If you’re planning a big Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebration later this month, the work doesn’t have to wait until a few days before the meal. You can start your Thanksgiving prep right now to help lighten the load and ensure nothing gets forgotten.

First, here’s what to do: 

Begin by clearing out your freezer 

This early in the month, your freezer is your best friend. It’s the place you can stash pie dough, baked bread, and copious amounts of cookie dough. All the doughs, fillings, and bakes below can be stored in your freezer starting today.

You can even use your freezer to stock up on ingredients. Frequently used holiday items including nuts, butter, and even eggs can all be frozen ahead of time for future baking.

Now, here’s what to make:

Crimping Thanksgiving pie crust in pie plate Photography by John Sherman; food styling by Susan Reid
You can freeze your pie dough directly in its pan, then thaw once ready to bake.

Make your pie dough ahead

Mix your Thanksgiving pie dough now (if you do it in a stand mixer, it’s easier to prepare a big batch at once), then wrap tightly and stack in your freezer until you bake. (If you need any pies baked in the next few days, instead of a few weeks, you can wrap your dough and place in the fridge for up to three days.) 

Or go one step further: As Baker’s Hotline member David advises, you can roll out your crust and then freeze it directly in a pie pan, covered. When you’re ready to make your pies, simply move the crust, pan and all, to the fridge to thaw overnight or let it rest at room temperature until it’s still cool but no longer solid. Proceed with filling and baking.

Alternatively, you can prep a big bag of pie crumbs — a mixture of flour, salt, shortening, and butter that you can bag, label, and freeze. Once it’s time to make your pie, take out a few scoops and add water to form your dough. See more details (including measurements!) in our previous post, Make-ahead pie crust.

Slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie Photography by Mark Weinberg; food styling by Erin McDowell
The longer pumpkin pie filling sits, the more flavorful it becomes, so making it ahead of time is a double win.

Prepare your pumpkin pie filling  

In addition to your crust, you can also get a jumpstart on your pie fillings. Go ahead and make your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie filling, then pour into a freezer-safe container (don’t forget to label it!), and store until later in the month. When ready to bake, let the filling thaw in the fridge overnight before you want to use it. As a bonus, the flavors develop the longer your filling sits, which makes for an extra-tasty pie.  

Better yet, make your whole apple pie

Yes, you can prepare Thanksgiving apple pie and other fruit pies, fully assembled and ready to bake, and then freeze them. Instead of sending to the oven, wrap tightly and place in the freezer, where you can keep your pie until it’s turkey time a few weeks later. Here’s the full method: Freeze and bake fruit pie.

Scones being cut on a baking sheet for freezing Mark Weinberg
Once shaped and portioned, scone dough can be frozen until you’re ready to bake.

Prep scone and biscuit dough

Non-yeasted additions to the Thanksgiving breadbasket or breakfast table — like biscuits and scones — are excellent candidates to make ahead and freeze. Make your dough, shape it into rounds, squares, or triangles, then arrange on a freezer-safe pan and cover in plastic wrap or a reusable option. Place the pan in the freezer, and once they’re frozen solid you can transfer to a freezer-safe storage bag; the frozen dough will last a few months.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the biscuits or scones from the freezer and place them on a baking sheet; no need to thaw them first. Brush with milk or melted butter, if desired. Bake according to the recipe directions — you’ll likely need to add a few extra minutes since they’ll take longer to bake coming from the freezer.  

Baked Parker House Rolls in a baking dish Tieghan Gerard
If you’re freezing rolls like these Parker House Rolls, make sure to place the dough in the freezer before it rises. 

Make and freeze rolls — with caveats

In general, our Baker’s Hotline doesn’t recommend freezing yeast doughs — while not impossible, it’s a last resort. Because some of the yeast will inevitably die in the cold of the freezer, yeasted doughs will never rise as well post-freeze as they would if you baked them the day you made them.

That said, we have had some success freezing and baking rolls — the trick is to freeze the kneaded but unrisen dough. See more in PJ Hamel’s post on freeze-and-bake rolls.

Bake the bread for your stuffing

We don’t recommend freezing the bread you want to serve at your Thanksgiving table because it won’t be quite as good as freshly baked. But the freezer is a great place to keep any bread you plan to use in your stuffing, whether that’s cornbread, rye bread, or plain old crusty white bread.  

You can store the whole, uncut bread and then cut or tear it for stuffing once thawed, or cut/tear it after baking and freeze it that way.

Cutting out holiday sugar cookies Mark Weinberg
You can roll, cut, and freeze your holiday cookie dough until ready to bake.

Get a jump on your holiday cookies 

Cookie dough was practically made for the freezer. Mix your dough (Holiday Butter Cookies are a classic), scoop into balls or cut into shapes, then wrap tightly and store in the freezer, where it will last several months until you’re ready to bake. Simply bake straight from the freezer, adding an extra minute (or a few) until fully baked, since the cold cookies may take a bit longer.

Your freezer can be your best baking friend. Check out this Cookie Dough Freezer Tray for fresh-baked goods any time you want them.  

Cover photo by Mark Weinberg.

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Classic Double Pie Crust
Classic Double Pie Crust
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45 mins
2 standard (9" pie) crusts
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Rossi crimping pie crust
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About Rossi Anastopoulo

Rossi Anastopoulo grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, which is how she fell in love with biscuits. She didn’t have any bakers in her household (with the exception of her grandmother’s perfect koulourakia), so she learned at a young age that the best way to satisfy her sweet tooth was to make dess...
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