Who wants to be cooped up in the kitchen when you could be spending time with family and friends? Try our favorite make-ahead recipes that'll give you more time with your loved ones without sacrificing a tasty turkey dinner.

By Rachael Ray Every Day
November 01, 2005

Brined Dijon Turkey with Pan Gravy

Carve the turkey and plate with the gravy up to two days before for the moistest meat ever! Before sitting down to eat, just reheat.

brined dijon turkey with pan gravy

Walnut & Cranberry Broccoli Salad

Two days ahead, make this light salad by prepping the broccoli. Then, toss in walnuts and cranberries the following day. It's that easy!

Walnut & Cranberry Broccoli Salad

Sweet Potato & Apple Gratin

Cooking this dish two days ahead allows the sweet potatoes and apples to soak up the flavors of the onion sauce. It's a win-win for all!

sweet potato and apple gratin

Caramel-Pear Trifle

A couple of days in the fridge lets the trifle's flavors and textures meld -- and gives you more free time on Turkey Day!

caramel pear trifle

Cornmeal Stuffing Muffins

Get your stuffing fix in muffin form: These light and fluffy treats can be baked in advance, then bagged and frozen. Let thaw and reheat.

cornmeal stuffing muffins

Cranberry-Lime Relish

Compliment your main course with this feisty relish packed with sweet cranberries and jalapeno chiles. Just combine and zap it in a food processor. Then, cover and refrigerate until the big day.

Cranberry-Lime Relish

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake

The best part about cheesecake: it takes a long time to chill. After baking, throw it in the fridge for at least 10 hours, but up to 2 days before serving.

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Kick up your ordinary pecan pie with a hint of bourbon or whiskey. You can make it up to 2 days ahead. Store uncovered at room temperature.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

See our real-life tester who tried our make-ahead menu!

Carrie, from Illinois tried out our make-ahead menu and documented it all right here:

Real-Life Make-Ahead

More Must-Make Menus

Get our seven brilliant Thanksgiving menus, including more make-ahead recipes, speedy supper solutions and even something for the adventurous cook.

thanksgiving table