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Ina Garten Suggests Making Your Entire Thanksgiving Dinner Ahead of Time — Here’s How to Do It

Ina Garten is a household name for a reason — the woman can cook, but she’s also the authority on all things homemaking. Seriously, who else can offer expert advice on how to freeze bread and save money simultaneously, or create a roast chicken recipe so good it made John Krasinski propose? The best-selling cookbook author proved herself even more (as if she needed to) with an entire collection of make-ahead, classic Thanksgiving recipes for a stress-free Turkey Day. 

The Barefoot Contessa did not hold back when it came to her opening recipe: make-ahead turkey and gravy.After years of stressing over the turkey, I found that roasting and carving it ahead of time, arranging it on an oven-proof platter over a bed of gravy, and then putting it in the oven before dinner is SO much easier than trying to carve a hot turkey at the table!” Garten wrote on Instagram. “It’s also the best turkey I’ve ever made.”

Garten suggests making a rub for the turkey three days before you roast it. After you wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least two days, unwrap the turkey the day before cooking — roast it, alternating the parts that get cooked. Yep, it’s that easy!

The cooking hostess advises to pour the gravy into a serving platter, and arrange the carved turkey on top. And since since we’re talking about Ina Garten here, the make-ahead turkey gravy she shared sounds way tastier than the average recipe. This one stars flavors that pack a serious punch, like onions and sage. Garten uses chicken stock, flour and other familiar ingredients to get the gravy started — but it’s the Cognac and Pinot Grigio that really set it apart from the rest. 

It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without mushroom and leek bread pudding — well, according to Garten, anyway. Even though this may not be a traditional Thanksgiving side dish that everyone is used to, we trust the cooking guru with this enticing make-ahead recipe. “Instead of soggy stuffing in the turkey, I make this savory bread pudding that’s crisp on the top and so moist inside,” Garten wrote on her Instagram post featuring the dish. “It’s classic flavors of pancetta, mushrooms, and Gruyère.”

Garten’s mushroom and leek bread pudding recipe is similar to other bread pudding recipes — the big difference lays in the ingredient list. After warming up the bread cubes in the oven, sauté  the pancetta, leeks, mushrooms, tarragon, sherry, and parsley. Mix together the remaining ingredients and combine with the bread crumbs and mushroom mixture. Once it’s absorbed into the bread, Garten pops it in the savory dish in the oven. “You can assemble it early in the day and bake it before dinner,” she suggested.

Forget about green bean casserole. The tried and true Thanksgiving side gets a major revamp thanks to Garten’s next make-ahed recipe: green beans gremolata. “Thanksgiving classics always include green beans but instead of a green bean casserole, I make my Green Beans Gremolata with French string beans, garlic, lemon zest, Parmesan, and toasted pine nuts,” Garten shared in an Instagram post.

The recipe is simple. Boil the green beans — then Garten recommends immediately putting them in a bowl of ice water to preserve their coloring. Make the gremolata and add it to the green beans once they’re ready to be served. “They’re bright, crunchy, and full of flavor,” Garten said of the dish. “I prep everything in advance and reheat it before dinner.”

If you’re the type of person who has a strong stance on omitting marshmallows from sweet potatoes, Garten’s make-ahead twice-baked sweet potatoes recipe is the perfect fit for you. “Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes may be my favorite Make-Ahead Thanksgiving side dish!” Garten wrote on her Instagram. “The filling is made with lots of Taleggio and thyme, and not a marshmallow in sight!”

Shallots, fresh thyme leaves, and Tallegio cheese are the swaps that make this dish more savory than sweet. As the name suggests, Garten bakes the sweet potatoes two times. After the first round, she adds a combined egg mixture with all the ingredients mentioned before into each potato, then throws it back in the oven until they’re lightly browned.

“They are absolutely delicious and can be prepped the day before for your perfect no-stress Thanksgiving!” Garten said.

This Thanksgiving, we’re thankful that Garten has our back — and we feel more ready than ever to tackle Thanksgiving dinner thanks to her helpful tips and tricks.

Before you go, check out Garten’s best dinner recipes below:

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