Real-Life Testers: Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
These real-Life testers tried our Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner menu -- and saved a bunch of time without sacrificing taste!
Skip the Stress
Our real-life tester, Carrie Wegman of Effingham, Illinois tried out our Make-Ahead Thanksgiving menu, which takes the stress and mess out of the T-Day feast by preparing everything several days in advance!
The Wegman family was a big fan of our Make-Ahead menu.
Gang's All Here!
When you're cooking for a large crowd like this on Thanksgiving, make-ahead dishes can be your savior!
Keep Your Cool as the Cook
Carrie said this menu definitely fulfilled the promise of super-do-aheadable! Follow the Make-Ahead Timeline and you could start Thanksgiving up to a week before Turkey Day!
First Make-Ahead Step
One week ahead: Mix and back the Cornmeal Stuffing Muffins and freeze in a resealable plastic bag. These were a major favorite. "These made our whole house smell like Thanksgiving and screamed 'Eat me with turkey!'" Carrie says. "They reminded me of my mom's stuffing that she's made on Thanksgiving Day for years."
Our testers said these would be a good leftover to have with breakfast the next day (maybe a grab-and-go Black Friday breaky?) --we totally agree!
Three days before Turkey Day, poach the pears for the Pear & Caramel Trifle, and then chill.
Eat Your Heart Out
The whole dessert can be assembled two whole days before Thanksgiving! Bake the spice cake and prepare the syrup and cream for the trifle. Assemble the trifle and cover with plastic wrap -- it's ready when you are!
The Sweet Potato & Apple Gratin can be made two days before the big day.
The layers of sweet potato and apple slices make for a delightful combination -- our testers loved this yummy side dish!
One day before Thanksgiving, you can brine and roast the Brined Dijon Turkey with Pan Gravy and assemble it in a baking dish.
The turkey parts are removed from the brine, and covered evenly with a butter and whole grain dijon mustard mixture.
That is one tasty-looking turkey! On Thanksgiving Day, take the turkey out of the fridge two hours before serving time and reheat it for 45 minutes. Dig in!
Someone's hungry! Their pup, Sasha Wegman, patiently waits for a morsel to drop.
The Walnut & Cranberry Broccoli Salad can also be partially prepared the day before Thanksgiving! This dish covers two bases: you got your veggies, and your Thanksgiving classic -- cranberries!
Less Mess and Stress
"Having several things done ahead allowed me to have a cleaner kitchen when serving the holiday meal, which is so important to me," says Carrie. "I was also able to plan up to a week in advance and make everything instead of cramming all of the cooking into the two days before. I was able to work on a few steps each evening after the kids were asleep."
Helping the Host
"The last 30 minutes before meal time were a little easier than usual because, for the most part, things were just reheating," Carrie says. You can use this extra time to enjoy a drink with your guests and enjoy company!
Carrie's advice? To save extra time, you can prep all the dinnerware and even set the table days in advance. You can also chop all the celery, onions, etc. in advance as well.
The Wegmans loved the dishes! Carrie found the recipes to be straightforward and, although most required several steps, they were very easy to follow.