Some great make-ahead vegetable side dishes will save your sanity during busy holiday seasons. Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are the perfect time to use them, but they’re great for Easter, and potlucks too.
As moms, we are all super busy. Too busy to try and make 15 dishes all in one day … and that’s exactly why make-ahead side dishes are perfect. You can easily prepare a couple of side dishes on the weekend or an evening ahead of time and then just warm them up on the serving day.
The following recipes are all fancy enough for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but also simple enough to have any other day of the year. They can be used for your weekly meal prep, too.
What to Store Make-Ahead Side Dishes In
- Use an oven-safe casserole dish – if you want to go straight to the oven.
- Store them in a plastic or glass storage container – you can reheat in the glass and transfer to a serving dish if you want to.
- Put them directly into your slow cooker liner – this may take up a lot of space in the refrigerator but will save on dishes and time when you go to reheat.
This post contains affiliate links. This supports my family and allows me to keep providing you with great resources. You can trust that I only promote products I love or would use myself. Read my full disclosure for more details.
Related Reading: 21 Things to Do With Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
Oven, Microwave, Freezer Safe Dishes
All of these dishes can go straight from the refrigerator or freezer to the oven or microwave. Keep in mind, the colder your side dish, the longer it will take to heat up. Also, if you want a crumb topping or crust on the top, you won’t be able to stir the dish in order to distribute the heat. It will take much longer to warm all the way to the middle.
How to Reheat Your Side Dishes
When it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other Holiday, oven space is at a premium. I like to use the microwave to reheat most of the side dishes that I’ve made ahead of time.
It can easily take an hour to reheat them in the oven. I also like to use my slow cooker whenever possible. This makes them almost hands-free to reheat.
The microwave or slow cooker is best to use because I want to stir things up while reheating. If I want the final dish to have a topping, I add it to the top once it is warm throughout. Then I put it in the oven to allow the top to brown and crisp up.
Here is a great article about using your microwave on Thanksgiving to warm your food: How the Microwave Can Save Thanksgiving
What Is Good to Make Ahead for Thanksgiving?
Most traditional Thanksgiving dishes can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for a few days before serving. It is possible to make ahead nearly every component of your holiday meal. Here’s a small list of what to prepare ahead of time:
- Mashed Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green Bean Casserole (save the topping for the serving day)
Be sure to follow recipes that are designed to be made ahead of time. Some recipes are only designed to be eaten right away.
Related Reading: Delicious Make-Ahead Salads
Make-Ahead Vegetable Side Dishes for Thanksgiving and Other Holidays
Make-Ahead Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
I get requests to make Brussels Sprouts with Bacon all the time. And, lucky for me, it’s so easy to make. I love to make it ahead so I’m not scrambling when I’m getting everybody ready for either Thanksgiving, a potluck, or another family gathering. It’s super easy to warm up in the microwave or in the oven. And, best of all — it’s just 2 ingredients: Brussels Sprouts and Bacon.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes Made with a Ricer
I love making mashed potatoes from scratch. They really are amazing with this buttery, creamy Mashed Potato Recipe. They’re really quick to make, too. Freel free to make them ahead of time and warm them up in your slow cooker or in the oven if you like.
Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
This Cheesy Broccoli Casserole from Serena Bakes starts with a simple, cheesy white sauce that is generously poured over some broccoli and cauliflower, then baked in the oven.
Once it is baked, it can be covered and placed in the refrigerator until serving day. In order to get that nice crunchy top, it would be best warmed in the oven.
Easy Cranberry Relish
Cranberries are so important at Thanksgiving, but that’s not the only time that they’re worth eating. With all those health benefits that we’ve heard about, they’d be great to incorporate into many different holidays throughout the year.
I always freeze bags of them when they’re on sale around Christmas and Thanksgiving, then I have them on hand for the rest of the year.
Maple Ginger Glazed Carrots
These sweet and salty carrot coins can cook on the stovetop while you’re preparing your other make-ahead side dishes. Or you can prepare them while you’re cooking dinner on one of the nights before Thanksgiving. All your guests will rave about how tasty they are.
Jarlsburg Dip Cheesy Potatoes
These potatoes really are easy to make. It’s just a matter of stirring together all the yummy ingredients and putting them in a pan to bake. And, if you’re a swiss cheese fan, you will definitely love them. Try it out on your next potluck or take it with you to your next family holiday event.
Make-Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Meringue
I just don’t know if it’s possible to have a Thanksgiving Dinner without sweet potatoes. But, they’re not just good for Thanksgiving, you can really have them year-round or for any holiday. This make-ahead sweet potato dish makes it really easy to do just that. Make it part of your meal prep on the weekend, and you’ve got a fancy dish to serve later in the week.
Easy Spicy Southern Corn Casserole Recipe
Adding something spicy to your holiday dinner will really punch things up and this recipe would be perfect. You can use fresh corn if you’re making it for a Summer picnic or a potluck and the rest of the year when there isn’t fresh corn around, make it with frozen or canned corn. It really is easy to make and would be easy to make-ahead for Christmas or Thanksgiving to keep your cooking duties light on your special day.
Cracker Barrel’s Hash Brown Casserole Copycat Recipe
Who wouldn’t want these cheesy, creamy, yummy potatoes? They’re made with frozen hashbrowns and everything just gets stirred altogether, then baked. The prep really couldn’t be any simpler. Make it ahead and then get it nice and hot in the oven on serving day. Make these for a potluck and you’ll be bringing home an empty pan.
Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole
A Thanksgiving classic, this green bean casserole recipe is made with fresh green beans instead of the standard canned beans. While this will take more time to make, you’ll definitely notice the difference and it’ll be worth the extra time. Make it ahead when you’re not rushed and then heat it up for your Thanksgiving feast.
Go Check out The Ultimate List of Gluten-Free Side Dishes for more side dish ideas.
Wouldn’t you love a little more time to relax with your family and friends on all those special holidays? Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, nobody wants to spend the entire day cooking. Get your side dishes made ahead of time and you’ll enjoy the day so much more.
And, if you need to bring a dish to a special gathering or holiday, these recipes will work perfectly because they don’t need to be made at the last minute when you’re struggling to get everyone ready and out the door.