Quite often, you can feel overwhelmed with the busyness and craziness that is synonymous with preparing a Thanksgiving meal. From limited oven space to forgotten ingredients, even if you are a seasoned cook, pressure can be a tragic accompaniment during this period.
So you are wondering What Can I Make Ahead For Thanksgiving? Well, the good news is that there are numerous dishes you can prepare in advance, some of which will only require heating through on the day of your feast.
I share some of the side dishes you can make ahead for Thanksgiving so that your show- stopper turkey takes center stage on the D-day without a crisis, and you- well, can ease into the day with a drink in hand.
Widely resourceful, this upbeat and tasty lemon and olive oil vinaigrette will keep for up to two weeks in your refrigerator.
You can use lemon vinaigrette to dress up your varied Thanksgiving side dishes such as sautéed green beans, brussels sprouts, spinach, or salad greens garnished with dried cherries and toasted hazelnuts.
You can easily just toss a salad together on Thanksgiving, and you will not be making one for freezing here. What you can put together before the festivity is your special dressing.
Whatever your choice of dressing is this year, make the dressing with chopped bread and freeze it for use in croutons. You can also toast, candy, or honey the nuts, all for adding to your scrumptious salads.
Your nuts can be prepared and stored at room temperature in an airtight container, up to 1 week in advance. Keep in mind to add any fresh ingredients such as basil or garlic when serving, for an extra zing!
Tender Greens with Champagne Vinaigrette
Prepare the lettuce, herbs of choice and champagne vinaigrette, and refrigerate them separately in airtight containers, up to 1 day in advance.
Dress and toss your salad right before serving.
Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Another variety of vinaigrette is made pomegranate. Your roasted cauliflower, romanesco, sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts get a sophisticated twist with the pomegranate vinaigrette and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. Carefully wash and trim the vegetables, make the vinaigrette, which will store up to two days in advance. The great thing is if you store your potatoes well, you can use them for a long time. Check how long your potatoes can last here
Lettuce, Orange and Pecan Salad
Prepare the lettuce, oranges, shallots, pecans, and vinaigrette, and refrigerate separately, up to 1 day in advance.
Dress and toss the salad right before serving.
There are various oils you can use as a dressing. If you are allergic to peanuts, you will love the substitute oils listed here which will work so well with your salad.
Green Bean Salad
Whatever your choice of components for your green bean salad, they can be prepared in advance.
The walnuts, almonds, or breadcrumbs can be toasted ahead and frozen separately. Toss the green beans with fennel, walnuts or almonds, goat cheese, and vinaigrette right before serving.
If your side dish includes a classic green bean casserole, you can prepare this without the crisp onion topping and store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can then top with the fried onions before baking.
Cranberry sauce can be made ahead of time. As it contains sugar, this mix which includes fresh cranberries and orange zest it is basically a quick jam that can be prepared, and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator or frozen. The best thing is that it will have no change in its consistency, and the taste will be enhanced because of the extended time in allowing the various flavors commingle.
The sauce can be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 week in advance If you will add cilantro, thaw it overnight, and serve it chilled or at room temperature. Mix in the cilantro just before serving. In case you don’t have cilantro or you need other herbs to substitute it, you can find other suitable herbs here.
Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, or Squash: Purée and Freeze
The sweet soup gets an enhanced depth when you roast the pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato. Their chunks, though, do not freeze well. However, when pureed, they are easy to freeze as they won’t need to be coated in fat like regular potatoes.
Cook them as you wish, blend, and freeze these purées in freezer bags or airtight containers for soups, pies, or side dishes. Store them up to 3 days, or freeze them for up to 3 months. Defrost and warm them right before serving, and you can garnish with some fresh cilantro.
You probably like a heavy dose of gravy, and hope it’s in plenty to make numerous rounds on the table.
You can make this with or without drippings, or make a delicious and nutritious homemade stock with pieces of turkey in it. You can make it 5 days in advance, and once made, let it cool, freeze it, and this can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight, then reheated on low heat while whisking it to ensure a smooth consistency.
If you’re making white wine gravy, there’s no time-wasting as you wait for the turkey to come out of the oven. Made with canned chicken broth and white wine for a rich, savory flavor, refrigerate the gravy in an airtight container for up to three days, and warm in the microwave just before serving.
Generous doses of butter and cream in your mashed potatoes enhance your Thanksgiving meal experience.
The butter and cream coat and protect your potatoes while in the freezer, so they are a perfect meal to make ahead. Make them as you normally would, allow them to cool completely, and then freeze in an airtight freezer bag or container. Defrost them in the refrigerator one to two days before Thanksgiving, and then reheat them on low heat on the stove or in the oven, slow cooker, or microwave.
The reheated version may be a little more watery, but a few dollops of sour cream or cream cheese stirred into them gives them a new creamy life.
You can also opt to make these a day in advance and refrigerate them in a baking dish. Twenty minutes before serving, cover the dish with foil and heat in the oven at 350 degrees
Sweet Potato and Sage- Butter Casserole
This is a Thanksgiving side dish of mashed Yukon gold and sweet potatoes enriched with sage-infused butter and milk and baked under a topping of crisp breadcrumbs.
The potato mixture can be prepared and frozen two days in advance. This is then thawed and topped with breadcrumbs just before baking.
Did you know you can make a stash of your special bread or cornbread way in advance?
Well, you can also prepare your homemade stock, toasted nuts, and anything else that goes in your stuffing, well ahead of time. These can stay in your refrigerator for three days, or in your freezer for months in advance.
For a classic recipe, dry the bread cubes and saute the celery, shallots, and garlic two days ahead of time, so your stuffing comes together in a jiffy when you need to use it.
For a sage-seasoned cornbread and sausage stuffing, this can be prepared and refrigerated two days in advance, whether baked or unbaked. For a creamy texture, you can add some eggs, and bake before serving.
Even with countless fresh, hot dinner rolls on the Thanksgiving table, they can never be more than enough.
These homemade treats are also a great dish to prepare ahead. You can bake them though, freeze and reheat when needed. You can also prepare the dough and freeze it unbaked, and then bake them without having to thaw them first. Either way, their taste will be just as fresh.
Try moist, tender dinner rolls that are rich with eggs and butter. Once the dough is shaped, you can tightly wrap it and freeze for up to two months before Thanksgiving. When ready to bake, you will simply add two hours to the second rising.
Pie can be prepared in varied ways ahead of time. You can freeze pie crust discs whole, or roll out the pie crust and then freeze it right in the pie dish. You can also prepare and freeze a whole unbaked pie, and the streusel topping too.
The advantage of freezing is that it sets the crust, so it will not be less soggy and tough. You can prepare and freeze pie crusts up to a month in advance so that putting together your favorite pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies for the big day won’t be a hassle.
A baked pie can stay for up to two days at room temperature when kept loosely covered in aluminum foil.
This lovely dessert is made up of two popular favorites, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake. Cheesecake keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, and it also freezes well. To thaw, simply place it in the refrigerator 24 hours before you wish to serve it.
It can also be prepared two days in advance, and kept in the refrigerator, loosely covered in plastic wrap. It will maintain its spicy, creamy freshness.
Homemade Oatmeal Cookies
You will need a sanity saver on Thanksgiving, and that’s where your homemade cookies save the day.
Prepare a (large!) batch of your favorite oatmeal cookie dough, shape and freeze them in airtight freezer bags. These come in handy as they can be baked in a matter of minutes, if, and when a hunger crisis arises.