If you’re as busy as I am — and I’ll bet good money that you are — you’re starting to feel the crush of the holiday season. Take a deep breath: everything will get done, and with a little planning you can have some fun, too. Even while cooking. The trick? Relying on make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes.
Whether you’re bringing one dish to Aunt Wanda’s house or are responsible for the whole shebang, these classic Thanksgiving day recipes will pace your holiday cooking so that you can breathe easy and enjoy the ride.
A Thanksgiving-must, stuffing is one of the easiest dishes to make ahead. (Phew!) While there are an unimaginable number of variations, Cornbread, Sausage, and Pecan Dressing (above) from Bon Appetit magazine is full of classic Thanksgiving Day flavors. You can’t go wrong with this.
Cranberry sauce is another easy-to-make-ahead Thanksgiving Day staple. In fact, it’s better after a day or two. Any recipe can be made before schedule (and even in the slow cooker), but I’m excited to try this Citrus Vanilla Cranberry Sauce from Style Sweet CA.
I like to serve more than one veggie on Thanksgiving, but veggies require a lot of prep (washing, trimming, cutting). That’s why I always make one of my vegetable side dishes something I can make ahead, like this Butternut Squash Gratin from Simple Bites. This recipe, which calls for only basic pantry ingredients, can be assembled, partially baked, cooled, and stored ahead of time. Twenty minutes before Thanksgiving dinner, pop it into the oven to get warm and melty and you’re good to go.
Mashed potatoes certainly do not count as one of my two vegetable sides, though I’m sure kids would like to. To me, they are their own thing and, as such, there is much written on how to perfect them. I like this recipe for Perfect Mashed Potatoes from Elise at Simply Recipes because it’s easy. Make them fully the day before Thanksgiving and reheat at 350 degrees in a foil-covered baking dish for 10 to 20 minutes on turkey day.
If you’re not mad for mashed potatoes the way that I am, check out these 3 mashed potato alternatives from One Hungry Mama that are just as delicious and will hit the same spot: Celery Root Mash, Holiday Spiced Mashed Potatoes (pictured), and Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower. They can all be reheated the day of in the same way as plain mashed potatoes.
There is no Thanksgiving without Thanksgiving pies and, this year, making pies from scratch is easy with my simple pie crust recipe, especially if you make the dough ahead of time. Pop the dough in your freezer and, a day or two before turkey day? All you have to do is defrost, roll, and fill.
One more tip to help keep things running smoothly during this busy time: keep weeknight meals super simple! Pull our favorite, fast weeknight dinners into heavy rotation and get help from these all-natural cooking sauces that will cut weeknight cooking time in half.
Between these weeknight cooking solutions and a nearly entirely made-ahead Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll be rested and ready to celebrate turkey day in cool mom style. –Stacie