Thanksgiving Sides You Can Make Ahead of Time

Thanksgiving Sides You Can Make Ahead of Time

Give yourself a break (or at least a little extra time) this Thanksgiving with sides and snacks you can make ahead of time.

When the holiday season swarms our houses like the unstoppable force it is, we need all the extra time we can get. Start by making a few of these side dishes that you can prepare ahead of time, pull out, heat up and feed the masses of hungry in-laws in no time.

Easy Broccoli Salad Recipe

4 cups broccoli florets
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl
  2. 2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayo, sugar and vinegar
  3. 3. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and serve whenever it’s convenient

Make-ahead Meatballs
The best part about meatballs – you can make a batch, freeze them and heat them up when you’re ready! Get the recipes for an Asian-inspired and traditional Swedish meatballs everyone will love.

Make-ahead Cranberry Sauces
Nothing screams, “It’s Thanksgiving!” quite like cranberries. Whether you’re a go-getter in the kitchen and love using fresh cranberries or if you just want to open a jar and act like you made it, we have some side dishes with cranberries that you’ll love.

1. Cranberry and Pear Compote with Dried Winter Fruits Recipe

(For fruit compote)
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup prunes, dried apricots, raisins or a combination, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sugar

(For spiced topping)
1 cup oats (not instant)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

In advance:

  1. In a 2-quart baking dish, combine cranberries, pears, dried fruit and sugar. Put in refrigerator
  2. In a medium bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg, and store in a cool, dry place

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Day of:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Melt the butter and add it to your dry mixture
  3. Sprinkle mixture over fruit
  4. Bake 1 hour until lightly browned and bubbly
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature

2. Warm Apple Cranberry Compote

Cooking spray
1 can (14 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds (about 3 medium) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
Toasted walnuts, to garnish

In advance:

  1. Combine cranberry sauce, almond extract and cinnamon
  2. Peel, core and chop the apples

Day of:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Spray a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray
  3. Toss cranberry mixture with apple pieces, transfer to prepared baking dish, and then cover with aluminum foil
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil, and then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly
  5. Let stand 5-10 minutes before garnishing with spiced walnuts

3. Cranberry Pomegranate and Lemon Relish
Prep time: 10 minutes
Chill time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2-4
Difficulty: Easy

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 large seedless orange, skin left on and cut into 8 pieces
1 lemon, skin left on and cut into 8 pieces
1 cup sugar
Seeds from 1 pomegranate


  1. In a food processor, combine cranberries with orange and lemon pieces, and then sprinkle with sugar
  2. Pulse until mixture is coarsely and evenly ground
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve
  4. Just before serving, stir and garnish with pomegranate seeds

Do you have a make-ahead side that everyone requests? Share it in the comments below!

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