Crafting the perfect Thanksgiving menu can lead to a ton of anxiety, and a shortage of oven space. The best way to circumvent that is to sit down the week before, and make a detailed plan — a plan that includes plenty of make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes that will save you time, and keep you comfortably zen come Thursday. Because let's be real, you have football to watch and grandparents to entertain, which is plenty of multitasking for one person.
No matter what your family's culinary traditions are, you can budget your time effectively such that the food is hot and your demeanor is cool when the time comes to carve the turkey. Just think about how good the leftovers from Thanksgiving are every year. Dishes that work well when made ahead of time include no-bake or frozen desserts, things that don't lose any quality after a few hours in the refrigerator or freezer, and items served at room temperature. Also, Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to pull out your trusty slow cooker to keep things warm.
So, which Thanksgiving staples and creative additions can you prep in advance of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade? Check out these recipe ideas from around the web before you hit the grocery store to shop for the Thanksgiving haul.
1. Banana Bread Coffee Cake
The very last thing you want to do on Thanksgiving morning is cook an elaborate breakfast, and then have to do dishes before you can get cracking on the main event. This make-ahead coffee cake is the perfect fall breakfast. If you've got a toaster oven, you can heat up your slice before drizzling it with maple syrup. Find the recipe at My Baking Addiction.
2. Turkey Gravy
Gravy reheats ridiculously well, though it doesn't retain its saucy appeal once it's cooled off and the skin begins to form on the top of the gravy boat. Brown Eyed Baker has the perfect make-ahead gravy recipe for your table this Thanksgiving.
You can do all of the prep work for your stuffing the night before, and just assemble the ingredients, coat with egg, and toss it in the oven. Check out the full recipe at Mel's Kitchen Cafe.
4. Mashed Potatoes
I love this recipe for mashing your potatoes in a Crock-Pot. It acts as the perfect warming dish. Check out the step-by-step instructions at The Kitchn.
5. Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut squash soup is the perfect fall side dish, and is by far the easiest thing to reheat on this list. The recipe, over at Cookie + Kate, is awesomely detailed, so soak up every word.
6. Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Who needs cranberry sauce shaped like a can when you can have this saucy, fresh goodness that's equal parts zesty, tart, spicy, and sweet? Check out the recipe at The Kitchn.
7. Creamy Confetti Corn
This dish can be made up to two days in advance. Store the fully cooked recipe in the refrigerator in an oven-safe dish and wrapped in plastic wrap. When you're ready to serve, just remove the plastic and heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Get the details at Mel's Kitchen Cafe.
8. Turnip Puff
I've never had a turnip puff, but according to A Pretty Life In The Suburbs, it's the perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving dish. You can just reheat the whole thing in the microwave before serving.
9. Barley & Kale Salad
Nothing says fall like a barley and kale salad with golden beets and feta. Also, the freshness of this salad will be the perfect contrast to the savory richness of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Make the salad ahead of time, and dress and toss when you're ready to eat. Find more info at The Kitchn.
10. Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls
This no-knead recipe from The Kitchn is perfect for a crowd. Make the dough the day before, and bake fresh for dinner. Or, bake the rolls ahead of time and freeze them, heating them up when you're ready to eat.
11. Green Bean Casserole
You could have legitimately made this casserole back in September, put it in the freezer, and have checked that off of your Thanksgiving list. Mel's Kitchen Cafe will show you just how to get this casserole on the table next to the gravy.
12. Chorizo Cornbread Dressing
Make this seriously delicious cornbread dressing by Damn Delicious the night before, and then just stick it in the oven 20 minutes before showtime.
13. Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake
A cake is a perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert, because cake has to cool before it's ready to eat anyway. Throw in the molasses gingerbread angle, and you've got yourself a delicious fall dessert.
14. Peanut Butter Snickers Pie
This is the pinnacle of fall dessert flavors — peanut butter and chocolate in a cold and creamy pie. Find the specifics at Averie Cooks. You certainly won't regret it.
15. Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Make these personal-sized, gluten-free cheesecakes up to two months in advance, wrap with plastic, and freeze. When you're ready to serve, thaw the cakes, top with chocolate, and enjoy. Learn how at My Baking Addiction.
For more Thanksgiving ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.
Images: My Baking Addiction (2); Brown Eyed Baker; Mel's Kitchen Cafe (3); The Kitchn (6); Cookie + Kate; A Pretty Life In The Suburbs; Averie Cooks; Damn Delicious