Make-Ahead Holiday Side Dishes

Salad with ranch dressing
Preparing holiday 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.

Rustic Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Whip up a batch of these fluffy garlic mashed potatoes for a dozen guests in no time flat -- this make-ahead holiday side dish cooks for 8 hours in a slow cooker after just 25 minutes of prep work.

Bacon-Topped Green Bean Casserole

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

Carrot-Mushroom Stuffing

Make this stuffing up to 24 hours before your holiday feast. Green onions and carrots give this traditional make-ahead side dish a colorful crunch, while fresh rosemary and shiitake mushrooms add a seasonal taste.

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 two months for quick make ahead meals during the busy holiday season.

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, making them the ideal make-ahead Christmas appetizers.

Farro and Pine Nut Tabbouleh

A tabbouleh salad provides simple sophistication to your make-ahead Christmas 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.

Skillet Scalloped Corn

This creamy, quick, and easy make-ahead vegetable 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.

Make-Ahead Butternut Squash Gratin

For a hearty Christmas dinner recipe, 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.

Candied Sweet Potato Casserole with Parsnips and Carrots

The potatoes in this make-ahead vegetable casserole 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.

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 this make-ahead side dish a day in advance and warm it up to serve.

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 side dish. The ingredients for this soup can be frozen up to 1 month before making.

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 holiday side dish can be made and stored for up to a week.

Twice-Baked Pesto Mashed Potatoes

Mmm, mmm! No one will be able to resist this holiday side dish. 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.

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 make-ahead side dish recipe for the holidays. Make and chill this stuffing for up to 24 hours to cut down on day-of food prep.

Blue Cheese and Pine Nut Puffs

Say good-bye to boring dinner rolls. These fluffy cheese-filled puffs are the ideal complement to your favorite holiday recipes -- plus, they're great make-ahead Christmas appetizers for those who can't wait for dinner. Savory Roquefort and Gruyere cheeses add sharp flavor to each bite, and the puffs can be made up to a month ahead of time.

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 make-ahead vegetable side dish recipe one that's sure to be devoured.

Homemade Green Bean Casserole

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

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

This six-ingredient holiday 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.

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 this make-ahead vegetable side dish up to two days in advance. When you're ready to eat, all you need to do is add the dressing.

Squash, Mushroom, and Farro Dressing

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

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 these make-ahead Christmas appetizers to the table.

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 this holiday side dish into the fridge up to four hours before serving time.

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 this make-ahead Christmas recipe up and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days before the feast.

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. For a make-ahead holiday side dish, prepare the crunchy granola mixture up to 1 week before your guests arrive.

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, so this make-ahead Christmas recipe won't take up too much valuable oven space.

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 holiday side dish. To make ahead, cook the carrots and toast the pistachios the day before, then glaze and reheat before serving.

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 make-ahead side dish tip to make and store the rolls for up to three days before serving.


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 six months in advance, so get a summer jump start on your make-ahead Christmas dinner recipes. Add mint leaves for extra freshness.

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 holiday side dish.

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 this make-ahead Christmas recipe -- 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.

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.

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.

Paella-Style Stuffing

This make-ahead Christmas 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.

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.


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, and will fit right in with your make-ahead Christmas dinner.

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

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 to this holiday side dish.

Corn Bread

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

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 this make-ahead side dish into the oven when you're ready to serve.

Make-Ahead Apple, Bacon, and Onion Stuffing Muffins

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

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 on this holiday side dish, precook the sprouts and finish off the second half of the recipe the day of the meal. Brilliant!

Sweet Potato Salad

Make this holiday potluck salad (it serves up to 20) the night before; it goes in the fridge for up to 24 hours before party time. With this make-ahead vegetable side dish on the table, eating a serving of veggies during the holidays will be no problem.

Pickled Dilled Green Beans

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

Butterhead Salad with Smoky Ranch

This tasty holiday side dish 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 holiday salad.

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