Making sides for Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a last-minute scramble. There are plenty of dishes that can be prepared in advance and stored, which means you can spend less time worrying about meal prep on the big day and more time enjoying the holiday with your loved ones.
Here are some Thanksgiving side ideas that can be made ahead:
• Mashed sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes can be boiled ahead of time, peeled, mashed and then stored in a covered container for up to three days.
• Stuffing – Prep your stuffing mix by combining it with melted butter and spices, but before you add any liquid. Place in a covered container and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake the stuffing with turkey drippings.
• Cranberry sauce – Cranberry sauce can be made up to three days ahead of time. Just combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, orange zest and cinnamon in a small pan and simmer until thickened. Let cool, then store in an airtight container.
• Squash casserole – Many squash casserole recipes call for prepared ingredients like cooked squash and condensed soup. Prep those in advance and store everything pre-mixed in the refrigerator. On Thanksgiving Day, combine the casserole recipe ingredients, then bake according to the recipe’s instructions.
• Green beans – You can blanch green beans up to a few days ahead of time. Then cool them in an ice bath, wrap them in paper towels and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Reheat the green beans when ready to serve.
• Bread rolls – Make your bread rolls the day before and store in an airtight container. If desired, you can also wrap the rolls in foil and reheat in the oven at 350 degrees until softened.
• Candied yams – Yams can be cooked, mashed, sweetened and stored in a sealed container. Reheat when ready to serve.
• Apple pie – Apple pie is one of the ultimate Thanksgiving desserts. You can make it up to three days ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to serve.
How do you reheat premade sides for Thanksgiving?
Reheating premade sides for Thanksgiving can be simple and easy. Before beginning, make sure to bring the food to room temperature, as this will reduce overall reheating time and make sure food is evenly heated.
The best methods for reheating common Thanksgiving sides are listed below.
For casseroles, lasagna, stuffing, and mashed potatoes: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cover the food with aluminum foil. Place the dish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
For gravy, cranberry sauce, and vegetable dishes: Place the sauce or vegetables in a small saucepan on the stovetop over low-medium heat and stir regularly to prevent burning. Heat for about 8-10 minutes or until heated throughout.
For rolls and biscuits: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and put the rolls or biscuits on a baking sheet. Bake them for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned and heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in the microwave for about 45 seconds.
For green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and baked macaroni and cheese: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
Finally, always taste-test a small portion of the food after reheating to make sure it is cooked properly and to your desired temperature.
Can I make stuffing the day before?
Yes, you can make stuffing the day before! Usually, it’s best to prepare the stuffing separately from the main dish. To make stuffing the day before, mix together all the ingredients, seasonings, broth, and butter in a large bowl.
Once everything is combined, transfer the stuffing to a baking dish and cover it tightly with foil. Place it in the refrigerator and store it for up to one day before baking. When you’re ready to cook the stuffing, take it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, then bake as directed.
Cooking the stuffing the day before can be a time saver and makes meal planning easier.
Can you freeze Thanksgiving sides?
Yes, you can freeze Thanksgiving sides. Many sides are already cooked before serving, so you can be confident in freezing them to eat at a later time. Be sure to package the sides in air tight containers or bags to prevent freezer burn.
Additionally, food stored in the freezer should not be kept for more than two months for maximum freshness.
When it comes to freezing side dishes, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, and other vegetable dishes can all be frozen. When you are ready to serve them, move them to the refrigerator and allow them to thaw overnight.
Then, reheat in the oven or in a pot on the stove. Likewise, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and casseroles can also be frozen. Gravy and sauces may be frozen, but the texture and flavor may change after being frozen.
When freezing salads, they should be consumed within a month. Soups and stews can be frozen and will last up to six months. Additionally, pies can also be frozen and will last up to four months. Similarly, rolls, biscuits, and breads can be frozen for about two months.
Overall, many Thanksgiving sides can be frozen and enjoyed at a later time. Be sure to package food correctly, and adhere to the recommended freezing times for maximum freshness.
Do mashed potatoes freeze well?
Yes, mashed potatoes freeze well. Just mix in an egg and some butter or cream before freezing for best results. To freeze, spoon the mashed potatoes into an airtight container or zip-top bag and flatten to fill the container or bag with as little excess air as possible.
Be sure to date the container or bag before freezing, and consume the potatoes within 3 months for best results. To thaw, move the frozen potatoes to the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat until heated through.
Can you leave turkey on the bone in the fridge?
Yes, you can leave turkey on the bone in the fridge. However, it is best to use the turkey within two days after it has been cooked. If you plan to leave the turkey on the bone in the fridge, make sure to store it in an airtight container, or wrap it in plastic wrap to minimize potential cross-contamination with other food items in the refrigerator.
Additionally, it’s best to carve off any leftovers before you store them in the fridge, as this will help to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Finally, make sure to reheat leftovers thoroughly before eating them to ensure they are safe to consume.
Can you freeze homemade stuffing?
Yes, you can freeze homemade stuffing. Generally, it’s best to freeze stuffing before it’s cooked. Start by cooling the stuffing completely before placing it in an airtight container. Freezing the stuffing in cubes or slices makes it easier to defrost and use later.
If your stuffing includes eggs, you should avoid freezing it, as the texture of the eggs can become unpleasantly rubbery when thawed. To ensure the stuffing remains at its best quality, it’s advised to consume it within 3 months of freezing.
When the time comes to use the stuffing, allow it to defrost fully (in the fridge is best) before heating in the oven or microwave. It’s important not to reheat frozen stuffing more than once, and also to ensure it’s cooked through too.
Can you freeze turkey and ham after it’s been cooked?
Yes, you can freeze cooked turkey and ham after it has been cooked. When freezing it, you should first allow it to cool completely, then store it in either airtight freezer bags or containers. If you plan to use the frozen meat within one or two weeks, it can be stored in the refrigerator as well.
When ready to use, it is best to thaw the turkey and ham in the refrigerator, allowing it to slowly come to room temperature. Frozen cooked meats should be used within a few weeks or one to two months.
How long does it take to soften potatoes in a slow cooker?
It typically takes around 8 to 10 hours to soften potatoes in a slow cooker. However, this time frame can vary depending on the type and size of your potatoes, as well as the type of slow cooker you’re using.
Generally, smaller potatoes, such as fingerling potatoes, will take less time than larger potatoes like russets or Yukon golds. If you’re using a stovetop or electric slow cooker, the cooking time can vary widely because of the varying temperatures.
Additionally, leaving the lid of the slow cooker off can slightly reduce the cooking time, but it can also cause the potatoes to dry out. To ensure even cooking, the potatoes should be cut into smaller cubes, and then seasoned and oiled before being placed in the slow cooker.
If possible, toss the potatoes during the cooking process to ensure even cooking.
When should I put potatoes in a slow cooker?
Potatoes are a great addition to slow cooker meals, and when cooked properly in a slow cooker, they can become tender and flavorful. The best time to add potatoes to a slow cooker meal depends on the type of potato you are using and the desired final texture.
For the best results, cut potatoes into even-sized pieces and add them at the beginning of the cooking time if using hearty potatoes like russets. If using waxy potatoes like red potatoes, add them partway through the cooking time, about two or three hours before the end of the estimated cooking time.
If cooking with a mix of both types of potatoes, add the heavier potatoes first and the waxy potatoes a few hours later.
For a soup or stew, wait until the last half hour of cooking to add pre-cooked or frozen potatoes. This helps maintain their texture and shape and prevents them from getting overcooked. If you’re adding raw potatoes, they should be added earlier and cooked through in the slow cooker, otherwise they may not cook through.
Use a cooking thermometer to make sure they have reached the right internal temperature before serving.
Overall, the best time to add potatoes to a slow cooker will depend on the recipe you are using and the desired texture of your potatoes. Whenever using potatoes in a slow cooker, check the ingredients and instructions before starting to cook to make sure they are added at the right time.
Do you cook potatoes before adding to slow cooker?
It depends on the recipe. If the dish is going to cook for 8 hours or more, it is generally recommended that you pre-cook potatoes before adding them to the slow cooker. This will help to ensure that the potatoes are cooked through and don’t remain hard or crunchy.
Depending on the recipe, you may need to parboil or bake your potatoes before adding them to the slow cooker. If the recipe is cooking for 4 hours or less, then pre-cooking your potatoes is generally not necessary.
Can I cook potatoes in the slow cooker without liquid?
Yes, you can cook potatoes in a slow cooker without liquid! It is important to use a cooking method that keeps the potatoes from drying out while they are cooking. For optimal results, line the bottom of the slow cooker with a thin layer of vegetable oil and use a thin layer of foil to cover the potatoes.
Doing this will help the potatoes retain their moisture as they cook. You can also add a small amount of liquid, like water or stock, to help engage the steam, but it is not necessary. Be sure to stir the potatoes about halfway through the cooking time, too.
Additionally, pre-cooking potatoes in the microwave or oven for a few minutes before adding to the slow cooker can also help ensure a creamy, tender texture.
Why are my potatoes still hard in my stew?
Your potatoes may be hard in your stew for several possible reasons. First, it is important to make sure that you are using the proper type of potato. Potatoes can be starchy or waxy and this will have an impact on their cooking time.
Starchy varieties like russets hold their shape better when cooked and will take longer than waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold or new potatoes.
Second, if you are using starchy potatoes, the size of your potatoes will also have an impact on their cooking time. If your potatoes are larger, they will take longer to cook. If the potatoes are diced or sliced, they will cook faster.
Third, the temperature of the liquid or stew may also be an issue. When stewing potatoes, it is best to turn your stovetop to a low setting so that the liquid stays at a low simmer and doesn’t reach a boil.
If the liquid is boiling, the potatoes may overcook on the outside before they are cooked through.
Finally, it is important to give your potatoes enough time to cook. Potatoes in stew can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or more to become tender, depending on the size and type of potato. It is best to cook your stew over low heat and to be sure to check them periodically.
If the potatoes are still hard, give them more time to cook until they are tender.
Should vegetables be submerged in slow cooker?
Yes, vegetables should be submerged in a slow cooker. This will help ensure that the vegetables cook evenly, as well as keeping them from scorching and drying out. The water also helps keep the vegetables from sticking to the sides of the cooker and burning.
To get the most out of your slow cooker, make sure to submerge your vegetables in liquids like stock and water. If you are using a lot of vegetables, you may need to add more liquid. You should also try to layer the vegetables, with the densest ones on the bottom.
This will help them cook faster. If you’re using delicate vegetables like greens or herbs, add them towards the end of the cooking time. This will help to keep them from getting too mushy.
How many minutes Boil potatoes?
It depends on the size of the potatoes. Small potatoes (1-2 inches in diameter) generally take about 10-12 minutes to boil, while larger potatoes (3-4 inches in diameter) can take 18-20 minutes. Before boiling, it’s important to cut potatoes into evenly-sized pieces that are roughly the same size as each other.
This will ensure that they are cooked evenly. After cutting the potatoes, be sure to rinse them thoroughly to remove any dirt. Once they are washed, add the potatoes to a pot of cold, salted water (a tablespoon of salt per gallon of water) and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and allow the potatoes to simmer until they are fork-tender (when a fork easily pierces the potatoes), which should take around 10-20 minutes, depending on their size. Once they are fully cooked, strain the potatoes and enjoy.
How long do I let potatoes boil?
Potatoes typically take between 10 and 15 minutes to fully boil when cooked on medium-high heat on a regular stovetop. It’s best to start by cutting the potatoes into similarly-sized pieces – this will help ensure that they cook more evenly.
After cutting the potatoes and bringing some water to a boil in a large pot, add in the potatoes and turn the heat down to medium-high. Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender.
To test if the potatoes are cooked, take a fork and see if you can easily pierce into the potato. If it can, then the potatoes are done. Drain the water from the pot and enjoy your boiled potatoes!.
Is cooking vegetables in a slow cooker healthy?
Yes, cooking vegetables in a slow cooker is a healthy way to prepare them. Slow cooking seals in the flavor and natural juices while preserving valuable vitamins and minerals in the veggies. Slow cooked vegetables also have a smooth, delicious texture and can easily be blended into soups and sauces.
While slow cooking, use only a small amount of liquid to prevent nutrients from being washed away. Avoid adding high-fat ingredients such as processed cheese, butter and cream, which can affect the overall nutritional value of the dish.
The long, low heat and closed environment of the slow cooker will keep your cooking healthier, preserving natural vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are sometimes destroyed by boiling or frying.
Can you put raw veg in slow cooker?
Yes, you can definitely put raw veg in a slow cooker. Slow cookers can be used to make a variety of delicious dishes, including slow cooked veggie dishes. To make sure that the veggies are cooked thoroughly and evenly, you should cut them into evenly-sized pieces before adding them to the slow cooker.
When cooking raw veg in the slow cooker, you will need to add them at the beginning of the cooking process, as they will need more time to cook than other ingredients. Be sure to add some liquid, such as stock or water, to the slow cooker along with the veg, as this will help keep them from burning.
Finally, you’ll also want to make sure that the veg is covered in liquid throughout the cooking process.
Will cheese burn in a slow cooker?
No, cheese should not be burned in a slow cooker. Slow cookers cook at a low temperature and release steam, which would make it difficult for the cheese to brown or crisp. This is especially the case if the cheese is mixed in with other food, as the other ingredients may create too much moisture.
If you want the cheese to have texture or color, it is best to sprinkle it on top of the food at the end of the cook time, or even after the slow cooker has been turned off and the food is cooling. Additionally, cheese can contain a lot of milkfat, which may not break down and evaporate at slow cooker temperatures and can result in a greasy layer in the dish.
Is it safe to cook frozen meat in a slow cooker?
Yes, it is generally safe to cook frozen meat in a slow cooker. Unlike with oven or stove top cooking, when using a slow cooker the temperature is much lower, so the meat will not cook as quickly. The lower, consistent temperature also helps to ensure that any harmful bacteria is killed before the meat is cooked through.
However, it is important to note that cooking frozen meat in a slow cooker can take up to twice as long as cooking thawed meat. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the frozen meat is placed in the slow cooker as soon as it starts to cook, as leaving it at room temperature too long can lead to bacterial growth.
Finally, it is important to use a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is cooked through and has an internal temperature of at least 145°F.