Growing up, nearly all Thanksgiving dinners were spent at my grandma's house, and in classic potluck style; everyone brought the sides and desserts so her only duty in the kitchen was the turkey and gravy. For me, this meant a morning making several dishes we could easily pack up and that would handle the drive to our holiday dinner.
This year I'm drawing on all those helpful tips I've picked up throughout the years as I ready to prep some of these delicious dishes. No matter what your schedule or how far you're traveling, these five make-ahead Thanksgiving sides are sure to wow the crowd around the table.
1. 15-Minute Parmesan-Thyme Mushrooms: The Ultimate Last-Minute Side Dish Everyone Can Eat
If you have a tendency to procrastinate (guilty!), this side dish has your name written all over it. Just 15 minutes and a handful of ingredients are all you'll need to bring this crowd-pleaser to life.
A hard sear in a large, hot skillet leaves these mushrooms with an even richer, meatier flavor. Then they get a splash of wine, a sprinkle of thyme, and a generous dusting of Parmesan take them over the top.
2. 3-Ingredient Garlicky Red Potatoes: For When You Want Something Simple and Easy
Bringing a side dish to Thanksgiving doesn't have to mean picking up a long list of ingredients and spending a ton of time in the kitchen. When your schedule demands something simple that comes together in a flash, these garlicky roasted potatoes will do the trick every time. They're different enough from the mashed potatoes that no one will worry about having double potato sides.
The thick chunks of red potatoes are coated with a slick of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of garlic powder, then roasted either the day of, or up to a couple days ahead. Pop them in the oven to reheat and bring back those crispy edges. Then right before serving add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to make them really pop.
3. Make-Ahead Creamy Mac & Cheese Casserole: For When You Need a Comforting Casserole That Travels Well
If totally comforting casseroles are your Thanksgiving MO, this version of mac and cheese deserves to be your new go-to. Casseroles, by nature, travel well, and this one can be made a few days ahead and then tossed into the oven when it's go time, yet still tastes as fresh as the day you made it. If mac and cheese isn't a part of your traditional thanksgiving spread, this will change everything for years to come.
It features a combination of sharp cheddar cheese for flavor and Monterey Jack for its ability to melt. There's also a crispy layer of crushed, buttery Ritz crackers over the top.
4. Baked Corn Pudding Casserole: An Updated Casserole for a Traditional Thanksgiving Spread
If you're assigned to corn duty or simply want a side dish that keeps with your dinner's traditional spread, a simple, savory baked corn casserole is a wonderful choice. There's plenty of leeway for making it in advance, plus it can be transported and served in the same dish it's baked in.
Start with a couple bags of corn from the freezer section, and the kernels will bring just enough natural sweetness to balance this savory dish. It bakes up just firm enough to make it easy to travel with, yet it's soft and tender on the inside.
5. Buttery Cheddar Herb Rolls: The Make-Ahead Side That Can Travel Near and Far, and Doesn't Need Reheating
Pillowy dinner rolls are always a good idea when your Thanksgiving plans involve travel, whether it's a 30-minute drive or a three-hour flight, and you need a side to take along for the journey.
This version starts off like the classic you know and love, but gets a holiday-worthy upgrade with fresh herbs and shredded cheddar worked into the dough and sprinkled on top. Are they slightly inspired by the flavors of the biscuits at Red Lobster? Yes, but these are way tastier because you made them! Reheat them before dinner if you like, but rest assured that it's not mandatory for these to be delicious.