Holiday Recipes You Can Freeze Ahead—So That They’ll Save You Later
The holidays are packed to the brim with enough errands, chores, and hosting to just about do us in every time, but the good times had with our loved ones make it more than worth it. Around the holiday season, our biggest fear is being caught ill-prepared in any way, especially when it comes to feeding our hungry crowd. Having a few staple Southern holiday dishes in the freezer could be the difference between admitting holiday defeat and raking in the compliments. To be totally safe, you’ll need hearty casseroles that feed the family in a pinch, classic side dishes that belong on the Christmas dinner table, breakfast bakes that satisfy every guest, and desserts that you can make months ahead. (Oh, and handy appetizers for any last-minute hosting crisis.) For casseroles, stock up on disposable foil casserole dishes in lieu of tying up your baking dishes for months. For soups, freeze flat in gallon Ziploc bags to maximize storage space. For cookies or bite-sized appetizers, freeze first on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then transfer to Ziploc bags. Always remember to pad your prep time by a day for thawing. There’s no reason to panic when you’ve covered every last base, months before the crazy holiday season starts. Here are the best make-ahead, freeze-ahead holiday recipes you’ll be thanking your lucky stars for later.
How To Make Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
Recipe: Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
This timeless dish is a staple at any Southerner's Thanksgiving table, though we like to enjoy this sweet potato dish throughout the year as well. In a few simple steps you’ll have baked a holiday-worthy dish the entire family will enjoy. With a deliciously designed top layer, this mouthwatering sweet potato casserole is sure to satisfy lovers of crunchy pecans and cornflakes as well as of marshmallows this Thanksgiving.
To prepare this delicious dish, start by preheating the oven to 400°. Bake 4 ½ pounds of sweet potatoes until tender. It should take about 1 hour. When ready, remove from the oven. After about 20 minutes, the sweet potatoes will be cool to the touch. Peel and mash, and reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
Next, beat the mashed sweet potatoes, 1 cup of granulated sugar, ½ cup of butter, ¼ cup of milk, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and ¼ teaspoon of salt with an electric mixer at medium speed. Stop when smooth. Spoon the mixture into a greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.
Now that the potato mixture is prepped, it’s time to move on to the toppings. Start by combining 1 ¼ cups of cornflakes cereal (crushed), with 1 cup of shopped pecans, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and 1 table spoon of melted butter. Sprinkle the combination over your casserole in diagonal rows about 2 inches apart.
Finally, bake the casserole in the oven at 350° for 30 minutes. After you remove from the oven, let it stand for about 10 minutes to cool. Top your dish off by sprinkling marshmallows in the rows alternating in between the cornflake mixture you added on previously. Once added, bake again for 10 minutes at 350°. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Nothing beats a classic sweet potato casserole, and this Southern favorite surely deserves a spot on your side table.
Vanessa's Make-Ahead Beefy Lasagna
Having a lasagna in the freezer is about as dependable as it gets. Pull this recipe together in a flash, then freeze for up to three months. This dish fits perfectly into your crazy holiday schedule.
Mac and Cheese with Ham
Recipe: Mac and Cheese with Ham
As far as picking just one of your macaroni and cheese recipes to freeze for the holidays, this smoky dish makes a strong argument. It's full of a creamy smoked Gouda and Cheddar sauce, corkscrew pasta, and chopped smoked ham—which makes it a crowd-pleaser when whipped out for holiday company.
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Recipe: Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Chicken enchilada casserole is an odd, yet beloved Southern holiday mainstay, especially in Texas. Whether you've been wrapping gifts or attending Christmas Eve service, these creamy stacks layered with corn tortillas, cheese, and chicken are there to comfort and celebrate.
Greek Baked Ziti
Recipe: Greek Baked Ziti
This flavor-packed baked ziti can take on a house full of hungry family members during the holidays, no sweat. Fix and freeze this cheesy pasta bake ahead of time to have on hand.
Southwestern-Style Spoonbread Dressing
The moist, tender texture of this side dish is like a cross between spoonbread and cornbread dressing. You won't regret having your freezer stocked with this casserole around Christmastime.
Cheesy Broccoli-and-Rice Casserole
This comforting, classic dish is made with fresh ingredients that will freeze well, ready to be broken out for any holiday meal! You just can't have a Southern feast without some form of broccoli casserole.
Root Vegetable Gratin
Recipe: Root Vegetable Gratin
Make sure you have a hearty casserole side dish on hand for when you only have time to pick up a honey-baked ham or—gasp!—a bucket of fried chicken. Hey, it's the holidays; things happen.
New Turkey Tetrazzini
Recipe: New Turkey Tetrazzini
This freshened-up version of a classic comfort dish is the type of casserole that needs nothing else, except for perhaps some crusty garlic bread. Around Christmas, that can be a saving grace!
Old-School Green Bean Casserole
Recipe: Old-School Green Bean Casserole
There's never a bad time to put classic green bean casserole on the table. French fried onions really top off this dish perfectly, but freeze without them for ultimate freshness.
Chicken-and-Brisket Brunswick Stew
Made with chicken and brisket, this smoky stew is filling and comforting—perfect for warming up your family on a chilly winter night when you don't have time to cook a big dinner.
White Lightning Chicken Chili
Recipe: White Lightning Chicken Chili
While this chili more lives up to its name, coming together lightning-quick in only 30 minutes, make your life even easier by stocking your freezer with it. During the holidays, satisfy your family and guests with this comforting stew paired with hot cornbread.
Hearty Italian Soup with Parmesan-Pepper Cornbread Biscotti
This warm brothy soup makes a great addition to your frozen dinner lineup when you're desiring a cozy, quick meal. Small plastic freezer jars are perfect to freeze smaller portions of your batch, which is better for thawing beforehand.
Make-Ahead Yeast Rolls
Recipe: Make-Ahead Yeast Rolls
You can make these tender, fluffy rolls, let them cool, and freeze them in Ziploc freezer bags until needing to be broken out for a holiday meal.
The Ultimate Make-Ahead Gravy
Recipe: The Ultimate Make-Ahead Gravy
There are few times during the holidays when having more gravy is a problem, so make sure you have enough of this delicious recipe to go around.
Recipe: Party-Perfect Meatballs
These homemade meatballs can be made-ahead and frozen until you need to whip them out. All you have to do is ready the finishing glaze before your guests arrive.
Creamy Crab Dip with Peppadews Recipe
Whether you’re attending a church potluck, hosting a holiday party, or just stocking your freezer to plan ahead for your next impromptu guests, this warm and savory dip is the perfect pick.
Sweet Potato and Chorizo Sausage Bites
This perfect party appetizer gets a kick from spicy, peppery Mexican-style chorizo sausage. These sausage balls can be frozen on a baking sheet and transferred to ziplock plastic freezer bags for storage, then baked from frozen.
Recipe: Cheese Dreams
You won't ever go wrong with these cheesy bites at any holiday party. Freeze these dreamy snacks for up to three weeks, and have a batch ready to go in the case of drop-by company.
Tater Tot Bake
Recipe: Tater Tot Breakfast Bake
Thick-cut bacon, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, and some hearty Tater Tots—need we say more? Just freeze the whole dish, and pop it in the oven with extra shredded cheese on top until warm and melty.
Recipe: Breakfast Enchiladas
Just like our enchilada dinner casserole, this enchilada breakfast bake is such a crowd-pleaser, especially during the holidays when hosting guests. Make sure to top with halved grape tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro, and avocado for a pretty finish.
Cheesy Sausage-and-Croissant Casserole
This ultimate breakfast casserole will impress your family and holiday guests, even though you really pulled it from the freezer already set to go. Hot ground sausage, flaky croissants, and Parmesan and Gruyère cheeses—name a better trio!
Pancake Bake with Cinnamon Streusel
Because we don't even want to think about spending Christmas morning flipping pancakes. Instead, this bread pudding-like casserole sounds much better. Hold off the streusal until baking after frozen.
Marbled Pecan Pound Cake
Recipe: Marbled Pecan Pound Cake
This pound cake is as close as it gets to an easy holiday staple. Make this cake ahead and freeze it, but be sure to wrap it tightly (read: no air!) before popping it in the freezer.
Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls
Recipe: Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls
These slighty boozy delights are a hybrid of bourbon balls and chocolate truffles; and, with only four ingredients, they make the easiest throw-together treat for any occasion. Make a double batch, and freeze to have on hand!
Recipe: Pinwheel Cookies
Freeze rounds of this festive dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then store in Ziploc bags until you have a hankering for Christmas cookies.
White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake
This festive cheesecake combines a creamy white chocolate filling, delicious chocolate pie crust, and a tart cranberry topping. Freeze this cheesecake, after it’s been chilled, without the cranberry topping. When ready to serve, you can prepare the topping the night before and spoon over the pie right before serving.
Recipe: Rum Balls
These tender, pecan-filled treats are for adults only—made with dark rum and bourbon, they pack a powerful punch! While the recipe states that you can store these in the fridge for up to a month, you can extend that time frame by stocking them in your freezer.
Chocolate-Pecan Chess Pie
Recipe: Chocolate-Pecan Chess Pie
Chess pie and pecan pie are tasty enough on their own, but when pecans and chocolate are mixed together in one pie, it becomes a real Southern treat. Freeze this decadent pie ahead of the holidays, then top with homemade whipped cream when serving.