Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Save Yourself Time on Thanksgiving Day!

November 3, 2020
Butternut Squash Soup
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Make some Thanksgiving recipes ahead of the feast day so that your main concern on the day itself is the “ruling roast” or the “big bird”—and quality time with family. Here is a list of great make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes, including appetizers, soups, side dishes, and desserts. 

Also, make your own stock in advance (or secure soem excellent stock in the freezer section of your grocery store). You’ll want to have plenty of stock (3 or 4 quarts) for gravy, warming the turkey, deglazing your roasting pan and more. Here is our Homemade Turkey Stock recipe.

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Rolls and bread can certainly be made ahead. These Fall Harvest Squash Rolls are always a hit with readers.

Photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner

Cranberry Sauce can also be made a day or two in advance and stored in the refrigerator. (Don’t freeze.)

Mashed potatoes and stuffing are generally best on the day itself, but mashed potatoes will refrigerate well and taste delicious if you bake them like a casserole. See our Mashed Potato Casserole.

Seriously consider any casserole. This dish can be prepared and even cooked well in advance. There’s a reason why the the Green Bean Casserole is a classic.

Another fan favorite is the Sweet Potato Souffle, below. Some of us aren’t big marshmallow fans, but this is one of our most requested recipes—and Thanksgiving is for the guests!

Photo by Sam Jones/Quinn Brein

Soups are also easy to prepare in advance. One of our favorites is this Vermont Butternut Squash Soup.

Photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts

Not all desserts should be made in advance. If you’re making a pie, you can prepare the dough well ahead of time and store in the freezer, but we wouldn’t bake the pie more than 24 hours in advance.

However, cheesecakes and any dessert that is normally refrigerated are great choices.

Our Pumpkin Satin Cheesecake will hold up nicely.

Pumpkin Cheesecake. Photo by Sam Jones/Quinn Brein
Photo by Sam Jones/Quinn Brein

We also love this refrigerated Cranberry Dream Pie

Photo by Sam Jones/Quinn Brein

Puddings and mousses also do well when prepared in advance. Try our classic Indian Pudding for something different or our Easy Chocolate Mousse.

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Appetizers

While we wouldn’t go crazy with appetizers before the Thanksgiving feast, do serve something simple with drinks before the meal begins.

Photo by Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock

Photo by iuliia_n/shutterstock

A bowl of high-quality mixed nuts are also a fine idea, assuming your guests aren’t allergic to nuts. Guests love these addictive Spiced Nuts and often ask for the recipe!


Thanks For Reading!

Ready to consider the full Thanksgiving menu, including the turkey? Check out our classic Thanksgiving Feast Recipes.

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Gonna try a couple

Definitely gonna try a couple of these in the next week or so. Thanks!

Making and freezing pies

I noted in your article, which was a joy to read, you state “ but we wouldn’t bake the pie more than 24 hours in advance”. Curious as I have been making pies and freezing before the holidays for years. I have again this year already made and frozen pumpkin and pecan pies. They always thaw in fridge nicely for the big celebration!

I love the Old Farmer's

I love the Old Farmer's Almanac

All turkey receipts

Love your recipes .

Great page! Thanks!

Great page! Thanks!

I'm looking forward to using

I'm looking forward to using your make ahead recipes.

I'm trying to Bookmark this.

I'm trying to Bookmark this.