10 Easy Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Knock out these essential dishes a few days in advance

gluten-free thanksgiving dinner
DNY59/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

    Cranberry sauce
    skhoward/Getty Images

    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 10

    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 10

    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 10

    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.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe With Streusel Topping

    Sweet potato casserole
    Cathy_Britcliffe/Getty Images

    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.

  • 06 of 10

    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.

  • 07 of 10

    Cornbread Stuffing

    Stuffing
    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. 

  • 08 of 10

    Pumpkin Pie

    Pumpkin pie
    mphillips007/Getty Images

    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.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    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.

  • 10 of 10

    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.