35 Time-Saving Make-Ahead Side Dishes for a Stress-Free Holiday
Rustic Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Christmas dinners wouldn't be the same without a bowl of mashed potatoes. Instead of taking the time to prep, peel, and boil them, whip up a batch of these fluffy garlic mashed potatoes for a dozen guests in your slow cooker. This make-ahead holiday side dish will cook for eight hours on the countertop, giving you plenty of time to prepare for your guests.
Make your holiday even merrier with this make-ahead side dish. The tart dried cherries mixed with fresh Brussels sprouts and apples will give you a perfectly tart bite and classic red and green Christmas colors for your holiday table. Mix up all ingredients with the homemade tangy Dijon dressing and let your slaw marinate up to eight hours before serving.
Bacon-Topped Green Bean Casserole
Everything is better with bacon—including this green bean casserole. As one reviewer says, this is a "fantastic ADULT version of this classic dish," thanks to fresh green beans and the addition of hearty mushrooms, not just the canned soup. Chill this easy make-ahead side dish up to 24 hours in advance of your holiday dinner, then prepare for mouthwatering smells to fill the kitchen as it warms in the oven.
Beet, Carrot & Apple Salad
Sometimes the side dishes are the only way we can make sure we get some healthy nutrients in our holiday diets. This make-ahead side dish for Christmas is festive in color and only 118 calories per serving. For easy prep on the root vegetables and apples, we use a mandoline or food processor equipped with a shredding disc so they're prepped in no time. Make the dressing up to three days in advance and prep the veggies up to 24 hours in advance.
If you love stuffing as much as us, jazz up the traditional classic holiday side dish with some carrots and mushrooms. Haven't been on board the earthy shiitake mushroom train yet? This is a great time to change the types of mushrooms on your menu. This make-ahead side dish goes in the fridge for up to 24 hours before it's time to go in the oven.
Black-Eyed Pea & Quinoa Salad
Black-eyed peas might be known for bringing in the New Year, but if you're looking for ways to add a little more fiber to your meals, this make-ahead side dish paired with protein-rich quinoa will help you out. Pickled jalapeños, red sweet pepper, and corn bring festive colors to your holiday spread. Make this one a day before your gathering and let it chill for up to 24 hours.
Blue Cheese Broccoli au Gratin
Broccoli takes the leading role in this normally potato-based baked dish while blue cheese, Gruyère, and bacon really make an unforgettable side. After keeping this one chilled up to one day in advance, top the dish with some toasted breadcrumbs before baking it to cheesy perfection.
Farro and Pine Nut Tabbouleh
We love the addition of toasted pine nuts to this lemony herb make-ahead side dish. Farro steps in for the traditional bulgur in this classic Mediterranean salad, and the cucumber and tomatoes are also a festive and fresh addition to your plate for the holidays. Cover and chill this salad up to six hours before serving.
Orange-Sage Sweet Potatoes with Bacon
If you're used to marshmallows topping your roasted orange spuds in the wintertime, give your oven a rest and try out one of our favorite healthy slow cooker recipes. Orange juice and crispy bacon give this make-ahead side dish a special twist. It makes 12 servings to feed your entire family. Good luck on trying to grab seconds.
Overnight Refrigerator Rolls
What's better than warm, buttery dinner rolls served alongside your Christmas dinner. A batch you can prepare the night before! This make-ahead dinner roll recipe requires only 12 minutes in the oven, so it won't take up too much valuable oven space.
Winter Slaw with Kale and Cabbage
Try a wintry twist on the summer potluck classic with this easy side dish filled with in-season veggies kale and cabbage. Tossed in a creamy, herb-infused sauce, this fresh make-ahead vegetable side dish recipe will keep in the fridge up to a day in advance.
Related: How to Cook Pumpkin Seeds
Make-Ahead Pepper and Basil Tortellini Soup
There's nothing better than a steaming bowl of soup to go with your dinner on a cold, chilly night. The best part about this soup is that the entire recipe is made ahead. Cheesy tortellini, tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients are stored in a gallon freezer bag until it's time to reheat the hearty soup for your party.
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Gouda and Crispy Pancetta
We combined red and russet potatoes with salty pancetta and melty cheese to up our mashed potato game. This make-ahead side dish can be prepared a day in advance after placing it in a greased baking dish. If you're wanting a meatless side of cheesy mashed potatoes, sub the pancetta for artichoke hearts.
Homemade Green Bean Casserole
Every holiday menu should include a green bean casserole side dish. Our lightened-up version of the make-ahead vegetable side features mushrooms, herbed cheese, and a splash of white wine, and can be made and chilled 24 hours ahead.
Twice-Baked Pesto Mashed Potatoes
Be ready for your guests to flock to the dinner table with the smell of toasty pine nuts and pesto in this make-ahead twice-baked mashed potato dish. With only five ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and a tip for making the potatoes 24 hours ahead, these side-dish spuds couldn't be easier.
Fresh Citrus and Cranberry Salad
For a festive take on salad, we added a refreshing kick of mint and ginger to arugula, 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
Nutty and chewy, farro is one grain we think deserves a little more attention all the time—so why not add it to the holiday menu? Instead of bread, this make-ahead holiday side dish utilizes the whole grain with the addition of some of our favorite winter flavors, like tender butternut squash, crispy pancetta, and fragrant rosemary. Make this dressing and put it in the fridge a day in advance until it's ready to go in the oven.
Herbed Potato Salad
Classic potato salad is all dressed up and ready to party with this easy make-ahead side dish. 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.
Acorn Squash with Bacon-Chive Crumbs
Let your slow cooker do the work in this comforting make-ahead side dish. Finished with a crunchy bacon topper, this winter squash will be ready in four to six hours on low heat. Your sliced squash can even be prepared and stored in the fridge up to 24 hours in advance before you put the dish together in the slow cooker.
Olive Bread Stuffing with Fennel
Fresh herbs, fennel, and two kinds of mushrooms put a Mediterranean-inspired spin on this traditional holiday stuffing recipe. Prepare this make-ahead Christmas side dish and keep it in the fridge for up to two days before the feast.
Glazed Carrots with Pistachios
A thyme and brown sugar glaze and crunchy toasted pistachios add just the right amount of sweet and savory 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 briefly reheat before serving.
Mashed Potatoes with Savory Thyme Granola
Granola isn't only for topping your yogurt. Pumpkin seeds give these creamy potatoes a satisfying crunch, while a splash of Worcestershire sauce adds bold flavor. For a make-ahead holiday side dish, prepare the savory granola mixture up to one week before your guests arrive. No time to make the mashed potatoes? Try using the granola on top of our most famous mashed potatoes (which is also a make-ahead recipe!).
Easy Parmesan-Fennel Rolls
This relish not only looks like Christmas, but also tastes like Christmas! The sweet berry flavor pairs wonderfully with a citrus-infused marmalade. You can freeze this delish relish for up to six months in advance. Add mint leaves for extra freshness and holiday color.
Related: Quick and Healthy Cranberry Recipes
Sweet Potatoes with Toasted Pecans
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 juice and crispy pan-fried shallots for a make-ahead side dish full of in-season flavors. After prepping your beans, you can store them in a covered dish in the refrigerator until it's time to finish and bake. If you haven't dealt with shiitakes much, make sure you always discard the woody stems.
Related: 4 Ways to Cook Green Beans
This make-ahead Christmas side dish has the expected bread cubes, onion, and celery, but kicks things up with the addition of chorizo and green olives. To make ahead, simply put together and keep it stored in your refrigerator for up to 24 hours. All that's left is to pop it in the oven for 45 minutes before dinnertime.
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 two months, so go ahead and prepare them now to pop into the oven for a few minutes before your holiday dinner.
Related: Try These Quick & Easy Bread Recipes
If you're not a fan of the canned cranberry stuff, try this zesty citrus-infused spread made with just five simple ingredients, including real cranberries and a splash of orange juice. This delicious make-ahead holiday side dish will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for six months.
Easy to make, cornbread is a great make-ahead holiday side dish for any meal. Since it includes ingredients you'll likely have in your pantry, you can go ahead and whip up a batch any time to store in the freezer for up to one month.
Related: Our Best Cornbread Recipes
The best thing about apples is that they taste great with savory or sweet dishes. This easy, make-ahead side dish can be made up to three weeks ahead of time. Applesauce doesn't have to be the star of just the kids' plates when it's this tasty.