Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Try these yummy make-ahead Thanksgiving side dishes, desserts and appetizers

thanksgiving dinner table
Getty Images

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 10
    Cranberry sauce
    skhoward/Getty Images

    Cranberry sauce is the quintessential make-ahead Thanksgiving recipe. It's an essential dish for Thanksgiving dinner, but it tastes just as good (if not better) when made a day or two in advance. And with only 3 ingredients, this recipe can be made in a snap.

  • 02 of 10
    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. That's why this is another perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving recipe.

  • 03 of 10
    Pumpkin bread
    Susan Marie Andersson/Getty Images

    We like to serve this pumpkin bread as an appetizer or side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, but we don't like to take up space in our oven baking bread on Thanksgiving day. So we make this pumpkin bread a day or two before Thanksgiving. If we want to make this pumpkin bread taste fresh from the oven, we just warm it up at 275 F for 10 to 15 minutes. Top this pumpkin bread with flavored butter.

  • 04 of 10
    Corn pudding
    Victoria Pearson/Getty Images

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

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Sweet potato casserole
    Cathy_Britcliffe/Getty Images

    The only part of this sweet potato casserole that we don't recommend as a make-ahead dish for Thanksgiving is the topping. We suggest making the sweet potato casserole a day or two before Thanksgiving but don't bake it. Then on Thanksgiving day, prepare the topping, then bake according to the recipe directions.

  • 06 of 10
    Cranberry jello
    Ngoc Minh & Julian Wass/Getty Images

    This cranberry Jello salad is one of those make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes you can easily prepare days in advance. And even if you've never cooked in your life, this cranberry Jello salad will turn out great.

  • 07 of 10
    sf_foodphoto/Getty Images

    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. And if you're using homemade cornbread for this cornbread stuffing, we suggest you make the cornbread a day before you prepare the stuffing.

  • 08 of 10
    Pumpkin pie
    mphillips007/Getty Images

    We don't think it's an accident that pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert. Pumpkin pie is one of those desserts that actually tastes better after it sits in the refrigerator a day or so, making it an ideal make-ahead Thanksgiving recipe.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    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.

  • 10 of 10
    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 Thanksgiving recipe, because it needs to cool in the refrigerator at least overnight. You can make this pumpkin cheesecake up to three days before Thanksgiving.