Hosting a holiday dinner can be stressful – but it doesn’t to be! From appetizers and sides to turkey and dessert, this Thanksgiving Menu with Make Ahead Options takes the stress out of what to make and when to make it.
The Perfect Thanksgiving Menu
It’s probably no surprise that I love Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays because it means time spent with family and lots and lots of yummy food.
But hosting Thanksgiving can be a bit overwhelming, especially the first time. Not only deciding what to make but also trying to figure out how to make a multi-course meal in just a few hours.
I’ve done it a few times now and finally figured out the secret – make as much as in advance as possible.
This Thanksgiving menu below features my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, along with my tips and tricks for making each recipe in advance. Feel free to customize it to your own needs, of course, but this menu has been a hit with my family over the years.
Make Ahead Ideas
The good thing about preparing a big holiday meal is that, truthfully, most of it can be made in advance! Below I’ve included specific make-ahead tips for each dish.
Desserts can almost always be made in advance. After all, pies need time to cool and set! Casseroles are also ideal for making in advance. Even if you have to wait to bake them, they can easily be assembled ahead of time.
And don’t forget that frozen turkey takes several days to thaw! Your turkey is definitely something to think about in advance.
The Best Thanksgiving Recipes
Whether you’re hosting 5 guests or 25, this Thanksgiving menu will help you cover all the bases and please even the pickiest of eaters.
A charcuterie board is the perfect start to any Thanksgiving feast, offering guests something to snack on before the big meal is ready. Plus, it’s easy to customize to your desired ingredients.Make Ahead Tip: Assemble your meat and cheese board up to a day in advance. Keep it tightly covered with plastic and refrigerate.
A crudités platter is the veggie version of a charcuterie board and another great way to start your Thanksgiving meal. Choose your favorite veggies and dips to assemble this crudités platter like a pro.Make Ahead Tip: Assemble your crudités platter a day in advance, cover with plastic, and refrigerate. Depending on the dips you choose to use, you may want to keep them in their original container until just before serving.
Made with just 5 ingredients, these Baked Brie Phyllo Cups are an easy, fun Thanksgiving appetizer or side dish.Make Ahead Tip: Assemble the phyllo cups a few hours in advance and refrigerate. Bake just before serving.
These Spinach Dip Stuffed Mushrooms combine two classic appetizers into one for a truly irresistible dish. Baby bella mushrooms are stuffed with a cheesy spinach dip then baked to perfection.Make Ahead Tip: You can assemble the mushrooms a day ahead of time, cover, and refrigerate. You can also freeze the mushrooms before baking, though that can change the texture of the filling.
Thanksgiving dinner isn’t Thanksgiving dinner without a solid stuffing recipe! This sausage stuffing is made from scratch with French bread, chicken sausage, and herbs. The perfect accompaniment to any Thanksgiving spread.Make Ahead Tip: The easiest thing to do is prepare the bread a day in advance, to ensure it’s dried out. You can also assemble the stuffing and stop just before adding the broth, then refrigerate overnight. Add the broth before baking.
This made-from-scratch, savory Thanksgiving cornbread stuffing recipe is filled with sage, thyme, and Italian chicken sausage.Make Ahead Tip: Make the cornbread 1 to 2 days before. Prep and cook the veggies 1 to 2 days before. The day of, assemble the stuffing and bake.
This Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brine Turkey with be the star of your Thanksgiving dinner! With a crispy skin and moist, juicy meat, it’s the only Thanksgiving turkey recipe you’ll ever need.Make Ahead Tip: This dry brine turkey requires some advance prep. You’ll want to let your turkey thaw for 3 days, air dry in the fridge for a day, and to cook it on the 5th day.
This Cranberry Pear Sauce is a sweet and tart twist on classic cranberry sauce and a must-make for any Thanksgiving gathering. The best part? You’ll need just 3 ingredients!Make Ahead Tip: Cranberry sauce can be served chilled so go ahead and make this a day in advance then refrigerate in an airtight container.
This Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pear Soup is smooth and creamy with just a hint of ginger flavor. It’s also vegan and dairy-free, making it the perfect side to accommodate all Thanksgiving guests.Make Ahead Tip: Butternut squash soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or even frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.
Green bean casserole is a classic Thanksgiving side. This version is made entirely from scratch, with fresh green beans and sliced mushrooms for a lighter option.Make Ahead Tip: You can assemble green bean casserole a day in advance, cover, and refrigerate. Bake just before serving.
Roasted green beans with caramelized onions are a great alternative to classic green bean casserole. Featuring fresh green beans roasted to crunchy perfection and topped with onions, this side is simple but elegant.Make Ahead Tip: The onions may be made up to 4 days in advance then reheated before topping the green beans.
This roasted butternut squash recipe is packed with flavor and it requires just a handful of ingredients and a single baking sheet.Make Ahead Tip: While I recommend baking this recipe just before serving, you can cut down on the prep time by chopping all of the veggies in advance and refrigerating them.
This Vanilla Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Topping is a fun twist on a classic sweet potato casserole with marshmallows or pecans. The vanilla pairs so well with the sweet potatoes!Make Ahead Tip: You have a few options here. You can simply cook the sweet potatoes a day or two in advance or you can prepare both the sweet potato and praline topping in advance and store them in the fridge. Wait until baking to add the topping.
Creamy spinach with a hint of nutmeg is baked in the oven topped with melted cheese for a decadent Holiday side dish. Make Ahead Tip: You can prep the whole dish a day ahead and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Forget basic biscuits! These Rosemary Garlic Biscuits will bring the extra pop of flavor to your Thanksgiving table. They’re super easy to make too!Make Ahead Tips: You can make these a day or two in advance and store them in a ziploc bag at room temperature.
These Pecan Phyllo Tarts are like a bite-sized pecan pie! Made with just 7 ingredients, they’re the perfect fall dessert for sharing.Make Ahead Tip: Feel free to bake these phyllo tarts a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Sweet Potato Pie is one of the most popular Thanksgiving desserts – and for good reason! Rich and creamy, this pie is truly a dream. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!Make Ahead Tip: You can make your pie a day or two in advance. Once it cools, cover and refrigerate until serving.
Looking for an easy dessert for your holiday meal? Try this Cinnamon Apple Crisp! Way easier to make than a pie, it’s filled with spiced apples and a crunchy topping.Make Ahead Tip: Cinnamon Apple Crisp can be made a day or two in advance, covered, and refrigerated until serving.
This Apple and Grape Medley is another simple dessert sure to be loved by everyone, with sweet apples and tart grapes tossed with a cream cheese and yogurt sauce. Make Ahead Tip: This fruit salad tastes better when its chilled so this is one dish you’ll definitely want to make a day in advance. Just keep it covered in the fridge until serving.