Make-Ahead Holiday Recipes

Linda Larsen

The best way to be prepared and save time (and keep your cool) during the holiday season is to prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Clean out your freezer and your pantry and get ready to create some delicious make-ahead holiday recipes you can pull out when unexpected guests arrive. There's really no better feeling than having a freezer and pantry stuffed with delicious foods you made yourself.

Then, when unexpected guests drop in, or when you start panicking because there doesn't seem to be enough time to make all the foods you want for a holiday meal, you can turn to these wonderful foods that are stored in your freezer. And even if you don't panic, when planning special meals you can include one (or more) of these frozen foods in the menu so make entertaining so much easier.

All of these make-ahead recipes are perfect for entertaining any time of the year. They are also great to have on hand in the spring, summer, and fall too, so don't feel constrained about using them any month. 

Be sure to wrap, label, and store these foods properly. Always use freezer wrap secured with freezer tape, or plastic packaging specifically made for the freezer.

And be sure to attach directions for use (thawing, reheating, etc.) on each package so anyone can serve (or just devour!) them.


  • Freeze ahead holiday foods: You can choose two recipes from each category and make them over the course of a few days right after Thanksgiving. Then, if something interrupts your routine closer to Christmas, you know you're still prepared. All of these foods freeze (and thaw) beautifully. These recipes include appetizers, breads, desserts, side dishes, and even entrees so you can be prepared for any eventuality.
  • Freeze ahead holiday desserts: Recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, and general desserts that freeze well are included in this extensive list. Make a few and you'll never have to wonder what to whip up for a fabulous dessert. These recipes freeze and thaw beautifully. Some are meant to be served frozen, which saves you the step of thawing.
  • Make ahead appetizers: Hey, when you've got desserts and appetizers licked, the rest of the meal is pretty much a breeze. These quick and easy appetizer recipes are all festive and delicious. Choose a couple for a big party or pull out one for a snack during the busy holiday season.