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The 15 Best Make Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes

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These 15 Best Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes will help you have a delicious and low-stress Turkey day. Recipes include easy appetizers, sides, desserts, and freezer dishes.

5 make ahead thanksgiving dishes in a grid

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.

Anything that can be done ahead of time or heated in a crockpot takes a little piece of stress off of my very heavy shoulders.

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, 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 stuff 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. Even better, lining them with compostable parchment makes clean up a dream.
  • A workhorse in my kitchen is my 10-year old food processor. This thing helps me chop it like it’s hot. Chop allllllll the things!
  • Beeswrap is a rad natural and food safe alternative to plastic wrap.
  • 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.


Baked Brie in Puff Pastry With Roasted Garlic

baked brie in puff pastry with a plate of crackers and rosemary

Looking for a delicious and easy savory appetizer? Baked Brie in Puff Pastry With Roasted Garlic is creamy, packed with flavor, and a sure-fire hit at your guests. {Pin this for later}

Asian Chicken Taco Boats

Three chickan taco boats on a copper plate with cilantro

Baked mini Asian Chicken Taco Boats make a great turkey day treat. Whip up a batch of these tasty treats in the Instant Pot for a speedy healthy app. {Pin this for later}.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Taquitos – {Hey Nutrition Lady}

This baked vegetarian taquito recipe is made with pumpkin, black beans, and a bit of cheese. It’s an easy, healthy recipe, and is totally freezer-friendly too! 

pumpkin and black beans taquitos on a plate with mini pumpkins and lime

Photo courtesy of Hey Nutrition Lady

Jalapeno Poppers Dip

a cast iron skillet with jalapeno poppers dip on a grey cloth

This healthy Jalapeno Poppers Dip is the best dairy-free, Whole30, and Paleo appetizer with no mayo and lots of bacon! When you’re dairy-free, easy appetizers can be challenging, but this creamy dip is so good you’ll never miss the dairy! {Pin this for later}

Side Dishes

Cheesy Garlic Bread

cheesy garlic bread with herbs and marinara sauce on a grey board

Transform a simple baguette into Cheesy Garlic Bread with the best homemade garlic butter spread. This easy cream cheese garlic bread recipe lets you make delicious and affordable garlic cheese bread from scratch. {Pin this for later}

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

instant pot cranberry sauce in a glass jar on a plate with garnishes

In my eyes, no holiday dinner is complete without a gorgeous bowl of cranberry sauce on the table. This cranberry sauce tastes better if made at least a few days ahead of time. It also freezes like a total boss.

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

An easy mashed potato recipe in a bowl topped with butter and rosemary

These taters are so creamy and amazing. I make them the day before Thanksgiving and reheat in the oven while adding a splash of milk. {Pin this for later}. If you need a dairy-free version, these Whole30 Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes are so creamy you’ll never know they’re missing butter and milk.


Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts

crispy brussels sprouts on a grey plate with a fork

This easy side dish of Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts is so delicious and healthy. Perfectly caramelized in the air fryer, these roasted and crispy brussels sprouts are Whole30, paleo, keto, and vegan. {Pin this for later}

Easy Glazed Carrots Recipe {Savory Thoughts}

Sliced carrots with parsley in a white bowl

Photo courtesy of Savory Thoughts

Glazed carrots are an easy simple elegant side dish to prepare for any occasion. These carrots are simmered in a mixture of orange juice, brown sugar, salt, and butter.

Butternut Squash and Kale Casserole {House and Homestead}

a casserole dish with butternut squash and kale and a spoon

Photo courtesy of The House and Homestead

This butternut squash and kale casserole turns simple ingredients into a nutritious comfort food that can be enjoyed either as a side dish or a stand-alone meal


Grandma Dorothy’s Pumpkin Cookie Recipe

whole wheat soft pumpkin cookies with frosting on a cooling rack with pumpkins in the background

Nothing welcomes fall like baking Grandma Dorothy’s Pumpkin Cookie Recipe for dessert! These amazingly easy pumpkin cookies are topped with an incredible orange cream cheese frosting. A batch of homemade pumpkin spice cookies is like a hug in dessert form. {Pin this for later}

Nordy Bars

a plate of Nordy bars on a cloth with marshmallows and chocolate chips

A homemade version of the famous Nordy Bar recipe from Nordstrom. This easy recipe combines chocolate chips, butterscotch, and marshmallows into a delicious cookie bar that is perfect for a crowd.{Pin this for later}

Easy Bailey’s Chocolate Dessert Pots

chocolate Baileys pots on a white board

Photo courtesy of Happy Veggie Kitchen

A 3 ingredient, 15 minute Baileys dessert to impress. Rich and flavorful, with a super creamy, luxurious texture similar to chocolate mousse or pudding.

Thanksgiving make-ahead meals are a game-changer for a low-stress holiday. In addition to giving you more time with your guests, Thanksgiving make-ahead appetizers, side dishes, and desserts are great for one very important reason. Fewer dishes to wash on the big day!

What is your all-time favorite Thanksgiving dish?

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6 comments on “The 15 Best Make Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes”

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!”

    • 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.