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50 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Prepare your side dishes ahead of time so you can focus on the turkey.
50 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year filled with family, friends, and—you guessed it—a perpetually long to-do list. That is why we rounded up 50 Thanksgiving recipes that can be prepped in advance, so you don't have to sacrifice creativity and taste because of a busy schedule. From spicy mashed sweet potatoes to Instant Pot turkey, these quick and easy dishes perfect for prepping beforehand will have you covered for the holiday. Now if we could only magically figure out some simple ways to create more counter space…

Appetizers

1

Muffin-Tin Quiches with Smoked Gouda and Ham

quiches with smoked gouda and ham on muffin tin with dish cloth and dried chili peppers Waterbury Publications, Inc.

These mini quiches, which feature diced red potatoes, chopped broccoli, and creamy Gouda cheese, are perfect to bake ahead, freeze, and then reheat and serve as an appetizer during any holiday get-together. Even better? These quiches don't require paper muffin liners, which means fewer things to pick up on your grocery list. Just spray the muffin pan with cooking spray and get baking!

Get our recipe for Muffin-Tin Quiches with Smoked Gouda and Ham.

2

Sweet Potato Toasts

sweet potato toasts on blue plate with butter Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Thinly sliced sweet potato takes the place of crackers in this Sweet Potato Toasts recipe. Loaded with fun toppings, such as almond butter and sweet cherries, this unexpected appetizer will definitely become a holiday must-have. Be sure to prepare the sweet potatoes the night before and then bake and load with fun toppings the day-of to save some time.

Get our recipe for Sweet Potato Toasts.

3

Pecorino Thyme Crisps

You may want to prepare more than just one batch of these Pecorino Thyme Crisps—they are that tasty! Pecorino-Romano cheese, thyme, sunflower seeds, and fennel all come together to create an aromatic crisp that is better than any store-bought option. They only take three to five minutes to cook in the oven, so you can easily bake a few trays of these before Thanksgiving while tending to other last-minute holiday tasks.

Get our recipe for Pecorino Thyme Crisps.

4

White Bean Pumpkin Hummus

Serve this white bean pumpkin hummus alongside cut vegetables and crackers for a healthy pre-dinner snack that takes just 10 minutes to put together. This spread keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator, so go on and blend your beans in advance.

Get the recipe from Minimalist Baker.

5

Killer Cheese Plate

Nowadays, it seems that no party is complete without a cheeseboard. Use this cheese plate recipe as an outline to master the art of charcuterie. You can even cube your cheese and slice your meat the evening before to save some time.

Get the recipe from How Sweet Eats.

6

Cream Cheese Cranberry Dip

Smooth cream cheese, tangy cranberry, and flavor-packed cilantro come together in this dip that allows you to take a break from ho-hum grocery-bought ones.

Get the recipe from Julie's Eats and Treats.

7

Thanksgiving Turkey Veggie Tray

Show off your creativity with this veggie tray. Wash, cut, arrange, and cover veggies with saran wrap the night before and just pull the tray out of the fridge when you are ready to eat.

Get the recipe from Lil Luna.

8

Easy Cranberry Brie Appetizers

Need a quick holiday appetizer? Assemble these cracker and brie cheese bites before the festivities and pop them into the oven for a few minutes before serving. Just add a spoonful of cranberry sauce once cooled and you are all set!

Get the recipe from The Seasoned Mom.

Soups

9

Baked Potato Soup

Healthy baked potato soup Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This healthier baked potato soup, made with bacon, russet potatoes, and low-sodium chicken stock, is comforting, creamy, and perfect to serve during Thanksgiving. Just make a batch before the holiday, freeze, and heat it up once you are ready to serve.

Get our recipe for Baked Potato Soup.

10

Butternut Squash Soup

Healthy butternut squash soup Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This butternut squash soup is great to serve as a starter during the cold-weather holidays. It can also be frozen or stored in the refrigerator to make day-of Thanksgiving cooking a breeze.

Get our recipe for Butternut Squash Soup.

11

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

This soup proves that there are countless ways to serve pumpkin beyond traditional pies this Thanksgiving. An added bonus is that this soup is vegan! Serve this soup within four days of making, or freeze it for up to three months.

Get the recipe from Cookie and Kate.

12

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

This savory warming chicken noodle soup is the ideal food to start with before dinner comes out. If you are planning on freezing and eating it later, it's best to leave the noodles out and add them in once you are ready to reheat.

Get the recipe from Inspired Taste.

13

Fall Vegetable Soup

Kick the holiday season off right with this delicious soup that features nine different types of vegetables, including sweet potato, cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage. This soup lasts for up to a week in the fridge, and a few months in the freezer.

Get the recipe from The Healthy Maven.

Salads

14

Roasted Beet Salad with Barley

Waterbury Publications, Inc.

This mouthwatering salad, which features roasted beets, barley, goat cheese, and eggs, is perfect for holiday meal prepping. It can stay fresh in the fridge for up to three days—just be sure to add the dressing right before serving.

Get our recipe for Roasted Beet Salad with Barley.

15

Mixed Green Salad and Pumpkin Vinaigrette

mixed greens salad with pears and pumpkin vinaigrette Blaine Moats

There may not be a salad that says "fall" more than this one. This nutritious salad offers a kick with a unique vinaigrette made of canned pumpkin, mustard, maple syrup, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Be sure to make a container of the vinaigrette well in advance so you have it ready to go.

Get our recipe for Mixed Green Salad and Pumpkin Vinaigrette.

16

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

Healthy spinach & goat cheese salad with apples & warm bacon dressing Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Homemade breadcrumb-crusted goat cheese croutons and refreshing slices of pear steal the show in this delicious starter salad. Remember if you are preparing ahead to not dress the salad or chop up the pears until it hits the dinner table.

Get our recipe for Warm Goat Cheese Salad.

17

Thanksgiving Salad

A salad created just for Thanksgiving? Sign us up! This recipe combines mixed greens with pecans, brie, pomegranate, and pears.

Get the recipe from Five Heart Home.

18

Kale with Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Sneak some extra serving of vegetables into your holiday menu with this tasty salad recipe. You can roast and freeze your squash in advance and then reheat when it is time to combine ingredients.

Get the recipe from Eating Bird Food.

Mains

19

Butter-Baked Salmon and Asparagus Recipe

Have something on hand for any vegetarian dinner guests you may have this year with this recipe. Fitting for a busy holiday host, this recipe only takes 10 minutes to put together and another 15 minutes or so to bake, so prepare the fish a bit beforehand and then place into the oven when you're ready.

Get our recipe for Keto Butter Baked Salmon and Asparagus.

20

Gluten-Free Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

Gluten-free turkey breast herb roasted Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

What would Thanksgiving be without a deliciously dressed turkey? This turkey recipe option is particularly special because it not only is free of gluten, but it is low-sodium and nitrate-free as well. Be sure to cook ahead and heat it up just before dinner if you really want to be time-efficient!

Get our recipe for Gluten-Free Herb Roasted Turkey Breast.

21

Bourbon-Glazed Ham with Peach Chutney

Low-calorie bourbon glazed ham with peach chutney Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Of course turkey has become the ultimate food symbol for Thanksgiving, but sometimes we just really want to enjoy a tasty holiday ham. This recipe combines peach marmalade, dijon mustard, red onion, and jalapeno pepper to create a truly memorable dining experience.

Get our recipe for Bourbon-Glazed Ham with Peach Chutney.

22

Garlic Brown Sugar Baked Chicken

Want to stray away from the norm and instead have chicken for Thanksgiving? Well, you're in luck, because we have a recipe for that. This dish is bursting with flavor and can easily be prepared beforehand—either prep the chicken right up until baking and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight, or freeze it in a Ziploc bag until you are ready to cook.

Get the recipe from Diethood.

23

Easy Instant Pot Turkey

Say goodbye to spending a whole day by the oven cooking your turkey with this incredibly convenient recipe. An eight-pound turkey will cook in just one hour in a six-quart instant pot! Prepare your turkey a day ahead of the holiday if you are short on time, and heat it up again later on.

Get the recipe from Sweet Phi.

24

Herb and Butter Roasted Turkey with White Wine Pan Gravy

This turkey recipe, which features mouth-watering white wine gravy, will soon become your Thanksgiving go-to. Cook and slice either the evening before or the morning of and then reheat and dress it with warm gravy to have dinner done in a flash.

Get the recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

25

Whole Roasted Cauliflower, aka Vegan Turkey

This "vegan turkey" is actually roasted cauliflower dressed with traditional Thanksgiving seasoning, is both tasty and convenient! Prep the night before and reheat for a quick vegan meal.

Get the recipe from Damy Health.

Sides

26

Crispy Crumb-Topped Mac and Cheese Cups

Crispy crumb topped mac and cheese cups Waterbury Publicatons, Inc.

Tins aren't just for muffins and cupcakes—they're also perfect for whipping up some of these tasty mac and cheese cups. Just put these together before Thanksgiving, refrigerate (or freeze if you aren't eating them within a couple of days) and reheat them when you are ready to serve. And if you're looking to sneak in some more vegetables into your holiday meal, swap out traditional pasta for healthier options, such as vegetable macaroni.

Get our recipe for Crispy Crumb-Topped Mac and Cheese Cups.

27

Pumpkin Potato Mash

 

Pumpkin potato mash in a large bowl with chives, oil, and salt. Blaine Moats

Make typical Thanksgiving mashed potatoes a bit more exciting by whipping up a batch of Pumpkin Potato Mash. Perfect for prepping beforehand, these mashed potatoes will have you wanting to add pumpkin to everything.

Get our recipe for Pumpkin Potato Mash.

28

Pumpkin Ravioli and Pesto

pumpkin ravioli with pestp sauce Blaine Moats

Break out of the expected vegetable and potato Thanksgiving side dish menu with this Pumpkin Ravioli and Pesto recipe. Assemble a few batches of these in the days leading up to Thanksgiving (they take a mere 35 minutes to make, so they won't keep you in the kitchen long), freeze, and then heat them up when you are ready to serve.

Get our recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli and Pesto.

29

Cauliflower Rice

cauliflower rice in a skillet scooped into a blue bowl on a marble counter Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Thanksgiving dinner can easily become a bit carb-heavy with all of the pies, cakes, potatoes, and other delicious dishes. So why not offer a low-carb option on the menu? All you had to do is rice the cauliflower in advance and sauté it in a skillet with olive oil for three to five minutes when you are ready to serve. And yes, you read that right—this recipe only calls for two ingredients!

Get our recipe for Cauliflower Rice.

30

Honey Roasted Carrots

Vegetarian honey roasted carrots Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Carrots, roasted with olive oil, honey, and thyme, are sure to become one of you and your family's favorite side dishes. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can even throw in some other root vegetables to roast into the mix, such as beets or turnips. Wash, trim, and dress your carrots a day before to cut back on some kitchen time.

Get our recipe for Honey Roasted Carrots.

31

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

Healthy grilled ratatouille salad Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Both healthy and refreshing, this grilled ratatouille salad, which centers around eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini, can be served either hot or cold.

Get our recipe for Grilled Ratatouille Salad.

32

Succotash

Succotash Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Why have plain corn on the cob when you can have succotash instead? This succotash recipe, which features corn, lima beans, and bacon, puts a tasty twist on a common holiday side. As a bonus, it can be cooked ahead and reheated.

Get our recipe for Succotash.

33

Apple-Sausage Stuffing

homemade stuffing with rosemary on top Shutterstock

If you want to (literally) think outside of the box for this year's stuffing, look no further than this Apple-Sausage Stuffing recipe. The tastiness that comes with traditional stuffing is punctuated by notes of earthy chopped sausage and sweet bits of apple.

Get our recipe for Apple-Sausage Stuffing.

34

Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

Asparagus with cheese and lemon and pine nuts Shutterstock

Parmesan, black pepper, and lemon juice make a nutrient-dense vegetable come alive in this recipe. Wash, cut, and dress the asparagus beforehand, and throw it into the oven once you are almost ready to serve this side dish.

Get our recipe for Roasted Parmesan Asparagus.

35

Spicy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

mashed sweet potatoes Shutterstock

If you are looking for ways to spice up your mashed potatoes, this is the solution. This recipe uses chipotle and black pepper to give this Thanksgiving go-to an extra kick.

Get our recipe for Spicy Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

36

Stuffed Tomatoes

Vegetarian stuffed tomatoes Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

These delicious tomatoes, which are stuffed with Panko bread crumbs, feta cheese, basil, and minced garlic, take just two minutes to assemble and 20 minutes to cook in the oven. If you are low on time, prepare a dozen or so of these the night before your big holiday get-together and throw them in to cook as guests start to arrive.

Get our recipe for Stuffed Tomatoes.

37

Creamed Spinach

Creamy spinach that is both healthy and comforting? Sign us up! This particular recipe dish will stay good in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Get the recipe from The Seasoned Mom.

38

Corn Casserole

This corn casserole recipe can be made up to two days ahead of serving. Just reheat when you are ready to dish it out!

Get the recipe from The Cozy Cook.

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

39

Sweet Potato Casserole

This casserole's filling can be prepared and then refrigerated for up to a few days, making it the perfect holiday make-ahead!

Get the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Desserts

40

Olive Oil Ice Cream

Low-calorie olive oil ice cream Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Make vanilla ice cream (and the pies it usually accompanies) a little more exciting with this incredibly quick and easy recipe. Pick up a quart of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream during the holiday week, and just scoop some out, drizzle olive oil on top, and sprinkle it with flaky sea salt when it's time for dessert. Your piece of pie will thank you!

Get our recipe for Olive Oil Ice Cream.

41

Sticky Toffee Date Cake

Jason Donnelly

This cake features dates, pears, and dark brown sugar, making for a comforting after-dinner dessert. Make it the day before your holiday festivities, and serve it the day of with either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Get our recipe for Sticky Toffee Date Cake.

42

Shortbread Cookies

keto shortbread cookies on cooling rack Beth Lipton

A cookie that is made using only five ingredients and can be frozen for up to three weeks? Sounds like a holiday food prep dream!

Get our recipe for Shortbread Cookies.

43

Apple Cranberry Crisp

apple cranberry crisp in while bowls with spoons and red gingham napkin on wooden background Jason Donnelly

What better way to use all your leftover apples from those family apple picking trips than in this recipe? One of our favorite details of this recipe is that it can be easily prepared in a pressure cooker, meaning less work (and dishes) for you. If you are prepping in advance, remember to soak the sliced apple pieces in a mixture of kosher salt and cold water until you are ready to cook them so they stay crispy and vibrant.

Get our recipe for Apple Cranberry Crisp.

44

Fudgy Raspberry Brownies

fudgy raspberry brownie on white plate with fork Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Frozen raspberries, unsweetened applesauce, and lemon zest come together to create a delectably sweet post-dinner treat. Make sure to bake a batch of these the day or two before the holiday for minimal fuss, or prepare well in advance and freeze.

Get our recipe for Fudgy Raspberry Brownies.

45

The Ultimate No-Bake Cookie Dough

Keto no-bake cookie dough balls Beth Lipton

Ingredients like almond butter, maple syrup, and chocolate chips take holiday treats to another level in this recipe. One of the best parts is that it requires no baking—just prep all your ingredients, chill the cookie dough balls in the refrigerator (or in the freezer if you are prepping more than a couple of days in advance), and take them out once you ready to serve for a simple yet tasty dessert.

Get our recipe for the Ultimate No-Bake Cookie Dough.

46

Banana Pudding

Low-calorie banana pudding Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

If you are tired of all the pumpkin-flavored desserts and cinnamon-spiced treats, then make sure to whip up this southern-style banana pudding. Delicately sweet and conveniently easy to make, this recipe transforms simple ingredients, such as bananas and vanilla wafers, into a soon-to-be crowd favorite. This banana pudding is perfect to prepare the night before Thanksgiving as it gives it time for all of the flavors to soak into the wafers.

Get our recipe for Banana Pudding.

47

Fudgy Pumpkin Brownie Bites

Fudgy pumpkin brownie bites on a wooden cutting board Blaine Moats

Canned pumpkin makes a delicious appearance in this recipe. Just combine the popular holiday delicacy with some easy-to-find baking ingredients, such as cocoa powder and flour, and prepare to be blown away. You can even freeze and reheat this dessert if you plan on baking in advance.

Get our recipe for Fudgy Pumpkin Brownie Bites.

48

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Biting into a slice of pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Who says pumpkins are just for pies? Put an inventive spin on a classic holiday staple with this quick pumpkin cheesecake that you can easily put together a day or two before festivities. It actually tastes even more delicious 24 hours after baking!

Get our recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake.

49

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy oatmeal–chocolate chip cookies Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

These cookies are great served with vanilla ice cream or a steamy cup of hot chocolate.

Get our recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

50

Make-Ahead Apple Pie

This recipe for apple pie can be prepared not just a couple of days in advance, but actual weeks ahead of time. Just prep the pie filling in a crockpot and store in sterilized jars in the refrigerator for up to six weeks. The crumb topping can also be made ahead and stored in the freezer until you are ready for use.

Get the recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking.

With all of these make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes in your back pocket, you'll have plenty of time to relax on the holiday itself.

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Brittany Natale
Brittany Natale is a food and lifestyle writer. Read more
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