21 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes (2024)

Home Recipes Cooking Style Make-Ahead

21 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes (1)Alyssa AsaroUpdated: Feb. 05, 2024

    These make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes—including turkey and all the trimmings—can be made the night before (or even earlier!) to help ease the holiday rush.

    Thanksgiving day moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. While Ferris Bueller might not be a Thanksgiving movie, we all know the familiar feeling of getting so wrapped up in prep work that we miss out on the day itself.

    So why not spare yourself some stress with these make-ahead recipes? Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, side dishes and desserts can be made ahead of time. And for that, we’re grateful.

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    Herb-Brined Turkey

    For an impressive make-ahead Thanksgiving main course, look here. The moist, flavorful bird will have guests counting the minutes until carving time. — Scott Rugh, Portland, Oregon. If you’re looking for more recipes, then check out our collection of easy Thanksgiving recipes.

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    Maple Walnut Cake

    This maple-flavored cake with candied walnuts honors beloved my grandpa, who made maple syrup when I was a child. It honors his memory and has proven to be a favorite with family and friends throughout the years. —Lori Fee, Middlesex, New York

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    Taste of Home

    Moist Corn Spoon Bread

    Enjoy this easy take on a southern specialty that utilizes the convenience of a slow cooker. It’s an excellent make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish for your feast. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen

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    Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream Puffs

    This extraordinary dessert showcases homemade pumpkin ice cream and cream puffs. The effort is worthwhile…and you can make the parts ahead of time for easy assembly later. —Richard Lasher, Stuarts Draft, Virginia

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    Taste of Home

    Gruyere and Crab Palmiers

    I keep these little bursts of flavor in my freezer so they can be pulled out and popped into the oven at a moment’s notice. Crab, pancetta and Gruyere make an elegant make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer, and you can make your own variations of the filling. Try chicken and pesto, or a Mediterranean version with spinach and feta. —Grace Voltolina, Westport, Connecticut

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    Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

    My family loves gravy, so I can never have enough of this make-ahead turkey gravy recipe on hand for a holiday dinner. The base is prepared with turkey wings and can be prepped in advance. —Linda Fitzsimmons, Fort Edward, New York

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    Make-Ahead Creamy Potatoes

    For the holidays, I usually serve the traditional foods with a new spin or two on family favorites. I put together these creamy potatoes the night before and simply bake the day of to save precious holiday time. —Wendy Ball, Battle Creek, Michigan. Next, check out our collection of Thanksgiving recipes for two.

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    Taste of Home

    Jazzed-Up Green Bean Casserole

    After trying many variations of this old standby, I decided to give it a little kick. The crunchy texture from the veggies combines with bacon and melt-in-your-mouth cheese to make this dish a hit at any holiday get-together. —Stephan-Scott Rugh, Portland, Oregon

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    Easy Potato Rolls

    After I discovered this recipe, it became a mainstay for me. I make the dough ahead of time when company is coming, and I try to keep some in the refrigerator to bake for our ranch hands. Leftover mashed potatoes are almost sure to go into these rolls. —Jeanette McKinney, Belleview, Missouri

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    Old-Fashioned Dressing

    Remember Grandma's delicious turkey dressing? Taste it again combined with flavorful herbs and crisp veggies in this family-favorite dressing. You'll love the fact you can make it in your slow cooker. —Sherry Vink, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada


    Cranberry-Apple Red Cabbage

    When I was looking for something new, I started playing with flavors and came up with this very tasty dish. My German grandmother would be impressed, I think! The colorful side dish is just right with pork. —Ann Sheehy, Lawrence, Massachusetts

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    Taste of Home

    Slow-Cooker Marinated Mushrooms

    Here's a healthy and delicious addition to any buffet spread. Mushrooms and pearl onions seasoned with herbs, balsamic vinegar and red wine are terrific on their own or alongside a tenderloin roast. —Courtney Wilson, Fresno, California

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    Holiday Rice Salad

    It’s nice to prepare a cold salad like this when entertaining because it can be made ahead and doesn’t take up valuable oven space. —Debra Walter, Huntington Woods, Michigan

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    Make-Ahead Turkey and Gravy

    Ease the holiday time crunch with a make-ahead turkey recipe that’s ready to serve when you are. It’s a great choice for potlucks, too. —Marie Parker, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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    Winter Fruit Macaroons

    Coconut macaroons with sweetened condensed milk instead of egg whites are my version of a recipe my mom loved. All you do is mix, drop and bake. —Veronica Miller, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania

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    Autumn Bisque

    I like cozy comfort soups that taste creamy—without the cream. This one’s full of good stuff like rutabagas, leeks, fresh herbs and almond milk. —Merry Graham, Newhall, California

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    Texas Garlic Mashed Potatoes

    These creamy potatoes get their flavor burst from garlic and caramelized onions. Their savory goodness makes any meal better. —Richard Markle, Midlothian, Texas

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    Pureed Butternut Squash Soup

    For several years, we've been enjoying this velvety, healthy soup at Thanksgiving. Butternut squash isn’t the easiest thing to cut into, so I buy mine pre-chopped. —Christen Chalmers, Houston, Texas

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    Moist Poultry Dressing

    Tasty mushrooms and onions complement the big herb flavor in this amazing stuffing. This dressing stays so moist because it’s made in the slow cooker. —Ruth Ann Stelfox, Raymond, Alberta

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    Taste of Home

    Caramel-Pecan Pumpkin Pull-Aparts

    We love sticky buns made with my husband's angel biscuit dough, caramel and pecans. For a twist, try apple butter or applesauce instead of the pumpkin. —Carolyn Kumpe, El Dorado, California

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    Originally Published: November 21, 2022

    21 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes (22)

    Alyssa Asaro

    Alyssa has been with Taste of Home for just over a year, but has been in food and lifestyle publishing since 2018. As an associate editor, she writes and edits recipe collections and runs several newsletters, including Top 10, Slow Cooker & Casseroles, Quick Dinners and Balanced Plate.When she's not planning her next trip overseas, you can find Alyssa trying out new Chicago restaurants or watching a movie.

    21 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes (2024)


    What Thanksgiving dishes can be prepared ahead of time? ›

    How to Prep Your Entire Thanksgiving Meal in Advance
    • Turkey. If cooking and carving the turkey is the most stressful part of your Thanksgiving dinner, do it a day ahead! ...
    • Gravy. ...
    • Mashed Potatoes. ...
    • Stuffing or Dressing. ...
    • Cranberry Sauce. ...
    • Green Bean Casserole or Sweet Potato Casserole. ...
    • Corn Pudding. ...
    • Salads.
    Nov 21, 2022

    What is a good pre Thanksgiving dinner? ›

    Chicken Soup With Charred Cabbage

    Simmering a rotisserie carcass in water with a handful of aromatics gives you a broth that beats boxed chicken stock any day—and only takes about 20 minutes to make. While the broth simmers, char some mushrooms and cabbage to throw in with some shredded chicken.

    How far in advance should you cook for Thanksgiving? ›

    Here's a day-by-day cooking countdown to Thanksgiving.
    • Three Weeks Ahead: Reserve the Bird, Start Shopping, and Freeze Some Pie.
    • Two Weeks Ahead: Menu Plan, Shop, and Make the Cranberry Sauce.
    • One Week Ahead: Make and Freeze Pie Dough, Dinner Rolls, and Stock.

    How to make Thanksgiving turkey the day before? ›

    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.

    Can I cook Thanksgiving sides ahead of time? ›

    Cut down on Thanksgiving Day craziness and free up space in your oven by making some dishes ahead of time. From the Kale Salad with Cranberries to the Easy Scalloped Potatoes, all of these classic Thanksgiving side dishes come with tips to prep them ahead of time.

    What dishes can you make 2 days before Thanksgiving? ›

    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.

    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.

    What should you not forget for Thanksgiving dinner? ›

    Use this list to make sure you're prepared to have the feast you planned for.
    • Sweetened Condensed Milk. A number of tasty desserts rely on this often forgotten item. ...
    • Cranberries or Cranberry Sauce. ...
    • Chicken Stock or Broth. ...
    • Simply Done Containers. ...
    • Foil, Parchment Paper, Pastic Wrap. ...
    • Centerpiece. ...
    • Nuts or Dried Fruit. ...
    • Dinner Rolls.
    Nov 25, 2019

    What do people do the night before Thanksgiving? ›

    The day before Thanksgiving means travel, traffic — and, for many families, takeout. Cooking another meal the night before the impending feast isn't high on many of our priority lists, which explains why the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest pizza nights of the year across the country.

    How many sides 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.

    When should I start the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving? ›

    You can make the mashed potatoes a few hours before dinner, and then keep them warm on the stovetop. When you should start cooking: A couple hours before dinnertime.

    What is the average time to start Thanksgiving dinner? ›

    People eat whenever they like. However, a 'classic' Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey and 'fixings' and all the sides - that takes TIME to prep and cook, so I would say, IN GENERAL (and with a lot of exceptions) that it is TYPICAL for Thanksgiving dinner to be served around 1 or 2 pm. Or sometimes later.

    When should I start cooking Thanksgiving sides? ›

    2-3 days out: Start on your sides and gather your remaining ingredients. Unless you thrive under pressure, start your sides on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. “Start with sides that reheat well,” recommended Smith. “Examples include mashed potatoes, braised greens and green bean casserole.”

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

    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 the day before? ›

    Absolutely. Most Thanksgiving stuffing recipes can be made at least partially in advance since: A) They're easily assembled a day or two ahead of Thanksgiving Day; and B) They're often baked using a two-step process (once covered with foil to cook through, then uncovered to achieve a crispy top).

    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.

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