Make-Ahead and Freeze Thanksgiving Side Dishes

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Put your feet up this Thanksgiving with this Make-Ahead and Freeze Thanksgiving Side Dishes freezer cooking plan.

Make-Ahead and Freeze Thanksgiving Side Dishes | Life as Mom

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away! After years of doing all the cooking, I was so thrilled to go to start heading to my in-laws’ house every year for Thanksgiving. They have a lovely, spacious home with lots of spots to relax. The kids play with the grandparents, feed the horses, or entertain themselves, and FishPapa and I get to just chill. I love going there.

That said, I’m not one to pawn all the work off on my mother-in-law. She works a full-time job and doesn’t regularly cook for an army of 8. The last few years it has worked really well when I made a bunch of side dishes and desserts and froze them. Then I loaded up the cooler and took Thanksgiving to them.

I’ve worked those delicious, Thanksgiving side dishes into a freezer cooking plan to share with you.

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, taking a few dishes to share to a family gathering, or simply want to get ahead on holiday-style meals this season, this freezer cooking plan is for you!

Make-Ahead and Freeze Thanksgiving Side Dishes | Life as Mom

Make-Ahead and Freeze Thanksgiving Side Dishes Freezer Cooking Plan

Here are the recipes I chose for the plan:

  • Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes 
  • Homemade Gravy 
  • Easy Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Onion Rolls
  • Orange Cinnamon Rolls
  • Slab Apple Pie
  • Gramma John’s Pie Crust, for apple pie

Cooking up these items takes only a few hours and the rewards are huge!

If you haven’t noticed already, these dishes would work for Christmas, New Years, and any other big feast you’ve got planned over the next couple months.

Having these Thanksgiving side dishes and dessert ready to go in the freezer frees me up to really put my feet up when we get to Gramma’s house. Yay!

You can make these yourself easily in advance. I’ve put together a freezer cooking mini plan to help you do it lickety-split!

In this easy printable, freezer cooking mini-plan, you’ll receive the following:

  • a prep checklist
  • a detailed cooking plan
  • a detailed grocery list
  • recipes for mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin onion rolls, cinnamon rolls, apple pie, and pie crust
  • printable labels for easy labeling of the finished products

Make your holiday dinner delicious and easy without feeling stressed!

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Casey Fitzgerald says

    Thanks for sharing these easy ideas. I can wait to try. I have a couple questions. Re heating the gravy if freezing ahead of time? I don’t own a microwave. The cranberry dressing do u let that thaw and serve?

    • Thaw the gravy and then reheat in a pan on the stovetop. Whisk to help the texture. Cranberry sauce: thaw and serve chilled.

  2. Amanda says

    Hi Jessica! In the latest email I received there is a picture of different colored pans, I think they might be foil? They are in the header picture at the top of the email. I love them! Is this something you have found in stores? I’m curious where I might find them…

  3. Sherry says

    Hi Jessica!

    Curious about the cinnamon rolls…
    We have make a tradition out of your cinnamon roll turkeys (Thanks for the fun memories!) I have made homemade rolls many times, but always buy the canned for the turkeys. Thinking of trying the homemade like you started doing. I noticed they are not cut in the photo above where you have them bagged. Did you freeze them that way before slicing?

    • They are sliced in the bag. I sliced them, freeze them on a tray, and then put them in the bag to go back in the freezer. You can read more about that process here. Then I usually freeze a ball of dough (or make that part fresh on the day before Thanksgiving) to make feet, feathers, and beak. It saves so much time to have at least part of this recipe already made!

  4. Kelly says

    Have you ever done a “healthified” broccoli rice casserole? Like you did with the green bean casserole? My mom’s recipe has Cheez Whiz ?, canned cream of soup & minute rice in it. Any ideas? I

  5. Catherine Nathanson says

    Hi Jessica,
    This is great! Thanks so much for sharing the great recipes and a kick in the pants to get started earlier this year. I was wondering if you knew how to adapt the recipe for the Pumpkin Onion Rolls for use without a bread machine. We haven’t made the step up to a bread machine yet and I would need to make them by hand.

    • Yes! It’s going to be similar to however you make other rolls. If making the dough by hand: Combine the buttermilk, oil, and sugar in a medium-size saucepan and warm slightly over medium heat. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the yeast. Stir and allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes. Add the flours, egg, pumpkin puree, onion flakes, salt, and poppy seeds. Stir to combine well. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and
      knead for 5 minutes to create a smooth, elastic dough, adding more all-purpose flour as necessary. Transfer to a greased bowl and turn the
      dough ball to coat. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Then proceed with the recipe. I’ll add this over on that recipe’s page.

      • Catherine Nathanson says

        Yeah! These rolls sound delicious. Thanks for adding the extra info so we can make them this year for Thanksgiving. Your recipes have really transformed how we cook in our family.

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