Detroit Lions fans dressed as a pilgrim and an Indian cheer from the stands during the third quarter of a Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field, Nov. 27, 2014. Reuters

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings from scratch is a daunting and time-consuming chore. Mashing potatoes, stirring gravy, preparing a casserole and putting the finishing touches on appetizers can take all day, time you would rather spend sleeping in, hanging out with the relatives you do like or watching a football game.

To help you get a head start on Thanksgiving this year, below are some of the best make ahead recipes from our favorite cooking sites. Some foods need to be stored in the freezer before the big day, so make some space and account for defrosting time before Thursday.

Make Ahead Appetizers: Crab Imperial with Red Pepper sounds fancy enough to impress your snobbiest relatives but, hey, it's really just crab dip and we're sure the Regular Joes will love it, too. For something a little heartier, we adore the idea of serving these Ricotta Meatballs and making enough to turn them into meatball sandwiches the next day. Cranberry Spread made with cream cheese is festive and will need a couple of days to thraw in the fridge.

Make Ahead Casseroles: This looks so good we want to cry. The name alone is tantalizing: Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole with Sweet ‘n’ Savory Bacon Pecans. On the other side of the potato spectrum, this mashed potato casserole can be reheated in the microwave, saving precious oven space. Looking to bring new flavors to a traditional table this year? This Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole can be prepared and frozen up to two weeks before serving.

Make Ahead Rolls: Make the dough for these rolls the night before and let it do a cold rise in the fridge overnight. These gougères, or cheesy French bread, can be frozen for up to one month and defrosted in a 350 degree oven in eight minutes. If you want to be especially well-loved this Thanksgiving, serve up these cheese puffs made with blue cheese and mascarpone.

Make Ahead Gravy: The secret to good make ahead gravy is fresh turkey broth. Be generous with the giblets for this thick sauce. Add pan drippings to this make ahead dish to keep it tasting fresh. Go hard with the herbs with this gravy.

Make Ahead Desserts: This pumpkin cake spiced with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days. Make this pumpkin-caramel tart Tuesday and eat it Thursday. These apple turnovers can be baked Wednesday, then maybe hide them on Thursday because you won't want to share.