These community-favorite make ahead Thanksgiving recipes save effort on the big day and free us up to enjoy more of our favorite holiday traditions.
Rely on a few of these tried-and-true recipes that get the work out of the way days, weeks, and even months in advance. Don't forget about using your crock pot on Thanksgiving to make things easier, too.
Does your family have any go-to make ahead recipes for Thanksgiving side dishes, appetizers or desserts? Review your favorites below!
Make Ahead Creamy Mac and Cheese Casserole
Kristy Pepping: Our picky eater only ends up eating rolls for Thanksgiving, so last year I started making this mac and cheese casserole. It is a great make ahead Thanksgiving side for anyone attending the holiday, but it's also a meal in itself for picky eaters. It has an added touch of broken up crackers on top, or I have substituted breadcrumbs which is just as tasty.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Kelly R.: Mashed potatoes can be pretty time consuming with all of the peeling, cutting, boiling and mashing. The good news is that most mashed potato recipes work really well as make ahead Thanksgiving side dishes! Ree Drummond's decadent version finishes off in the oven, so you can load them into their baking dish and save in the fridge for a day or two before completing this step.
Ultimate Sweet Potato Casserole
Kelly R.: I love to make this decadent sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows!) that's a hit with both kids and adults in our family. It has a nice pecan crumble topping to give it a bit of crunch. The sweet potato mixture and topping can both be prepped 1-2 days ahead of time and stored separately in the fridge, before combining and finishing off in the oven on Thanksgiving.
Make Ahead Stuffing
Kristy Pepping: If you don't use stuffing that goes inside your turkey, you can add it to your list of make ahead Thanksgiving recipes! Because of the raw eggs, plan to freeze it in advance instead of storing in the fridge. The secret to not making it soggy is using thicker bread like a French or Sourdough variety.
Easy Cornbread Muffins
Kristy Pepping: What's a Thanksgiving menu without the rolls? Corn muffins make a super tasty roll substitute. This recipe in itself is fairly fast to bake, but the nice part is you can make them ahead for Thanksgiving and store in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months. These would make a great side dish for a cookout or potluck, too.
Make Ahead Green Bean Casserole
Kelly R.: This green bean casserole is one of my family's tried-and-true make ahead Thanksgiving recipes, and we've been enjoying it for years. It requires more effort than the traditional dump-and-go canned soup version, but is well worth it! All of the work can be done up to 2 months in advance for this freezer friendly recipe. It is baked straight from frozen, so you don't even need to remember to defrost!
Blanched Green Beans
Alexandra F.: We have a pretty limited rotation of veggies our kids will eat, so green beans are always on our Thanksgiving menu. Unfortunately, they'll only eat them plain, and never in a nice make ahead casserole, which means we usually end up overcooking them in the craziness of the day. Until I learned about blanching! If you blanche the beans a day or two in advance, you can just quickly sauté them in oil (with any spices you might want) right before before serving. Easy peasy! To blanche, just drop them into salted water that is actively boiling. When they are almost - but not quite - done, transfer them to a bowl of ice water until they cool. Dry and store in the fridge.
Cranberry Pear Sauce
Kelly R.: This homemade cranberry sauce is easy and delicious, and this is coming from a canned cranberry sauce lover! It includes pears to break up the tartness from the fresh cranberries without the need for loads of added sugar. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to one week if you want to make it ahead for Thanksgiving.
Primary photo: cottonbro from Pexels
Upparent collects community-submitted recommendations and reviews, and any ideas that are shared reflect the opinions of individual contributors.