48 Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

48 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes! From appetizers, sides, freezer options, mains, potato dishes, and desserts - if you eat it on Thanksgiving we have it!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

If you are looking to spend less time in the kitchen this Thanksgiving holiday and more time with family, check out these great make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes. You’ll find some great side dishes to prep in advance plus make-ahead appetizers and delicious dessert ideas that can be prepped and frozen before the big day!

Thanksgiving table serving sliced turkey breast, smashed sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, baked mac and cheese, and gravy.

Thanksgiving is made for spending quality time with family, and it can be overwhelming when the big day falls on your shoulders. But when you make appetizers, sides, and desserts ahead of time, you can focus on creating memories instead cooking all day!

Why you should make your thanksgiving recipes ahead of time

  • Free your time. Cherish every moment of Thanksgiving when you plan ahead and block out your time the week of to bust out as many dishes before the holiday dinner.
  • Open up the oven for more recipes. When you make various recipes ahead of time, it will allow you all the space you need to focus on roasting your turkey and baking up dishes that need to be made fresh.
  • Have appetizers early. Do most of the prep for finger foods a day or two before so you can have them on display for your guest to snack on throughout the day. Cut and chop veggies, make dips, slice cheeses, and prepare recipes to be baked first before serving.
  • Have a stress-free dinner. When you make recipes ahead of time for Thanksgiving dinner, you allow yourself to relax, focus on dishes that are best made fresh, and eliminate the need to spend every moment in the kitchen. You’ll be rewarded with quality time with loved ones and delicious recipes for all to enjoy.

Tips to make Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Plan ahead. The key to stress-free time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving is all in the planning. Choose from a mix of make-ahead and cook-on-the-day dishes and work out your timings for the day, so that you know what you are putting in the oven and when.
  • Choose a good mix of dishes. Aside from your main Thanksgiving turkey or turkey breast, choose a good selection of vegetable dishes, potato dishes, and sauces like gravy and cranberry sauce to keep everyone happy!
  • Ask people about their dietary requirements. If you are hosting friends and family you may not see all the time, be sure to check in with them if they have any dietary needs so that they aren’t left without!
  • Ask people to bring food! If you are hosting a large Thanksgiving, take some of the pressure off by asking your guests to make some dishes for you that you can quickly heat up to serve!
  • Make the most out of your kitchen appliances. It can be tough to juggle lots of dishes in the oven, so make the most of your air fryer, slow cooker, and Instant Pot to cook and reheat dishes so that you can free up the oven.

What Should Not be made ahead of time?

There are plenty of recipes to make ahead of time, but it’s a good idea to leave some for the day of Thanksgiving dinner. Some recipes are better made fresh because of the dish’s consistency and ability to retain the tastiest texture, and flavors can diminish when made early. Some recipes, from the turkey to the stuffing and other side dishes, will taste better cooked before serving, but you can still prep for them!

  • The turkey. You really want the awe-factor of serving a freshly cooked turkey on the big day! It is also one of those recipes that taste better fresh and will likely be dry and tough if made beforehand.
  • Recipes that should be crispy. If you are frying sides or appetizers, you’ll want to make them the day of dinner to get those crispy, toasty textures. Cut and chop ahead to allow yourself a quick assembly of recipes for cooking that day.
  • Anything that wilts. Salads should be made right before serving to ensure they are fresh and crisp.
  • Stuffing or dressing. This is one of those recipes that just taste better fresh. Especially stuffing, as it is meant to be baked with the turkey. For the best texture, you should prepare this one the day of but definitely cut any veggies beforehand!
  • Gravy made from drippings. Because we’re cooking the turkey on the day of Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll have to wait to make the gravy from drippings. Luckily it’s one of the easier recipes to make and comes together quickly.

Below are some of my favorite healthy make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes that you can use this year.

make ahead thanksgiving appetizers

Making any recipe ahead of time for a holiday feast such as Thanksgiving is ideal. My number one course to prepare would have to be the appetizers. It frees up so much time on the big day to focus on the main course and sides. Some recipes are just for prepping beforehand, while others are ready to display or heat the day of the party. Either way, you will be okay with getting a head start on any aspect of a large holiday dinner.

  • Classic Cheese Board – Platters, charcuterie boards, and such are perfect for displaying an array of fruits, veggies, dips, jams, and of course, cheeses.
    • Make ahead special instructions: A day before, slice cheeses, and vegetables, and gather the nuts, jam, and honey. Store the cheese by covering it with wax paper and then plastic wrap for freshness. Fruits and vegetables should be stored in an airtight container. Stack the board, dishes, and serving spoons on the counter for easy assembly the next day next to the dry ingredients.
    • Day of instructions: Grab the sliced cheeses, cut vegetables, and fruits from the fridge, and the other dry ingredients from the counter to assemble the cheese board how you’d like.
  • Baked Feta Dip – This appetizer is ridiculously delicious and easy to prepare and store in the fridge until ready to heat. You’ll love the Mediterranean flavors to contrast the rich and savory dinner ahead.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Cut all the vegetables and toss them with the remaining ingredients, minus the feta cheese, to store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can do this up to 24 hours ahead of time.
    • Day of instructions: When ready to bake, add the veggie mixture to a baking dish and place the block in the middle. It’s ready to bake and serve with pita chips or crackers.
  • Hot and Spicy Chicken Dip – This dip is hearty and delicious and makes for a quick appetizer to feed a crowd, plus, it can be prepared a day or two ahead of time.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Mix everything together and store in either the baking dish you will use, a plastic ziptop bag, or a covered bowl in the fridge. You can mix this a day or two beforehand.
    • Day of instructions: If baking from a ceramic or glass baking dish straight from the fridge, allow it to rest on the counter for about 10-15 minutes before baking to prevent the dish from breaking while in the oven. If stored another way, add to a baking dish and top with shredded cheese. Bake as directed in the recipe.
  • Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs – Oven-baked all-beef Greek Meatballs stuffed with feta cheese served with a homemade Tzatziki sauce! Perfect appetizer for making ahead of time and freezing.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Prepare the meatballs and freeze before baking by placing them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, making sure they are not touching. Flash freeze for one hour, then transfer them to a freezer bag or container and store in the freezer for up to three months.
    • Day of instructions: Bake from frozen and add about 5 additional minutes to the cooking time or until an instant-read thermometer read 160 degrees.
  • Ranch Dip – Add this creamy homemade ranch dip to your veggie platter or use it as a thicker salad dressing.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container. It can be prepared up to 5 days ahead of time.
    • Day of instructions: Add to platters and trays for dipping. Because it has yogurt and sour cream, keep it on ice for freshness.
  • Crudite Platter – Make a variety of dips to enjoy with this beautifully fresh vegetable platter.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Wash, cut, and chop vegetables ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator.
    • Day of instructions: Assemble the veggie platter and pair it with ranch or other dips.
  • Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms – These light bites of deliciousness are perfect for mushroom lovers, vegetarians, and everyone else. It’s a light version of the cream cheese-filled ones and packs in the flavor!
    • Make ahead special instructions: Prepare the filling by cooking the mushrooms and toasted walnut topping, and chickpea filling. Stuff and top the mushrooms the day before and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: Place the stuffed mushrooms on a hot baking sheet and bake until the cheese has melted through. Serve warm with other bite-size appetizers.
  • Mushroom Tartlets – These cheesy mushroom tartlets are the perfect appetizer for holiday parties – made with onions, mushrooms, and cheese on top of a buttery, flaky mini pastry!
    • Make ahead special instructions: Bake this recipe completely for freezing. Once cooled, place the tray in the freezer until solid. Transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months.
    • Day of instructions: When ready to serve, place on a baking sheet and bake until the cheese is melty and crusty toasty.
  • Smoked Salmon Platter – This array of tidbits includes hors d’oeuvre for an elevated palate with delicate smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, fresh veggies, and boiled eggs to serve with crackers.
    • Make ahead special instructions: A day or two before, cut vegetables and store in airtight containers in the fridge. You can also boil and peel the eggs ahead of time. Gather a platter or cutting board to display the finger foods, plus bowls and other containers or utensils needed for serving.
    • Day of instructions: Assemble the platter by slicing boiled eggs and adding precut vegetables, with small bowls for ingredients such as chopped onions and capers. Finish by plating the cream cheese, smoked salmon, and remaining additions.
  • Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes – These bite-sized tomatoes are adorable and delicious. It’ll be a nice pop of color to your appetizer spread.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Toast breadcrumbs and allow them to cool before storing in an airtight container on the counter. Hollow out the tomatoes and whip up the filling. Stuff the tomatoes and store them covered in the refrigerator.
    • Day of instructions: Remove from the fridge and transfer to a serving platter. Top with the toasty breadcrumbs and fresh basil right before serving.
4 image collage of appetizer recipes.

Sweet potato and potato recipes

There are so many potato and sweet potato recipe ideas to make ahead of time for Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed, roasted, sweet & savory galore! Choose some of these potato recipes to prep or make beforehand to have a quick and easy day of cooking when the time comes. Most of these can be placed in a warm oven to reheat, and others prepped for roasting the day of.

  • Mashed sweet potatoes – A great alternative to traditional mashed potatoes or sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top. They store well in the fridge, so you can cook them the night before and reheat them for your meal.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Cook the recipe as instructed, and once cool, store it covered in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: Reheat the mashed sweet potatoes on the stovetop in a pan until heated through and transfer to a serving dish.
  • Rosemary Garlic Smashed Potatoes – Rosemary Garlic Smashed Potatoes are a best-of-both-worlds recipe – mashed and roasted potatoes! They are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Boil the potatoes and drain. Allow to cool completely and store covered in the fridge up to 3 days in advance.
    • Day of instructions: Remove from the fridge and toss with butter, herbs, and spices. Transfer to a baking sheet and use the back of a cup to smash the potatoes, then sprinkle on cheese. Add to a preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until crispy.
  • Hasselback Sweet Potatoes – Hasselback Sweet Potatoes recipe is a unique way to serve sweet potatoes. They are rubbed with butter roasted to create soft slices with crispy golden edges.
    • Make ahead special instructions: There are two ways to make these ahead of time. First is to only prep the sweet potatoes and store in the fridge, roasting them the day of dinner. Or, you can cook them completely and reheat them.
    • Day of instructions: If uncooked, roast the sweet potatoes as instructed in a higher temped oven. To reheat, place in the oven at 350°F and warm for 5-7 minutes until heated through and with crispy skin.
  • Sweet Potato Rounds with Marshmallows These tasty bites are topped with toasty marshmallows and pecan for a delicious bite. It’s like a sweet potato casserole, only bite-sized.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Go ahead a slice your sweet potato rounds ahead of time. You can stop there and store them in the refrigerator or go a step further by prebaking them. Don’t add the marshmallow just yet, you’ll want to save that step for the day of because it will most likely turn hard and chewy when reheated.
    • Day of instructions: Tray up the cooked sweet potato rounds on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for a few minutes. Then, top it with a marshmallow and add the pecan half right when it comes out of the oven.
  • Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes – This delicious stuffed sweet potato side dish is perfect to serve up for Thanksgiving this year! Made with ginger, cinnamon, and brown sugar, then topped with pecans for a recipe full of flavor and texture.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Bake sweet potatoes and prepare the filling, stuff the sweet potatoes, but skip the second bake. Instead, place the filled sweet potato skins in a container and keep them covered in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: Pop the precooked stuffed potatoes on a baking sheet shortly before dinner for its second bake with the remaining spices, brown sugar, and pecans and roast until warmed through and the skin is crispy.
  • Brussel Sprout Sweet Potato Salad – No more boring salads! Easy to make, this Brussel Sprout Sweet Potato Salad is full of flavor, color, and texture. Plus, you can make it ahead of time because brussel sprouts stay crisp and won’t wilt when dressed.
    • Make ahead special instructions: The dressing can be made up to a week before. The day before dinner, prepare the salad with or without dressing and store covered in the fridge. Roast the sweet potatoes and store them separately.
    • Day of instructions: Transfer to a serving bowl and toss to freshen up the mix and evenly incorporate the dressing. Reheat the roasted sweet potatoes in the oven or air fryer and serve warm on top.
  • Melting Sweet Potatoes – Melting Sweet Potatoes are a lighter version of candied sweet potatoes! They are “just right” in the sweet department without losing the caramelization!
    • Make ahead special instructions: This is a great make-ahead sweet potato dish. Once cooked, transfer to a container and let cool before covering and placing in the fridge. They will keep well for 2 to 3 days.
    • Day of instructions: Reheat them in the oven, covered with foil, at 360°F for 15 to 20 minutes until warmed through.
  • Smashed Sweet Potatoes – Crispy smashed sweet potatoes roasted in the oven with savory spices and parmesan cheese! A way to cook sweet potatoes that actually yields a crispy outside!
    • Make ahead special instructions: Boil the potatoes and drain. Allow to cool completely and store covered in the fridge up to 3 days in advance.
    • Day of instructions: Remove from the fridge and toss with butter, herbs, and spices. Transfer to a baking sheet and use the back of a cup to smash the potatoes, then sprinkle on cheese. Add to a preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until crispy.
  • Healthy Mashed Potatoes – These Healthy Mashed Potatoes are light in calories since they’re made with low-fat sour cream, but loaded with flavor – must-have Thanksgiving side dish!
    • Make ahead special instructions: Cook the recipe as instructed, and once cool, store covered in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: Reheat the mashed sweet potatoes on the stovetop in a pan until heated through and transfer to a serving dish.
  • Garlic Parmesan Roasted Potatoes – These Garlic Roasted Potatoes are perfectly baked in the oven. They’re crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and loaded with a cheese and garlic flavor.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Prepped the potatoes a few days in advance and dress them with oil and seasonings. Store uncooked in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: Before dinner, roast the potatoes and serve hot. To prevent them from becoming soggy and to keep the crisp crust on the outside, do not cover them
4 image collage of potato recipe ideas.

Make ahead vegetable side dishes

One of the most time-consuming aspects of preparing for Thanksgiving dinner is prepping. Vegetables can be trimmed, peeled, sliced, and diced all days ahead of time. Just make sure to store them correctly, and on the day of Thanksgiving dinner assemble your recipes with ease.

  • Potato Cauliflower Bake recipe – An easy cheesy side dish that is always a crowd favorite. It’s simple to make with a few ingredients and is great for pairing with your annual Thanksgiving feast!
    • Make ahead special instructions: Boil the cauliflower and potatoes, place them in the dish with the milk and herbs, then keep them covered in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: Remove from the fridge, add the cheese on top and bake in a preheated oven until the cheese is melted and the potato and cauliflower are heated through.
  • Green Bean Casserole – One of the most traditional and authentic Thanksgiving recipes is a must-have at this friends and family gathering. Make the sauce a few days before and toss the green beans in before baking with breadcrumbs on top.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Make the soup up to 4 days ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge. Blanch the green beans and store them in the fridge separately from the soup until you are ready to bake the casserole so that they stay firm.
    • Day of instructions: Toss together the blanched green beans and premade mushroom soup and add to a baking dish, topping the casserole with panko. Bake 15-20 minutes until bubbly and breadcrumbs are toasted.
  • Oven Roasted Carrots – This delicious, healthy side dish complements many main dishes. Try roasting carrots to bring out their sweet & caramelized flavor.
    • Make ahead special instructions: About 5-7 days before, go ahead and prep the carrots and store them in water in the fridge. The day before, follow the recipe to cook them. Allow them to cool completely before storing them in an air-tight container in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: To reheat them, place them in a medium-heated oven just to heat them through.
  • Sauteed Mushrooms – The key to a deep rich flavor is to give the mushrooms time to caramelize along with aromatics like garlic, onions, and herbs, allowing the mushrooms to absorb those flavors. Ridiculously delicious with turkey and scratch gravy!
    • Make ahead special instructions: Prepare the mushrooms by cleaning and slicing them the day before. Go ahead and minced garlic, too.
    • Day of instructions: Cook the recipe per instructions before serving. They only take 5 minutes to cook, so this will be a quick and easy recipe to make the day of.
  • Roasted Acorn SquashTender, oven-roasted acorn squash slices with brown sugar, cinnamon, and cumin baked in the oven! Roasted acorn squash is a fall side dish you’ll love!
    • Make ahead special instructions: A day or two before, slice the acorn squash and roast per instructions. Allow to cool and transfer the slices to an airtight container and store in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: Remove the squash from the fridge and place it on a baking sheet and warm it in the oven until heated through.
  • Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts – This Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts recipe is an easy way to prepare brussel sprouts that frees up the oven – it’s a tasty side dish perfect for Thanksgiving. Plus, they’re cooked on the stove, so you can free up the oven for other recipes.
    • Make ahead special instructions: In advance, you can trim and halve the brussel sprouts and cut the onions, so they are ready to roast the day of. Store together covered in the fridge until ready to cook.
    • Day of instructions: Use a large skillet and pan-fry the recipe sometime before serving. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Cheesy Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Au Gratin – This recipe is a modern, healthier take on a classic that’s perfect for Thanksgiving dinner!
    • Make ahead special instructions: Roast the cauliflower and make the cheese sauce. Toss them together, and once cooled, keep them covered in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: Gently transfer the cauliflower (they’ll be tender from being precooked) and cheese mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and panko and bake.
  • Roasted Delicata Squash – This is an easy sweet, and savory side dish for Thanksgiving and the holidays – topped with pomegranate, almonds, mint, and yogurt!
    • Make ahead special instructions: Cut the delicata squash, remove the seeds and slice them up to 3 days in advance.
    • Day of instructions: When ready to cook, toss the slices in olive oil, salt, and pepper (and cinnamon, if desired) and roast in the oven.
  • Butternut Squash Risotto– a creamy, buttery rice dish made with roasted seasonal squash. It’s a hearty, nutritious, and cozy recipe that’s perfect for gatherings. 
    • Make ahead special instructions: Cook the recipe a few minutes less than called for. Allow it to cool before storing, covered in the fridge up to 2-3 days beforehand. Tip: drop the temperature quickly by transferring it to the storage bowl and placing that bowl over ice. This will prevent the risotto from overcooking and becoming mushy.
    • Day of instructions: Reheat in the microwave with a splash of vegetable broth and a dab of butter and/or parmesan cheese.
  • Green Beans with Almonds – If you’re looking for something lighter than green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, try my pan-roasted crisp and tender green beans with an almonds side dish!
    • Make ahead special instructions: Blanch the green beans and store in the fridge up to 3 days in advance. Make when blanching vegetables, you quickly bring down the temp with an ice bath. This retains color and makes for a crisp green bean.
    • Day of instructions: Pan fry the green beans with garlic and seasoning. Add to a serving dish and, in the same pan, toast up the almonds to go on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad – A seasonal recipe that is perfect for holiday gatherings and Thanksgiving- bursting with color & flavor and can be dressed the day before.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Prepare this salad up to 3 days ahead of time and store in the fridge.
    • Day of instructions: Pull from the fridge and transfer to a serving dish. Serve cold or allow to come to room temperature before serving.
6 image collage of vegetable side dish ideas.

Make Ahead Freezer-Friendly Options

One way to ready yourself for Thanksgiving Day is to use the weeks ahead of time to make some freezer-friendly dishes. There are various appetizers and side dishes that are perfect for freezing and can relieve some of the stress from your holiday. Check out my Freezer Guide to find more freezer-friendly recipes.

  • Gouda Scalloped Potatoes – Bake up scalloped potatoes ahead of time for a tasty, cheesy Thanksgiving side dish.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Prepare and bake per recipe and allow to cool completely before covering with plastic wrap and foil and then storing in the freezer. Transfer to the refrigerator the day before reheating.
    • Day of instructions: Remove the dish from the fridge and bake as instructed.
  • Homemade Dinner Rolls – Made from scratch with a few simple ingredients, they are slightly sweet and wonderfully soft and fluffy. A must-have for Thanksgiving, so why not make them ahead of time and freeze them?
    • Make ahead special instructions: Bake the rolls per recipe and allow them to cool completely. Use a disposable pan for easy reheating, and just cover it with foil to freeze.
    • Day of instructions: Remove from the freezer and thaw at room temperature. Place them back in a heated oven for a few minutes to warm them up before serving.
  • Baked Cranberry Sauce – This homemade cranberry sauce is levels above the canned stuff, and you can get a head start by cooking and freezing a batch for Thanksgiving.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Cook the cranberry sauce as instructed. Once cooled, store in a freezer-safe container and thaw in the refrigerator the day before.
    • Day of instructions: It’s ready to serve cold straight from the fridge! Transfer to a decorative bowl for serving.
  • Crispy Cheese Rolls – Crispy cheese rolls (Rakakat) are the perfect crunchy, ooey-gooey appetizer to make with just a few ingredients
    • Make ahead special instructions: To freeze, place the unbaked rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid. Once frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag.
    • Day of instructions: When ready to bake, bake them straight from frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time.
  • Cauliflower Rice – Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice is a low-carb grain-free, paleo-friendly substitute for rice or couscous – it’s a great way to add more vegetables into your diet
    • Make ahead special instructions: Cook the rice as instructed but leave out the fresh lime and cilantro. Spread the cauliflower rice on a parchment-lined baking sheet and allow it to cool before popping the tray in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. Move the frozen cauliflower rice to the fridge the day before serving.
    • Day of instructions: When ready to serve, heat a non-stick skillet with a little oil. Add the rice and heat through, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add lime juice and fresh cilantro and toss gently to combine. Serve warm.
  • Spinach Hand Pies – Filled with a zingy spinach filling, these homemade hand pies can be made ahead of time and frozen either before or after baking. If you don’t want to freeze them, make the filling up to 5 days ahead of time and assemble before baking.
    • Make ahead special instructions: Prepare the spinach filling and pie dough (skip if using store-dough dough). Assemble the hand pies and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, you can transfer it to a freezer bag.
    • Day of instructions: Place the frozen spinach pies on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown. It will take just a few minutes longer to bake from frozen. Thaw overnight in a single layer, if preferred.
4 image collage of recipes for the freezer.

make ahead dessert recipes

You can prepare almost all Thanksgiving dessert dishes a day or two in advance, choosing a day to focus on just them. If you’re making something warm like pecan pie or apple pie, place it in the oven after you cook everything else. Don’t turn the oven on – let the resting heat inside the oven warm up the dish for you. Check on them occasionally; they will be ready when everyone finishes the main course. Check out these yummy desserts that are perfect for Thanksgiving!

  • Pecan Pie – This classic dessert is sweetened with dates instead of corn syrup and baked in a flaky crust that is sure to be a hit at your holiday celebration.
  • Mini Pumpkin Pies – These individual pumpkin pies are so easy to make from scratch with a homemade pie crust, and pumpkin pie filling that is dairy-free, and egg-free.
  • Rose Apple Pie – A fun recipe to make with sweet apples, this beautiful Rose Apple Pie looks fancy and elaborate, but it’s actually quite easy with my step-by-step tutorial!
  • Apple Bread Pudding – Apple bread pudding is an easy, fail-proof dessert to enjoy during colder months – made with french bread, creamy custard, and fresh apples! Store in the fridge for up to 4 days before and serve cold or reheat before serving.
  • Cranberry Apple Mini Pies – A fun dessert recipe you can make without any baking experience or special tools. Freeze them before or after baking if made ahead of time, or they can be stored in the fridge and at room temp up to a week early.
  • No Bake Cheesecake Cups – These individual cheesecakes are easy to put together, made lighter with Greek yogurt, and finished with fresh strawberries. You can make the cheesecakes about 3 days ahead of time. Keep them covered in the fridge with some foil or plastic wrap. If you are adding fresh fruit to the top, do this just before serving so that it’s fresh.
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Cookies – These cookies are chewy, moist, and the perfect treat for fall – made healthier by using applesauce and whole wheat flour, but no butter! They keep well on the counter in an airtight container for up to a week before, or you can also freeze and thaw them, too.
  • Apple Pie – A quintessential fall recipe that you can make with pre-made pie dough and basic ingredients- perfect for Thanksgiving. Make a day or two before and store on the counter covered or in the fridge, pulling out the morning of.
  • Apple Crisp – This recipe is quick to make and uses simple ingredients. It’s one of those classic fall desserts we always make! This apple crisp keeps well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container. Set in a warm oven before serving, and top with ice cream.
  • Vegan Pumpkin Pie – Completely dairy-free and made with coconut cream, you can prep this in minutes for a delicious Thanksgiving dessert! Once your vegan pumpkin pie has completely chilled, cover it with plastic wrap or foil, and it will keep well for 3 to 4 days.
  • No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake – Creamy, pumpkin goodness is what Fall’s all about. Plus, no need to choose between pumpkin pie and cheesecake with this all-in-one dessert with a graham cracker crust. Make 3-4 days ahead of time and store covered in the fridge.
4 image collage of dessert ideas.

I hope the planner and these make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes will help you plan your menu a little easier! It’s such a busy day in the kitchen; we can all use a little help!

HOW TO KEEP FOOD WARM On THanksgivng Day

  • Oven: As long as you’re not cooking anything in the oven, you can set it to 200°F and store dishes in there to keep them warm.
  • Aluminum Foil: If your oven is not free, you can simply use aluminum foil, which has reflective properties that protect the food from light and oxygen. The foil reflects the thermal energy back to the food, which maintains moisture, flavor, and texture.
  • Crock Pots and Instant Pots: Think of recipes that can be made in your crock pot or instant pot that will keep food warm during the party. You can even use them to keep food warm even if you don’t cook in them.
  • Insulated coolers: You can use a cooler to keep food hot as well as cold. The insulation technology that keeps out the heat to maintain cold foods also works to trap heat in and keep food hot for hours at a time. You can even line the cooler with aluminum foil for even better results.
  • Chafing buffet set: You can use disposable chafing dishes to keep everything warm. Set up a table to display all the hot dishes for easy access and maintain temperature throughout your meal.
Ovehead shot of a full Thanksgiving table with various side dishes and sliced turkey breast.

FAQs

How far in advance can you make thanksgiving side dishes?

Thanksgiving side dishes can be made between 1 and 5 days beforehand, depending on the recipe. Some make-ahead recipes can be cooked entirely and stored in the fridge, while others are better made fresh the day of, but you can prep many aspects of the recipes beforehand. Cut and chop vegetables, make sauces, and gather dishes the day before. You can even freeze a few Thanksgiving side dishes in the coming weeks before the big dinner.

Can I make Thanksgiving turkey ahead of time?

Some things should be made the day of, and turkey is absolutely one of them. You can focus on sides, appetizers, and desserts to make ahead of time, but for the turkey, no. It will likely be dry and tough when reheating for dinner.

What can I make ahead of time for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Appetizers, sides, and desserts are fantastic options for making ahead of time. Prep snacking platters to assemble the day of, bake mashed potatoes and casseroles to warm in the oven after the turkey comes out, and have desserts on display from making them beforehand.

Thanksgiving table serving sliced turkey breast, smashed sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, baked mac and cheese, and gravy.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve made any of these Thanksgiving Make Ahead recipes – leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it or what you are planning for your Thanksgiving menu. If you snapped some shots of your dishes, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

Full list of Recipes

a beautiful cheese board laid out on a table
Appetizer

How to Make a Cheese Board

Check out my step-by-step guide for How to Make a Cheese Board. All you need is a few ingredients and 15 mins to create a beautiful platter for entertaining
 
15 minutes
4.4 from 7 votes
Baked feta dip served with crackers in a bowl on the side
Appetizer

Baked Feta Dip

Simple and easy to make with fresh ingredients, this baked feta dip is an effortless appetizer that's made for sharing- perfect with crackers
 
40 minutes
5 from 43 votes
Healthy buffalo chicken dip served with veggies and chips
Appetizer

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This Buffalo Chicken Dip is the perfect game day appetizer. You'll love this cheesy, spicy chicken dip with chips, veggies, and more!
 
35 minutes
5 from 41 votes
Oval platter with meatballs and side of tzatziki sauce in a small bowl. Garnished with lemon wedges and fresh mint leaves.
Appetizer, Entree

Greek Meatballs

Oven-baked all beef Greek Meatballs stuffed with feta cheese served with a homemade Tzatziki sauce! Perfect appetizer or main course!
 
35 minutes
5 from 165 votes
Square bowl or homemade ranch dip topped with fresh chives and surrounded by fresh vegetables
Dips, Snacks

Homemade Ranch Dip

Homemade Ranch Dip made with Greek yogurt, dill and chives is perfect for dipping carrots, cucumbers or chips – healthier than store-bought!
 
5 minutes
5 from 70 votes
Festiva crudite platter wreath for Christmas made with kale, green beans, broccoli, snap peas, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
Appetizer

Crudite Platter Wreath

For the Christmas holiday, this crudite platter wreath offers guests a festive healthy beautiful platter filled with vegetables and a homemade ranch dip!
 
15 minutes
5 from 17 votes
Small round dish of vegetarian stuffed mushrooms
Appetizer

Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms

These Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms are perfect to serve as appetizers at your next holiday gathering. They are flavorful, cheesy crowd pleasing finger foods
 
25 minutes
5 from 210 votes
Plate of mushroom tartlets garnished with rosemary
Appetizer, Snacks

Mushroom Tartlets

These cheesy mushroom tartlets are the perfect appetizer for holiday parties – made with onions, mushrooms and cheese on top of a buttery flaky mini pastry!
 
35 minutes
5 from 173 votes
Smoked salmon platter with eggs, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, crackers and more
Appetizer

Smoked Salmon Platter

This smoked salmon platter is the perfect appetizer! The presentation is jaw-dropping and the accompaniments are delicious! Great for holidays and potlucks!
 
15 minutes
5 from 9 votes
Stuffed tomatoes with fresh basil on plate with focus on one.
Appetizer

Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes are juicy, filled with whipped cheeses, and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs for the perfect quick appetizer.
 
17 minutes
5 from 3 votes
Large oval casserole dish with healthy mashed sweet potatoes topped with butter and thyme
Side Dish

Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes are similar to a casserole but without the sugary topping. It's a lightened up savory recipe that pairs well with any protein!
 
20 minutes
5 from 233 votes
These Rosemary Garlic Smashed Potatoes are a best of both worlds potato recipe - mashed and roasted! They are soft on the inside, crispy on the outside and bursting with rosemary garlicky flavor. It's a creative healthy side-dish the whole family will love!
Side Dish

Rosemary Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Rosemary Garlic Smashed Potatoes are a best of both worlds recipe – mashed and roasted potatoes! They are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside
 
50 minutes
5 from 84 votes
Sweet potatoes on a serving platter with yogurt dip next to it.
American, Side Dish

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes recipe is a unique way to serve sweet potatoes. They are rubbed with butter roasted to create soft slices with crispy golden edges
 
1 hour 10 minutes
5 from 55 votes
Sweet potato bites on a oval white dish with melted marshmallows and a pecan half on each with a spatula lifting one up.
Side Dish

Sweet Potato Bites

These sweet potato rounds with marshmallows are similar to sweet potato casserole but only bite-sized – definitely a crowd pleasing dish for Thanksgiving!
 
30 minutes
5 from 19 votes
Small baking dish with four halves of sweet potatoes - two topped with dab of butter
Side

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Delicious and easy to make these stuffed twice baked sweet potatoes are the perfect vegetarian side for Thanksgiving. Loaded with flavor and topped with pecans.
 
1 hour 5 minutes
5 from 25 votes
Brussels Sprouts Sweet Potato Salad in a white bowl
Salad

Brussels Sprout & Sweet Potato Salad

No more boring salads! Easy to make, this Brussel Sprout Sweet Potato Salad is full of flavor, color and texture – pairs with many main dishes
 
40 minutes
5 from 14 votes
Large serving dish with melting sweet potatoes and pecans on the side
Side Dish

Melting Sweet Potatoes

Melting Sweet Potatoes are a lighter version of candied sweet potatoes! They are "just right" in the sweet department without losing the caramelization!
 
50 minutes
5 from 23 votes
Sweet potato rounds garnished with parsley and parmesan in a serving dish with turkey slices and cranberry sauce nearby.
Side Dish

Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Crispy smashed sweet potatoes roasted in the oven with savory spices and parmesan cheese! A way to cook sweet potatoes that actually yields a crispy outside!
 
55 minutes
5 from 35 votes
Final plate of healthy mashed potatoes served with fresh chives and a dab of butter
Side Dish

Healthy Mashed Potatoes

These Healthy Mashed Potatoes are light in calories since they’re made with low-fat sour cream, but loaded with flavor – must-have Thanksgiving side dish!
 
29 minutes
5 from 356 votes
Long serving dish of garlic roasted potatoes served with cilantro
Side Dish

Garlic Roasted Potatoes

These Garlic Roasted Potatoes are perfectly baked in the oven. They're crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and loaded with a cheese and garlic flavor
 
40 minutes
5 from 408 votes
Top down shot of Potato Cauliflower Bake
Side Dish

Potato Cauliflower Bake

This cheesy Potato Cauliflower Bake is a delicious side dish that's quick and easy – pair it with weeknight dinners or Thanksgiving turkey!
 
1 hour
5 from 144 votes
Healthy green bean casserole with panko breadcrumbs on top
Side Dish

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

Made from scratch with a homemade mushroom soup, this green bean casserole is healthier and lighter but still big on flavor for Thanksgiving!
 
35 minutes
5 from 48 votes
Large bowl of oven roasted carrots sprinkled with parsley
Side Dish

Oven Roasted Carrots

Oven Roasted Carrots are a delicious, healthy side dish that complement many main dishes. Try roasting carrots to bring out their sweet & caramelized flavor
 
35 minutes
5 from 57 votes
Serving plate of the sauteed mushrooms with thyme
Side Dish

Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic

These easy sauteed mushrooms only take 10 minutes & 5 ingredients to cook. They make a perfect side to serve with steak and chicken, or as a burger topping!
 
10 minutes
5 from 59 votes
Plate of roasted acorn squash slices on a large white plate and garnished wth parsley with an extra small dish of chopped parsley to the side.
Side Dish

Roasted Acorn Squash

Tender, oven roasted acorn squash slices with brown sugar, cinnamon and cumin baked in the oven! Roasted acorn squash is a fall side dish you'll love!
 
30 minutes
5 from 6 votes
Close up of pan roasted brussel sprouts in skillet
Side Dish

Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts recipe is an easy way to prepare brussel sprouts that frees up the oven – it’s a tasty side dish perfect for Thanksgiving
 
20 minutes
5 from 198 votes
Final cauliflower au gratin recipe out of the oven topped with parsley
Side Dish

Roasted Cauliflower Au Gratin

This Oven Roasted Cauliflower Au Gratin recipe is a take on the classic potato side dish – perfect to serve on Thanksgiving or with a chicken or steak dinner
 
50 minutes
5 from 87 votes
Final plated dish of the roasted delicata squash with pomegranate, almonds, mint and yogurt
Side Dish

Roasted Delicata Squash

This roasted delicata squash recipe is an easy sweet/savory side dish for Thanksgiving and the holidays – topped with pomegranate, almonds, mint and yogurt!
 
30 minutes
5 from 10 votes
Final cooked butternut squash risotto serve in a small bowl garnished with sage
Side Dish

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto is a creamy rice dish. It's a hearty, nutritious and cozy side dish cooked on the stovetop without the need for constant stirring!
 
55 minutes
5 from 22 votes
Large plate of green beans with almonds - Thanksgiving side dish
Side Dish

Green Beans with Almonds

If you’re looking for something lighter than green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, try my pan-roasted crisp and tender Green Beans with Almonds side dish!
 
15 minutes
5 from 84 votes
Top down shot of Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
Salad

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

This Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is a seasonal recipe that is perfect for holiday gatherings and Thanksgiving- bursting with color & flavor
 
1 hour
5 from 138 votes
Cheesy scalloped potatoes made with gouda cheese
Side Dish

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Cheesy scalloped potatoes with gouda and parmesan cheese seasoned with fresh thyme and garlic. This is one potato side dish everyone is sure to love!
 
1 hour 40 minutes
4.9 from 37 votes
Homemade dinner rollers
Side Dish

Homemade Dinner Rolls

Simple and easy to make, for non bakers, these classic homemade dinner rolls are made from scratch and come out perfectly light and fluffy!
 
2 hours 45 minutes
5 from 141 votes
Baked Cranberry Relish in a white bowl and spoon, garnished with orange slices and pecans
Side Dish

Baked Cranberry Sauce

This Baked Cranberry Sauce is a great thanksgiving side dish that practically makes itself in the oven! Leftovers can be used like jam after!
 
1 hour 2 minutes
4.9 from 43 votes
Tray of crispy cheese rolls baked in the oven
Appetizer

Crispy Cheese Rolls

Crispy cheese rolls (Rakakat) is the perfect crunchy, ooey-gooey appetizer to make with just a few ingredients. This Lebanese recipe is perfect for Ramadan!
 
40 minutes
5 from 29 votes
Large bowl of cilantro lime cauliflower rice with a spoon in the bowl
Side Dish

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice is a low-carb grain-free paleo-friendly substitute for rice or couscous – it’s a great way to add more vegetables into your diet
 
10 minutes
5 from 63 votes
Large platter of spinach pies with small bowl of yogurt for dipping
Appetizer

Lebanese Spinach Pies

This authentic Lebanese Spinach Pies recipe (called fatayer) is made with a simple homemade dough recipe and the best zingy spinach filling!
 
2 hours 50 minutes
5 from 220 votes
Overhead shot of whole pecan pie.
Dessert

Pecan Pie

This easy pecan pie recipe is made without corn syrup and with dates instead. It's a healthier version of a traditional pecan pie but just as tasty!
 
1 hour 36 minutes
5 from 94 votes
Mini pumpkin pies on a large plate with whipped cream in the middle
Dessert

Mini Pumpkin Pies

These Mini Pumpkin Pies are individualized portions of pumpkin pie, which are perfect for serving for Thanksgiving or during the holidays!
 
45 minutes
4.9 from 32 votes
Final shot of the Rose Apple Pie with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and a spoon about to take a bite.
Dessert

Rose Apple Pie

A fun recipe to make with sweet apples, this beautiful Rose Apple Pie looks fancy and elaborate, but it’s actually quite easy with my step-by-step tutorial!
 
1 hour 5 minutes
5 from 14 votes
Plate of the apple bread pudding with ice cream on top and caramel sauce drizzle over
Dessert

Apple Bread Pudding

Apple bread pudding is an easy fail-proof dessert to enjoy during colder months – made with french bread, a creamy custard and fresh apples!
 
1 hour
5 from 52 votes
Hand holding cranberry apple mini pies.
Dessert

Cranberry Apple Mini Pies

These Cranberry Apple Mini Pies are made with fresh cranberries, apples and a hint of orange zest – perfect for Thanksgiving & the holidays!
 
55 minutes
5 from 19 votes
Greek Yogurt Cheesecake in two small clear glass bowls topped with strawberries
Dessert

Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

These No Bake Cheesecake Cups are a lightened up recipe of the classic dessert that is light on calories and fat; easy to make and perfect for entertaining!
 
20 minutes
5 from 136 votes
Hand grabbing a cookie from a plate full of pumpkin chocolate chips cookies
Dessert

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are chewy, moist and perfect treat for fall – made healthier by using applesauce and whole wheat flour, but no butter!
 
15 minutes
5 from 54 votes
Slice of easy apple pie served a la mode with ice cream on top
Dessert

Easy Apple Pie

This easy apple pie is a quintessential fall recipe that you can make with pre-made pie dough and basic ingredients- perfect for Thanksgiving
 
2 hours
5 from 63 votes
Apple crisp served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce and spoon inside bowl
Dessert

Easy Apple Crisp

For a quick and cozy treat, try this easy Apple Crisp recipe – the perfect fall dessert made with juicy apples, cinnamon and an oat topping!
 
50 minutes
5 from 165 votes
Pumpkin pie with slices cut out in a round glass baking dish.
Dessert

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

This vegan pumpkin pie is the best! An easy dump coconut cream & pumpkin filling makes it the perfect dairy-free pumpkin dessert to serve at Thanksgiving.
 
1 hour 5 minutes
5 from 102 votes
No bake pumpkin cheesecake with bite taken out and cheesecake in background
Dessert

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

This easy no-bake pumpkin pie cheesecake is creamy and delicious. If you love pumpkin pie and cheesecake, this recipe is for you!
 
20 minutes
5 from 54 votes

For more similar roundup of recipes, be sure to check out: Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes, Easy Christmas Morning Breakfasts, Healthy Appetizers for the Holidays, Best Christmas Cookies, and Thanksgiving Dinner Menu.

Share this article

Share it with the world! Mention @feelgoodfoodie or tag #feelgoodfoodie!

Thanksgiving spread on the table

Leave a comment

Comments

  1. Wow, you’re the Kitchen Queen!
    Very impressive, and with tons of recipes!
    Specially the sides… I’m always out of ideas about sides and I always end up making the same roasted potatoes :(((
    Thank you Yumna!

    Cristiana, from Italy

  2. Impressive, thorough, and very helpful tips and guidelines. I think every household will rely on your suggested recipes. Thanks