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49 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

These make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes—including turkey and all the trimmings—can be made the night before to help ease the holiday rush.

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Apple-Sage Roasted Turkey

A hint of apple flavor gives a slightly sweet spin to a holiday dinner’s main event. The lovely aroma wafting from your kitchen as this turkey cooks will have everybody talking. —Suzy Horvath, Milwaukie, Oregon

Need to make the juiciest turkey this year? Follow our ultimate Thanksgiving turkey guide.

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Parsnips & Turnips au Gratin

You don't need potatoes to make a delicious au gratin dish! Sometimes I even substitute rutabaga for the turnips. I definitely cherish having this recipe in my collection. —Priscilla Gilbert, Indian Harbour Beach, Florida
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Maple Walnut Cake

This maple-flavored cake with candied walnuts honors beloved my grandpa, who made maple syrup when I was a child. It honors his memory and has proven to be a favorite with family and friends throughout the years. —Lori Fee, Middlesex, New York

These no-bake Thanksgiving desserts will save you tons of time in the kitchen.

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Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream Puffs

This extraordinary dessert showcases homemade pumpkin ice cream and cream puffs. The effort is worthwhile...and you can make the parts ahead of time for easy assembly later.—Richard Lasher, Stuarts Draft, Virginia
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Moist Corn Spoon Bread

Enjoy this easy take on a southern specialty by using the convenient slow cooker. Here's an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving, Easter or any special feast. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen

Try all 20 of our favorite Thanksgiving side recipes.

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Gruyere and Crab Palmiers

I keep these little bursts of flavor in my freezer so they can be pulled out and popped into the oven whenever needed. Crab, pancetta and Gruyere make a sophisticated, elegant appetizer, and you can make your own variations on the filling. Try chicken and pesto, or a Mediterranean version with spinach and feta. —Grace Voltolina, Westport, Connecticut
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Moist Italian Turkey Breast

This recipe renders some of the juiciest turkey I have ever eaten. High in lean protein, it’s a smart entree for a special occasion. —Jessica Kunz, Springfield, Illinois

Before you start prepping your ingredients, be sure to check out Joanna Gaines’ make-ahead cooking secrets.

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Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

My family loves gravy, so I can never have enough homemade gravy on hand for a holiday dinner. The base for this one is prepared with turkey wings and can be prepped in advance. —Linda Fitzsimmons, Fort Edward, New York
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Make-Ahead Creamy Potatoes

For the holidays, I usually serve the traditional foods with a new spin or two on family favorites. I put together these creamy potatoes the night before and simply bake the day of to save precious holiday time. —Wendy Ball, Battle Creek, Michigan

Stuck with a ton of leftovers? Rather than eating the same meal for a week, take a look at our favorite Thanksgiving leftover meals.

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Jazzed-Up Green Bean Casserole

This is not your mama's green bean casserole, but she'll still be raving about it! After trying many variations, I decided to give this old standby extra kick. The crunchy texture, cheesy goodness and bacon make it a hit. —Scott Rugh, Portland, Oregon
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Easy Potato Rolls

After I discovered this recipe, it became a mainstay for me. I make the dough ahead of time when company is coming, and I try to keep some in the refrigerator to bake for our ranch hands. Leftover mashed potatoes are almost sure to go into these rolls. —Jeanette McKinney, Belleview, Missouri
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Old-Fashioned Dressing

Remember Grandma's delicious turkey dressing? Taste it again combined with flavorful herbs and crisp veggies in this family-favorite dressing. You'll love the fact you can make it in your slow cooker. —Sherry Vink, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada

Wondering how long you can keep Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge? Here’s our go-to guide on how long you can hang on to everything from turkey to wine.

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Slow-Cooked Turkey with Herbed Stuffing

I'm all for turkey dinner, especially around the holidays. A whole turkey won't fit in my slow cooker, so thank goodness for turkey breast. I cook it with my grandma's easy stuffing recipe for a happy meal that doesn't require any hard work. —Camille Beckstrand, Layton, Utah
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Pecan Pumpkin Pie Pinwheels

These pie-like cookie spirals are a pretty way to bring pumpkin flavor to dessert any time of the year.—Kathy Yarosh, Apopka, Florida
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Squash and Lentil Lamb Stew

My family lived in New Zealand many years ago. Every Sunday my mother made a lamb stew—it was Dad's favorite! I changed the recipe to suit my family's more modern palates, but it still seems just as exotic and delicious. —Nancy Heishman, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Cranberry-Apple Red Cabbage

When I was looking for something new, I started playing with flavors and came up with this very tasty dish. My German grandmother would be impressed, I think! The colorful side dish is just right with pork. —Ann Sheehy, Lawrence, Massachusetts

Don’t forget the appetizers! Start your Thanksgiving dinner off right with a few of these make-ahead appetizer recipes.

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Slow-Cooker Marinated Mushrooms

Here's a healthy and delicious addition to any buffet spread. Mushrooms and pearl onions seasoned with herbs, balsamic and red wine are terrific on their own or alongside a tenderloin roast. —Courtney Wilson, Fresno, California
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Herbed Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

A holiday meal warrants an elegant and satisfying entree. This one promises to deliver. The turkey comes out of the slow cooker moist and tender, and the herbs make a flavorful gravy. —Lorie Miner, Kamas, Utah
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Holiday Rice Salad

It's nice to prepare a cold salad like this when entertaining because it can be made ahead and doesn't take up valuable oven space.
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Winter Fruit Macaroons

Coconut macaroons with sweetened condensed milk instead of egg whites are my version of a recipe my mom loved. All you do is mix, drop and bake. —Veronica Miller, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
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Autumn Bisque

I like cozy comfort soups that taste creamy—without the cream. This one’s full of good stuff like rutabagas, leeks, fresh herbs and almond milk. —Merry Graham, Newhall, California
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Make-Ahead Turkey and Gravy

Ease the holiday time crunch with a make-ahead turkey recipe that's ready to serve when you are. It's a great choice for potlucks, too. —Marie Parker, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Classic Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

These make-ahead mashed potatoes save me a ton of time on Christmas day. No more frantically whipping the potatoes while hungry family and guests hang around the kitchen! —Marty Rummel, Trout Lake, Washington
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Creamy Cranberry Salad

One of my piano students taught me the perfect lesson in holiday recipes: this fresh cranberry salad. The keys are tangy fruit, fluffy marshmallows and crunchy nuts. —Alexandra Lypecky, Dearborn, Michigan
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Make-Ahead Butterhorns

Mom loved to make these lightly sweet, golden rolls. They're beautiful and impressive and have a homemade taste that makes them memorable. —Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri
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Green Bean Casserole

This easy green bean casserole has always been one of my favorite dishes. You can make it before any guests arrive and refrigerate it until it’s ready to bake. —Anna Baker, Blaine, Washington
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Cranberry-Walnut Sweet Potatoes

If you ask me, the best part of a holiday dinner is the sweet potatoes! You can make the sauce up to a day ahead—just leave out the walnuts until you're ready to serve. —Mary Wilhelm, Sparta, Wisconsin
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Pumpkin Walnut Cheesecake

One of my friends gave me this recipe, and it quickly became a family favorite. I especially love making this dessert for Thanksgiving. But be forewarned—you can’t eat just one slice! —Susan Garoutte, Georgetown, Texas
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Sausage Bread Dressing

My husband and father go crazy for this dressing. Leftovers are rare but they freeze quite well. To save time, chop the veggies and prepare (but don't bake) the dressing up to two days ahead of time and refrigerate. Add a little baking time since it will be cold. —Bette Votral, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
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Apple, Cheddar & Bacon Bread Pudding

I had this dish at a bridal brunch many years ago. It was so delicious that I created my own version, and this is the result. Now I make it all the time. Enjoy! —Melissa Millwood, Lyman, South Carolina
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Make-Ahead Maple & Sage Gravy

Save those turkey wings! Then use this richly flavored stock in my pour-it-on-everything herbed gravy. —Angela Lively, Conroe, Texas
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Maple Sugar Pumpkin Pie

We make our own maple syrup, and that's what gives this pie its special taste. You might want to bake this for your Thanksgiving meal. —Martha Boudah, Essex Center, Vermont
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Herbed Turkey Breasts

Tender, moist turkey breast is enhanced with an array of flavorful herbs in this comforting slow-cooker recipe. —Laurie Mace, Los Osos, California
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Slow-Cooker Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Every year my Mom made cream cheese mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. I tailored the recipe to my family's taste and carried on the tradition. I make them a day ahead and use my slow cooker to free up oven space for other dishes. —Ann Nolte, Tampa, Florida
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Holiday Salsa

When we offer this cream-cheesy salsa of fresh cranberries, cilantro and a little jalapeno kick, everyone hovers around the serving dish until it’s scraped clean. —Shelly Pattison, Lubbock, Texas
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Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

You can speed up this recipe by using a store-bought pound cake or baking and freezing one ahead of time. The sugared pecans can also be prepared in advance and stored in an airtight container.—Becky McClaflin, Blanchard, Oklahoma
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Favorite Mashed Sweet Potatoes

My family begs me to make mashed sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love this recipe because it can be made a day ahead and warmed up before the big meal. —Senja Merrill, Sandy, Utah
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Delicious Pumpkin Bread

An enticing aroma wafts through my house when this tender cake-like pumpkin bread is in the oven. I bake extra loaves to give as holiday gifts. My friends wait eagerly for it every year. —Linda Burnett, Prescott, Arizona
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Sage & Prosciutto Pinwheels

I love, love, love to make appetizers and I especially like this recipe because I can make the rolls ahead, freeze them, and then slice and bake when needed. —Kate Dampier, Quail Valley, California
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Slow-Cooker Creamed Corn with Bacon

Every time we take this super rich corn to a holiday potluck or work party, we leave with an empty slow cooker. It's decadent, homey and so worth the splurge. —Melissa Pelkey Hass, Waleska, Georgia
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Cranberry Cheesecake

Every year when the cranberries are harvested, my family looks forward to eating this cheesecake. —Nairda Monroe, Webberville, Michigan
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Creamy Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

I like to make these twice-baked sweet potatoes because they can be prepared ahead of time. With the addition of cream cheese, they are very creamy and not overly sweet. It is so easy to increase the quantity to any number. —Linda Call, Falun, Kansas
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Fresh Ginger Cranberry Relish

The reputation of this tasty relish goes way beyond your Thanksgiving dinner plate. It’s great with poultry and pork, and will even perk up a ho-hum deli sandwich on-the-fly. —Melode Weiner, Plymouth, California
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Moist & Tender Turkey Breast

This easy turkey recipe is sure to be popular in your home. Everyone will love the taste, and you'll love how quickly it comes together. —Heidi Vawdrey, Riverton, Utah
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Gingersnap Pumpkin Cake

It just so happened that on the first day that really felt like fall, we were getting together with friends. I had to make this pumpkin cake. —Koni Brewer, Fort Worth, Texas
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Texas Garlic Mashed Potatoes

These creamy potatoes get their flavor burst from garlic and caramelized onions. Their savory goodness makes any meal better. —Richard Markle, Midlothian, Texas
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Pureed Butternut Squash Soup

For several years, we've been enjoying this velvety, healthy soup at Thanksgiving. Butternut squash isn’t the easiest thing to cut into, so I buy mine pre-chopped. —Christen Chalmers, Houston, Texas
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Moist Poultry Dressing

Tasty mushrooms and onions complement the big herb flavor in this amazing stuffing. This dressing stays so moist because it’s made in the slow cooker. —Ruth Ann Stelfox, Raymond, Alberta
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Caramel-Pecan Pumpkin Pull-Aparts

We love sticky buns made with my husband's angel biscuit dough, caramel and pecans. For a twist, try apple butter or applesauce instead of the pumpkin. —Carolyn Kumpe, El Dorado, California

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