Home Recipe Roundup 37 Best Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

37 Best Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Take back control of the hectic Holiday mayhem with these make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes

Let’s be honest. Nobody wants to spend the holidays sprinting around the kitchen, trying to get everything ready.

There are just so many dishes to get right.

Sliced Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Sauce
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Preparing beforehand is the best way to ensure a stress-free Turkey day.

No matter if you’re hosting a small family affair or a great big party, meal prep is the best way to go.

There are so many benefits to making some of your Thanksgiving recipes ahead of time.

You even create time to serve up other new and exciting dishes!

1.  Make-Ahead Roasted Turkey

One of the hardest things about Thanksgiving cooking is juggling the oven space.

So, a make-ahead roasted turkey is just what you need. 

You can make this recipe a day before or even a week before. It still tastes just like it’s freshly carved. 

This recipe is fantastic because you can have the turkey carved and ready to go before any of the guests arrive. 

2. Paula Deen’s Corn Casserole

This classic Southern comfort dish is a must for your Thanksgiving table. 

Paula Deen is known as the queen of Southern cooking.

One bite of this fantastic, cheesy corn casserole and you’ll see just why! 

You can keep this casserole in the refrigerator for up to three days and freeze it for up to 2 months. Perfect for pre-holiday cooking!

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3. Foolproof Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing

Free up your holiday schedule with this fantastic make-ahead Thanksgiving stuffing.

It’s so easy to make, it’s practically foolproof! It’s bursting with fresh herb flavor.

Crispy on top and chewy in the middle, you just can’t beat it.

Letting the stuffing sit overnight allows the herb flavors to sink into the bread. This makes the flavor even more delicious! 

4. Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

These creamy mashed potatoes can be made 2 days ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.

The key to these creamy potatoes is baked potatoes, not boiled.

Wet potatoes are always too heavy and dense, so baking them ensures they’re as light as can be. 

To reheat the mash, microwave them in a microwave-safe container for 14 minutes.

Top them with some melted butter and chives and enjoy!

5. Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is one of the easiest Thanksgiving essentials you can make ahead of time. 

This recipe can be made from fresh or frozen cranberries and it’s ready in just 20 minutes. How simple is that?

It can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months. Now, that certainly takes the pressure off the Thanksgiving meal prep! 

6. Paula Deen Sweet Potato Casserole

The queen of Southern cuisine has a casserole for your next Thanksgiving dinner!

Paula Deen’s sweet potato casserole is simply sublime.

From the silky mashed sweet potatoes to the toasted marshmallow topping, what’s not to love?

This fabulous party-ready dish can easily be made ahead of time.

You can prepare it and keep it in the refrigerator, ready for baking on the day.

7. Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

Ensure Turkey Day is smooth sailing by whipping up this turkey gravy ahead of time!

You can keep this gravy in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or 4 months in the freezer.

Just reheat it in the saucepan, there’s no need to even defrost it!

This recipe is one of the most flavorful gravies you’ll ever make. It has a rich, deep, roasted flavor.

8. Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

This double-layer pumpkin cheesecake is bound to drop jaws at Thanksgiving!

The pumpkin spice flavor in this dessert perfectly pairs with the vanilla cheesecake. Yum! 

This recipe is great to make ahead, and it is also much better to eat if you do!

By giving it longer to set, you get a marriage of flavors in a creamy and perfectly firm cheesecake.

9. Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

You only need a handful of ingredients to make this shaved Brussels sprout salad

It’s a great make-ahead veggie side dish to have during the holidays.

It’s light, zesty, and fresh, and will cut through all those other heavy Thanksgiving sides. 

It’s just as delicious with your turkey dinner as it is with all the leftovers the next day. 

10. Funeral Potatoes

The name of this dish might be a bit of a downer. But there’s nothing downbeat about the taste of this fabulous casserole!

It’s rich, decadent, and loaded with ooey-gooey, cheesy goodness.

Funeral potatoes are a fantastic make-ahead dish! You can either freeze the casserole pre- or post-baking.

11. Caramelized Onion Dip

This caramelized onion dip is perfect to keep your dinner guests satisfied while they wait for the turkey dinner.

It’s so good, you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful!

So, serve it with chips so your friends and family can scoop up as much as they like.

Nobody has time to caramelize onions on Thanksgiving. Be sure you do that the day before so you’re all ready to go.

12. Paula Deen’s Squash Casserole

Paula Deen’s squash casserole is the perfect side for your Thanksgiving dinner. It never disappoints!

To make this dish ahead of time, prep the casserole according to the recipe instructions. But skip the cracker topping.

Keep the casserole in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it. Easy-peasy.

13. Cornbread Stuffing

You can save even more cooking time this holiday season by combining two of the best side dishes. 

This cornbread stuffing is the best of both worlds. It’s crumbly, savory, and subtly sweet in the very best way.

Making this dish ahead of time? Be sure to take it out from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

This way, it will cook more evenly when baking.

14. Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

This sweet potato casserole is super easy to prepare in advance. It can be a real lifesaver during the craziness of Thanksgiving.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is pretty famous for its steaks and entrees.

But it’s the side dishes on the menu that are the true hidden gems!

Especially this sweet potato casserole. It’s fluffy and sweet, with an amazing amount of crunch. Delish.

15. King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Not a turkey fan? This chicken casserole is a great alternative to Thanksgiving’s most popular main dish. 

Chicken, cheese, and cream? Sign me up! This casserole is the ultimate comfort food, which is perfect for the holiday season. 

You can easily assemble the layers of this dish up to a day in advance.

Just cover the casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake. Simple!

16. Make-Ahead Stuffed Mushrooms with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

Looking to serve up an interesting new appetizer this year?

Give these goat cheese and pine nut stuffed mushrooms a go!

They’re super easy to make ahead of time. All you have to do on the day is pop them in the oven for a couple of minutes.

Thanksgiving appetizers have never been so easy (or tasted this good)!

17. Strawberry Pie With Frozen Strawberries

Strawberry pie is a timeless classic. Serve this fabulous pie made with frozen strawberries for the ultimate Thanksgiving dessert

It doesn’t get any easier than this! Just make the pie ahead of time by preparing the filling a day before.

You won’t be able to get enough of that fruity strawberry filling and buttery flaky crust. Yum!

18. Cowboy Meatloaf and Potato Casserole

This cowboy meatloaf is a great, meaty alternative to Thanksgiving turkey or ham. 

To make it ahead, follow the recipe but skip the broiling.

Once it’s cooled, cover the meatloaf with plastic wrap and foil and refrigerate it for up to three days.

Easy-peasy! What more could you want?

19. Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

The holidays are all about decadence. And sometimes, you just want a bit of everything.

That’s why this broccoli cheddar chicken and rice casserole is so fabulous.

It’s loaded with chicken, rice, orzo pasta, herbs, and lots of broccoli.

To make this casserole ahead of time, follow all the steps up to the point of baking.

Then, cover the dish and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake it. 

20. Trisha Yearwood Sweet Potato Casserole

If you’re looking for a dish that’ll impress, look no further than this sweet potato casserole.

Trisha Yearwood knows a thing or two about Southern cooking! It’s so clear just how delicious this recipe is. 

Looking to make this ahead of time? Just follow the recipe before baking.

You can refrigerate this dish for up to 24 hours ahead of time. Then, top the filling with the streusel and bake. 

21. Pecan Pie

It’s not the holidays without a classic pecan pie on the table! 

This wonderfully sweet and salty dessert is made all the tastier with a dash of fragrant cinnamon. 

You can make this delicious pecan pie 3 months ahead of time.

Bake it, freeze it, and leave it to thaw overnight, ready for Thanksgiving. Easy! 

22. Cauliflower Gratin

If you love the sides more than the turkey, then you’ll love this cauliflower gratin!

It’s loaded with Gruyere, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs. And it’s smothered in the most decadent, creamy sauce. Need I say more?

And the best part is it’s freezable! This will make your Thanksgiving meal prep so much easier.

Just be sure you leave it in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. 

23. French’s Green Bean Casserole

You can’t throw a Thanksgiving celebration without the green bean casserole! 

This fabulous recipe will make a veggie lover out of everybody. Even the picky eaters. 

To make it ahead, microwave and assemble the ingredients in the casserole. Just hold out on the toppings until you’re ready to bake. 

24. Turkey Cheese Ball

This turkey cheese ball is the perfect eye-catching centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. The kids will love it! 

It’s made with cream cheese and other tasty add-ons like chocolate chips and brown sugar.

Make this cheese ball ahead of time and add the decorations just before serving.

You can store this dessert well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

25. Paula Deen’s Green Bean Casserole

One bite of Paula Deen’s famous green bean casserole and you’ll just swoon! 

You won’t be able to get enough of the amazing textures, from the creaminess to the crunch. And it’s so easy to make ahead of time. 

Prepare the casserole one to two days ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap or foil.

Just don’t add the onions yet! Otherwise, they’ll get soggy.

26. Scalloped Potatoes

These scalloped potatoes are the best side dish to have with your turkey.

Creamy and loaded with cheese, there’s so much to love about these fantastic potatoes.

It’s made with thinly-sliced potatoes layered with onions, cheese, butter, and milk.

To make it ahead, follow the recipe but skip the broiling.

Once it’s cooled, cover the meatloaf with plastic wrap and foil and refrigerate.

Add a little extra milk when you’re ready to bake.

27. Roasted Vegetables

Even picky eaters won’t be able to resist these delicious roasted veggies!

Looking for a veggie side dish to rival the Thanksgiving ham?

These roasted vegetables are just the ticket. And they’re so easy to prepare ahead of time. 

Throw veggies, oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, thyme, and rosemary into Ziploc bags.

Seal the bags and toss the ingredients to mix. Then, stash them in the refrigerator for when you’re ready.

28. Jiffy Cornbread Casserole

Sweet, creamy, and loaded with maximum corn flavor. This cornbread casserole is simply mouthwatering. 

This is bound to become your new favorite side dish. And cornbread casserole is a great make-ahead dish, too! 

Just pour the mixture into a greased baking dish and cover it with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it and bake it whenever!

29. Thanksgiving Turkey Roll

There’s no need to run around the kitchen in a panic this Thanksgiving.

Whip up this roulade turkey breast with stuffing ahead of time to skip the stress. 

Rolled turkey breast is stuffed with a tasty chestnut and sausage cornbread stuffing. Yum!

Make-ahead: The stuffing can be made up to two days in advance of assembling the roulade.

Wrap the turkey roll in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for Thanksgiving.

30. Tater Tot Casserole

Are you hosting this holiday? Whip up this glorious tater tot casserole. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd! 

This casserole is loaded with tater tots, ground beef, and creamy mushroom soup, too.

Save yourself some time on the day and make this dish ahead of time.

Prepare and assemble the layers as instructed in the recipe. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and foil and freeze.

31. Pumpkin Soup

There’s no better fall-time appetizer to serve during the holidays than pumpkin soup.

It’s creamy, savory, and loaded with amazing, warm spices. 

Plus, you can easily make this soup 3 or 4 days before the celebrations begin.

32. Sweetie Pie’s Mac and Cheese

It’s not Thanksgiving without everybody’s favorite side dish, mac and cheese! 

It’s rich, cheesy, hearty, and undeniably delicious.

Luckily, you don’t have to be in St. Louis or Houston to enjoy this sensational side dish. This Sweetie Pie’s copycat recipe is the real deal.

Want to make it ahead of time?

Prepare the mac and cheese mixture according to the instructions and cover the dish with plastic wrap. It’s all ready to go!

33. Campbell’s Chicken Pot Pie

Cook up a serious home comfort classic and whip up this chicken pot pie. 

Chicken, cheese, veggies, and a creamy sauce are encased between two crisp and flaky crusts. What’s not to love?

This chicken pot pie will keep well in the freezer for up to 4 to 6 months. So, go ahead and make as many as you can!

34. Brie Bites with Cranberry

These brie bites with cranberry are such a fun and festive appetizer to share!

Brie is tucked into puff pastry and topped with cranberry sauce, pecans, and rosemary. 

Assemble the bites in the muffin pan and refrigerate them unbaked for up to 3 days before baking.

You can also fully bake and freeze these bites for up to 2 months.

35. Bisquick Turkey Pot Pie

Now, what do you do with the leftover turkey? You make this fabulous Bisquick turkey pot pie, of course!

Meaty turkey bits, hearty vegetables, and rich gravy are all packed underneath a bed of pastry. 

This pot pie also freezes super well. It’s perfect for when you’re too tired or lazy to make lunch or dinner.

36. Make Ahead Cider and Sage Gravy

Skip the stress of the last-minute gravy-making. Make this amazing make-ahead cider and sage gravy instead.

Fresh apple cider adds a wonderful, subtle sweetness to this gravy. It’s so scrumptious. 

Making this gravy ahead of time actually makes it so much more flavorful.

All the flavors get to infuse better overnight in the refrigerator.

37. Paula Deen Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is a holiday essential. And when it tastes as good as Paula Deen’s recipe, it’s even more essential!

You can make this pie up to 2 days ahead of time.

Not only will you free up so much time, but you also allow the flavors in the filling to meld. 

Cover the pie with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate it until you’re ready to gobble it up. 

37 Best Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Make your holiday easier with these make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes! From turkey to stuffing to potatoes, you can prepare all of your favorites before the big day.


  • Make Ahead Roasted Turkey

  • Paula Deen’s Corn Casserole

  • Foolproof Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing

  • Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

  • Cranberry Sauce

  • Paula Deen Sweet Potato Casserole

  • Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

  • Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

  • Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

  • Funeral Potatoes

  • Caramelized Onion Dip

  • Paula Deen’s Squash Casserole

  • Cornbread Stuffing

  • Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

  • King Ranch Chicken Casserole

  • Make-Ahead Stuffed Mushrooms with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

  • Strawberry Pie With Frozen Strawberries

  • Cowboy Meatloaf and Potato Casserole

  • Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

  • Trisha Yearwood Sweet Potato Casserole

  • Pecan Pie

  • Cauliflower Gratin

  • French’s Green Bean Casserole

  • Turkey Cheese Ball

  • Paula Deen’s Green Bean Casserole

  • Scalloped Potatoes

  • Roasted Vegetables

  • Jiffy Cornbread Casserole

  • Thanksgiving Turkey Roll

  • Tater Tot Casserole

  • Pumpkin Soup

  • Sweetie Pie’s Mac and Cheese

  • Campbell’s Chicken Pot Pie

  • Brie Bites with Cranberry

  • Bisquick Turkey Pot Pie

  • Make Ahead Cider and Sage Gravy

  • Paula Deen Pumpkin Pie


  • Select your favorite recipe.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a Thanksgiving recipe in 30 minutes or less!
Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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