10 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes You'll Be Grateful For

Orange-Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole recipe image
Get a head start on the biggest meal of the year by prepping and cooking ahead of time. 

Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole

Once this crowd-pleasing potato dish is assembled, cover it with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Slow-Cooker Gingerbread Cake

This moist cake is, miraculously, made in the slow cooker! Serve it hot, warm, or at room temperature. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and Dried Fruit Compote.

Cranberry-Grape Sauce

Prep and chill this easy sauce a few days before Thanksgiving. Take it out of the fridge an hour before the big meal to allow it to come to room temperature.

Ginger Ale Salad

The women in Parents Copy Editor Alexa Barre's family have been making this side dish for five generations. It needs to chill for at least six hours, so prepare it in the morning or the day before. 

When you need a great Thanksgiving or a school party treat, these tasty turkeys fit the bill.

Cute Gobbler Cupcakes

The whole family will love these adorable, make-ahead treats.

Turnip Casserole

This dish is a favorite at Parents Digital Director Julia Dennison’s house. She says this dish is the one that always gets people going for seconds, thirds, even fourths. Assemble the casserole up to 24 hours ahead. Add the breadcrumbs and melted butter just before baking.

Autumn Kale Salad

Most leafy greens need to be dressed right before serving, but this colorful, crunchy green side dish is the rare salad that can be prepped ahead of time. Roast the squash up to 24 hours in advance, and assemble the whole salad an hour before serving. 

Yunhee Kim
Yunhee Kim

Cheddar-Pecan Crackers and Apple Butter

No one has to know how easy this appetizer is to make! The apple butter can be prepared a few days ahead of time. Refrigerate the crackers for up to three days. 

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Pumpkin Streusel Tart

Capture the sweetness of the season with a dessert inspired by pumpkin pie. The buttery, nutty topping and thick crust make it heartier and crunchier—and dare we say, more delicious?—than the traditional finale to a Thanksgiving meal. Make the tart the day before or morning of and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Orange-Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole

If you’re going to a holiday potluck bring this citrusy side to your host's house unbaked and pop it in the oven while the turkey is resting.

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