15 Holiday Foods to Make Ahead

Posted on Dec 14 2012 - 8:42pm by Jessica Johnson


The last mad dash of holiday preparations always has my hair standing on end. There’s so much to do in those last few days before the guests descend and the actual merry-making begins that the lead-up to Christmas can feel somewhat less than merry.


I’ve decided to take control this year by thinking about what recipes I can make ahead of time by a day . . . or three. Plenty of the food I want to serve will keep for a bit, and might even improve with the aging. So this year, my dinner table might well sport some of the following make-ahead options.

Side Dishes

From potatoes to stuffing, here are some of the dishes I’m considering.  I love that these can be made ahead of time.  Thank you FoodNetwork, Better Homes and Gardens, and AllRecipes!

Scalloped potato gratin

Garlic mashed potatoes

Sweet potatoes with toasted pecans

Green beans with toasted almonds

Sausage, apple, and cranberry stuffing


It makes me happy that there are so many things that I can make ahead and check off my list for last minute meal preparations.  Here are more ideas for things to make ahead of time.  I might even simplify further if I can find cranberry and cinnamon goat cheese at the grocery store or at Costco.

Rosemary pecans

Goat cheese spread

Cranberry and orange relish

Christmas chutney

Chunky applesauce


Desserts might be the most fun thing to make ahead!  I’m not sure why but they really are better if all the flavors meld together for a few days.  Here are some ideas for make ahead dishes:

Old-fashioned lattice-top apple pie

Pressed-crust pear tart

Chocolate pecan pie

Beatty’s chocolate cake

Christmas sugar cookies

What are you favorite holiday foods to make? What dishes do you make ahead of time?

Jessica Johnson