Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Easy Pie Crust
Photo: Clive Streeter

Among appetizers, an array of sides, and an assortment of pies to prepare—not to mention the great big bird at the center of the table —creating Thanksgiving dinner can be overwhelming to even the most seasoned cooks. Take back time with our make-ahead recipes.

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twice-baked potato and raclette casserole
Paola + Murray

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of friends and family and feasting—and a lot of cooking. So much cooking, actually, and only one oven to do it all in. Sometimes there's only one cook. How to do it all? Planning. Whether you are the sole chef de cuisine or contributing to a potluck, make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes come to the rescue.

If you are roasting a turkey, most of the oven will be occupied by this magnificent creature, and for several hours, on the day. When plotting the best approach to your meal, choose menu items that will be compatible not only in terms of taste and appearance, but in terms of oven time. Also consider your nerves. Making some dishes in advance, like the rich, cheesy Twice-Baked Potato-and-Raclette Casserole shown here, will take the pressure off pacing and allow you to be present and enjoy this holiday.

The traditional pie or pies can be made far easier by preparing and freezing the pastry shells up to a month ahead of the meal. Make fillings and bake the pies the day before or once the bird is out of the oven and resting—remember to set the timer.

Kept in sealed containers, or chilled, or frozen, every element of the meal (bar the bird) from welcoming snacks, to appetizers, soups, stuffings, sides, dinner rolls, sauces, gravies, and even (non turkey) entrées can be made days ahead, then chilled or frozen. Map out which dishes will require heating, so you know you have stovetop or oven space.

Get a start on Thanksgiving prep with these make-ahead recipes.

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Easy Pie Crust

Easy Pie Crust
Clive Streeter

It's just not Thanksgiving without pie! You can make and freeze pie crusts up to a month in advance so that putting together your favorite pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies for the big day will be a snap.

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Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce


Fresh cranberries, sugar, and orange zest and juice make a simple, deeply flavored cranberry sauce. Stored in an airtight container, this sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a week.

  • Get our Other Cranberry Sauce Recipes
04 of 20

Dinner Rolls

dinner rolls
Dana Gallagher

These moist, tender dinner rolls are rich with eggs and butter. Once the dough is shaped, it can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to two months before Thanksgiving. When ready to bake, simply add two hours to the second rising.

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Gingery Beet Soup

gingery beet soup
Johnny Fogg

Warming ginger adds tingling heat to this velvety and festive red soup. It needs only a final flourishing swirl of tangy yogurt before serving.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

pumpkin cheesecake
Mikkel Vang

Two popular favorites—pumpkin pie and cheesecake—are rolled into one delightful dessert. Cheesecake keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, and it also freezes nicely. To thaw, simply place it in the refrigerator 24 hours before you wish to serve it.

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White Wine Gravy

David Loftus

No need to wait for the turkey to come out of the oven before making this gravy. It relies on store-bought chicken broth and white wine for its rich, savory flavor. Refrigerate the gravy in an airtight container for up to three days, and warm in the microwave just before serving.

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Tamari-and-Maple-Roasted Almonds


Tamari is similar to soy sauce, with a richer, softer flavor. Mixing it with maple syrup creates an irresistible sweet-savory glaze for roasted almonds in this easy, make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer. Once cooled, store the almonds in an airtight container for up to a week.

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Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette


Roasted cauliflower, Romanesca, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts get a sophisticated finish from a pomegranate vinaigrette and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. Wash and trim the vegetables, and make the vinaigrette, up to two days in advance.

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Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

cornbread sausage stuffing
David Loftus

This sage-seasoned cornbread and sausage stuffing gets a creamy texture from the addition of eggs. It can be assembled and refrigerated, baked or unbaked, for two days.

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Luxurious Mashed Potatoes


Generous doses of butter and cream make these mashed potatoes suited to a special occasion. Make them a day in advance and refrigerate in a baking dish. Twenty minutes before serving, cover the dish with foil and heat in the oven at 350 degrees.

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Sausage-Stuffed Onions

Marcus Nilsson

These crowd-pleasing and succulent stuffed onions can be made and chilled a day ahead. Thirty minutes before serving add the cheese topping and bake to heat through.

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Marinated Mushrooms

marinated mushrooms
Sang An

Marinated in lemon juice, white-wine vinegar, fresh oregano, and olive oil, these mushrooms taste even better when made a few days before serving. Serve this easy appetizer with olives and a selection of cheeses.

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Cranberry-Poached Pears


Refrigerated in their poaching liquid, these cranberry-kissed pears will keep for up to three days. Serve them with crème fraîche or cinnamon ice cream for a refreshing Thanksgiving dessert.

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Sweet Potato and Sage-Butter Casserole


In this Thanksgiving side dish, mashed Yukon gold and sweet potatoes are enriched with sage-infused butter and milk and then baked under a topping of crisp breadcrumbs. Make the potato mixture two days in advance and add the breadcrumbs just before baking.

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Shredded Brussels-Sprout Salad with Hazelnut Crunch

brussels sprouts hazelnut crunch
Louise Hagger

A make-ahead salad—yes, really! This crunchy Brussels sprout salad can be prepped one to two days ahead. The delicious hazelnut crunch can be made and stored in an airtight container and the Brussels washed, chopped, and stored in resealable plastic bags. Toss the salad and top with the crunch while the turkey is resting.

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Potato and Mushroom Pie

potato mushroom pie
Gentl and Hyers

As a substantial side or stand-alone dish this impressive pie is filled with seasonal mushrooms, hearty potatoes, and the best cheeses. It can be made a day ahead, and heated before serving.

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Lemon Vinaigrette


This versatile, bright-tasting lemon and olive oil vinaigrette will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Use it to dress up Thanksgiving side dishes like sautéed green beans, Brussels sprouts, spinach, or salad greens garnished with dried cherries and toasted hazelnuts.

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Cauliflower Gratin


Tender cauliflower is surrounded by Gruyère cheese sauce under a crunchy coat of breadcrumbs in this make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish. Make the cauliflower and cheese sauce mixture up to two days in advance; top with breadcrumbs just before baking.

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Picholine Olives with Roasted Garlic and Red Onion


Green Picholine olives are bathed in a mixture of olive oil, roasted garlic, champagne vinegar, red onion, bay leaves, and cracked peppercorns. Prepare this easy, make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer a week in advance and bring back to room temperature just before serving.

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