Your official guide to the ultimate prep-ahead move.


Nestled among the make-ahead gravy recipes and sweet potato casserole know-how is a little-known secret that deserves to go mainstream. It'll save you time and it might just help you save face if things don't go as planned, which, when do they ever? We're here to share some holiday-focused culinary wisdom that will have you owning the day-of prep. The trick is to make your holiday cheesecake in October. That's right, grab the Philadelphia and get out your springform because it's cheesecake time, friends.

The trick to getting a major jump start on your holiday dessert spread is freezing your cheesecake way ahead of the game. You can start with any baked-style cheesecake recipe, whether it's a passed-down recipe or a brand-new pumpkin number that has falalalala written all over it. Prepare the cheesecake through the baking step as normal, allowing it to come to room temperature on the counter once baked and then fully chilling it in the refrigerator. Why not pop it directly into the freezer? It could mess with the texture of the dessert if it's not able to set gradually and fully before it freezes.

Butter Pecan Cheescake
Credit: Photo: Alison Miksch, prop styling: Prissy Lee, food styling: Erin Merhar

Now on to how to keep that pretty little cake from cracking, breaking, or taking on a strange, frost-bitten taste. The first step is to remove the outer collar of the springform pan, leaving the cheesecake on the pan's base. If you'll need the bottom of your springform pan for another bake or just prefer a more disposable route, sit the dessert on a round piece of cardboard instead. Tightly wrap the whole cheesecake (including the base or cardboard) in plastic wrap, then wrap it again in foil. Once you're satisfied with your wrapping job, place the cheesecake in the freezer.

For best results, you can freeze your cheesecake one month ahead of serving, which means you can make it now for Thanksgiving or hold off another month if you're planning to get ahead for Christmas. As we know with thawing just about everything that comes from the freezer, it should be allowed to thaw gradually in the refrigerator overnight. Leave the toppings and flourishes for prep the day before or day of serving. When you split up the prep for this holiday standout, it'll suddenly become one of the most manageable recipes on your list. And no one will be the wiser.