24 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes That'll Save You Time on the Big Day (2024)

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time filled with friends, family, and feasting—and a lot of cooking. So much cooking, and often only one oven in which to do it all. So, how to do it all? Planning.

Making some dishes in advance will take the pressure off pacing and allow you to be present and enjoy the holiday. Luckily, nearly every element of the meal (aside from the turkey) can be made days ahead and chilled or frozen. Whether you are the sole chef de cuisine or contributing to a potluck, these make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes come to the rescue.

Be sure to map out which make-ahead dishes will require heating, so you know you have stovetop or oven space.

24 Easy Thanksgiving Appetizers (That Leave You Plenty of Time for Holiday Meal Prep)

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Sweet Potato Mash

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Sweet potatoes are luscious and creamy on their own, so they don’t even need milk or cream when mashed, just a few tablespoons of butter. This makes them even easier to reheat, since there’s no risk of curdling the dairy. If they are too thick when you reheat, add a bit of water and/or a drizzle of olive oil to loosen them up.

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Juniper-and-Gin Gravlax

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Gravlax makes any occasion special, and homemade gravlax takes Thanksgiving snack platters to a whole new level. This one has subtle floral flavors, thanks to the gin and juniper berries. The salmon needs three days to cure, so it’s a perfect make-ahead appetizer for the holidays.

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Twice-Baked Potato-and-Raclette Casserole

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This rich, dense potato casserole is inspired by the flavors of fondue—luscious mashed potatoes are mixed with melty raclette, cream cheese and sour cream. They’re super moist and creamy, so they can easily be reheated before topping with crispy potato skins and fresh chives.

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Citrus-Glazed Pumpkin-Carrot Cake

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Both the pumpkin and fresh carrots in this batter keep the cake nice and moist, making it the ideal make-ahead holiday dessert. Drizzle on the tangy citrus glaze a few hours before you plan to serve dessert.

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05of 24

Herb-Cheese Palmiers

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Greet your holiday guests with these flaky elephant ears. Each layer of puff pastry is coated with cheddar, parmesan, and fresh seasonal herbs. They’re best served at room temperature, so make them ahead to clear out some oven space on the big day.

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Easy Pie Crust

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It's just not Thanksgiving without pie! You can make and freeze pie crusts up to a month in advance so that putting together your favorite pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies for the big day will be a snap.

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Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce

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Fresh cranberries, sugar, and orange zest and juice make a simple, deeply flavored cranberry sauce. Stored in an airtight container, this sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a week.

  • Get our Other Cranberry Sauce Recipes

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Dinner Rolls

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These moist, tender dinner rolls are rich with eggs and butter. Once the dough is shaped, it can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to two months before Thanksgiving. When ready to bake, simply add two hours to the second rising.

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20 Thanksgiving Recipes That Are Perfect for Feeding a Crowd

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Gingery Beet Soup

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Warming ginger adds tingling heat to this velvety and festive red soup. It needs only a final flourishing swirl of tangy yogurt before serving.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Two popular favorites—pumpkin pie and cheesecake—are rolled into one delightful dessert. Cheesecake keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, and it also freezes nicely. To thaw, simply place it in the refrigerator 24 hours before you wish to serve it.

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White Wine Gravy

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No need to wait for the turkey to come out of the oven before making this gravy. It relies on store-bought chicken broth and white wine for its rich, savory flavor. Refrigerate the gravy in an airtight container for up to three days, and warm in the microwave just before serving.

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Tamari-and-Maple-Roasted Almonds

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Tamari is similar to soy sauce, with a richer, softer flavor. Mixing it with maple syrup creates an irresistible sweet-savory glaze for roasted almonds in this easy, make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer. Once cooled, store the almonds in an airtight container for up to a week.

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Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

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Roasted cauliflower, Romanesca, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts get a sophisticated finish from a pomegranate vinaigrette and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. Wash and trim the vegetables, and make the vinaigrette, up to two days in advance.

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Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

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  • This sage-seasoned cornbread and sausage stuffing gets a creamy texture from the addition of eggs. It can be assembled and refrigerated, baked or unbaked, for two days.

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Classic Stuffing

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Luxurious Mashed Potatoes

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Generous doses of butter and cream make these mashed potatoes suited to a special occasion. Make them a day in advance and refrigerate in a baking dish. Twenty minutes before serving, cover the dish with foil and heat in the oven at 350 degrees.

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Sausage-Stuffed Onions

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These crowd-pleasing and succulent stuffed onions can be made and chilled a day ahead. Thirty minutes before serving add the cheese topping and bake to heat through.

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Marinated Mushrooms

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Marinated in lemon juice, white-wine vinegar, fresh oregano, and olive oil, these mushrooms taste even better when made a few days before serving. Serve this easy appetizer with olives and a selection of cheeses.

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Cranberry-Poached Pears

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Refrigerated in their poaching liquid, these cranberry-kissed pears will keep for up to three days. Serve them with crème fraîche or cinnamon ice cream for a refreshing Thanksgiving dessert.

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Sweet Potato and Sage-Butter Casserole

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In this Thanksgiving side dish, mashed Yukon gold and sweet potatoes are enriched with sage-infused butter and milk and then baked under a topping of crisp breadcrumbs. Make the potato mixture two days in advance and add the breadcrumbs just before baking.

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Shredded Brussels-Sprout Salad with Hazelnut Crunch

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A make-ahead salad—yes, really! This crunchy Brussels sprout salad can be prepped one to two days ahead. The delicious hazelnut crunch can be made and stored in an airtight container and the Brussels washed, chopped, and stored in resealable plastic bags. Toss the salad and top with the crunch while the turkey is resting.

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Potato and Mushroom Pie

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As a substantial side or stand-alone dish this impressive pie is filled with seasonal mushrooms, hearty potatoes, and the best cheeses. It can be made a day ahead, and heated before serving.

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Lemon Vinaigrette

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This versatile, bright-tasting lemon and olive oil vinaigrette will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Use it to dress up Thanksgiving side dishes like sautéed green beans, Brussels sprouts, spinach, or salad greens garnished with dried cherries and toasted hazelnuts.

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Cauliflower Gratin

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Tender cauliflower is surrounded by Gruyère cheese sauce under a crunchy coat of breadcrumbs in this make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish. Make the cauliflower and cheese sauce mixture up to two days in advance; top with breadcrumbs just before baking.

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Picholine Olives with Roasted Garlic and Red Onion

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Olives are bathed in a mixture of olive oil, roasted garlic, champagne vinegar, red onion, bay leaves, and cracked peppercorns. Prepare this easy, make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer up to a week in advance and bring back to room temperature just before serving.

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24 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes That'll Save You Time on the Big Day (2024)

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