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There are some dishes that have be made on Thanksgiving day. Turkey cannot be roasted—or deep fried—ahead of time, mashed potatoes will not stay fluffy, and Pot-Stuck Brussels Sprouts will not remain crisp.
But to help you deal with the stress of the holiday and keep everything running smoothly, we've compiled a list of recipes that can be made (or their components prepared) a day, a couple of days, or even a week ahead of time. Our list includes salads and stuffing (yes, you can make Thanksgiving sides before the big day) as well as breads (that last in the freezer for up to five months) and batchable cocktails.
So take a deep breath: Thanksgiving just got a whole lot easier.
According to our resident Genius, Kristen Miglore, this squash-studded kale salad actually tastes better when you prep all the ingredients the day before and toss the dressing in just before you're ready to serve.
Consider dessert solved by making this chocolatey, toasty pecan pie drizzled in salted caramel the day before the holiday madness.
Feel free to whip up this vegetarian-friendly stuffing the day before and store it covered in the fridge. Just make sure to let it come up to room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour before heating it up in the oven.
4. Angel Corn
This creamy, golden-brown corn casserole is sure to be a hit at any Thanksgiving table. Best part: make and bake the whole thing the day before, then on the day of, let it come up to room temperature and reheat at 350F° for 20 or 30 minutes.
Assemble this light and herby carrot and potato gratin from our co-founder, Merrill Stubbs, the night before the big day then simply heat it up in the oven just before you want it to hit the table.
These season-ready pumpkin chocolate chip won't lose their chewy softness if you bake them the night before and store them in an airtight container. Another option: Make the batter a day ahead and pop them in the oven as guests arrive to fill your kitchen with that inviting cookie aroma.
You'll have one less thing to worry about on Thanksgiving day if you assemble all the parts of this fall-inspired salad the day before, from roasting the carrots and toasting the pistachios to mixing up the fig-y balsamic vinaigrette.
“[This is] one of those dishes that really wakes up your tongue: the garlic keeps on giving (in the best possible way); the harissa lends both sweetness and heat (you can control the latter by choosing a milder or more spicy harissa); and the perfume of the preserved lemon lingers after each bite,” writes our Editors. “And yes, it is even better the next day.”
This easy party drink tastes like fall. To make ahead, combine the rye, bitters, and apple cider and then place in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, add the hard cider to the mixture and pour over ice.
These eggs swap mayo for greek yogurt, a change that adds that depth, tang, and levity to the classic hors d'oeuvres. For best results, make the eggs and yogurt-filling a day in advance, then—using a homemade piping bag—combine them hours before serving.
Similar to the apple rye punch, you can batch John deBary’s fall-inspired Boulevardier days in advance of serving. Developed as a digestif-style, palate-cleansing cocktail, this drink is best enjoyed during the gap between savory and sweet courses.
12. Chevre Devils
The spicy candied pecans you need to complete this appetizer-ready recipe can actually be prepped a few days ahead and stored in an airtight container until you're ready to assemble your spread.
Skip the store-bought cranberry sauce this year and make this homemade version (still in a can!) that you can make days ahead of time.
You can bake these lightly tangy dinner rolls just a few minutes before the point of golden perfection, let them cool, wrap them tightly, and store them in the freezer. On Thanksgiving morning, pull them out of the freezer to come up to room temperature and reheat for 10 or 12 minutes in the oven.
You can prep the dough and filling for this creamy-cozy tart a few days ahead of time and assemble the day of.
Make this easy-yet-impressive applesauce cake two or three days ahead of time—just wait to glaze the cake until a few hours before you're ready to serve.
Assemble the greens beans and creamy mushroom dressing separately a few days ahead of time. Combine them on Thanksgiving day and bake the whole thing with crispy fried onions.
Nothing says fall like this creamy butternut squash soup seasoned with cozy nutmeg and a splash of sherry. Whip up a big batch a few days before Thanksgiving dinner and simply reheat over the stove before serving.
These simple crackers dusted in addictive everything-bagel seasoning get even simpler when you use a sheet pan. Bake a batch a few days before and store them in airtight containers for Thanksgiving nibbles and dips.
This recipe requires a bit of advanced planning, but the extra effort becomes well worth it when you realize how much flavor this gravy brings to the table (even though you made it in advance).
Mix up this unfussy, but totally packed-with-flavor salad dressing up to five days before the holiday and store it in the fridge. Just give it a good shake before tossing it with your favorite salad!
Our favorite part about these little mushroom pinwheels (aside from their supreme snackiness): you can stash 'em in the freezer until they're ready to bake.
Recipe developer Alexandra Stafford recommends freezing this simple, hearty stuffing before cooking it straight from the freezer.
This sweet-and-sour onion confit, perfect for a charcuterie spread or dolloping over slices of roast turkey, will last in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Classic snickerdoodles get a cardamom-infused update with a dash of the spice in the batter and the sugary coating. Chill the pre-scooped cookie dough balls in the fridge before tossing them in the freezer, where they'll last for up to three months.
This foolproof pie crust has a secret ingredient that makes it more tender and flaky than all the rest—it doesn't hurt that you can make it ahead and freeze it, either.
Instead of whipping up individual cocktails on the fly, make a few jars'-worth of apple peel-infused bourbon, which tastes great with little more than lime and a splash of ginger beer.
Up the pumpkin ante this fall with this couldn't-be-easier no-churn pumpkin ice cream that'll keep in the freezer long after the holidays are over.
“I made this chutney for the first time for Thanksgiving 2014, a week in advance, and it's divine!” writes Community Member marsiamarsia. “My grown son said he's never been fond of cranberry sauce of any sort, but that this was fantastic.”
Rich, nutty, and deeply warming, this butternut loaf pleasantly combines notes of pumpkin and butterscotch to create the ultimate fall bread. While delicious fresh out of the oven, you can also tightly wrap and freeze it months in advance.
This article was updated in August 2023 to include more of our favorite recipes.
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