41 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes To Help You Get A Jump On The Big Day (2024)

41 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes To Help You Get A Jump On The Big Day (1)

If you're ready to host the the smoothest, most chill Thanksgiving dinner ever, listen up! No matter whether you’re hosting your entire family, a small group of friends, or are just cooking for yourself and a partner or roommate, we've got all kinds of make-ahead dishes that are perfect for the Big Day. We know what you're thinking: Is it sacrilege to make mashed potatoes a day early? How early is too early to start thawing the turkey? Can you make gravy ahead without any meaty drippings? We’ve got answers to all your questions and concerns here—41, in fact. Turns out, you can make a TON of Thanksgiving dishes ahead of time—for everything else, there’s usually at least one step you can get a jump on before the big day. Check out our time-saving, make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes for ideas—you’ll be thanking us this year for all the time they save you.

If you’re all about fresh flavor and don’t want to make too much ahead, do yourself a favor and at least make your appetizers and pies the night before. Desserts like pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or apple pie are actually better baked a day ahead, so their fillings have time to set up for a clean slice. Appetizers are also important to have ready to go early so you can fend off hungry guests while you take your time reheating all the mains. Our pumpkin cheese ball, our cranberry brie pull-apart bread, or our turkey cheese ball are sure to keep your guests entertained, no matter how impatient they are for dinner.

Casseroles are another great option for making ahead, because you can assemble them, then put them directly into the oven to bake the next day. 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. You could toast them in the oven, but space is at a premium in there, and you wouldn’t want to risk toasting them too much or too little. Optimum texture is really best achieved through being left out overnight or longer, so plan ahead.

We’ve also included a number of recipes here that MUST be started ahead of time in order to be their best on the big day. Turkey is the best example—no matter whether you’re going with a wet or dry brine or something different altogether, most birds benefit from being paid some attention before Thursday. In the very least, you’re going to want to confirm at least three days before that your bird will be the right temperature when you go to roast it (no one wants to have to deal with an unexpectedly still frozen bird).

Want even more Thanksgiving ideas? Check out our top Thanksgiving co*cktails, our favorite Thanksgiving desserts (that aren’t all pie), and our must-have Thanksgiving side dishes too.

1

Cranberry Sauce

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This sweet-tart sauce is almost as easy as opening up the canned stuff, and you know your Thanksgiving spread deserves better. This is one of the Thanksgiving dishes you can make up to a week in advance. (Bonus: The flavors will meld and deepen while it hangs out in the fridge.)

Get the Cranberry Sauce recipe.

2

Creamed Brussels Sprouts

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We LOVE giving Brussels the traditional Thanksgiving treatment—with plenty of butter, cream, and cheese. To make ahead, simple assemble everything in your baking dish, cover, and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to serve, pop it in the oven until it’s bubbly and lightly golden.

Get the Creamed Brussels Sprouts recipe.

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3

Cranberry Brie Pull-Apart Bread

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Pull-apart bread reaches a whole new level, thanks to brie and cranberry sauce. Using sauce you've already made ahead of time (good on ya!), prep this through step 3, then bake for just 20 minutes before guests arrive.

Get the Cranberry Brie Pull-Apart Bread recipe.

4

Dry Brine Turkey

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The one thing you can do to ensure a bird that stays juicy and doesn't dry out in the oven: Brine it! To properly brine your turkey, you'll want to do it for a minimum of 48 hours, so get started as early as the Monday before the big day!

Get the Dry Brine Turkey recipe.

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5

Butternut Squash Soup

The sweet, squashy flavor that comes from a butternut squash makes it our go-to choice when it comes warming, fall soups. The added creaminess from the blended potatoes, plus the savory herbs, make this a more than welcome addition to your Thanksgiving menu, particularly because it can be made ahead of time.

Get the Butternut Squash Soup recipe.

6

Mashed Potato Casserole

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Mashed potato casserole is the ultimate holiday side dish we’ve all been waiting for. It's creamy, fluffy, and oh so cheesy. Want to make this recipe ahead? Make it entirely, waiting to add the breadcrumb topping, and refrigerate. Proceed with the recipe, but expect around 20 minutes more baking time.

Get the Mashed Potato Casserole recipe.

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7

Pecan Pie

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Nothing screams Thanksgiving more than a classic pecan pie. The craggy, crunchy top gives way to that delicious, rich interior FULL to the brim of nuts. You can also make it ahead of time!

Get the Pecan Pie recipe.

8

Turkey Cheese Ball

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Of all things resembling a turkey, this cheese ball has to be the cutest. We used carrots, pecans, pretzels, and bell peppers to create the iconic look, but feel free to get creative with it. Make the cheeseball itself ahead of time, then add decorations and dippers day-of.

Get the Turkey Cheese Ball recipe.

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9

Salted Caramel Apple Crumble Cake

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Featuring three layers of tender, lightly spiced apple cider cake sandwiched with apple pie filling, buttery crumble, and salted caramel, this apple crumble cake recipe will delight and impress anyone who’s lucky enough to snag a piece.

Get the Salted Caramel Apple Crumble Cake recipe.

10

Sweet Potato Salad

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This sweet potato salad is the perfect way to lighten up any autumnal dinner, and especially your Thanksgiving spread. Feta, dried cranberries, and red onions pair really nicely with the earthy sweetness of the orange super food. Did we mention it's great warm or cold (which means you can make it ahead!)?

Get the Sweet Potato Salad recipe.

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11

Cornbread Dressing

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Homemade cornbread is preferred for this dressing, BUT using boxed-mix or store-bought cornbread is totally okay too, as is assembling this 24 hours before you're ready to bake. As the oven preheats day-of, let it rest and come to room temperature on the counter, then bake.

Get the Cornbread Dressing recipe.

12

Best-Ever Farro Salad

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With pecans, Parm, green apples, and leafy arugula, this salad is hearty and holds up well—AKA a make-ahead dream. It's got ALL the elements you need: sweet, salty, soft, crunchy, fatty, fresh, but feel free to make it your own with your preferred mix-ins too.

Get the Farro Salad recipe.

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13

Sweet Potato Casserole

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To make this classic Thanksgiving side dish ahead, simply prep the casserole up to step 2, then refrigerate until you're ready to bake (we recommend no more than a few days ahead of time). When you're ready to bake, then you can prepare and top with the crumbly topping!

Get the Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.

14

Classic Stuffing

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The key to amazing stuffing is freshly dried bread, not store-bought bread cubes. Let your bread dry out on the counter for about 48 hours or toast them at a very low temperature until dehydrated. You can also assemble this whole dish the night before, then bake off on the big day.

Get the Classic Stuffing recipe.

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15

Cranberry Whipped Feta Dip

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This cranberry-topped whipped feta dip is here to save your holiday appetizer planning. Fresh feta cheese is combined with herbs, garlic, and cream cheese, whipped until super-smooth, then topped with tart homemade cranberry sauce, toasted pistachios, and honey. The result is a salty, creamy, sweet, tart, and absolutely irresistible dip.

Get the Cranberry Whipped Feta Dip recipe.

16

Green Bean Casserole

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Save some time (and oven space) on the busy holiday by making this Thanksgiving side ahead of time. Simply assemble the casserole (EXCEPT for the fried onions), cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you're ready to bake!

Get the Green Bean Casserole recipe.

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17

Apple Pie

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We're being 100% serious when we say this is the BEST apple pie recipe out there. Make it ahead of time so the filling can set in order to achieve perfect slices. If you prefer it warm, simply put it in the oven a few minutes before you'd like to serve dessert.

Get the Apple Pie recipe.

18

Sour Cream & Onion Dip

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Letting the onions caramelize properly is key to the flavor of this dip. Going low and slow allows them to develop color while breaking down and becoming sweet and jammy. It will stay good in the fridge for a few days, so it's great to make ahead of time.

Get the .

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19

Classic Corn Casserole

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This classic Southern side is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. You can also make it ahead of time—simply prep the casserole, wrap in storage wrap, and place in the fridge until you're ready to bake the next day.

Get the Classic Corn Casserole recipe.

20

Funeral Potatoes

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If you'd like to make this casserole ahead of time, assemble up until the Cornflake topping, then cover and refrigerate. When ready to bake, top with the buttery Cornflakes and bake (keep in mind that it might take up to 20 minutes longer to bake—keep an eye on it).

Get the Funeral Potatoes recipe.

41 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes To Help You Get A Jump On The Big Day (2024)

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