Easy Make Ahead Thanksgiving Sides

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These easy make ahead Thanksgiving sides and tips can help you plan your holiday meal. We have recipes for classic sides and vegetables.

titled collage for easy make ahead Thanksgiving sides


Thanksgiving is one of our family’s absolute favorite holidays! Planning the menu with recipes everyone will love is so much fun.

Everyone loves the Thanksgiving turkey, but there are plenty of amazing side dishes to serve with it.

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Sides

This year, we want to share some of our favorite recipes for make ahead Thanksgiving side dishes with you.

We’re including recipes for everything you could possibly want to serve for your holiday meal!

There’s sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and our creamed corn recipe, to the best sausage stuffing ever! There are plenty of others, too!

Oh,and when you’re ready to plan dessert, be sure to check out our collection of Thanksgiving dessert recipes!

SCROLL DOWN for the complete list, with links to each Thanksgiving side dish recipe!

Make ahead tips

Don’t let planning dinner for a crowd stress you out- make it fun! Here are a few time-saving tips:

  1. Print each recipe– Don’t rely on using a mobile version of a recipe or risk spilling something on your favorite cookbook. Print out or make a copy of each of the recipes you’ll be making.
  2. Organize and schedule your time. Go a step further, writing notes about what time to start prepping each dish. Include details on when you’ll take them out of the fridge, make the dough, etc., and what time to start making each recipe.
  3. Use slow cookers and food warmers. Pan to have slow cookers to transfer most of the food into after it’s been prepared. This way, you can keep it warm without using oven space.

Sides you can make ahead

By making all of these sides ahead of time, preparing the food on Thanksgiving day will be so much less stressful. This way, you can focus on more important things.

  • Mashed potatoes– Making mashed potatoes the day before serving will save you a LOT of counter space! Then, 3 hours before the meal, transfer them from the fridge to a slow cooker so they can warm through on low heat.
  • Sweet potato casserole– Make the base for the sweet potato casserole ahead, too. On Thanksgiving day, warm it in the oven and add the topping.
  • Stuffing– You can prep all of the stuffing ingredients the day before. Chop the vegetables, cook the sausage and the bacon, and toast the bread too. Then refrigerate everything separately in plastic storage bags or covered containers. NOTE: Keep the bread in a bag on the counter, not in the fridge.
  • Cranberry sauceThis is one of the easiest Thanksgiving side dish recipes to make, but make it ahead anyway. The longer it sits in the fridge, the better the flavor will be!

Thanksgiving side dish recipes

To see the ingredients and get a printable version for any of these recipes, just click on the title of the recipe!

Spoonful of Sausage Cranberry and Apple Stuffing recipe

Sausage Cranberry and Apple Stuffing recipe

Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, it’s a traditional side dish and a MUST-make for Thanksgiving! We love it so much that we have 5 different recipes for it but this one is our favorite and best stuffing recipe!

Bowl of Best Mashed Potatoes recipe

Best Mashed Potatoes recipe

We have the secret to making mashed potatoes that are fluffy, creamy, and buttery. A combination of milk, butter, AND cream cheese! You’ll love them!

casserole dish of Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

This Boston market copycat recipe is spot on for the restaurant’s version. Creamy sweet potatoes with the perfect crunchy streusel topping!

Bowl of Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This fresh cranberry sauce is super simple to make, and it tastes even better if you make it ahead of time! If your family is used to sauce from a can, consider serving both versions this year and see which they prefer!

bowl of triple cheesy slow cooker mac and cheese

Triple Cheesy Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

This Thanksgiving mac and cheese recipe makes the creamiest, cheesiest mac and cheese you’ll ever eat! It’s made with THREE types of cheese!

Sppon of Slow Cooker Creamed Corn

Slow Cooker Creamed Corn

Creamed corn from a can is flavorless and watery, but when you make it from scratch in a slow cooker, it’s crazy delicious! Super easy to make and we never have any leftovers!

casserole dish of Cheesy Potato Casserole

Cheesy Potato Casserole is fully loaded and kicked up about 12 notches, with 3 types of cheese, sour cream, and bacon! This recipe’s a keeper.

Thanksgiving vegetables

Add a few of these healthy vegetable side dishes to your holiday meal. They’re delicious and easy to make, and there are plenty of options to choose from!

plate of Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

This is a simple side dish, but it has incredible flavor! Caramelized bits of roasted garlic really take the dish up a notch.

Air Fryer Cauliflower with a bowl of dipping sauce

Air Fryer Cauliflower

If you have never tried air fried veggies, you need to! Air fried cauliflower takes a few minutes to make and it tastes AMAZING!

plate of Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic

If you have picky eaters, make this side dish. Between the roasted garlic and the perfectly cooked sprouts, they will gobble this side dish up!

casserole dish of Cheesy Bacon Green Bean Casserole

Cheesy Bacon Green Bean Casserole

This ain’t your grandma’s recipe! This modern take on the classic recipe features green beans in a rich and creamy bacon mushroom cheese sauce that will change Thanksgiving forever!

Did we leave anything out? If you have a favorite holiday side dish that you think we should make, use the comments below to let us know about it!

Since you’re already looking for Thanksgiving recipes, check out our how to host a stress-free holiday party guide!!



With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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titled collage of make ahead Thanksgiving side dishes

Originally published November 2014, updated and republished November 2020


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  1. THANK YOU!!! Last Thanksgiving I made your "best ever stuffing recipe", "best ever mashed potato recipe", "best ever slow cooker creamed corn recipe", "Best Ever Sweet Potato Casserole (Boston Market Copycat)" and my entire family went nuts for them and are begging me to bring them again this Thanksgiving! I can't thank you enough for your delicious recipes that are so easy – even I can do them!

  2. I could never stand the creamed corn from a can that I was served in childhood. Fast forward about fifty years and I was served some at a restaurant that amazed me. Your recipe is as close as I've come to what I had that night and yours is even better and SO EASY! It's so easy to adjust for just a few people or a big crowd. I prefer to omit the sugar and nobody notices amid the sounds of noshing. Thank you for this gem of a recipe.

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