Thanksgiving: Make-ahead Recipes
How many times have you heard someone say they’ve slaved away in the kitchen all day? It’s safe to say too many times. Stress in the kitchen can easily arise for a variety of reasons, especially when you’re strapped for time and have a never-ending to-do list.
Holiday feasts call for delicious dishes to please a crowd, but making preparation as simple as possible is as time-honored a tradition as the turkey itself. To decrease the stress and make your hosting experience more enjoyable, cook as much of your Thanksgiving meal ahead of time, also consider these simple pro-tips:
Prep before You Begin
Practice the “mise en place” method –Aa French term for having everything in place before cooking. Measure ingredients, chop vegetables and set out utensils to create a steady workflow.
Plan Ahead – Like The Pros
Prepare easy appetizers to serve ahead of guests’ arrival and don’t be shy about outsourcing sides to family and friends.
You Need the Right Tools
A worthwhile investment in the best kitchen appliances and gadgets will get you through your holiday cooking and baking without stressing, by keeping you organized and on track! Check out our full range of affordable priced luxury kitchen appliances.
To help you plan your menu, we’ve compiled a selection of Thanksgiving recipes that has something for everyone, Thanksgiving side dish recipes, a Thanksgiving dessert recipe and of course Thanksgiving main dish options. So! Instead of letting yourself go crazy this year, try these Thanksgiving make-ahead recipes:
Sausage and Cornbread Stuffing
This classic turkey sidekick can be assembled and tucked away in the fridge up to a day before hitting the oven on the holiday.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
- package cornbread
- pound sweet Italian sausage, ground
- ½ cup carrots, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup celery with leaves, diced
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup dried blueberries
- 1/2 cup dried apples
- teaspoon fresh garlic, crushed
- ½ tsp. each dried sage leaves and black pepper
- 1-2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- nonstick cooking spray
- Cook cornbread according to package instructions; allow to cool. Leave uncovered and let dry 1 day. Break into medium pieces.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and lightly coat a medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray.
- Heat medium skillet and add sausage. Cook until half done and fat is rendered.
- Add carrots, celery, onion, blueberries, apples and garlic, sage and pepper. Sauté until caramelized. Add cornbread pieces and stir to combine. Add chicken stock until slightly wet or pasty; stir well to combine.
- Transfer stuffing from skillet to pan and bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Internal temperature should reach 155° F when fully cooked.
These make-ahead rolls can be chilled in the fridge up to 24 hours before baking. Add cranberry and sage for a delightful holiday twist.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Rise: 30 minutes
Bake: 20 minutes at 350°F
Yield: 12 rolls
- 1 (16 ounce) loaf frozen white bread dough
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ cup finely chopped dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh sage
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 12 small fresh sage leaves (optional)
- Thaw dough according to package directions.
- Grease a large baking sheet; set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12×10-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with cranberries, crystallized ginger, and snipped sage. Starting from a long side, tightly roll up rectangle into a spiral. Cut into twelve 1-inch slices.
- Place rolls on prepared baking sheet, standing rolls upright with seam sides down. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 30 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl whisk together egg and the water. Brush rolls with egg mixture. If desired, gently press a small sage leaf into the top of each roll; brush leaves with remaining egg mixture. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Your search for make-ahead mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving ends here. You can make and chill these mashed potatoes up to two days. Simply reheat gently with a little more dairy and they’ll be as velvety as if you had whipped them only moments ago.
2 lbs russet potatoes
1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) butter
1/2 cup softened cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Peel and cut potatoes into pieces that are roughly the same size. Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer, and add the potatoes. Raise heat to a boil and cook until fork-tender.
- Drain the potatoes, then return the pot to the stove on low heat. Begin mashing the potatoes, and slowly add all other ingredients.
- Mash well, then spread potatoes in a baking dish. At this point, cover and freeze the mashed potatoes for up to 3 days.
- When you’re ready to reheat, remove the potatoes from the freezer about 2-3 hours before serving. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Dot the tops of the potatoes with a few pats of butter, then cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until warmed through.
Green Bean Casserole
A completely fresh green bean casserole that can be made-ahead for your Thanksgiving feast (no canned soup required), then freeze and forget it. To serve, just reheat (from frozen) and top with crunchy fried onions.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
½ cup Panko
2 tablespoons olive oil (or melted butter)
¼ teaspoon table salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups canned fried onions (about 6 oz.)
2 lbs green beans, ends trimmed and halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb sliced white button mushrooms
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
1½ cups heavy cream
- Mix panko and fried onions with two tablespoons of olive oil/ melted butter. Set aside.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add two tablespoons of salt and the green beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, for about 6 minutes.
- Drain beans in colander and plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Set aside.
- Add butter to your now-empty pot and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides.
- Add mushrooms, salt and pepper them.
- Add the garlic next. Make sure to watch this so that it doesn’t burn.
- Cook this mixture until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes.
- Add flour and cook for 1 minute, over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3½ cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in 3 quart (or 13 x 9″) baking dish.
- Store your onion & panko topping in a baggie in your pantry. Freeze in a freezer-safe container or a foil pan. Allow the casserole to thaw 1-3 days before your event, covered with plastic wrap.
- Heat the casserole in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes. Add the onion topping and bake for an additional 20 minutes. You want to bake this until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling on the edges.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Once you make this cranberry sauce, you will never buy the canned variety again. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make it a few days before your Thanksgiving meal.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes + chilling
Makes: 2 Cups
1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1-3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until the berries pop and mixture is thickened, about 30 minutes.
- Cool. Transfer to a serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Sweet Potato Casserole
This Make Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole is a holiday must! Jazz up your traditional sweet potato casserole with some nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, walnuts and crunchy cornflakes. The holidays never tasted sweeter!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
5-6 sweet potatoes, mashed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 TSP ground cinnamon
1/2 TSP ground nutmeg
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
- Preheat oven to 375° F
- In a large bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes, melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, beaten eggs, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Spoon into a greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine crushed cornflakes, walnuts, brown sugar and cubed butter.
- Sprinkle over potato mixture.
- Bake again 5-10 minutes or until topping is lightly browned.
Stuffed Turkey Breast with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Sausage
Looking for something a little different this Thanksgiving? This is a delicious Turkey recipe to try. For all the juiciness and flavor prep and season the turkey breasts 24 hours in advance. Serve with a yummy gravy.
Active time 1 hour 40 minutes
Total time 3 hours 10 minutes
2 (3-pound) skin-on, boneless turkey breasts
5 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 teaspoons ground fennel, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
1 1/2 cups homemade croutons (see Cooks’ Note) or plain small-dice store-bought croutons
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups peeled, 1/4″–1/2″-cubed butternut squash
1 cup chopped fennel
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped thyme
1 bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed, coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
5 cups (or more) low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Butcher’s twine; cheesecloth; a large roasting pan or 2 (13×9″) baking dishes
- Working one at a time, place turkey breast, skin side down, on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife and cutting parallel to board, slice through the thickest part of the breast, cutting along the length of the breast without cutting all the way through, then open breast like a book.
- Place breast in between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet to a uniform thickness of 1/2″. Season inside of breast with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1/2 tsp. ground fennel.
- Transfer skin side up to a rimmed baking sheet; season with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1/2 tsp. ground fennel. Repeat with the remaining breast.
- Let it sit at room temperature for an hour, or chill up to 24 hours for maximum flavor and juiciness (if chilled, let sit at room temperature 1 hour before roasting).
- Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 450°F.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage, stirring and breaking up into small pieces with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 5–7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a large bowl, leaving drippings behind.
- Meanwhile, place croutons on a rimmed baking sheet. Crush slightly with the bottom of a small pot or pan until some pieces are smaller.
- Return skillet to medium-high heat and melt 2 Tbsp. butter. Add onion, squash, chopped fennel, garlic, thyme, and remaining 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6–8 minutes. Stir in kale, 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1 cup broth and cook scraping up brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until kale is wilted and butter is melted about 3 minutes.
- Transfer to bowl with sausage. Fold in croutons and parsley; if the mixture seems dry, add 1/4 cup broth.
- Flip breasts so they are skin side down. Divide stuffing between breasts, spreading with a spatula and leaving a 1″ border. Starting at 1 short end, roll each breast into a log, completely enclosing stuffing, then transfer each to separate, large pieces of cheesecloth. Wrap cheesecloth around the turkey and secure by tying a piece of twine at each end (like a sausage). Tie 4–5 pieces of twine crosswise around the log, spacing about 2–2 1/2″ apart.
- Rub the remaining 4 Tbsp. butter all over breasts and transfer skin side up to roasting pan.
- Pour enough broth (about 4 cups) to come 1/4″ up sides of turkey. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and roast turkey, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes and adding more broth if the pan starts to dry out, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 155°F, 60–70 minutes.
- Transfer to a cutting board and let sit 15–20 minutes (internal temperature should rise to 165°F). Remove twine and slice crosswise about 1/2″ thick to serve.
- Turkey can be seasoned 2 days ahead and stuffed, rolled in cheesecloth, and buttered 1 day ahead; loosely cover and chill. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.
- For a slightly crispy crust, the aluminum foil can be removed 10 minutes before the end of baking.
Chocolate Swiss Roll
Once finished, let chill in the refrigerator for a few days… or transfer to a zip-top freezer bag where it’ll keep for up to one month
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper, leaving an extra 1-inch of parchment sticking up on both 15-inch sides of the pan so that you can easily lift the cake out and roll it up after baking. (If you’d like the parchment to stick to the bottom of the pan more easily, sprinkle a little bit of water on the pan and then press the parchment paper on top of it. You can also lightly mist the top of the parchment paper with cooking spray for easier cake release afterwards, although it’s not required.)
- Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder (if using) and salt in a medium bowl until evenly combined. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and granulated sugar for 1 minute until thick. Add in the melted butter and vanilla extract, and whisk until just combined. Fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, and stir together until just combined.
- Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 11 minutes, or until top of cake springs back when touched. Very carefully lift the parchment paper and cake out onto a flat (and heat-safe) surface. Then slowly, use your hands (careful, it will be hot!) to roll the cake — rolling from the short end to the short end — until it is completely rolled up. Transfer the cake roll to a wire rack, and cool until it reaches room temperature.
- While the cake is cooling, make the cream cheese filling (see below).
- Once the cake has reached room temperature, transfer the cake roll to a flat surface, and carefully it until it is flat again (or mostly flat, it’s ok if the ends curl up a bit). Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over cake, leaving a 3/4-inch border on all sides. Then carefully re-roll the cake, gently peeling away the parchment paper as you roll until you can completely remove and discard it. Tightly wrap the chocolate roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
- Remove and unwrap the chocolate roll and transfer it to your serving dish. Lightly dust the chocolate roll on all sides with powdered sugar, if you would like. Then slice* and serve.
- If you have leftovers, just re-wrap the pumpkin roll in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Whisk together cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until smooth. If the filling is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add a half teaspoon or two of water. (You want a medium consistency so that the filling is easy to spread, but not too warm or thin that it will ooze out of the cake when you’re rolling it up.)
Pecan Pie Bread Pudding
A creamy, dreamy, pecan pie bread pudding! This bread pudding is the perfect make ahead desserts to serve during the holidays! It’s totally fuss-free!
Prep time: 55 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 12-14 servings
1 lb. loaf of stale French bread, cubed (challah, brioche or other sturdy bread will also work)
1 ½ cups pecans
6 large eggs
1 ¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups milk
6 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, for serving
- Spray a 9 x 13 dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread half the bread cubes in the baking dish, followed by ½ the pecans, then bread, and finally the remaining pecans. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs with the brown sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes. Then, add the vanilla extract, let mix 1 minute. Lower the speed to the ‘mix’ setting and add the corn syrup, heavy cream, milk, melted butter, and salt. Allow the mixture to combine. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Let stand, pressing down on the bread occasionally for at least 45 minutes and ideally in the refrigerator overnight (covered).
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Heat a water kettle with to water.
- Set the baking dish into a large shallow roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and add the hot water to the roasting pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
- Bake the bread pudding for 55-70 minutes OR until a knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool to room temperature. At this point you can refrigerate it till you’re ready to serve.
- When serving, let the bread pudding come to room temperature, top with lots of powdered sugar!
You can also bake this bread pudding without a water bath if you’d like but keep in mind it’ll have a more French toast casserole like texture – still delicious, just a little different!