Make-Aheads Article -
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Thanksgiving Make-Aheads

Get a jump on the big feast--and save time on Thanksgiving--with dishes you can make in advance.


  • For hot appetizers, just prep up to the point of baking. Chill in the fridge until you're ready to pop the dish in the oven
  • Cheese balls get a flavor boost from an overnight stay in the fridge
  • Pumpkin seeds can be made a couple of days ahead

Side Dishes

  • Vegetable casseroles can be assembled up to the point of baking. Wrap and freeze or refrigerate. Thaw before baking
  • Cranberry sauce just gets better after it sits for a day in the fridge
  • You can even make gravy ahead of time. Check out this great video: Make-Ahead Marsala Turkey Gravy


  • Pie crust can be made, wrapped, and frozen right in the pie dish until you're ready to get baking
  • Fresh pumpkin pie filling can be prepped and refrigerated overnight before baking
  • Cheesecake freezes and thaws beautifully

Quick Links:

    Nov. 5, 2010 11:42 am
    I am trying to find the cheese ball appitizer that looks like a turkey you use pecans and red pepper for neck..crackers for the turkey fan;;;can not find, this appeared and not I can not find it on the site.. please help!
    Nov. 5, 2010 7:11 pm

I think this is what you are looking for. Looks cool.
    Nov. 10, 2010 3:46 pm
    I had the same problem finding the Turkey cheese ball, I want to make it this year for a family dinner, Luckily I am very determined & did actually find it. Follow this link and it will take you there.
    Nov. 12, 2010 1:01 pm
    Yes, the turkey cheese ball is at
    Nov. 18, 2010 6:59 pm
    I ate pumpkin pecan cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory last month. It was a layer like pecan pir, a layer of cheesecake and a layer of pumpkin. I would love to make this for my family for Thanksgiving but cannot find the recipe. Can anyone help?
    Nov. 20, 2010 3:37 pm
    I found a recipe called pumpkin harvest cheesecake that you might be able to alter...looks good!
    Nov. 24, 2010 11:58 am
    That's so funny! I saw the pic of the turkey cheese ball last week and looked everywhere too! So glad for the link! Thanks!
    Nov. 2, 2011 7:39 am
    My aunt made this many many years ago. She has since passed and now I make it in her place! JUST CANT GET ENOUGH OF IT!
    Nov. 2, 2011 7:40 am
    Oops! Forgot to mention it is the recipe for Creamy Corn Casserole !
    Nov. 2, 2011 12:48 pm
    Go to Taste of Home website and do search for Turkey Cheese Ball. It is on their site.
    Nov. 2, 2011 1:32 pm
    Ok, the best cheese ball recipe out there is called Zesty Sausage Cheese Balls by Jimmy Dean. Adapt it to use turkey. The jalapeno peppers and garlic give it a real kick!
    Kathy Shields 
    Nov. 11, 2011 2:54 am
    My turkey day tip is to cook the turkey the day before-remove the meat to a crock pot and add some gravy to keep moist(not too much). Refrigerate til morning and reheat slowly after adding more gravy. My family raves about it and I am out of the kitchen. I put the stuffing and or mashed potatoes in another crock pot and reheat also. Everyone serves themselves and it works great!
    Nov. 11, 2011 5:33 am
    Kathy that sounds absolutely delicious!!! Thanks for the idea!
    Nov. 11, 2011 6:04 am
    turkey cheesball is on
    Donna Burnett 
    Nov. 11, 2011 3:45 pm
    Kathy, I think you have nailed the perfect dinner. You then have time to do some dazzling sides. Thanx
    Nov. 12, 2011 5:44 pm
    Thanks kathy!! I was looking to do just the very same and wanted confirmation that it would work...lugging crockpots to another family members house so cooking ahead makes the most sense!!
    Nov. 13, 2011 8:43 am
    I agree with Kathy. Best part is you can make incredible gravy by roasting the carcass and making stock the night before and refridgerate. On T-day scrape off the top fat layer, add flour to make a roux, then stir in the stock and cook till thickened.Season with s&p. You should have enough fat and stock to use, instead of butter and water, to bake dressing that tastes like it was cooked in the bird. We all say turkey tastes better the next day anyway! Hint: If you have crispy turkey skin lovers, you can peel off the skin right after roasting and store it uncovered in the fridge. On t-day lay the skin over the dressing for the last half hour and it will crisp up beautifully.
    Nov. 21, 2011 3:45 pm
    I would like to make the turkey the day before and warm it in a nesco or slow cooker any suggestion on if I put some water or stock in it the next day or will it be totally dry
    Nov. 23, 2011 3:21 pm
    We always have deviled eggs for Thanksgiving, and I like to boil my eggs a few days in advance. Anything that can be done a day or two prior I do, from herb-butter that gets rubbed on the turkey's breast to homemade stock for mashed potatoes and gravy. I usually prep my turkey the night before, too, that way I just have to stick it in the oven. Stress-free holidays are the best.
    Nov. 25, 2012 9:48 pm
    I have a favorite cheese ball that I shape into a turkey I make the chocolate chip cheese ball also from taste of home.
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