Want to take the stress out of Thanksgiving Day cooking? Preparation and make-ahead are my secret to success on this day focused on food, gathering and gratitude! These 10 easy recipes to cook ahead for Thanksgiving will give you a head start in the kitchen on this busy day.
When preparing for your Thanksgiving feast, consider everything that can be done ahead of time, including all of the side dishes that can be prepared and ready to heat up on our favorite Thursday of the year! Many family favorites can be cooked days before Thanksgiving. We’ve gathered some of our favorite recipes with tips on when to prepare and how to store them for Thanksgiving day…
10 Bread Cubes for Stuffing Can be made up to a month in advance wrapped in a plastic bag and frozen, or if living in a dry climate, stored in bags or containers sealed.
9 Salad dressings Can be made a week in advance. Place dressing in a mason jar and refrigerate. Just shake or blend before serving.
8 Cranberry Sauce Can be made and frozen weeks in advance. Place in a jar and freeze. Just thaw in the refrigerator or on the countertop, and stir to serve.
7 Pie Crust Make crust, roll out flat and store between two pieces of Saran Wrap in the freezer up to 3 months in advance, or in the refrigerator 3-5 days in advance. Pie dough may also be shaped into discs, wrapped tightly and frozen or refrigerated with the same guidelines.
6 Mashed Potatoes Can be made by using this make ahead casserole in advance and stored in the refrigerator, or my favorite way to cook mashed potatoes is in the Instant Pot or the Slow Cooker. It takes minutes to throw together in the morning, and both appliances have keep warm features!
5 Sweet potatoes Can be made 2-3 days in advance, store in a plastic bag or tupperware- store potatoes in the fridge, nuts at room temperature- remove into a serving dish, top with nuts, heat and serve.
4 Stuffing Make 3 days in advance. Store in a plastic bag or tupperware and refrigerate- when ready to serve, remove to serving dish, drizzle with about ⅓ cup of broth, Cover with foil and heat until warmed in 350 oven about 30 minutes.
3 Overnight refrigerator rolls Make the night before serving, cook the next day. Or, any roll recipe which is rolled out and shaped can be made in advance. Shape rolls as directed in recipe, do not let rise the second time. Place on a cookie sheet, immediately wrap with plastic wrap and freeze. About 3 hours before serving, remove from the freezer. Remove wrap. Let thaw and rise. Bake as directed.
2 Green salad Slice and individually bag each of the ingredients 1 day ahead of time. Add a small amount of fruit juice or salad dressing to apples to prevent discoloring. When ready to serve, add remaining ingredients to greens and toss.
1 Turkey and Gravy Can be cooked 2-3 days in advance. I always cook two 14-16 lb turkeys. If you are a 2 turkey family, cook one in advance. When done, carve the turkey. Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking oil. Make one layer of turkey then spoon about ¼-½ cup of the drippings over the top. Layer the rest of the turkey into the pan. Spoon additional drippings over top. Seal tightly with foil or saran wrap. About 1 ½ hours before serving, remove from the refrigerator place on the counter. Place in the oven at 325 for about 1 hour, or until heated thru. Gravy can be completely made and stored in the refrigerator and reheated on the stovetop on Thanksgiving. Gravy may need to be thinned a little by whisking in a bit of additional chicken broth.
That’s it! You’re ready! Now you’ll have more time to watch the parade or put together a puzzle with people you love on this special day. Or take a nap. Napping is a good idea too 🙂