrigerator until the big day. This method actually result in juicier meat—and an infinitely more relaxed host.

Is it OK to make cornbread dressing ahead of time? ›

A great make-ahead recipe: You can make this Thanksgiving side dish up to a day in advance, and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to bake it. The leftovers are good for up to 4 days so you can enjoy leftover cornbread dressing with your turkey leftovers the next day.

Can you cook turkey day before and reheat? ›

When serving your turkey the next day, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline advises that cooked turkey may be eaten cold or reheated. To reheat your turkey, USDA gives the following recommendations: In the Oven: Set the oven temperature no lower than 325°F.

Can you prep mashed potatoes ahead of time? ›

Make-ahead mashed potatoes are a great option for the holidays. You can do nearly everything — boil, peel, and mash; stir in milk and salt — up to two days ahead. Before serving, reheat. Adding butter at the last minute makes them taste freshly mashed.

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