Thanksgiving Sides You Can Make Ahead of Time

Thanksgiving Sides You Can Make Ahead of Time

Give yourself a break (or at least a little extra time) this Thanksgiving with sides and snacks you can make ahead of time.

Make Thanksgiving Day easier on yourself by preparing side dishes a day or two before the big day. With these recipes you can do most of the work in advance, and then you only have to worry about the finishing touches once everyone settles down for the big meal.

Easy Broccoli Salad Recipe

Easy Broccoli Salad Recipe

4 cups broccoli florets
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


  1. Combine the broccoli, celery, cranberries and almonds in a mixing bowl. Cover and place in the fridge
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayo, sugar and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate
  3. Yell, “Dinner’s ready!” and pour the dressing over the salad and serve

Make-ahead Cranberry Sauces
If you’re cranberry-sauce-from-a-can family, your prep is already done. But if you care to jazz up your cranberries, here are three ideas – broken up by what to do in advance and what to do the day of.

1. Cranberry and Pear Compote with Dried Winter Fruits Recipe

Make-ahead Cranberry Sauces

(For fruit compote)
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup prunes, dried apricots, raisins or a combination, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sugar

(For spiced topping)
1 cup oats (not instant)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

In advance:

  1. In a 2-quart baking dish, combine cranberries, pears, dried fruit and sugar. Put in refrigerator
  2. In a medium bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg, and store in a cool, dry place

Day of:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Melt the butter and add it to your dry mixture
  3. Sprinkle mixture over fruit
  4. Bake 1 hour until lightly browned and bubbly
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature

2. Warm Apple Cranberry Compote

Cooking spray
1 can (14 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds (about 3 medium) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
Toasted walnuts, to garnish

In advance:

  1. Combine cranberry sauce, almond extract and cinnamon
  2. Peel, core and chop the apples

Day of:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Spray a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray
  3. Toss cranberry mixture with apple pieces, transfer to prepared baking dish, and then cover with aluminum foil
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil, and then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly
  5. Let stand 5-10 minutes before garnishing with spiced walnuts

3. Cranberry Pomegranate and Lemon Relish


2 cups fresh cranberries
1 large seedless orange, skin left on and cut into 8 pieces
1 lemon, skin left on and cut into 8 pieces
1 cup sugar
Seeds from 1 pomegranate


  1. In a food processor, combine cranberries with orange and lemon pieces, and then sprinkle with sugar
  2. Pulse until mixture is coarsely and evenly ground
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve
  4. Just before serving, stir and garnish with pomegranate seeds

Make-ahead Meatballs
Whether as an appetizer or a side, you can make a batch of meatballs well in advance, freeze them and heat them up when you’re ready! Get the recipes for a few meatball variations everyone will love.

Cleanup Tip: With so much holiday cooking, your oven has probably seen better (and cleaner) days. Fight tough baked-on grease with Mr. Clean Extra Durable Magic Eraser.

Do you have a make-ahead side that everyone requests? Share it in the comments below!



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