The holidays in general can be fairly stressful time of year. When family and friends gather, meal time often becomes a theatrical performance, a dance in the kitchen that involves innumerable pots and pan. Oven space is at a premium, the dishwasher is in a perpetual state of operation and your drunk uncle is causing trouble once again.
In spite of all this, people really do love the holiday season. Once the clock strikes midnight on the last night of October, the world around you feels instantly transformed as the country begins to prepare for America's busiest kitchen holiday of them all: Thanksgiving.
But if the thought of cooking Thanksgiving dinner is already causing a cold sweat to collect at your brow, don't worry - there is a solution. We reached out to our network of food bloggers and asked them to share some of their favorite make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes. Many of the classic dishes that are expected to make an appearance on the Turkey Day table can actually be prepped ahead of time, even stored in the freezer until that day arrives. From cranberry sauce and stuffing to bread rolls and pie, get a head start on your Thanksgiving Day food prep with these easy and delicious make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes. istockphoto.com
Basic Pie Crust
Get a head start on any holiday pies by making your pie crust ahead of time. Pie crust freezes really well; simply shape it into a disk and wrap it well with plastic wrap and you're good to go! If you want to go one step further, you can even put the pastry, rolled out, into your tart shell, wrap it and freeze it - rendering a homemade tart shell that's ready to be blind baked and filled.
For the Basic Pie Crust recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
Chipotle Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
This recipe from Tasty Ever After is delicious and creamy and makes for an incredibly easy soup that will be a great start to Thanksgiving dinner. You can make this soup well in advance and store it in the freezer for up to three months!
For the Chipotle Roasted Butternut Squash Soup recipe, click here. Tasty Ever After
Crock-Pot Mashed Potatoes With Cream Cheese
Here's another great freezer-friendly recipe from The Dinner Mom. To reheat these mashed potatoes from frozen, simply defrost them in the fridge overnight, top with some pats of butter and bake them uncovered for about half an hour at 350 F.
For the Crock-Pot Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese recipe, click here. The Dinner Mom
Drunken Cherry Cranberry Sauce
This delicious, homemade "drunken" cranberry sauce made with cherries and red wine, from Sweet and Spicy Monkey will complement a Thanksgiving turkey perfectly. This will last up to a week in the fridge, but cranberry sauce also freezes really well. Just store it in an airtight container or freezer bag and keep it in the freezer for up to three months, then defrost it overnight in the fridge
For the Drunken Cherry Cranberry Sauce recipe, click here. Sweet and Spicy Monkey
Easy Green Bean Casserole
This easy green bean casserole can be thrown together in a matter of minutes using just five ingredients. Make this the day before and just throw it in the oven for 25 minutes on Turkey Day. This recipe is truly effortless!
For the Easy Green Bean Casserole recipe, click here.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread
This pumpkin bread from Delightful Food Mom is the perfect thing to enjoy on Thanksgiving morning, with a cup of tea of coffee, before the chaos begins. You can store this at room temperature, wrapped, for one to two days, hold it in the fridge for up to a week, or keep it in the freezer (wrapped tightly in foil or plastic wrap) for two to three months.
For the Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread recipe, click here Delightful Food Mom
Holiday Chocolate Chip Cookies
For a great, all-purpose holiday cookie, turn to this recipe! Make the dough well ahead of time, roll it into a cylinder and keep it well-wrapped in the freezer. Then just slice and bake as many cookies as you need! It couldn't be easier.
For the Holiday Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe, click here.
Home "Canned" Cranberry Sauce Made in a Tin Can Mold
This nostalgic recipe from Food in Jars will deliver everything you ask for in commercial canned cranberry sauce and more with the iconic 'just out of a can' shape and even better flavor!
For the Home "Canned" Cranberry Sauce Made in a Tin Can Mold recipe, click here. Food in Jars
Maple Glazed Challah Rolls
Bread roll are a wonderful thing to have on any holiday table. These rolls by This Is How I Cook are full of fabulous fall flavor (hello maple!) and freeze so well! Let them defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat them at 350 degrees F just before serving.
For the Maple Glazed Challah Rolls recipe, click here. This Is How I Cook
Mountain Rose Apple Pie
Did you know you can make apple pie ahead of time and freeze it?! That's right! All you need to do is follow the directions completely, build your pie, fill it, top it and then bake it according to the recipe. Let the pie cool completely, chill it in the fridge then wrap it well and pop it in the freezer. Before serving, defrost the pie overnight in the fridge then gently reheat it in the oven at 350 F for 20 to 30 minutes.
For the Mountain Rose Apple Pie recipe, click here.
Parker House Rolls
Who doesn't like a good Parker House roll at the beginning of a holiday meal? These rolls are the perfect make-ahead recipe, and they freeze incredibly well, so you can make them now and relax.
For the Parker House Rolls recipe, click here.
Pecan Topped, Slightly-Sweet Sweet Potato Casserole
Forget the marshmallows in this sweet potato casserole from Liz's Healthy Table and say hello to crunchy, nutrient-rich pecans instead! You can freeze this recipe easily or just make it the day before and keep it in the fridge.
For the Pecan Topped, Slightly-Sweet Sweet Potato Casserole recipe, click here.
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Instead of fussing about with a pumpkin pie, make these bars! They are fun and delicious and can be stored in the fridge for several days, so they're the perfect dessert to make in advance before the Thanksgiving mania sets in.
For the Pumpkin Pie Bars recipe, click here.
Shredded Brussels Sprouts Casserole
This Brussels sprout casserole by Take a Bite Out of Boca is a healthy take on the traditional green bean casserole and can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until it is time to heat, serve and eat!
For the Shredded Brussels Sprouts Casserole recipe, click here. Take a Bite Out of Boca
Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe
This recipe from Platter Talk uses crumbled day-old cornbread and biscuits to create this freezer-friendly dish that can easily be prepared ahead of time before the holiday madness begins!
For the Southern Cornbread Dressing recipe, click here. Platter Talk
Sweet, Spicy, and Salty Pecans
Make these tasty seasoned pecans from Moore or Less Cooking for the perfect pre-dinner snack. With paprika, sugar, cayenne pepper, butter and salt, these pecans are sure to go quickly!
For the Sweet, Spicy, and Salty Pecans recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
Homemade stock is so easy to make and something you should make and freeze until you need it to make the all-important gravy! Ask your butcher for turkey bones, but if there aren't any available you can use chicken bones instead! Once your stock is safely in the freezer, it's time to decide which way you want to cook your Thanksgiving turkey!
For the Turkey Stock recipe, click here.
More from The Daily Meal:
25 Turkey Day Snacks That Will Hold You Over Until Thanksgiving Dinner
20 Quick Dinner Dishes You Can Make Completely Out of the Freezer
What Thanksgiving Dinner Really Does to Your Body
25 One-Pan Recipes You Can Freeze, Heat, and Eat
10 Things You Didn't Know About Thanksgiving