12 Make-Ahead Holiday Appetizers and Side Dishes

Do you love throwing holiday parties but not love spending the whole time standing over the stove? Make-ahead appetizers and side dishes to the rescue!

The holidays are stressful enough without having to spend the day chopping, sauteeing, stirring and standing over the stove. These make-ahead appetizers and sides are dishes that you can prep one to two days in advance, then either serve cold or pop into the oven or warm quickly on the stove when your guests are coming.

Do you love throwing holiday parties but not love spending the whole time standing over the stove? Make-ahead appetizers and side dishes to the rescue!

Take your pick of these dips, spreads, soups and salads to build your perfect spread of make-ahead appetizers and sides!

Make-Ahead Appetizers & Sides

You can make some of these holiday dishes completely in advance. Others, you’ll prep ahead, then complete the cooking day-of.

Massaged kale is delicious, but you can massage other dark, leafy greens, too! Massaged collard greens are the stars of this fall salad with sliced apples, pecans, and Ginger-Apple dressing.

1. Massaged Collard Greens Salad

If you’re making this salad ahead, you’ll just need to change a few things about the process. Make the dressing and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Massage the collards, as instructed, but don’t toss in the apples and pecans. You can add the onions to the collards, though. Store separately. Chop the pecans, and store these separately, too, so they’ll keep their crunch. In one last container, toss the chopped apples with a extra tablespoon or two of lime juice, to keep them from browning. When you’re ready to serve, add the apple mixture to the collards, toss in the chopped pecans and serve with the dressing.

Vegan Baked Cabbage Rolls

2. Baked Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls aren’t traditional, but they’re a cozy, delicious addition to your holiday sides game. To turn this into a make-ahead recipe, follow the instructions, as written, but don’t bake. Two hours and 40 minutes before you’re going to serve, pull the pan out of the fridge, to let the cabbage rolls come to room temperature, then bake and let stand, as instructed.

Vegan Roasted Vegetables are a crowd-pleasing plant-based entree or side dish. Smother with plenty of Lemon-Ginger Tahini Sauce for a simple, filling dish.

3. Roasted Vegetables with Lemon-Ginger Tahini Sauce

This veggie side is a staple at all of my family’s holiday meals. You can prep all of the veggies, plus the tahini sauce, in advance, so you just have to toss them into the oven day-of. I’d suggest pulling the tahini sauce out of the fridge when you put the veggies into the oven, because it works best in this recipe at room temperature.

Fermented Almond Farmers Cheese

4. Fermented Almond Cheese

You don’t have to change a thing to turn this into a make-ahead appetizer. In fact, you need to let this cheese ferment for 24 hours before serving.

Spicy Squash and Coconut Soup

5. Spicy Coconut and Squash Soup

Winter squash is a holiday staple, but this flavorful soup is anything but traditional. The best part? You can make this whole recipe in advance. Just reheat on the stovetop just before serving. If your guests are a bit spice-averse, just back off on the black pepper and omit the cayenne. You can serve with Sriracha on the side instead.

Quinoa Salad with Strawberries

6. Quinoa Salad with Strawberries and Pecans

This salad actually gets better if you make it the night before. Just don’t add the pecans until just before serving.

Vegan Potatoes au Gratin with Collard Greens from Glue & Glitter

7. Vegan Potatoes au Gratin with Collard Greens

Creamy potatoes au gratin are an easy make-ahead. You can assemble the casserole up to a day ahead. Pull the pan out of the refrigerator two hours and 10 minutes before serving, so you can let the casserole come to room temperature before baking.

Vegan Crab Dip (photo from Cadry's Kitchen)

8. Jacked Up Vegan ‘Crab’ Dip

No crabs harmed in this make-ahead appetizer recipe! Old Bay brings the flavor, and jackfruit brings the texture to this creamy vegan dip. You can make this recipe up to a day ahead, no day-of prep work required.

Pickled Beet Hummus from Spabettie

9. Bright Lemon Pickled Beet Hummus

Pickled beets give this flavorful hummus a vibrant color and tangy flavor that’s perfect for your holiday spread. You can make this recipe completely in advance.

Tangy Herbed Vegan Cheese Spread from Dianne's Vegan Kitchen

10. Tangy Herbed Vegan Cheese Spread

This cashew- and macadamia nut-based “cheese” spread need to chill for at least an hour or two before serving, but you can also make it a full day ahead. It’s rich, creamy and full of umami flavor.

Olive Tapenade from Fried Dandelions

11. Olive Tapenade

My family almost always served olive tapenade as part of our holiday spread, and it’s a great make-ahead appetizer that actually gets more flavorful if you make it a day ahead. Just give this dip a stir before serving, because the oil does tend to settle to the bottom with time.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes from Veggies Save the Day

12. Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes

If you’ve never treated yourself to roasted grapes before, you are in for such a treat! You can wash and slice the Brussels sprouts and wash the grapes in advance, then just toss with the olive oil and roast before guests arrive. If you’re making the balsamic reduction, you can do that ahead of time, too. Just pull it out of the fridge when you turn on the oven, so it can come to room temperature.

All images via recipe authors, used with permission.


Frances G
Frances G2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Caitlin L
Caitlin L2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Naomi D
Naomi D2 months ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Linda Wallace
Linda Wallace2 months ago

Thank you for the recipes.

Salla T
Salla Tuu2 months ago

Oh, they all sound so yummy! Definitely going to try the almond cheese.

Lesa D
Past Member 2 months ago

thank you Becky...

Lottie Williams
Lorraine Williams2 months ago

Ill make some of th these

Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Thank you for caring and sharing