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14 Make-Ahead Side Dishes For Thanksgiving, So You Don't Have To Stress

11/19/2017 08:10 EST | Updated 11/19/2017 10:02 EST

Turkey may be the main event on Thanksgiving but, let’s be honest, it’s the side dishes that everyone really looks forward to. From creamy mashed potatoes to sausage stuffing, all of these tried-and-true recipes can be made in advance, so you can kick back and enjoy your guests on the big day.

1. Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

You can’t have Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. Problem is, most recipes require last minute preparation. These creamy mashed potatoes, however, can be made two days ahead and reheated in the microwave — a huge bonus when oven and burner space is at a premium. GET THE RECIPE

2. Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon, Parmesan and Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette

Made with crisp power greens, toasted walnuts, chunks of Parmesan and a lemony Dijon dressing — this salad tastes like a healthful, crunchy Caesar. And, unlike most salads, it benefits from being made ahead of time. GET THE RECIPE

3. Cauliflower Purée

This cauliflower purée is creamy and comforting, and just happens to taste remarkably like mashed potatoes — really! It also has the benefit of being easier to make, healthier and lower in carbs. What’s more, it can be made several days ahead of time and reheated it in the microwave. GET THE RECIPE

4. French String Beans with Shallots

This simple yet delicious side dish involves slowly cooking shallots in olive oil to coax out their natural sweetness and then simmering beans until perfectly tender. It goes with just about any main course, and can be made in advance. To save time, try to find French string beans bagged and trimmed at the supermarket. GET THE RECIPE

5. Spicy Pumpkin Soup

When we think of pumpkin, we usually think of autumn sweets but pumpkin’s earthy flavor is wonderful in savory dishes too. In this velvety soup, pumpkin is simmered with leeks, apples, maple syrup and herbs — and instead of typical pumpkin pie spices, cumin and cayenne pepper lend a smoky, spicy flavor. GET THE RECIPE

6. Savory Cheddar & Thyme Cornbread

This tender cornbread is flavored with cheddar cheese and fresh thyme. Make it the morning of Thanksgiving and reheat at dinnertime. GET THE RECIPE

7. Roasted Carrots with Thyme

Always a favorite, these carrots are roasted in a high temperature oven until caramelized and tender-crisp — a cooking method that intensifies their flavor and brings out their natural sweetness. Make them ahead of time and reheat in the oven when ready to serve. GET THE RECIPE

8. Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup, or Potage Parmentier, is a French classic. Add watercress for Potage au Cresson, serve it chilled for Vichyssoise — or top it with bacon, fried leeks, fresh herbs or diced vegetables to make it your own. GET THE RECIPE

9. Sweet Potato Pecan Crisp

This down-home sweet potato dish is always a big hit. Like most sweet potato dishes, it straddles the line between sweet and savory — it’s meant to be a side dish but you might be inclined to eat it for dessert. To crisp up the top before serving, gently reheat in the oven. GET THE RECIPE

10. Easy Sausage and Herb Stuffing

Probably my favorite Thanksgiving side dish, this easy sausage and herb stuffing relies on store bought stuffing cubes, which eliminates the step of slicing and drying out the bread. It can be made in advance and reheated on Thanksgiving day. GET THE RECIPE

11. Mashed Chipotle Cheddar Sweet Potatoes

These delicious mashed potatoes aren’t “sweet” like most holiday sweet potato dishes made with copious amounts of brown sugar, maple syrup, or marshmallows. Instead, they’re flavored with smoky, spicy chipotle peppers and sharp cheddar cheese. GET THE RECIPE

12. Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce

Fresh cranberry sauce is a cinch to make! This version is flavored with orange juice and orange zest, and can be made several days before the feast. GET THE RECIPE

13. Carrot Slaw with Cranberries, Toasted Walnuts & Citrus Vinaigrette

Dried cranberries and toasted walnuts make this carrot slaw perfect for fall and a colorful addition to your Thanksgiving feast. Plus, it’s delicious with turkey sandwiches the next day. GET THE RECIPE

14. Brussels Sprouts Gratin

This make-ahead gratin is perfect for the holidays. Unlike most vegetable gratins, which are made with a Béchamel sauce, this one is made more simply (and decadently) with heavy cream. GET THE RECIPE