Make-Ahead Holiday Side Dishes

Preparing side dishes shouldn't be stressful. Make-ahead methods and shortcut ingredients make easy work of these delicious recipes, including stuffing, cranberry sauce, and salads. Whether you're prepping for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's, these side-dish recipes will help you get an early start on your holiday cooking.

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  • 1 of 47

    Make-Ahead Herb Buttered Mashed Potatoes

    The secret to tasty potatoes? Homemade herb butter, which makes these spuds extra creamy and flavorful. It's oh-so-easy to whip together -- just stir oregano, parsley, and thyme into softened butter. To make ahead, chill the herb butter up to 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.

  • 2 of 47

    Make-Ahead Butternut Squash Gratin

    For a hearty Thanksgiving side dish, look no further than this sweet casserole. The combination of creamy spinach and butternut squash is deliciously healthy, and a topping of finely shredded Parmesan adds a cheesy finish. Cover and chill up to 8 hours before serving.

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    Bacon-Topped Green Bean Casserole

    Everything is better with bacon, including the classic green bean casserole. Chill this easy vegetable side dish up to 24 hours in advance of your holiday dinner.

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  • 4 of 47

    How to Cook Green Beans

    Green beans are a versatile side veggie perfect for sauteing or tossing in a casserole. Learn the best method for cooking and serving your favorite Christmas side dish.

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    Make-Ahead Pepper and Basil Tortellini Soup

    Tomatoes and sweet peppers simmered alongside three-cheese tortellini create a hearty soup for colder months. Fresh basil and grated Parmesan increase the flavor in this holiday comfort food. The ingredients for this soup can be frozen up to 1 month before making.

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    Carrot-Mushroom Stuffing

    Make this stuffing up to 24 hours before your Thanksgiving feast. Green onions and carrots give this traditional dressing a colorful crunch, while fresh rosemary and shiitake mushrooms add a seasonal taste.

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    Two-Pea Soup with Pork

    Tender pork hocks offer a smoky, melt-in-your-mouth flavor to this upgraded pea soup. Split peas and green peas double the sweetness while fresh Italian parsley ties the holiday dish together. Store the soup and shredded pork in separate containers for up to 2 months.

  • 8 of 47

    Farro and Pine Nut Tabbouleh

    A tabbouleh salad provides simple sophistication to your holiday dinner. Toasted pine nuts meet cooked farro, cucumber, and red onion for a refreshing feta-topped dish. Cover and chill this salad up to 6 hours before serving.

  • 9 of 47

    Make-Ahead Dilled Onion Cheese Balls

    A cheese ball adds festive flavor to every holiday gathering! Cream cheese and Gouda coated with finely snipped chives or crumbled bacon will fit your Christmas theme effortlessly. The balls freeze for up to 3 months.

  • 10 of 47

    Skillet Scalloped Corn

    This creamy, quick, and easy Thanksgiving side dish is made with Swiss cheese and red sweet peppers for a colorful spin on the favorite autumn vegetable. Just mix all the ingredients ahead of time, then cover and chill for up to 48 hours.

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  • 11 of 47

    Candied Sweet Potato Casserole with Parsnips and Carrots

    The veggies in this holiday side dish get a dose of butter, cream, and sugary marshmallow for the sake of indulgence. Assemble this sweet potato recipe the night before, then simply top with marshmallows and bake to serve.

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    Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Gouda and Crispy Pancetta

    Hold on to your hats: Here's the ultimate mashed potatoes recipe! We combine red and russet potatoes with a little green onion, plenty of salty pancetta, and lots of cheese. There's no way you'll stop at one scoop. Cook the side dish a day in advance and warm it up to serve.

  • 13 of 47

    Cranberry-Lime Relish

    If you like a little tart and a little tang, this is your cranberry sauce! And if you really like getting a head start, this is the only cranberry sauce for you. The cranberry-lime combo can be made and stored for up to a week.

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    Twice-Baked Pesto Mashed Potatoes

    Mmm, mmm! No one will be able to resist this holiday potato recipe. Pesto, cheese, and toasty pine nuts will lure your guests to the table. With only 5 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and a tip for making the potatoes 24 hours ahead, these side-dish spuds couldn't be easier.

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    Oysters Rockefeller Sourdough Stuffing

    Here's a stuffing recipe that'll impress even the most sophisticated holiday guests. Sourdough bread cubes, chopped oysters, salty bacon, and garlic meld to create a mouthwatering side-dish recipe for the holidays. Make and chill this stuffing for up to 24 hours to cut down on day-of food prep.

  • 16 of 47

    Blue Cheese and Pine Nut Puffs

    Say good-bye to boring dinner rolls. These fluffy cheese-filled puffs are the perfect complement to your favorite holiday recipes. Savory Roquefort and Gruyere cheeses add sharp flavor to each bite, and the puffs can be made up to a month ahead of time.

  • 17 of 47

    Winter Slaw with Kale and Cabbage

    Try a modern twist on the summer potluck classic with this side-dish slaw that's brimming with wintry veggies. Kale and a mix of cabbages tossed in a creamy, herb-infused sauce make this vegetable recipe one that's sure to be devoured.

  • 18 of 47

    Healthy Make-Ahead: Brown Rice

    Watch this clever technique to cook brown rice in advance to add to any recipe calling for cooked rice.

  • 19 of 47

    Homemade Green Bean Casserole

    Every holiday menu should include a green bean casserole side dish. Our make-ahead version features mushrooms, herbed cheese, and splash of white wine, and can be made and chilled 24 hours ahead.

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    Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

    This six-ingredient side dish features cranberry relish, dried cranberries, and walnuts, and will be a hit with your holiday guests. Make and fill the stuffed spuds the day before serving, then bake just before dinnertime.

  • 21 of 47

    Fresh Citrus and Cranberry Salad

    We added a refreshing kick of mint and ginger to an arugula salad, then topped it with chopped fresh cranberries. You can prepare the salad up to 2 days in advance. When you're ready to eat, all you need to do is add the dressing.

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  • 22 of 47

    Squash, Mushroom, and Farro Dressing

    No holiday menu is complete without the dressing! This side-dish recipe is full of cold-weather favorites -- butternut squash, farro, rosemary, and pancetta -- and can be made 24 hours in advance.

  • 23 of 47

    Herb- and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms

    Taste the lighter side of the holidays with a batch of so-easy stuffed mushroom caps. Light goat cheese helps keep the calorie count to just 56 per serving, and you'll love the slight zip from the fresh chives. Prep the mushrooms and filling a day in advance so you'll only need 15 minutes to get this holiday recipe on the table.

  • 24 of 47

    Herbed Potato Salad

    Classic potato salad is all dressed up and ready to party. Tiny red potatoes get fresh flavor from green onion and snipped tarragon, and the light Dijon-mayonnaise sauce adds flavor without all the calories. Pop the potato salad into the fridge up to 4 hours before serving time.

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    Olive Bread Stuffing with Fennel

    Fresh herbs, fennel, and two kinds of mushrooms put an Italian-inspired spin on this traditional holiday stuffing recipe. You can mix it up and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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    Skip the Store-Bought Stuffing: Homemade in Three Easy Steps

    Homemade bread cubes are the secret to delicious stuffing. Learn how to make your own in three simple steps!

  • 27 of 47

    Mashed Potatoes with Savory Thyme Granola

    Pumpkin seeds give these creamy potatoes a fresh fall feel, while a splash of Worcestershire sauce adds bold flavor. To make ahead, prepare the crunchy granola mixture up to 1 week before your guests arrive.

  • 28 of 47

    Overnight Refrigerator Rolls

    What's better than warm, buttery dinner rolls? A batch you can prepare the night before. This oh-so-easy dinner roll recipe calls for a standard baking pan and requires only 12 minutes in the oven.

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  • 29 of 47

    Glazed Carrots with Pistachios

    A thyme and brown sugar glaze and crunchy toasted pistachios add just the right amount of savory and sweet flavor to this quick and easy side dish. To make ahead, cook the carrots and toast the pistachios the day before, then glaze and reheat before serving.

  • 30 of 47

    Easy Parmesan-Fennel Rolls

    This five-ingredient bread recipe starts with purchased dough, so just add spices and cheese to create a holiday-worthy bread recipe. You can even use our tip to make and store the rolls for up to 3 days before serving.

  • 31 of 47

    Cranberry-Fig Relish

    Our relish contains a sweet berry flavor that pairs wonderfully when blended with citrus-orange marmalade. You can freeze this delish relish for up to 6 months in advance of your holiday meal! Add mint leaves for extra freshness.

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    Gingered Fruit Compote

    The prep work for this colorful fruit salad takes just 20 minutes. Start it in the morning and store it in the fridge for up to 6 hours for a great make-ahead dish.

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    Rustic Garlic Mashed Potatoes

    Whip up a batch of these fluffy garlic mashed potatoes for a dozen guests in no time flat -- they cook for 8 hours in a slow cooker after just 25 minutes of prep work.

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    Sweet Potatoes with Toasted Pecans

    Toasted pecans and sticky-sweet marshmallows top creamy whipped sweet potatoes. The result? A sweet, classic holiday side dish. This one can be made a day ahead.

  • 35 of 47

    Green Beans with Shallots, Thyme, and Shiitake Mushrooms

    We start this green bean recipe with fresh -- not canned -- beans and finish with bursts of lemon and crispy fried shallots for a make-ahead side dish full of in-season flavors.

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    Paella-Style Stuffing

    This make-and-chill stuffing recipe has the expected bread cubes, onion, and celery, but kicks things up with the addition of chorizo and green olives. Serve it alongside a classic stuffing recipe and see which disappears first.

  • 37 of 47

    Bacon and Cracked Pepper Biscuits

    If you're serious in your make-ahead meal planning, this is the bread recipe for you. The cheesy, peppery biscuits can be made and frozen for up to 2 months. Simply pop them into the oven for a few minutes, and you'll have warm bread ready to serve.

  • 38 of 47

    Cranberry-Orange Spread

    Step away from the canned cranberry sauce. This zesty citrus-infused spread is made with five simple ingredients, including real cranberries and a splash of orange juice. It's delicious as a stand-in for classic dressing or served on bread or crackers. Bonus: This cranberry sauce can be made and chilled for 2 weeks before the big meal.

    To make ahead: Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.

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    Chunky Applesauce

    Make this simple applesauce up to 3 weeks ahead of time or in your slow cooker. Fresh thyme sprigs add a touch of sophistication.

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    Corn Bread

    Easy to make and marvelous to eat, this moist corn bread makes a stellar side for any holiday meal. Plus, it includes ingredients you'll likely have in your pantry and can be made and frozen for up to 1 month.

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    Wild Rice Dressing

    Bring the best of the harvest to your table with this better-for-you dressing recipe. Toss together crunchy wild rice, tart cherries, and veggies, and save time by adding everything to the casserole dish beforehand. Chill for up to 24 hours, then toss it into the oven when you're ready to serve.

  • 42 of 47

    Make-Ahead Apple, Bacon, and Onion Stuffing Muffins

    These unique muffins are easy to transport, making them an ideal potluck recipe and a fun twist on traditional stuffing. Plus you can make and chill them, then just reheat for a warm, savory side.

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  • 43 of 47

    Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled Prosciutto

    Even kids won't be able to resist this flavorful Brussels sprouts side dish. The crisp, savory prosciutto pieces are a delicious contrast to the tender veggies. To ensure golden caramelization and crispy prosciutto, precook the sprouts and finish off the second half of the recipe the day of the meal. Brilliant!

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    Sweet Potato Salad

    Make this potluck-perfect salad (it serves up to 20) the night before; it goes in the fridge for up to 24 hours before party time.

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    Pickled Dilled Green Beans

    Cayenne pepper, pickling salt, fresh dill, and garlic add delicious flavor to this simple green bean side dish. This easy side can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks before serving.

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    Butterhead Salad with Smoky Ranch

    This tasty holiday salad takes just 20 minutes to make from start to finish; prep the dressing a few hours in advance and store in the fridge for an almost-instant side dish.

  • Next Slideshow Crowd-Pleasing Holiday Casserole Recipes

    Crowd-Pleasing Holiday Casserole Recipes

    Beat the chaos of the holidays with a delicious, hearty casserole recipe (or two). Casseroles are easy to make ahead, and you can save the leftovers for dinner the next day. We've picked our favorite cozy casseroles so there's something for everyone, including cheesy pasta bakes, classic tuna casserole, and green bean creations.
    Begin Slideshow »

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