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Nov 19, 2010 11:18 AM

Question on make ahead for T-Day

This is my first year in the lead for Thanksgiving, I have always acted as "sous chef" for my I have some experience with the meal. That said, I am trying to get as many things done ahead of time and am experimenting with new recipes.

So far, I have prepared and frozen a soup, and a sweet potato casserole; both types of items where I have successfully been able to prepare/freeze.

The remaining items that I need to tackle are:

Cornbread , apple, sausage stuffing (planning this for outside the bird)
Potato Gratin
Cranberry Pumpkin bread

Any of these good candidates to completely do ahead? I'm fine freezing them if I could get them out of the way this weekend...

I'm going to tackle the cranberry sauce and gravy this weekend.

On the big day I just want to focus on the turkey and some simply prepared carrots/string beans and mashed potatoes. I will also be fine doing one of the above the day of, but would prefer not to do more then that.

Ant other tips?


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  1. I don't prefreeze anything, but I make a lot of stuff ahead, between tues & weds. Tues is mostly prep work (chopping, dicing, etc) for the stuff on weds, and weds are most of my non-turkey dishes.

    Things I make ahead of time:
    dressing (not cooked, just put in the pan - cook on thursday)
    creamed spinach (not cooked)
    green bean casserole (not cooked)
    2 pies for dessert (fully cooked)
    corn spoonbread (not cooked)
    brunch dish for earlier thursday as we eat later in the day (may or may not be precooked)
    turkey is completely prepped and ready to go

    I'm looking at doing the gravy on weds this year as well. I already have turkey stock so I'll use that. I'll leave it slightly thick and stir in some of the pan drippings on thurs.

    I do my mashed potatoes and an onion dish on thurs. I used to do a diff onion dish that was more of a make-ahead thing (barbara lynch's pearl onion gratin) but something diff this year. I'm contemplating peeling the potatoes on weds and leaving them in water, but probably not.

    It's a lot easier now. I pop the turkey in, peel & boil potatoes, when turkey is done I put everything else in the oven and we're ready to go.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jgg13

      i'm curious if when making the dressing ahead, do you add the liquid/stock ahead too?

      1. re: smile81

        Yeah. I just put it in a casserole dish on weds night. Granted I prefer a moister dressing (grew up w/ proper 'stuffing'), but it's always been fine. It's not that much of a time saver vs. assembling it the next day, it's just that it was one less thing to worry about and seemed to work.

    2. That bread should freeze nicely. Knock it off your list. And I've learned to buy turkey wings in October, roast them til brown, and make stock with them, deglazing the pan and adding that. Thus one can do the gravy early and just add any turkey juices you'd like the Day Of.

      1. You've got a great plan and sounds like everything is well thought out. You can make all three items you asked about ahead. Just be sure to completely bake the potato gratin, don't assemble ahead for later cooking - the raw potatoes may turn grey/black. You can successfully freeze the cranberry pumpkin bread, but I'd make the other two just the day before, not earlier - they're not freezer candidates.

        You could also peel the potatoes and carrots the day before, just keep the potatoes submerged in water so they don't turn color.