Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner Menu for Those Who Like to Get a Head Start
Dilled Onion Cheese Balls
Peppered Herb Cheese Ball
Add this cheese ball to your list of appetizers you can make ahead for Thanksgiving or anytime. Make it at least four hours and up to 24 hours in advance. Black pepper, tangy goat cheese, and loads of herbs keep it fresh-tasting. Learn how to preserve fresh herbs in case you have any left over.
Related: Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Appetizers
Roasted Acorn Squash and Beet Salad
Make-ahead squash stars in this gorgeous Thanksgiving salad. Roast the squash and beets the night before. Mix a batch of tangy vinaigrette while the veggies roast, then refrigerate the veggies and vinaigrette separately. All you need do come holiday mealtime is toss everything with some salad greens.
Cranberry-Pear Gelatin Salads
Festive gelatin recipes also happen to be easy Thanksgiving side dishes to make ahead. A trifecta of festive cranberry flavor enhances our gelatin salad. Cranberry juice, dried cranberries, and sparkly sugared cranberries on top (if you desire) combine for a fruit-forward side dish you can make up to a day in advance.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Make-Ahead Gravy for Thanksgiving
A pan gravy is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a straight-up hassle to make at the last minute. So here’s our best make-ahead gravy for Thanksgiving to ease the final flurry of getting everything to the table. The No-Drippings Gravy option in the recipe can be prepared up to three days in advance. While you’re warming the gravy for the feast, you could add a few pan drippings from the turkey for a flavorful pan gravy fake-out.
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Gouda and Crispy Pancetta
Gouda and pancetta add lusciousness to an otherwise classic version of make-ahead mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. You’ll be seriously ahead of the game when you get them done up to 24 hours before your feast. To serve, pop them in the oven right before Thanksgiving dinner so they're piping hot when they hit the table.
Related: Our Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Overnight Refrigerator Rolls
Your make-ahead Thanksgiving dinner menu won’t be complete until you have the dough for your homemade dinner rolls chilling in the fridge. This recipe lets you choose one of four variations: classic, cinnamon-sugar, Parmesan-herb, or salt and pepper.
Corn Pudding Casserole
Smoky Green Bean Casserole
This make-ahead Thanksgiving green bean casserole is a lifesaver for a few reasons. First, you can prep it up to 24 hours ahead. Second, it cooks in your slow cooker, saving valuable oven space. Best of all, smoked Gouda, roasted red bell peppers, water chestnuts, and whole grain mustard amp up the flavor.
Make-Ahead Butternut Squash Gratin with Creamed Spinach
Here’s a make-ahead squash for Thanksgiving with a bonus. Underneath the squash is a colorful layer of creamed spinach. A luscious mix of crème fraiche and Parmesan cheese tops it all. It’s a delightfully hearty casserole that can stand in as a main dish for the vegetarians.
Meringue-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole
Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing
This hearty Thanksgiving side-dish stuffing has all the flavors you love. Celery, onion, carrot, and parsley find their way into this make-ahead stuffing recipe. Start it the day before and either slow-cook it or bake it for the feast.
Oysters Rockefeller Sourdough Stuffing
Oyster stuffing is a time-honored holiday treat. Combine it with another classic recipe—oysters Rockefeller—and you have one of our best make-ahead Thanksgiving sides. This one can be made 24 hours in advance.
Sage and Bacon Slow Cooker Stuffing
Let your slow cooker handle the stuffing. This make-ahead Thanksgiving dish updates the classic version with bacon and hazelnuts for a great mix of something new alongside the tried-and-true. P.S.: If you’re hosting your first Thanksgiving, check out our stuffing basics.
Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Turkey
For fantastically tender and moist turkey, get the bird soaking in a brine in the fridge a couple of days before the big meal. To bring things to the table more quickly on the holiday, braise the legs a day in advance. Doing so will give you plenty of braising liquid to prep a great make-ahead gravy for Thanksgiving. Then, just a couple hours of roasting time on the holiday is all that's left to completing the turkey.
Roast Turkey with Arugula-Pesto Rub
Even if you plan to roast the turkey the day of your feast, you can still take advantage of this make-ahead Thanksgiving tip: Prep the rub the day before. Doing so cut precious minutes from your day-of duties. Refrigerate the mixture until you’re ready to roast the bird.
Cranberries are practically expected on the holiday table. If not in a relish, in a dessert. These tarts can be stored at room temperature for 24 hours, in the refrigerator up to two days, and in the freezer up to 4 months.
Crumb-Topped Apple Slab Pie
While you’re searching for make-ahead recipes for Thanksgiving, don’t forget the pie. This sheet-pan version of crumb-topped apple pie takes only 45 minutes of prep and makes a whopping 25 servings. Chill the pie up to three days but serve at room temperature (maybe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top).
Related: Amazing Make-Ahead Desserts
Pecan Pie Slabs
Sure, pecan pie is a fabulous autumn dessert, but one pie only serves eight. When you’re serving a houseful, you want make-ahead Thanksgiving desserts for a crowd. That’s when this sheet-pan dessert—patterned after pecan pie—is an ideal choice. It serves 24 and can be made up to three days in advance.