Thanksgiving Dishes You Can Make Ahead of Time

While Thanksgiving is an enjoyable holiday, it can also be a stressful one, especially if you are the one in charge of cooking the meal. Along with cooking a large bird, you’re also expected to whip up appetizers, side dishes and desserts. If you have a typical kitchen then all you have is one oven (where the turkey is) and 4 burners which can be restrictive. This year consider making some of your dishes ahead of time, doing this will free up kitchen space, lessen the clean-up on the big day and also lessen the stress of last minute meal preparation. We’ve put together a list of some delicious recipes that can be made ahead of time, and on Thanksgiving all you have to do is reheat it in the microwave or warm it in the oven while the turkey is resting before being carved.

Thanksgiving table decorations


Apricot Bites

For the first appetizer, you will need dried apricots, cream cheese and almonds. This very simple, healthy appetizer can be quickly made one day before the holiday. Spread the dried apricots on a plate or platter with the concave area of the apricots facing up. Using a small spoon, place a dollop of cream cheese on each apricot, followed by one almond. If you do not like apricots, substitute any other dried fruit, you can also change up the nuts. Cover the platter with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate until your guests arrive.

Cheese Ball

The next easy appetizer is a simple, yet tasty cheese ball made from cream cheese. This can be made two days in advance when refrigerated. For the basic cream cheese ball, you will need one package of cream cheese and a bundle of green onions. If you wish to make a fancier ball, you can also add pre-cooked, thinly sliced ham or beef and chopped nuts to the mixture. This cheese ball serves up to 10 people. You can simply double the recipe if you are having a larger number of guests. It takes only about 10 minutes to prepare and needs no heating – it can be pulled out from the refrigerator and served directly.

Side Dishes

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup is a delicious and healthy side dish that can be made a week or more in advance of Thanksgiving because it can be frozen after preparation. This recipe is delicious and works well either as a first course or served alongside the rest of the meal. One day before Thanksgiving, move the soup from the freezer to the refrigerator to let it begin to thaw. When it is nearing time to serve the soup, move it to a microwave safe container to heat it up in the microwave, or warm it on the stove. If using a microwave, heat it at high power for ten minutes, stirring even two minutes. If heating the soup on the stove, place it in a saucepan and turn the burner on to the low setting for ten to fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. For a dash of color, garnish the top with chives before serving.

Southwestern Corn and Peppers

Southwestern Corn and Peppers Skillet

Corn is a common fall side dish that you can easily prepare up to three days ahead of time. To make corn more interesting, give it a Southwestern zip. Southwestern corn and peppers combines the sweetness of corn with the zing of red and green bell peppers. These flavors compliment many other Thanksgiving dishes, including potato side dishes and meats. This corn dish is served warm and you can heat it on your stovetop in about five minutes.

Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is a classic side dish that can be easily customized to your taste preferences. This dish can be made up to two days in advance, if refrigerated, and then reheated in the microwave for ten minutes or in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes on Thanksgiving day. The green bean casserole with cheese is simple to make and the cheese adds extra delicious flavor and texture. Even children who don’t normally like vegetable dishes often enjoy this casserole because of the creamy texture and flavor. We suggest making the cheese lovers version, because the cheese is an easy addition that adds extra creaminess to the dish.

Spicy Broccoli with Garlic

Plain broccoli is healthy and nice, but can be a little bland for a special occasion meal. Spice up your Thanksgiving meal with this more interesting and flavorful side dish. You can make spicy broccoli with garlic one to two days ahead of time. Before you are ready to serve it, reheat it in your microwave on the medium setting for three to five minutes, until it is steaming. If you want the garlic flavor but do not want the extra spiciness, simply leave out the red pepper.

Mashed Potatoes

Thanksgiving recipes - Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving classic, as they are warm and comforting and are the perfect partner for gravy. This recipe makes enough for a crowd and the addition of sour cream means that this dish won’t lose any of its creaminess when it is reheated in the microwave.

Glazed Baby Carrots

A little sweet glaze makes baby carrots a treat. Make the glazed baby carrots the day before Thanksgiving. Pop them into your microwave for a few minutes right before the meal. The sweet flavor of this dish nicely offsets the savory flavors in the other foods you may serve.

Garden Vegetable Pistachio Potato Salad

Potato salad does not have to be confined to summer meals or picnics, especially if the salad is loaded with extra, delicious and colorful vegetables. This garden vegetable pistachio potato salad contains peas, broccoli, corn and pistachios to add interesting flavor, color and texture. Make this up to three days in advance. It is served cold, so there is no need to worry about re-heating anything – simply pull it out of your refrigerator in time for the meal.


Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving recipes - Pumpkin-Pie

Pumpkin Pie is the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert, and at PartSelect this recipe is our favorite version as it’s kind of a cross between a pie and cheesecake, almost like 2 desserts in 1! This pie needs at least a few hours in the fridge to set before serving, and if you cover it with some plastic wrap, this dessert can be made 2-3 days in advance.

By having some of your Thanksgiving dishes prepped ahead of time, you can take some time to relax and enjoy the holiday and spend some time with the people you love. Happy Thanksgiving!

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