Make ahead prep for Thanksgiving

Looking for prep ahead ideas to make the big day easier. Can I bake sweet potatoes 3 days before mashing? Can I par boil the Brussel sprouts days before roasting? Any suggestions welcomed.

  • Posted by: Dana
  • November 21, 2021


arielcooks November 13, 2022
You can also prep brussels sprouts for a Delia Smith-style holiday side dish. Remove outer leaves if necessary; score the stems; cut in half vertically, and store tightly covered. Cube the pancetta for this in advance, too.

Also microwave the sweet potatoes and mash them, then refrigerate in a tightly sealed container.

If you prefer to aromatize but not stuff your turkey, make your stuffing a day in advance. Bake it or not. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed container.
Kelly V. November 21, 2021
Hi Dana,

There are so many ways that you can get ahead of Thanksgiving cooking!

You can pre-chop vegetables and store them in airtight containers 1-2 days ahead of using them.

For potatoes, just be sure to keep them covered with water. You can make pie dough in advance and store it in the refrigerator.

Now is also a great time to make turkey stock (just purchase bones from the butcher) and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy:

Our Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce can be made up to five days in advance and stored in the refrigerator:

Plus, now’s a great time to stock up on beverages like sparkling water, wine, apple cider, and maybe even test out a signature Thanksgiving cocktail:

Happy Holidays!
Dana November 21, 2021
Thank you. Great ideas
MMH November 21, 2021
I like Alton Brown’s step step method for prepping the turkey ahead. I make stock ahead & freeze it. I make mashed potatoes ahead & on thanksgiving day I keep them warm in a slow cooker so I dont have to use the stove.
aargersi November 21, 2021
I make my pie crust day before and bake the pie first thing in the morning. I’ll make Merrill’s applesauce cake the day before as well. If your dressing is not going in the bird, it can be put together day before and stored in the dish that you will bake it in in the fridge. I’ve already made stock for my gravy. Cranberries definitely can be made day before too.
It’s also a good idea to set the table and haul out and label your serving platters, bowls, ladles etc. that keeps everything straight in your mind and if anyone wants to help set up they’ll know exactly what goes where. Good luck!
Nancy November 21, 2021
Love the idea of laying out the serving dishes in advance.
Helps you realize if you have everything or need to reassign platters (based on size, keeping food warm or cold, washing between courses).
Dana November 21, 2021
I am renting serving pieces and so I needed to get my menu planned ahead of time to know how many bowls and platters, etc I will need. Now I have one less thing to think about. Thanks for the suggestion.
Nancy November 21, 2021
Here are a few ideas that I know work:
* turkey - Ina Garten has a fabulous day-ahead turkey if you are ok serving it cut (legs, wings, breast meat sliced)
* gravy - can be made a day or two in advance, then boosted with pan drippings after you roast the turkey
* baked pies, cakes, puddings, bread or rolls, stuffing can be made day ahead
* bread, rolls and stuffing can be frozen (raw or baked), defrosted, then baked or warmed up
* desserts - pie crusts and cakes can be frozen
* vegetables - root vegetables and aromatics can be roasted ahead, stored in fridge, heated up.
* green or raw vegetables are better prepared and served on the day
Dana November 21, 2021
All great ideas. Thank you.
Eli J. November 21, 2021
Hey. Here's a great article all about Thxgiving prep - and yes, there's advice about making those potatoes!
Dana November 21, 2021
Thank you!
Meg November 21, 2021
In the past, I've made mashed potatoes the day before. It made things more complicated. So instead I've started peeling and cutting the potatoes the day before and storing them in a bowl of water in the fridge so they don't brown.

Dana November 21, 2021
Thanks Meg. Every little bit of time savings helps.
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