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Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Side Dishes, Desserts and Appetizers

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These make ahead Thanksgiving recipes are designed to minimize your stress level on Thanksgiving day. The truth is cooking Thanksgiving dinner isn't hard; it's just a lot of dishes to cook. With these make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes, you can knock out side dishes, desserts and even appetizers in advance, leaving you more time to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with your family.

1. Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes - Cranberry Sauce
Stephanie Gallagher

Cranberry sauce is the quintessential make-ahead Thanksgiving recipe. It's an essential dish for Thanksgiving dinner, but it tastes just as good (if not better) when made a day or two in advance. And with only 3 ingredients, this recipe can be made in a snap.

2. Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes - Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Stephanie Gallagher

Everybody thinks mashed potatoes taste best when cooked and served right away. But when you make your mashed potatoes in advance, then reheat them on Thanksgiving day, they actually turn out hotter and creamier. That's why this is another perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving recipe.

3. Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Pumpkin Bread
Stephanie Gallagher

I like to serve this pumpkin bread as an appetizer or side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, but I don't like to take up space in my oven baking bread on Thanksgiving day. So I make this pumpkin bread a day or two before Thanksgiving. If I want to make this pumpkin bread taste fresh from the oven, I just warm it up at 275 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Top this pumpkin bread with flavored butter.

4. Corn Pudding Recipe

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes - Corn Pudding
Stephanie Gallagher

The beauty of this one-dish Thanksgiving recipe is that it tastes great, it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, and it tastes just as good the next day as the day you make it.

5. Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe with Streusel Topping

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes - Sweet Potato Casserole
Ore-Ida Steam n' Mash

The only part of this sweet potato casserole that I don't recommend as a make ahead dish for Thanksgiving is the topping. I suggest making the sweet potato casserole a day or two before Thanksgiving, but don't bake it. Then on Thanksgiving day, prepare the topping, then bake according to the recipe directions.

6. Cranberry Jello Salad Recipe

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes - Cranberry Jello Salad
Ocean Spray

This cranberry Jello salad is one of those make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes you can easily prepare days in advance. And even if you've never cooked in your life, this cranberry Jello salad will turn out great.

7. Cornbread Stuffing Recipe

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes - Cornbread Stuffing
Stephanie Gallagher

There's no reason stuffing should be prepared at the last minute. It tastes just as delicious when made a day or two before Thanksgiving. And if you're using homemade cornbread for this cornbread stuffing, I suggest you make the cornbread a day before you prepare the stuffing.

8. Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes - Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Evan Sklar/Getty Images

I don't think it's an accident that pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert. Pumpkin pie is one of those desserts that actually tastes better after it sits in the refrigerator a day or so, making it an ideal make-ahead Thanksgiving recipe.

9. Pecan Pie Recipe

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes - Pecan Pie
Stephanie Gallagher

Because this recipe starts with a frozen pie crust, it's unbelievably simple. And because pecan pie benefits from a nice long cooling period, this is a terrific make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes.

10. Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes - Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust
Stephanie Gallagher

Want to switch things up a bit this Thanksgiving? Try this pumpkin cheesecake instead of pumpkin pie. It's rich and creamy and an ideal make-ahead Thanksgiving recipe, because it needs to cool in the refrigerator at least overnight. You can make this pumpkin cheesecake up to three days before Thanksgiving.

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