Take a little stress off your meal planning with some Thanksgiving make ahead recipes! Here are ten tasty recipes you can prep and cook in advance, then reheat right before serving. Plus there is a BONUS recipe for an easy post a post celebration meal!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s all about the food! I like to keep some traditional dishes while trying new recipes each year. Even though it’s a blast to spend hours on a home-cooked meal for your loved ones, it does get a little hectic. With a bit of planning, you can impress your guests without breaking a sweat in the kitchen. Here are some of my time-saving tips for all of you adventurous home cooks!
Thanksgiving Prep Tips
- Cooking Schedule- My science geek takes over, and I like to break out the spreadsheets! Create a schedule for the week of turkey day when you can prep and cook each dish. Then create a timeline for the actual day, so you know when things need to be in and out of the oven or stove. This will give you a better idea of what equipment is required and when. Staying organized will help you move swiftly through each task.
- Grocery List- Gather your recipes and make a grocery list and write about how much to buy and what stores you need to shop. The stores get crazy, and you want to be in and out, and a game plan helps.
- Bring the Heat- Since the turkey or ham will be taking up most of the oven time, only pick a few other side dishes that require the oven, so you don’t compete for space. Chose make-ahead meals, so all you have to do is reheat while the turkey is resting. Choose dishes that use the stove, grill or slow cooker as well to free up some space.
- Prep Ahead– You can quickly chop items for salads, vegetable side dishes, make sauces, dressings, bread, and desserts ahead of time.
- Serving Dishes- Take out the dishes you plan to use the night before and label them so you can quickly grab, fill and serve. If possible, set the table the night before so it’s one less thing to worry about and your home will look stunning once your guests arrive.
- Say YES!- Everyone always asks, “How can I help”? If you’re like me, your mind is spinning 1000 miles per minute. You do need help. Give willing helpers some easy tasks like getting drinks, setting up the appetizer or dessert table, or keeping an eye on some dishes on the stove. Also, let them bring something to share if they offer so you can have one less thing to cook.
This holiday is about quality time together, so embrace the chaos, forget perfection, pop the champagne and have fun cooking and eating together!
#1) Rustic Italian Butternut Squash Soup
With just a few simple fall-inspired ingredients, you can make a savory, comforting soup as an appetizer or first course. Just reheat on the stove or in a slow cooker before serving for a no stress dish.
#2) Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Farro
This hearty and healthy salad is a tasty beginning to a holiday meal. Just roast the vegetables the day before and cook the farro. Toss together with salad greens and dressing when ready to serve.
#3) Honey Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Pre-cook the butternut squash and Brussels sprouts ahead of time. Re-heat in a sweet orange honey glaze and toss with cranberries and pecans. One of my family favorites!
#4) Green Beans with Almonds
These crunchy green beans will be the perfect healthy side for your dinner table. You can blanch and cool the green beans a day ahead of time, and then warm them in the citrus sauce right before serving!
#5) Roasted Acorn Squash with Turkey Stuffing
A Thanksgiving feast all in one adorable serving! You can cook the squash, make the stuffing and fill the day before. Pop the tray in the oven to warm for the ultimate side dish!
#6) Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with Swiss Chard
This healthier twist on a classic mashed potato recipe adds more nutritious vegetables to each bite. Prepare the cauliflower mash in advance, then swirl together with some sauteed swiss chard for a comforting side.
#7) Homemade Orange Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is a must-have to serve with your juicy turkey! You won’t believe how easy it is to make this sauce from scratch and it can be made days earlier so you can just grab and go.
#8) Whole Wheat Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls
Wow, your guests with these whole grain homemade dinner rolls! Let them rise in the morning and bake them right before the feast, or bake them a day before and reheat. Your guest won’t be able to just one!
#9) Cranberry Linzer Cookies
Switch up the dessert options with these festive and beautiful Linzer cookies! Bake the cookies and the cranberry filling a few days ahead. Fill before serving your sweets for an irresistible treat with tea or coffee.
#10) Classic Pumpkin Pie
Your meal is not complete without a gorgeous pie filled with pumpkin custard! You can make this treat a few days ahead, refrigerate and then take out a few hours before serving dessert. Don’t forget the whipped cream!
BONUS!) Pot Pie Soup with Turkey Leftovers
If you planned right, you will have some yummy leftovers waiting for you in the fridge. Transform last night’s meal into a whole turkey pot pie soup with those extra ingredients. Enjoy a bowl or two while still lounging in your pajamas!
What are your essential dishes to make for Thanksgiving? What new ones will you try this year? Are you known for a particular recipe? I would love to hear your must-have Thanksgiving recipes in the comment section! I’m going to start meal planning now so the festivities can be smooth as chocolate silk pie. Let me know if you need any help with suggestions!
6 Comments Leave a comment or review
Ronald F. Seto says
My father made this turkey stuffing for Thanksgiving and I have been making the same stuffing for the past 65 years. Everyone who has had it have always raved over it and many copies of the recipe have been given out. Basically, its mashed potatoes, day old bread, pork sausage, lop chon sausage, onion, sage, salt and pepper. I used to stuff the turkey with it as the stuffing would keep the turkey meat moist, but lately, I just make it as a stove top dish. I have never tasted a stuffing that was better than mine. It is never dry, just moist with the right texture. My father was a cook, then vice president of the House of Chan restaurant in New York City, where I also picked up some of my culinary skills. If you are interested in the recipe, I can send you a copy.
Pam Miller says
I would love a copy of your Dad’s stuffing, it sounds delicious.
Pam Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh My Goodness! I would love to have this recipe!
I hope you receive this . I see that it was published a year ago.
Thanks in advance!
Karen Pulcinella says
Thank you for these great ideas and recipes!
Thanks for some great suggestions! I don’t know which ones, but I plan to use some of these!
Jessica, what wonderful, healthy, delicious recipes! I will absolutely use some this Thanksgiving! Thank you!!!