Thanksgiving is a time for eating well, but it’s also a time for being with family and friends, but if you’re responsible for feeding the whole clan, you’ll need a plan of action to make sure you’re not stuck in the kitchen all day when you could be enjoying yourself with loved ones. Preparing dishes beforehand gives you more time to enjoy the day, and there’s less mess to clear up afterwards, too. If you want to save time this Thanksgiving without compromising on flavour, take a look at our selection of timesaving side dishes you can prepare fully or partly ahead of time.
Brussels sprouts are a classic winter combination, with the chestnuts highlighting the sweeter, nuttier flavours in the sprouts, so even sprout-haters will find them less bitter than expected. If you love sprouts, Thanksgiving and Christmas just aren't the same without them, and this recipe gives them the star treatment they deserve.
To save on time, try trimming the sprouts and cooking them in the wine and stock the night before. You can add the chestnuts on the day and reheat for 2 minutes on the stove, then season with the extra butter, pepper and balsamic cream.
These gourmet homemade stuffings are full of rich, bold flavours, each designed to complement the flavour of roast turkey in its own way. Choose from a sausage and apple stuffing with pecans and sage, a herby cornbread stuffing with sweet potatoes and sausage, or a wild rice, chestnut and squash stuffing. The wild rice option is best made on the day, but for the other two, you can prepare all the ingredients and place them in a baking dish the day before, so all you need to do on Thanksgiving morning is put them in to bake.
Pumpkin and sage is a warming, comforting flavour competition, and adds a winter celebration feel to this luxuriously silky mashed potato. Mashed potato is always popular at Thanksgiving, and your guests will love this extra-special version, so make sure you have plenty.
Mash is easy to make ahead of time and store in the freezer, but you’ll probably want to fry the sage on the day. To reheat your potato to that same silky consistency, heat it over a medium low heat with a little cream, stirring all the time.
These golden, honey-glazed roast parsnips have a deliciously earthy, nutty flavour, with perfectly crispy outsides and sweet, slightly chewy centres, making them the perfect partner for bold roasted flavours and rich stuffings. If you want to prepare them the day before, reduce the baking time by 5 minutes. On Thanksgiving morning, place them back in the oven with a little more oil and honey, and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
This simple but elegant salad is made from tasty new potatoes and green beans, served with a saffron vinaigrette for a real touch of luxury. This dish is meant to be served cold, so you can leave it in the fridge overnight for the flavours to develop, and all you need to do the following day is to serve it.
These light and airy savoury soufflés are great as either an appetiser or a side. Their delicate texture and rich flavours are sure to make them a favourite with everyone, and they’re not as tricky to make as you might think. If you do choose to make them in advance, you can store them in the refrigerator, but be sure to wait until they’ve returned to room temperature before reheating. Place them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes on the day before serving.
This silky pumpkin risotto is perfect for Halloween or Thanksgiving. If you’re preparing the night before, reheat the next day on the stove with a little extra stock to restore it to its original texture, then mix in the extra butter, Parmesan and seasoning as per the final step of the recipe.
This flavourful couscous dish is bursting with Mediterranean flavours and makes the perfect side for your vegetarian and vegan guests. This dish is meant to be served cold, so preparing it the day before couldn’t be easier.
This elegant pumpkin velouté is full of satisfying fall flavours, with a delicate balance of savoury, sweetness and spice. It’s more of an appetiser than a side, but it’s a great choice for preparing the day before. Leave the cream out when you first make it, then reheat on the stove and add the cream before serving.
Baked cauliflower in a rich, cheesy sauce with plenty of black pepper and nutmeg. This simple, tasty side is always a favourite at family gatherings, and it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days so you can reheat it in the microwave or oven for when you need it.
Impress your guests with this sweet, tangy homemade cranberry sauce. It’s super easy to make, and will keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
These mashed sweet potatoes from The Kitchn are buttery, fluffy, peppery and sweet. Make them the day before, store in the fridge, and simply reheat on the stove with a little cream or milk.
This classic Thanksgiving dish from Delish is irresistibly sweet and slightly boozy. If you want to make it the day before, make a little extra sauce, then give the yams one last basting and put them back in the oven on Thanksgiving morning.
Nothing beats warm, buttery cornbread, and it’s perfect for mopping up leftover gravy and cranberry sauce. This easy recipe from Delish isn’t technically a make-ahead dish, but with just 5 minutes prep time, it’s still a real timesaver.
These sweet earthy carrots from Woman’s Day are the perfect foil for rich meaty flavours, and make a great addition to your Thanksgiving table. If you’re pushed for time, try half roasting them the day before, so all you need to do on the big day is put them in the oven for 10 minutes and give them their maple coating.
These irresistibly savoury stuffed mushrooms from Woman’s Day are great as an appetiser or a side. Prepare the stuffing the day before so all that’s left to do is stuff the mushrooms and put them in the oven.
This earthy, nutty salad from The Kitchn is a sophisticated take on the classic Brussels sprout side dish. It is meant to be served cold, and tastes even better the day after you’ve made it.
This deliciously creamy side from The Kitchn is made with bitter kale, smoky paprika and a rich cheesy sauce. Make the day before and reheat over low heat until it just begins to bubble.
Your guests will love these savoury bundles of tender beans wrapped in salty bacon. This is another dish you should really make on the day, but with just 10 minutes prep time, it’s still a real timesaver. Recipe from Delish.
Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, and these tasty pumpkin pie bars from Delish offer all those classic pumpkin pie flavours with less of the hard work. They’re served cold, so you can store them in the fridge and take them out when you need them.