12 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Sides for a Stress-Free Day

Updated 09/24/18

Few things are more rewarding than hosting close friends and family for a homemade Thanksgiving feast, but the leadup to the meal can be stressful. After all, most Thanksgiving dishes involve baking and are best served straight from the oven, so the hours before guests arrive are often rushed. 

If you'd rather spend more time with loved ones than slaving away in the kitchen, make sure you add some make-ahead dishes to your Thanksgiving menu. Though fall salads are an obvious option, there are a few other dishes that can be prepped the day before or the morning of Thanksgiving. From a crockpot mashed potato dish that basically cooks itself to hearty soups that can be prepped in advance and heated when guests arrive, these are the best easy side dishes for Thanksgiving. 

Cream of Pumpkin Soup With Maple Pecans

Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Maple Pecans
Half Baked Harvest

The Recipe: Soup is an ideal make-ahead dish because it can be prepped in advance, refrigerated, and re-heated before guests arrive. This Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Maple Pecans looks picture-perfect served in mini sugar pumpkins, and no one will know you didn't make it moments before. 

The Prep Time: This dish takes just 10 minutes to prep. If made in advance, be sure to only pour the soup into the hollow pumpkins and top with pecans just before serving. 

Elios Pumpkin Tureen
Williams Sonoma Elios Pumpkin Tureen $150
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Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad With Roasted Beets, Pecans, and Goat Cheese

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad With Roasted Beets, Pecans And Goat Cheese
Foodie Crush

The Recipe: Traditional Thanksgiving dishes are usually hearty, so be sure to add some light salads to the mix. This Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad is equal parts tangy, sweet, and creamy.

The Prep Time: Set aside about 20 minutes to prepare this dish, not including baking time. It can be made up to three days before Thanksgiving—just be sure to keep it refrigerated and add the dressing 15 minutes before serving. 

Manhattan Gold Salad Servers
Michael Wainwright Manhattan Gold Salad Servers $80
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Crockpot Three Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Crockpot Three Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Half Baked Harvest

The Recipe: Crockpots are the ultimate multitasker when entertaining. This Crockpot Three Cheese Mashed Potatoes basically cooks itself. Just prep the ingredients in the morning and let the Crockpot slowly cook the potatoes while you tend to the turkey and other important mains. 

The Prep Time: This dish takes 15 minutes to prep and five hours to cook, making it a perfect meal to put on in the morning before guests arrive. 

All-Clad 6 1/2-Quart Slow Cooker With Black Ceramic Insert
All-Clad 6 1/2-Quart Slow Cooker With Black Ceramic Insert $280 $180
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Harvest Cranberry, Persimmon, and Burrata Salad

Harvest Cranberry, Persimmon, and Burrata Salad
Half Baked Harvest

The Recipe: This harvest salad has a ton of fall flavors, including persimmon and cranberry. The colors pair perfectly with a traditional Thanksgiving table setting. 

The Prep Time: This dish takes 10 minutes to prep. Assemble when guests arrive to ensure it doesn't get soggy. 

Mason Serve Platter - Ivory
Pottery Barn Mason Serve Platter $29
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Raw Beet and Carrot Salad With Feta and Walnuts

Raw Beet and Carrot Salad With Feta and Walnuts
Stuck in the Kitchen

The Recipe: Bright and flavorful, this Raw Beet and Carrot Salad With Feta and Walnuts is an ideal make-ahead meal. 

The Prep Time: You'll need about 15 minutes to prep this dish. Store the grated ingredients separately and combine with dressing just before serving. 

Acacia Wood and Stainless Steel Tabletop Cheese Grater by World Market
Cost Plus World Market Acacia Wood and Stainless Steel Tabletop Cheese Grater $15
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Creamy Kale Salad With Chickpeas and Shallot

Creamy Kale Salad with Chickpeas and Shallot
Minimalist Baker

The Recipe: This Creamy Kale Salad with Chickpeas and Shallot is a relatively healthy option. The recipe makes enough for four sides. 

The Prep Time: You only need five minutes to prep this dish and 25 minutes to cook it. This salad is best made on the same day, but leftovers can be refrigerated for up to three days. 

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H&M Patterned Porcelain Plate $13
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Pumpkin Sage Biscuits

Pumpkin Sage Biscuits
Minimalist Baker

The Recipe: Rethink those store-bought rolls and make these Pumpkin Sage Biscuits instead. This recipe yields eight biscuits, so adjust depending on your gathering. 

The Prep Time: Set aside 15 minutes to prep this recipe. The dough can be frozen and stored for up to one month. Simply pop into the oven on the day for warm, fresh rolls. 

Goldtouch(R) Non-Corrugated Quarter Sheet Pan
Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Non-Corrugated Quarter Sheet Pan $37
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Roast Cauliflower Salad With Eggplant Hummus and Walnut Dukkah

Roast Cauliflower Salad with Eggplant Hummus and Walnut Dukkah
Stuck in the Kitchen

The Recipe: Homemade dukkah makes this Roast Cauliflower Salad With Eggplant Hummus a standout. Roast the chickpeas and prep the dressing in advance then combine before serving. 

The Prep Time: There are three parts to this recipe—the homemade dukkah, eggplant hummus, and salad—so be sure to set aside enough time to ready each part. 

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Curried Beet Soup with Tandoori Chickpeas

Curried Beet Soup with Tandoori Chickpeas
Minimalist Baker

The Recipe: Another great recipe to prep in advance, this Curried Beet Soup With Tandoori Chickpeas is rich in healthy ingredients like ginger and beets. 

The Prep Time: You'll need 30 minutes from start to finish. The soup can be refrigerated for three to four days or kept in the freezer for one month. 

KitchenAid Pro Line Series Blender with Thermal Control Jar
KitchenAid Pro Line Series Blender with Thermal Control Jar $1200 $640
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Penne Pasta Salad

Penne Pasta Salad
Minimalist Baker

The Recipe: This handy Penne Pasta Salad contains just nine ingredients and comes together in 30 minutes. It doesn't get easier than this. 

The Prep Time: Allow 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook this recipe. It can be made up to four days in advance. 

Oak Wood Cooking Spoon by World Market
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Burrata and Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad

Burrata And Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad
Foodie Crush

The Recipe: Fresh and light, this traditional Burrata and Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad is all about good quality ingredients. Head to your local farmer's markets for ripe, flavorful tomatoes. 

The Prep Time: This recipe takes less than five minutes to whip up. Simply chop and arrange the tomatoes on a board with burrata, then drizzle with olive oil and season. 

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Hawkins New York Simple Oak Cutting Board Large $130
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Pear Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts

Pear Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts
Minimalist Baker

The Recipe: Make the candied walnuts in advance so all you have to do is top the fresh ingredients when guests arrive. This Pear Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts serves three people. 

The Prep Time: Allow 20 minutes to prep this meal. Chop the ingredients on Thanksgiving day and serve fresh. 

Zwilling Pro Holm Oak 7
Williams Sonoma Zwilling Pro Holm Oak 7" Rocking Santoku Knife $175 $140
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What are you making for Thanksgiving? Tag your Instagram posts #MyDomaineEats to share your recipes. 

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