6 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Tips & Tricks

Holidays are all about spending time with family, friends, and food. In her new book, Everyone is Italian on Sunday, Rachael says:

“Food is a great communicator, connecting generations and helping build memories and friendships. It gathers us together and teaches us the importance of sharing, not just food, but the best of ourselves.”

To make sure you get to enjoy time with your loved ones, we suggest beginning the cooking process before the big day.

No matter what version you’re making of Thanksgiving classics like turkey, stuffing, gravy, and more (May we recommend these great recipes from Rach?), these tips and tricks will cut down on time spent in the kitchen and increase the time you spend enjoying the most delicious holiday of the year instead.

Turkey – 1 day for every 5 lbs.

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

If it’s your first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner, you may think putting your frozen bird in the refrigerator for a day will guarantee a thawed turkey. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Be sure to give your turkey one day of thawing time for every five pounds. To speed up the thawing process, do as Rachael does and buy two smaller turkeys for a quicker cooking time, too!

Pie Crust 1 month 

A huge timesaver for Thanksgiving day is making the pie crust ahead of time. Follow the crust recipe as directed (Here’s Maria’s recipe for pie crust!), then freeze before baking. The crust can be sealed with plastic wrap and put in a plastic baggy for up to 1 month. The day before Thanksgiving, simply pull out the crust, fill it with your desired filling, then bake as instructed. Easy and delicious!

Cranberry Sauce7 days

Cranberry sauce is another turkey day classic that is easy to whip up a week in advance. Prepare the sauce as usual, then put it in a sealed food storage container and refrigerate it until you’re ready to eat. It will taste as if you just made it that day!

Gravy3-4 days

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

You may not expect it, but gravy can be started up to 4 days before Thanksgiving! Simply make the roux (the thicker base of butter and flour) ahead of time. Come Thanksgiving day, reheat and add in the drippings, and it’s ready to be served. Rachael’s No-Fail Gravy would be perfect in this instance.

Casseroles and Mashes – 2 days

If you’re making a casserole or a mashed dish, try prepping the sides two days ahead of time. Seal in with plastic wrap, and then uncover and bake on Thanksgiving for a warm, perfectly assembled side without the rush.

Stuffing2 days

The key to a delicious stuffing is the seasoned bread – and the more stale the bread, the better it holds flavor. Cut your bread and spread it out for optimal drying two days before you’re sitting down for dinner. Come Thanksgiving day, assemble the stuffing with the stale bread for a flavorful – and surprisingly moist – side.

Have any time-saving tips we missed? Share with us how you prep for the feast on Facebook. We’re always looking for new, exciting ideas to share!

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