12 Easy Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Sweet potato casserole with streusel recipe

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

These make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes are designed to minimize your stress level on Thanksgiving day. The truth is cooking Thanksgiving dinner isn't hard; it's just a lot of dishes to cook. With these make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes, you can knock out side dishes, desserts, and even appetizers in advance, leaving you more time to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with your family.

  • 01 of 12

    Cranberry Sauce

    cranberry sauce

     Leah Maroney

    Cranberry sauce is the quintessential make-ahead Thanksgiving recipe. It tastes just as good (if not better) when made a day or two in advance—and with only three ingredients, it won't take too long.

  • 02 of 12

    Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

    Mashed potatoes

    Diana Miller / Getty Images

    Everybody thinks mashed potatoes taste best when cooked and served right away, but when you make your mashed potatoes in advance, then reheat them on Thanksgiving day, they actually turn out hotter and creamier.

  • 03 of 12

    Pumpkin Bread

    Pumpkin bread

    Susan Marie Andersson / Getty Images

    Serve this pumpkin bread as an appetizer or side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, which can be made a day or two before Thanksgiving. If we want to make this pumpkin bread taste fresh from the oven, warm it up at 275 F for 10 to 15 minutes. Top this pumpkin bread with flavored butter.

  • 04 of 12

    Sweet Potato Buns

    Sweet Potato Buns

    The Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

    Bake sweet potato buns a few days in advance or even a month early and store them in the freezer. They're a delicious seasonal bread that's perfect for Thanksgiving dinner. A fun yeasted recipe for any baker to undertake, you'll need a single sweet potato, buttermilk, honey, and bread flour.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Pumpkin Doughnuts

    Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts

    The Spruce Eats / Jessie Sheehan

    Take some of the work out of preparing breakfast by baking pumpkin doughnuts in advance. The recipe is as easy as mixing up the batter and baking it in a doughnut pan. Your family will enjoy that signature pumpkin spice taste coated in cinnamon sugar, which makes them even more irresistible.

  • 06 of 12

    Corn Pudding

    Corn pudding

    Victoria Pearson / Getty Images

    The beauty of this one-dish recipe is that it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and it tastes just as good the next day.

  • 07 of 12

    Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe With Streusel Topping

    Sweet potato casserole with streusel recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    The only part of this sweet potato casserole that shouldn't be made ahead is the topping. You can prep the dish a day or two before Thanksgiving, then wait to add the topping and bake on Thanksgiving day.

  • 08 of 12

    Cranberry Jello Salad

    Cranberry jello

    Ngoc Minh & Julian Wass / Getty Images

    This cranberry salad is easy to prepare days in advance and simple enough for novice Thanksgiving hosts to master.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Cornbread Stuffing

    Cornbread Dressing Recipe

     The Spruce

    There's no reason stuffing should be prepared at the last minute. It tastes just as delicious when made a day or two before Thanksgiving. 

  • 10 of 12

    Pumpkin Pie

    Autumn pumpkin pie recipe

    The Spruce

    We don't think it's an accident that pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert. It's one of those desserts that actually tastes better after it sits in the refrigerator a day or so.

  • 11 of 12

    Pecan Pie

    Pecan pie

    KirbyIng / Getty Images

    Because this recipe starts with a frozen pie crust, it's unbelievably simple. And because pecan pie benefits from a nice long cooling period, this is a terrific make-ahead Thanksgiving recipe.

  • 12 of 12

    Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

    Pumpkin cheesecake
    Brian Leatart / Getty Images

    Want to switch things up a bit this Thanksgiving? Try this pumpkin cheesecake instead of pumpkin pie. It's rich and creamy and an ideal make-ahead recipe, because it needs to cool in the refrigerator at least overnight.