11 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Side Dishes

We know that come Thanksgiving day there will be multiple dishes to juggle and never quite enough oven space. We’ve put together a collection of our favorite make-ahead Thanksgiving side dishes. Whether you’re hosting, or have been asked to bring a dish to dinner, they’ll help you out on the big day.

A bowl of buttery mashed potatoes, chopped carrots on a sheet pan, a green bean casserole in a skillet, and a fennel and potato gratin.

Every Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass.” Because when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I’m all about those sides.

Don’t get me wrong, I love turkey. I eat it throughout the year. Turkey and cheddar with copious amounts of mayo is my favorite sandwich. But come on! How many times a year do you eat green bean or sweet potato casserole, creamy gratins, and mashed potatoes so rich they make your cardiologist faint?

And let’s talk about stuffing, er, dressing. Some obscure government agency should make it its very own food group. Or at the very least, create a food pyramid that rests on those mighty herb-scented shoulders.

Then there are the days following Turkey Day–so marvelous they are that who can think of Black Friday? If I’m not making a turkey-stuffing-and-cranberry-sauce sandwich or stuffing muffins, I’m layering leftovers into a casserole dish, topping them with homemade pie crust, and making a day-after-Thanksgiving pot pie.

Huzzah, huzzah, side dishes! Long may you reign and terrorize doctors everywhere.

The word "David" written in script.
A large metal sheet pan filled with slices of roasted carrots with allspice, sea salt and preserved lemons, with a serving spoon.
Roasted carrots with allspice are an easy, unexpected, and, we dare say, essential side dish for winter. Put them on your table and we suspect everyone who tries them will agree…and ask for the recipe.
Recipe

These roasted carrots were excellent! I made them along with the slow-roasted pork shoulder with stuffed squash for an early Christmas dinner party and they were an absolute hit! Super easy to prep in advance and I liked the preserved lemon surprise at the end. Yum!–Amy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A classic green bean casserole with mushrooms and topped with fried onion rings in a cast-iron skillet.
This classic green bean casserole, made with green beans, mushrooms, and a cream sauce, is a Thanksgiving tradition. Just say no to the can opener.
Recipe
A white gravy boat filled with cranberry relish with a halved lime and juicer in the background.
This sweet and spicy cranberry relish is a contemporary take on the traditional cranberry sauce. Spiced with jalapeño and brightened with lime juice, it will become an instant holiday favorite.
Recipe
A browned fennel potato gratin, garnished with rosemary in an oval casserole dish with handles and a glass of white wine on either side of the dish.
This fennel potato gratin, made with layers of thinly sliced fennel and potatoes, and a thick creamy white Cheddar sauce, is one of the most comforting side dishes we’ve ever experienced.
Recipe
A copper pot filled with creamed spinach.
This creamed spinach is an easy version of the classic, made with fresh spinach and a mascarpone, Parmesan, and cream sauce. Here’s how to make it.
Recipe

Extraordinarily delicious! I will definitely be making this creamed spinach recipe again soon. Texture and flavoring was perfect.–Elizabeth

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A white gratin dish filled with cheesy broccoli and topped with toasted breadcrumbs.
Broccoli and blue cheese gratin is a simple comforting casserole that makes the perfect Thanksgiving side dish.
Recipe
Hot artichoke dip in a white pottery bowl with a serving spoon, beside a bowl of toasted bread.
Artichoke hearts are an essential store-cupboard ingredient for me. This recipe is one of my favorites—delicious, quick, and simple to make, it's inspired by my mother. I always serve this at Christmastime, with toasted rosemary focaccia. It is rich, comforting, and everyone always wants the recipe.
Recipe
Two plates of shredded, shaved Brussel sprouts salad, topped with toasted pine nuts, green olives, bread, and more pine nuts nearby.
This shaved Brussels sprouts salad takes no time make. Thinly sliced sprouts, Pecorino cheese, toasted pine nuts are tossed with a simple lemon-olive oil dressing. Hello, side dish and conversation starter.
Recipe
A white dish filled with sweet potato casserole, topped with toasted marshmallows.
This classic sweet potato casserole recipe is made with marshmallows, half-and-half, spices, and sugar. Just like grandma's.
Recipe

The sweet potato casserole turned out great, everyone loved it.–Tammy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A rectangular baking dish filled with wild mushroom stuffing with leeks.
Earthy flavors combine with slightly sweet brioche bread to create this beautiful brioche and wild mushroom stuffing.
Recipe

FAQs

What types of side dishes are best to make ahead of time?

The best types of side dishes to make in advance are those that are served at room temperature, like cranberry sauce, or sides that reheat well, like mashed potatoes or gravy. For other types of side dishes, like creamy gratins or roasted Brussels sprouts, do as much prep as you can and then pop them into the oven at the last minute.

How many side dishes do I need for Thanksgiving dinner?

There’s no firm rule, but we recommend you aim for 4 to 5 side dishes for your Thanksgiving menu. We like to include 2 vegetable sides, like easy roasted carrots and pan-fried green beans, and two starchy sides like black pepper mashed potatoes and herbed bread and celery stuffing. Of course, if your family demands a marshmallow-laden sweet potato casserole, then we recommend you also include that.

What’s the best way to store leftover side dishes?

Most side dishes will keep in sealed containers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Some sides, particularly gravy and cranberry sauce freeze well and can be stashed in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Now that you have your side dishes squared away, you can move on to the most important part — dessert! We’ve got an incredible selection of Thanksgiving desserts, many of which can also be made ahead and stashed in your fridge or freezer.

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

Comments

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Upload a picture of your dish