34 Make-Ahead Recipes for Thanksgiving so You Can Enjoy the Day, Too (2024)

Whether you're cooking a lot or a little before the big holiday, make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes are key. With just a little prep work a day or two in advance, you'll be free to dive into the charcuterie and Chardonnay by 3 p.m. with the rest of your crew.

We compiled dishes you can prepare at least a day in advance and then simply reheat for guests or serve as is. The objective is to have everything—from traditional hors d'oeuvres to homemade bread to your family's favorite Thanksgiving dessert recipes—done by the time you start preparing the turkey.

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Boozy Apple Cider Slushie

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Whether you serve this co*cktail to get the party started or as the nightcap to a day of feasting, this fall-flavored slushie will delight your guests. Make the boozy granita a day or two ahead and keep it icy cold in the freezer. At serving, spoon it into a co*cktail glass, fill with dry hard cider, and garnish with apple slices.

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02of 34

Minty Moscow Mule Punch

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This party-sized version of a classic co*cktail is perfect for a Thanksgiving crowd. Combine vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup in a large pitcher or punch bowl, and then cover and chill overnight. To serve, simply add the ginger beer, pour, and garnish with a sprig of mint

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03of 34

Bacon-Wrapped Apricots With Sage

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These fruity little bites will keep hungry guests satisfied while you're busy with dinner in the kitchen. Assemble them up to 3 days ahead, freeze, and then pop them in the oven when guests arrive to tame those eager appetites.

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04of 34

Rosemary Pecans

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This spiced pecan recipe makes for a deliciously addictive—and relatively healthy—Thanksgiving appetizer. Prepare the pecans and store them at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 week in advance.

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05of 34

Goat Cheese Spread

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This recipe for a creamy goat cheese spread makes a bright addition to any cheese plate but can easily stand on its own as a Turkey Day appetizer. Prepare and refrigerate up to 2 days in advance.

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06of 34

Chimichurri Yogurt Dip

34 Make-Ahead Recipes for Thanksgiving so You Can Enjoy the Day, Too (6)

Pull together this homemade chimichurri—a classic Argentinian herb-and-oil sauce—a day ahead and refrigerate it covered. About 15 minutes before serving, pull it out, mix with Greek yogurt, and serve this creamy, punchy dip that goes with just about anything.

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07of 34

Chickpea and Mint Crostini

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Here's a starter your holiday guests can rally around! A day or two ahead, toast the baguette slices, and combine and refrigerate the topping ingredients. To serve, set out the two components separately so guests can top their own crostini.

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08of 34

Pink Hummus

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Make this eye-catching hummus up to a week in advance and refrigerate until serving. Spoiler: Credit cooked beets for this healthy dip's vibrant color.

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Many-Cheese Cheese Ball

34 Make-Ahead Recipes for Thanksgiving so You Can Enjoy the Day, Too (9)

This make-ahead recipe offers a fresh herby take on the classic cheese ball. Once you form the ball from a variety of soft and hard cheeses, wrap and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Just before serving, roll the cheese ball around in freshly chopped herbs and then serve with crostini, crackers, or vegetables.

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10of 34

Glorious Green Dip

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Here's to at least starting a Thanksgiving meal on a healthy note! It's an easy spinach-and-cannelloni bean dip that you can make up to 2 days in advance and then refrigerate until just before serving.

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11of 34

Every-Citrus Salad With Almonds and Manchego

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This salad brightens up any holiday spread. Prepare and refrigerate the radicchio, citrus, almonds, Manchego, and dressing separately, up to one day in advance. Dress and toss the salad just before serving.

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12of 34

Green Bean and Celery Salad

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An innovative take on a green salad, this zingy dish is a welcome respite from heavy, rich Thanksgiving offerings. Cook the fresh green beans up to 2 days ahead, and then, on the day of, chop the celery and apples, whisk the dressing, toss, and serve!

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13of 34

Beet-Radicchio Salad

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This recipe suggests using store-bought, pre-cooked beets for the base of this salad but, if you prefer to cook your own, you can blanch, peel, and freeze them up to a year in advance. Make this salad's maple-miso dressing up to 2 days ahead for an even quicker prep on Thanksgiving Day.

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14of 34

Brussels Sprouts Salad

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Pecans and cranberries lend this crunchy salad a festive touch. You can thinly slice the Brussels sprouts and radicchio up to 2 days in advance and then, on the day of, just toss with the honey-mustard dressing and top with shaved Parmesan right before serving.

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15of 34

Tangy Broccoli Slaw

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Your guests probably won't notice, but you'll know that this slaw is loaded with gut-healthy probiotics thanks to its kefir-based dressing. Make the whole dish up to 24 hours ahead, and then serve it right from the fridge.

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16of 34

Make-Ahead Holiday Salad

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With "Make-Ahead" and "Holiday" in the title, this colorful salad is a shoo-in for this list. It combines red kale leaves withBrussels sproutsand pomegranate seeds, all of which hold up to dressing for up to a day without getting soggy.

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17of 34

Green Bean Salad with Crispy Bread Crumbs

34 Make-Ahead Recipes for Thanksgiving so You Can Enjoy the Day, Too (17)

This classic Thanksgiving dish straddles the line between a salad and a side dish. To make it a day ahead, cover and chill the dressing and cooked beans separately. Store the breadcrumb mixture in an airtight container at room temperature. To serve, bring the beans and dressing to room temperature, toss, and then top with breadcrumbs.

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Creamed Spinach Casserole

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Move over, green beans! This spinach casserole may well become the new Thanksgiving staple. Prepare the spinach mixture in its baking dish (Steps 1 and 2) up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate. Before baking, top with cracker crumbs and Parmesan, and then cook for just 15 minutes to warm through.

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19of 34

Butternut Squash Bake With Wild Rice

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To lower your blood pressure on Thanksgiving Day, prepare this stuffing alternative up to 4 days in advance. Follow the recipe instructions up to Step 9, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and refrigerate. When it's time for the final bake, let the rice mixture and cream come to room temperature, combine them, and bake.

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20of 34

Cornbread Sausage Dressing

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This cornbread dressing—not stuffing, because it cooks outside the turkey—has components you can cook and assemble the day before Thanksgiving and store in the refrigerator covered with aluminum foil. On the big day. pull it out, bake, uncover, and bake again, about 45 minutes in all.

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21of 34

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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This vibrant homemade cranberry sauce can be prepared and refrigerated up to a week in advance, and then refrigerated leftovers (if there are any) are good for another week. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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22of 34

Citrus Spice Cranberry Sauce

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This easy five-ingredient recipe transforms a can of whole-berry cranberry sauce into a fruity, fall-flavored dish your guests will assume was made from scratch. Refrigerate this Thanksgiving side up to 5 days ahead and serve at room temperature.

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23of 34

Easy Make-Ahead Shallot Gravy

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For this Thanksgiving recipe, you don't have to wait for meat drippings to serve a flavorful gravy. Make this a day or two ahead and then warm it up just before serving, with or without added drippings.

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24of 34

Parker House Rolls

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Making these delightfully light and airy homemade dinner rolls for an ordinary meal is a big ask, but on Thanksgiving, they're a must. Baking them a month or two ahead and then freezing them makes their 4-hour prep-and-bake time much more manageable. On T-Day, just cover the frozen rolls with aluminum foil, reheat, brush with melted butter and flaky salt, and serve to appreciative guests.

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25of 34

Scalloped Potatoes

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This versatile potato dish is ideal for preparing up to the point of baking (Steps 1 through 4) days or weeks ahead. Here’s how:

  • Up to 2 days ahead, prepare and refrigerate, covered.
  • Up to 1 month ahead, prepare and freeze, tightly wrapped.

On Turkey Day—whether you refrigerate or freeze it—bring the unbaked dish to room temperature, and then bake as directed (Step 5), adding 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time.

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26of 34

Decadent Mac and Cheese

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Nowhere is "decadent" more appropriate than at a holiday table, and this Thanksgiving side certainly qualifies. The recipe includes instructions for making this mac and cheese up to a month ahead, freezing it, defrosting it, and then reheating it on Thanksgiving Day.

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27of 34

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

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Mashed potatoes are non-negotiable for many of us at Thanksgiving, and this recipe is a convenient way to check that box. The entire dish can be made and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance. To serve, reheat in the microwave or in a large saucepan on the stove, covered, adding milk as necessary to adjust the consistency.

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28of 34

Smoky Maple Turkey

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How much more enjoyable would Thanksgiving Day be if your turkey was already cooked perfectly and carved before you woke up in the morning? Follow this recipe and find out! It offers instructions for roasting the bird the day before, storing it overnight, and then reheating it for the feast.

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29of 34

Pumpkin Spice Bread

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Pumpkin bread is a versatile quadruple threat to have on hand at Thanksgiving: Serve it with ice cream for dessert, with butter as an appetizer or side, or as a self-serve breakfast. However you plan to serve it, bake this loaf up to 3 months in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap and foil, and then freeze until T-Day.

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30of 34

Pumpkin Cheesecake

34 Make-Ahead Recipes for Thanksgiving so You Can Enjoy the Day, Too (30)

This dreamy, creamy pumpkin cheesecake pie merges two favorite holiday desserts. What makes it even more attractive is that you can prepare and refrigerate it, loosely covered with plastic wrap, up to 2 days in advance.

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31of 34

Sweet Potato Pie

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Our sweet potato pie is essentially a pumpkin pie with a Southern accent. It's generally a bit sweeter than pumpkin pie, with a slightly lighter, fluffier texture. You can prepare and store this sweet potato pie at room temperature, loosely covered with foil, up to a day in advance.

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32of 34

Pressed Crust Pear Tart

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Talk about elegance! If you don't have a rectangular tart pan, use a round one to make this pressed-crust pear tart. You can prepare and store it at room temperature, loosely covered with foil, up to a day in advance.

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33of 34

Cranberry & Strawberry Crumb Pie

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This delicious dessert mixes summer and fall fruits into a perfect blend of sweet and tart. Prepare this up to the crumb topping, cover, and freeze for up to 1 month. On Thanksgiving morning, pull it out of the freezer, add the crumb topping, bake, and then let it cool while the turkey's cooking.

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34of 34

Gingersnap-Pear Cheesecake

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This cheesecake made with crumbled gingersnap cookies and fresh pears is a delightful celebration of fall. Make it up to 2 days in advance, loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, and then pull out to serve cold.

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34 Make-Ahead Recipes for Thanksgiving so You Can Enjoy the Day, Too (2024)

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