These 25 Freeze-Ahead Party Dishes Will Simplify the Holidays
These 25 Freeze-Ahead Party Dishes Will Simplify the Holidays
25 Freeze-Ahead Holiday Dishes
If the holiday season has you hosting friends and family at one (or more) big events, you may need a little extra help getting all the dishes out for the feast. Fret not! This is the time to make the most of your freezer. Here are 25 party-ready dishes you can make a day or two before your guests even arrive.
Whether you are looking for appetizers, main courses, sides, desserts, or even breakfast dishes, there are plenty of festive recipes to whip up in advance, gifting you extra time to spend with loved ones.
A little additional planning will go a long way in preparation for your holiday party or feast. Cleaning out your freezer and going to the grocery store early in the week will ensure you will have all the shelf space and ingredients needed.
Cheesy Cauliflower Latkes
This modern twist on the traditional Hanukkah dish is the perfect way to keep your grandmother and gluten-free niece happy this year. Keep the level of water and moisture in the cauliflower down by carefully wringing out with a paper towel or clean hand towel to assure that your latkes are crispy, not soggy.
Meat Loaf With Mushroom Gravy
This classic comfort food will be an exciting addition to the dinner table for meat loaf lovers this year. The mushroom gravy also works well for serving atop mashed potatoes, other meats, or just about anything else!
Sweet Potato Casserole With Crunchy Oat Topping
This classic casserole often straddles the line between side and dessert (indeed, we've enjoyed the leftovers both ways). We dial down the sugar to steer the dish back to savory territory, and add a crunchy oat and nut topper for texture. A final drizzle of maple syrup just before serving gives the casserole a lovely sheen. While we call for a ricer in our master mashed potatoes, a potato masher is perfectly acceptable here since the spuds will be bound with an egg, topped, and baked. Chopped almonds or walnuts would be a delicious sub for the pecans.
Ham, Kale, and White Bean Soup
The water used to cook a pot of beans is really liquid gold, infused with aromatics and thickened with starch from the beans. It makes perfect sense to give the cooking liquid a second life as the broth for the soup (and save the trouble of rinsing and draining). The ham hock will season the broth and the beans as they cook; you won’t need additional salt once they are done. Instead of cooking the kale and carrots in the soup, give them a quick sauté and stir them in at the end so they retain their vibrancy.
Creamy Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole
Wild rice is wonderfully fragrant; it’s the perfect counter to the creamy, earthy mushroom mixture and has enough texture that the grains won’t bloat or fall apart in the casserole.
Chicken-and-Kale Alfredo Bake
A creamy, Parmesan-laced sauce is a no-brainer for an easy, cheesy pasta bake. Skip the jar and make your own with sautéed shallot and fresh lemon, picking up all the flavor from the same pan used to cook the chicken. If you have yet to try whole-grain pasta, this dish is a fantastic introduction: The noodles hold up nicely throughout boiling and baking and won’t overwhelm the dish with a strong wheat flavor. Keep whole-wheat panko in your pantry as your new all-purpose breadcrumb; the light, crisp texture will make an excellent crust for fish fillets or chicken breasts.
Chicken-and-Vegetable Hand Pies
Enjoy portable potpie with extra veggies and hearty whole grains. Both family- and freezer-friendly, these hand pies deliver a hearty meal to go.
To Freeze: Freeze on a baking sheet for 12 hours or until solid. Transfer to a zip-top plastic freezer bag; freeze up to 6 months.
To Thaw: Not necessary! Bake straight from frozen.
To Bake: Place frozen pies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash; score. Bake at 450°F for 32 minutes.
Spiced Meatball, Butternut, and Tomato Stew
Add this comforting, 35-minute stew to your winter recipe rotation. These tender meatballs have a mild, warm spice. Chopped cilantro at the end adds a nice burst of freshness. You can substitute ground chicken, if desired.
The addition of mushrooms—what a forager might find—makes for a delicious twist on classic shepherd's pie.
Slow Cooker Sausage Cassoulet
The best part of this dish is that it cooks for you, allowing you to be even more prepared for your big holiday meal. You can substitute chicken sausage for turkey, pork, or even a vegetarian option.
Herbed Whole-Grain Yeast Rolls
Golden whole-grain yeast rolls get a fresh, fragrant hit from a whole host of seasonal herbs, including fresh sage, rosemary, and chives. Make ahead and freeze up to 1 month, saving the butter and herb coat for after reheating. The yeast should begin to foam after 5 minutes in the warm milk; if it doesn’t, it may be a sign that your yeast is no longer active and should be replaced. Use leftover rolls for tomorrow’s breakfast, or make turkey sliders with split toasted rolls, cranberry sauce, and sliced turkey.
Maple-Bacon Baked Beans
Think of this dish as classic baked beans turned all the way up to 11—sweet, smoky, and saucy, with extra richness from the slow-simmered beans. The starchiness from the cooked beans will help bind the casserole. Curry powder adds a hint of earthiness, but you can leave it out for a more straightforward flavor.
Chinese-American Thanksgiving Meatballs
This recipe is based on a classic Chinese dumpling filling, made instead into meatballs and poached in a gingery tomato sauce. The technique of mixing the meat until just tacky gives it that characteristic pot-sticker-filling bounciness. The tender, saucy meatballs pair wonderfully with white or brown rice.
Whole-Grain Spelt and Cornmeal Biscuits
Gently pat the dough flat instead of rolling with a rolling pin. Patting preserves all the pockets of fat needed for flaky biscuits, whereas rolling pancakes them into small, dense pucks. Cut the biscuits into squares to avoid any leftover scraps. This will also help you avoid the twisting motion of using a cutter that can also lead to flat biscuits. Spelt flour adds a deep nutty flavor, but you can use white whole-wheat flour if you can't find spelt.
If you can’t decide between pecan and pumpkin pie, this dessert will give you a taste of both in one slice. A quick brown sugar–pecan streusel tops the pie after it bakes; the topping will set into a crunchy layer as the pie cools. Be sure to use a standard 9-inch pie plate rather than a deep-dish one to ensure an evenly baked crust.
Iced Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies
These cookies sound too good to be true but are every bit as satisfying as their white flour-variety. The whole-wheat flour produces a lovely golden-brown color and deepens the flavor profile of the cookie.
Browned Butter Carrot Cake With Toasted Pecans
The Bundt pan makes for a much easier dessert, freeing you from the fuss of stacking and frosting layers. You can bake the cake ahead and freeze it, unglazed: Wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap, and freeze in a zip-top plastic freezer bag for up to 3 months (glaze the thawed cake).
Fresh Gingerbread Squares
These gingerbread squares are a far cry from the cookie men that rest on counter tops during the holidays. This complex flavor profile and moist, cake-like texture will leave guests wanting more.
Broccoli and Bacon Muffin Tin Frittatas
These convenient muffins are perfect for guests-on-the-go after the holidays. They are filling, easy to make, and kid-friendly too.
There's no need to spend Christmas morning with your mixer; these orange-scented pinwheels freeze beautifully, reheat in just 25 minutes, and make your kitchen smell fantastic. Recruit little ones to help make the icing and spread over the rolls just before serving. These rolls would make great gifts for other harried hosts; deliver with reheating instructions and a container of the icing. To round out the morning meal, serve the rolls with a simple fruit salad and a frittata or soft-scrambled eggs.
Eggnog Banana Bread
These whole-grain mini banana bread loaves are a great alternative to cupcakes, and much easier to package without a dome of messy frosting. If you don't have mini loaf pans, you can use 12 muffin cups lined with cupcake liners. For a kid-friendly drizzle, you can swap the alcohol for fresh orange juice.
Smoked Salmon Breakfast Casserole
When you're looking for a breakfast that is both elegant and easy this holiday season, our crowd-pleasing casserole is just the ticket. This multilayered marvel is loaded with crispy potatoes, hot-smoked salmon, and a smattering of fresh herbs. Cottage cheese naturally melds into the eggs, creating pillowy lightness throughout the mixture, while goat cheese creates dense pockets of creaminess. Hot-smoked salmon, unlike cured, is fully cooked—look for it in the fish case or packaged in the meat aisle of your grocery store. Our recipe hits all the marks for a hearty one-dish meal, with 25% fewer calories, 7g less saturated fat, and over 600mg less sodium than traditional meat-and-cheese breakfast casseroles. Use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet for best results.
Sausage, Spinach, and Apple Breakfast Sandwiches
We swap the classic egg and cheese combo for crisp, tart apple slices and sautéed spinach. Use any bulk turkey breakfast sausage for this sandwich or try our DIY version.