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Thanksgiving Countdown

Our Favorite Make-Ahead Recipes and Tricks for Thanksgiving

By: Lodge Cast Iron / October 11, 2023

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: time and oven space are limited on Thanksgiving. Getting as much done as you can ahead of time will help you stay calm as you finalize your feast before your guests arrive. We’ve got you covered with tips and tricks on how to maximize homemade flavor and minimize stress by prepping everything from pumpkin pie to cranberry sauce ahead of time. 

Pumpkin Cake
Pie dough

Make your pie dough as soon as you have a free afternoon! This basic pie dough recipe will keep in the fridge for up to five days and in the freezer for three months and can be thawed out and baked the day before Thanksgiving. Simply divide the dough into two pieces and round into discs to be frozen. If you’re making a top or a lattice, you’ll want to make one piece using about ⅔ of the dough and one smaller piece with the remainder. Bonus: you can leave an uncut pie in a skillet or pie pan until you’re ready to serve dessert.  

Bread & stuffings

Rolls, cornbread, and loaves of bread can be baked, cooled, and frozen in preparation for your holiday feast. Then, all you have to do is thaw and warm your homemade bread on the day of the meal. The trick? Make sure to allow everything to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap before freezing. Transfer full loaves of bread from the freezer to the fridge 2 to 3 days before you’re ready to reheat and serve. Rolls can be transferred to the fridge to thaw the night before Thanksgiving and reheated right before you’re ready to serve. Bonus: you can make bread ahead of time for dressing, too.  


Baking cakes ahead of time is a pro tip that we use for celebrations all year long! Just like bread, cake layers can be baked, cooled, and frozen until you’re ready to ice them. You’ll want to allow about 8 hours for your cake layers to thaw in the refrigerator. On big holidays like Thanksgiving, this is a game changer because you can still serve homemade desserts without stressing about them in the rush of cooking a big meal.  

Cranberry sauce 

A simple, homemade cranberry sauce is a great way to elevate your Thanksgiving spread, plus it can be made the weekend before! All it takes is cranberries, a little bit of orange zest, and sugar! Store it in your fridge and set it out about an hour before dinner starts to allow the sauce to reach room temperature. You'll never go back to the canned sauce—or as our Test Kitchen Manager Shannon calls it, canberry sauce.

Salad dressings 

If you have a brand of dressing you love, then we echo the words of Ina Garten: store-bought is fine! But, we’re also here to say you can whip up any and all dressings the weekend before and have them ready to dress up your salads on Thanksgiving day. We’re big fans of a mason jar salad dressing, and we’ve written a whole guide to creating your own. It’s easy and fun, and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand. Just give the jar a good shake before you drizzle it over your salad! 

Set your Thanksgiving table with Lodge cookware. 
Contributed By: Lodge Cast Iron

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