Make-ahead recipes for your Thanksgiving feast

According to, in 2011 the United States was expected to produce nearly 750 million pounds of cranberries. Which, seems like a lot, unless you’re the first person to say “please pass the cranberry sauce” at Thanksgiving dinner. Couple that with the 235 million turkeys we eat annually (a fifth of which are consumed on Thanksgiving), and you’ve almost got a Thanksgiving feast.

But if your palate is craving a little bit more, browse through these ideas. The best part is that all of these recipes can be prepared ahead of time, leaving you more family and football time.


Speaking of all of those cranberries, maybe you’d like something a little more appealing than the gelatin out of a can. Real Simple shares this recipe that can be made up to four days in advance. Get ready for real texture and real flavor (and plenty of real, delicious cranberries) that almost look too pretty to eat.


Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes almost always seem to find their way to our Thanksgiving table. But why not make this healthy and tasty spud into finger food? The sweet potatoes can be cut and prepped in advance, leaving you with one job: toss them in the oven. Eat them plain or with your favorite dipping sauce, and you’ve just invited a traditional side dish into 2016.

sweet potato wedges

Mashed potatoes

If you’ve ever tried to make mashed potatoes ahead of time, you were probably more than a little disappointed. Luckily, The Kitchn offers some helpful tips and a recipe for potatoes that actually tastes better when it is made in advance and stored in the fridge. For starters, they urge the right type of potato (russet) and equipment (don’t use anything you have to plug in). Finish off the perfection by using whole milk, and slowly warm it up on Thanksgiving Day.

mashed potatoes

Apple pie

If there’s anything as American as Thanksgiving, it’s apple pie. But a homemade apple pie is both tedious and time consuming. The Food Network encourages preparing this deep dish apple pie recipe in advance. Not only does this classic dessert look mouthwatering, The Food Network advises storing it in the fridge (preferably the night before the big feast) until you’re ready to bake.

apple pie


Lastly, the centerpiece of every Thanksgiving meal is, of course, the turkey. But there’s even a way to save you holiday stress and prepare this staple early. Two words: smoked turkey. This requires a couple of days of prep. First, you’ll want to dry brine the turkey two days before your feast, but don’t worry, the recipe explains how. Then, the day before, let the turkey enjoy the warmth of a smoker. Store the smoked meat in the refrigerator until you’re ready to heat and serve.

smoked turkey

We can’t promise that preparing your Thanksgiving meal in advance will save you from all of the holiday stress, but it does give you plenty of extra time to enjoy every minute of the day and be thankful.


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