I hope this list makes your Thanksgiving easier and more enjoyable too!
Here are my well-tested, make ahead recipes:
It takes a bit of extra prep, but it is worth it. The moistness of a brined turkey is fantastic. It gives you extra wiggle room with trying to get everything to come out done at the same time. No reason to stress about the turkey drying out.
2) Cranberry Sauce
My only experience with cranberry sauce as a child was that scary gelatin looking product that looked like the shape of a can. One year I made it from scratch and I have made the same recipe every year since then.
3) Mashed Potatoes
This is the single biggest help that I have ever found to make big family dinners easier!! If I knew enough HTML I would put this in blinking, neon letters!
Here is the technique for make ahead mashed potatoes that actually taste good, not like re-heated mashed potatoes. I said "technique" not recipe, because I have made this many times using a variety of recipes that all turned out well. The important part is the gradual re-heating in the slow cooker.
Mashed potatoes are one of my favorite comfort foods, but usually you have to make them close to when you are ready to serve dinner. Which is also the time when you are trying to make the gravy, carve the turkey and get everything to the table while it is still hot. Ahhh! I don't need that stress!
I started with this basic recipe for sausage stuffing, but I also saute apples with the onions. This can easily be made a day or two ahead of time and then baked on thanksgiving
5) Sweet Potatoes
I give in on Thanksgiving and let the kids have the marshmallow topped sweet potatoes. Again, this recipe can be made a day or two ahead and baked on Thanksgiving day
Corn and mashed potatoes are meant to be together. This isn't made ahead of time, but it only takes a few minutes in the microwave to heat up.
7) Rolls with compound butter
I use store bought rolls and delegate them to another guest. I have burnt the rolls multiple times because I put them in the oven and forget about them because I am getting other things to the table.
I make compound butter with whatever herbs I have left over from the turkey
8) Pumpkin Pie
The recipe from the Libby's pumpkin can is a classic and comes out perfectly every time. There is no reason to mess with what works.