The Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner

The Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner | www.kiwiandbean.comT minus 6 days until my Christmas guests arrive for a big roasted turkey and all the trimmings. This is only the second time ever that I will be hosting and cooking a Christmas dinner. I am very lucky to have some highly competent Christmas dinner cookers in my family (Mom, Irene, Susan and Mary I’m talkin’ about YOU!) and for most of my adulthood I have let them do the cooking while I eat spinach dip and play charades. But this year, it’s all me.

Now here’s the thing about all this: while I’m happy to do the planning, cooking and shopping for the big meal, I still want to eat spinach dip and play charades, darn it! I want to sit by the fire with a glass of champagne and some jingle bells. I do NOT want to be madly whisking lumps out of the gravy while everyone else is kissing under the mistletoe.

Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner |

Enter the Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner. Well, not the actual dinner, but the formula to create it. Reminiscent of the intense nerd-dom that is my Summer Barbeque Menu Matrix, the idea here is that everything—even the turkey, if you can believe it—is cooked before your guests arrive, so that it need only be warmed up and brought to the table when your guests are ready for dinner.

Too good to be true? Maybe a little bit. Doing it this way makes for more work in the days leading up to the big meal, yes. And you need to have your organizational wits about you, and possibly even defend your own nerd-dom from doubting family members. BUT when you are egg-nogging it at 3 p.m. on Christmas day, you will thank me. I promise.

Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner |

So without further ado, here is the (1) menu, (2) recipes, and (3) prep and cooking schedule for the Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner. It will serve about 8 people, but can be adjusted to serve more or less if necessary.
Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner |


5-7 days before Christmas:

  • Order the turkey (about 2 pounds of uncooked meat per person).
  • Take an inventory of your pantry staples and make a list of what you need to buy.
  • Buy the groceries.
  • Make the cake and throw it into the freezer.

3 days before Christmas:

  • Make the cranberry sauce and refrigerate in a pretty serving dish.

2 days before Christmas:

  • Pick up the turkey.
  • Make the goat cheese/spinach dip and refrigerate in an oven-proof casserole dish.
  • Prep all the vegetables: cauliflower, parsnips, carrots, onions/vegetables for the stuffing, brussels sprouts, kale.
  • Make the salad dressing for the kale salad.

The day before Christmas:

  • Make the stuffing and refrigerate in a large oven proof casserole dish.
  • Make the Cauliflower, Carrot, Parsnip Puree, and refrigerate.
  • Cook the turkey; carve into large portions and refrigerate (Yup, I’m totally serious). Use the turkey drippings to make the gravy.
  • Prepare the kale salad (minus the avocado, apple and dressing, which should be added about 1/2 hour before serving) and refrigerate in a pretty salad bowl.
  • Whip the cream for the cake, and throw it into the fridge (yes, you can totally whip cream in advance).

Vegan Gluten-Free Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake

Christmas day:

  • In the morning: remove the cake from the freezer and leave on the counter to defrost.
  • In the afternoon: remove the cranberry sauce from the fridge and leave it on the counter to come to room temperature. Roast the brussels sprouts and transfer to an oven-proof serving dish.
  • Just before the guests arrive: bake the goat cheese spinach dip and serve with crackers and cut veg.
  • Before dinner: In the oven, warm up the turkey (instructions here) and brussels sprouts, and bake the stuffing. On the stove, reheat the Cauliflower/Carrot/Parsnip Puree and then transfer to a serving dish. Add the avocado and apple to the kale salad and toss the salad with dressing. Reheat the gravy in the microwave. Transfer everything to the table.
  • After dinner: serve the cake topped with whipped cream.

Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner |

9 Responses to The Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner

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  2. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles January 3, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    that pom salad looks ridic! (did i miss it on the menu?). impeccable organization Sarah — you really are a nerd, aren’t you? I mean that in the most endearing way 🙂 love the plan and will resurrect it next year, if nothing else but to admire it in my utter disorder.

  3. Michael Huggins aka Dad December 21, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    I meant foodage

  4. Michael Huggins aka Dad December 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    Love everything about you and your footage for the famillia

  5. Meaghan December 19, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    This is brilliant!!! Love the organization and thought that went into your planning. I’m totally going to rethink my Christmas cooking next week. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Enjoy your champagne by the fire!

  6. Michelle December 19, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    I love your nerdiness 🙂 This thanksgiving, I made pretty much 90% of dinner the day before, and I only had to pop the turkey into the oven the day off. I may or may not have drunk a lot of wine on thanksgiving day, haha. I am definitely saving this post for the future Christmases when I actually have to make Christmas dinners!

  7. Anna (Hidden Ponies) December 19, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    I love how organized and doable you make this! Sounds like a great menu. Congrats too on the awards – well deserved for your beautiful space!!

  8. La Cuisine Helene December 19, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    This looks amazing and I love the pictures! Happy Holidays.

  9. Teresa December 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    That is ambitious, but totally worth it. My mother used to exhaust herself so much on Christmas Day when we were little. I’d much rather have had her having fun with the rest of us.

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