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These Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes will help you have a delicious and low-stress turkey day. Recipes include easy appetizers, sides, desserts, and freezer dishes.

9 photos showing Thanksgiving dishes

The lead up to Thanksgiving is packed with excitement, planning, and stress. My Thanksgiving Checklist helps with this, but make-ahead dishes are really where preplanning can shine.

The key to identifying the perfect Thanksgiving make-ahead appetizers, sides, and desserts is to find something that doesn’t lose flavor, get soggy or gross, and reheats like a dream.

You can spend weeks trying out recipes and making copious notes about how each dish holds up. Or, you can just take advantage of all the testing I have already done, and use this list below.

Helpful Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Prep Tools

  • Lots and lots of prep containers will keep your fridge organized and easy to navigate. We love these glass divided containers and this larger glass set. If you’re looking for BPA-free plastic, these reusable prep containers are awesome! You can also use them as take-home containers for guests. Keep the good containers for yourself!
  • My Instant Pot and slow cooker are constantly churning out dishes for Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t want to prep without them.
  • Having a steady supply of baking sheets at the ready means I’m roasting and baking things like a freaking boss. 
  • A workhorse in my kitchen is my 12-year old food processor. This thing helps me chop it like it’s hot. Chop allllllll the things!
  • I use this amazing 8-cup measuring bowl for everything. I use it so often that I have no idea why I don’t just let it live on my counter permanently. The handle makes it amazing for keeping steady while mixing, it can measure and pour, and the deep size means you can mix your ass off without spilling anything.
  • Idiot-proof digital thermometer. Cause ain’t nobody wants to give their guests food poisoning.

The Best Make Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes

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About Sarah

Helping you serve up budget-friendly sustainable recipes with a side of balanced living.
Come for the food. Stay for the snark.

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  1. Thank you so much for putting together these recipes. I’ve had a great morning browsing through and choosing some to add to Thanksgiving dinner (and other meals throughout the year — these are all so versatile). Your photographs make me want to try them ALL.
    Have a beautiful day!

  2. I eat low carb so I generally whiz through your recipes. I came to an abrupt stop when I saw the crispy onions. I have to try those. I think I’ll use pork panko for the almond flour to reduce the carbs further. For my share of the Thanksgiving meal this year I’m making low carb cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, and a ‘secret’ (pretzel salad – shhh) dessert, and the fake cornbread for the low carb stuffing ahead of time. I’m so liking the adult daughters who are filling in with other dishes. 

  3. All-time favorite Thanksgiving dish? Definitely my mother’s lasagna. We’re not turkey people (or even Italian) and when we were teenagers we all decided we’d rather eat what we like. The night before Thanksgiving we spent in the kitchen making 3 pans of lasagna from scratch. (Hey, as long as you have to dirty dang near every pot, pan and bowl in the house you want to make it worth your time.) Two pans went in the freezer to have on those cold Minnesota winter nights and the third was enjoyed by each and every one of us. Friends always tried getting out of their own Thanksgiving to come eat with us. We never knew how many would show up but always had enough to go around. A big salad, cheese bread, and lots of veggies to round off the meal.

    1. Joan, I looooooove this memory and tradition! It sounds so lovely and it makes my heart swell that meal prep is involved as well. Thank you so much for sharing this memory.

  4. Chocolate puds look ace, though I’m not a fan of Baileys. Everyone else in the family is though! want to try the cheesey bread as well.

    1. I’m not a Bailey’s fan either Pauline, but would definitely give it a try. I’m sure it would change my mind!

  5. With everything turkey popping up, I kept thinking, “Yep. Thanksgiving’s coming.” “Yep. Good price for a turkey.” “Oh, we have to travel to your parent’s for Thanksgiving?” I never once realized, “THANKSGIVING IS IN TWO WEEKS!”

    1. Ugh, when you say it like that, yeah it’s close!!!!

      We had a dinner party for 12 people from our church last Sunday. Honestly, I was relieved to do all the crazy deep cleaning because it means I won’t have to do it before Thanksgiving. The garden is put to bed (it was kind of a mess before last week), Troy got all the cobwebs from the upper windows, and I washed the outside of the windows, etc.