With one day to go until Thanksgiving, prep your stuffing, turkey, green bean casserole or gratin and pies. You can either fully bake your pies or get them ready to bake on the big day. (If you missed our make-ahead advice for three and two days out, catch up here and here.) Follow this game plan and tomorrow, the only thing you’ll have to do is juggle oven space.

Stuffing (Or Dressing)

Cut and sauté carrots, celery and onions in a lot of butter. Add whatever herbs and seasonings you’re using. Toss with cubed or torn bread, cornbread or whatever you’re using. Add half as much broth as you usually would to moisten. Store in a baking dish in the refrigerator (or a large zip-close bag).

The day-of, you’ll add the remaining broth, or a mixture of cream and eggs, if that’s the type of dressing you make. Let it sit out for 30 minutes or up to an hour to absorb the added liquid and come to room temperature. Bake until puffed and golden.

Green Bean Casserole, Gratin of Greens etc.

You can prepare the ingredients for green bean casserole and similar recipes up to the point of baking. Store in the refrigerator right in baking dish or bowl. Wait to add any toppings until it is time to bake.


Rinse, season, truss (if doing so). Whether you’re roasting a whole turkey or a breast (or a capon, chicken or another type of meat roast), do everything to it you normally would do right up to putting it in the oven. This allows the meat to become more deeply seasoned, and you get all the raw meat handling done the day before. This way, the day-of, your kitchen starts clean and stays clean.

On Thanksgiving day, simply take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit in the roasting pan for about an hour. Then slide it into a heated oven and roast.

Try our Tea-Rubbed Maple Turkey

Pie Filling

If your pie is custard-based, the filling can be made one day ahead. Cool and refrigerate overnight. The day-of, simply assemble the dough and filling in a pie pan and bake. Custard-based pies are best baked early in the day so they have time to set for slicing.

You can make a fruit-based filling up to three days ahead, but if you haven’t already done so, you could do it today. The day-of, if you want to serve it warm from the oven, you can wait to bake it until the turkey or other main course comes out of the oven. Put the pie in then and set the timer—you’ll probably be eating when it goes off. The pie will have time to sit and still be warm by the time you’re ready for dessert.

Whole Pie

You also can bake assembled fruit-based pies a day ahead. Once cool, cover and store at room temperature. The day-of, if you want the pie warm for dessert-time, put the pie in an oven on low heat when you sit down to eat.

Custard-based pies can be baked a day ahead as well, though they should be stored in the refrigerator overnight. Unless it’s meant to be served cold (such as lemon meringue- and key lime-style pies), let it come to room temperature before serving (such as pumpkin and chess-style pies). Pecan pie can be wrapped and stored at room temperature overnight.

If you’ve done all the above and followed our two- and three-days-to-go countdowns, most of Thanksgiving Day a simple matter of putting things in the oven.

See here to return to your first day of prep. See here for day two of prep.

A smoky tea rub transforms the Thanksgiving bird
Tea-Rubbed Maple Turkey

Get Ready to Cook



3 to 3½ hours

Plus 24 hours to season

See the Recipe