molten lava cake

5 Make-Ahead Recipes Your Guests Will Love

Phyllis Lifestyle 15 Comments

When I am hosting a dinner or a family get-together, I like to prepare as much as I can in advance. Most of the dishes I make are fresh, but there are a few hidden gems in my cookbook that can be made ahead of time—a huge time-saver and still delicious. Below are my top five that I know I can always count on. There are recipes linked for each, as well as a recipe card for my favorite! 

    1. One of my favorites is Angel Biscuits—my mom made these countless times growing up. The dough for this yeast biscuit should be made at least one day ahead and refrigerated. On the day I want to serve them, I roll out the dough and let it rise. Then right before dinner, I pop them in the oven! There is nothing like a hot yeast biscuit with a meal. Click for the recipe!
    2. I also enjoy serving congealed salads. They are fabulous to eat and gorgeous on the plate! There are a zillion recipes out there for these salads, so I usually switch it up. Some of them are so sweet, they could pass as dessert—fine by me! Here’s the recipe to a sweet and tart version!
    3. In the South, one of the mainstays of entertaining is the deviled egg, and these little jewels can be made ahead. When my children and grandchildren come over, deviled eggs are gone in no time flat. One debate on this delicacy is the use dill or sweet pickle relish. I tend to go back and forth on this one, so the recipe below uses both— sweet relish plus dill pickle juice. Get the recipe here! 
    4. This make-ahead dessert is truly the star of this post—Molten Lava Cake! I absolutely love making this. Once the batter is in the ramekin, it can remain in the fridge for a couple of days. Then into the oven they go just before serving. It is a very dramatic dessert to present, especially when topped with vanilla ice cream. See below for the recipe card!
5.0 from 3 reviews
Molten Lava Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6 servings
  • 6 (1-ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 (1-ounce) squares semi-sweet chocolate
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease 6 custard dishes.
  2. Melt chocolates and butter in the microwave or in a double boiler. Add flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in eggs until smooth. Stir in vanilla and Grand Marnier.
  3. Divide batter into 6 dishes.
  4. Bake for 14 minutes. Edges should be firm, but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and turn dish over with a plate on top.

    5. Another go-to dessert for me is an ice cream treat. The recipe is simply this: Simmer a can of fruit cocktail with a teaspoon of cinnamon, let it cool, and then layer in parfait glasses, alternating vanilla ice cream and fruit mixture. Place the parfaits in the freezer and pull them right out when everyone is ready for dessert. You can make these several days ahead!

Extra Pro Tip: I like to have a lot of ice on hand when I have people coming over, so I collect ice from the icemaker in resealable plastic bags a few days ahead just to be sure I have enough.

I’m always looking for new make-ahead recipes. Please share your favorites in the comments below!

Comments 15

  1. Love deviled eggs, yours is just like my version. I also do celery sticks stuffed with pineapple cream cheese and then some with sharp cheddar cheese and come colorful cherry tomatoes with the tops cut off and hollowed and stuffed with egg salad sprinkled with paparika. Simple and always goes fast. Sometimes I also get the small mini loaf of pumpernickel bread about 1 1/2″ high and fill with sliced ham and cheese put a toothpick spear through the top with an olive. The kids like it when I do Hawaiian buns in the same way. The spinach balls sounds really good must look that one up, very new to me and the molten lava cake, yummy….thanks!
    California Carmel

  2. I just can’t choose a favorite. Deviled eggs are quintessentially Southern, and in my family, each little ingredient is hotly debated–disagreements about mayonnaise brands can continue for decades. Congealed salads are close to my heart, too, stirring memories of church suppers and summers with my grandmother. I remember sitting on her pink kitchen counter, watching her make biscuits, flour wafting above the striped bowl. I suppose food is the language of the South, but it’s also family, isn’t it?

  3. Thank you for the delicious looking recipes. I want to try the Corned Beef, Sour Kraut Strudel soon.

    The best Hot Cocoa for cold weather came from my late mother-in-law, Lucile Bancroft

    French Chocolate

    2 1/2 squares Baker’s Chocolate cut fine into I/2 cup cold water and heated gently to melt
    Add 3/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt and heat until smooth
    Cool and add 1/2 pint whipping cream which has been whipped

    To serve
    Put 2 teaspoons or more of cooled chocolate whipped cream into a cup.
    Pour scalding milk over it and stir

    This is so handy and keeps well. I think it is delicious and used to keep it ready all the time during the Christmas season.

  4. One of my favorite make ahead dishes is beef brisket. It always tastes better the next day! I cook it and then let it sit with all the vegetables and seasonings in the fridge overnight. The next day I remove the meat, slice it thin while it is cold and set it aside. I pour all the vegetables and liquid into a saucepan and heat through. Then I puree it with an immersion blender and season it as needed so it becomes the gravy. I layer the sliced brisket and gravy in my serving dish, reserving enough gravy to cover the top completely. I cover the dish with foil, heat it thoroughly in the oven and serve hot with mashed potatoes.

  5. Being from Ohio, I’ve never made a congealed salad….but shrimp? I have to try that! I love anything I can do ahead, but I’ve honestly been disappointed with my attempts. Mashed potatoes just taste different reheated. Other things just didn’t work out, so I need recipes that really work when made ahead. I’m getting older, still work full time and doing it all the day of is just too much!

  6. Ice! Ice! My husband is suspicious that I only wanted this particular house because it had a big ice machine! Well, I did love the rest of the house too, but he may be right about that! All the ice I want, all summer (actually all year!), for all the iced tea I want! Now is that a dream come true or what?

    I have a collection of “orphan” sterling iced tea spoons and they have never been happier–or more used!

  7. Ice! Ice! My husband is suspicious that I only wanted this particular house because it had a big ice machine! Well, I did love the rest of the house too, but he may be right about that! All the ice I want, all summer, for all the iced tea I want! Now is that a dream come true or what?

    I have a collection of “orphan” sterling iced tea spoons and they have never been happier–or more used!

  8. I keep seeing thes YouTube videos of food that’s gone out of style and they always seem to include congealed salads. Not in the South. We love them. Can you imagine a church pot luck with no shrimp mold? Me either. And deviled eggs are always a must. Thanks for sharing

  9. Homemade spaghetti sauce & meatballs because they always taste better the next day!
    Can’t wait to try your molten lava cakes!

  10. Thank you so much for the make-ahead recipes. My husband loves deviled eggs and once when we were dating he came over and was thrilled to see I had deviled eggs in the refrigerator. He popped one in his mouth and immediately had a disappointed look on his face. He didn’t know that I was trying a healthy version that used cottage cheese in the stuffing. I admit that I never made that recipe again!

  11. I love making spinach balls. They are a hit with family and friends. My grand- niece looks forward to them so much that at every family celebration she cheers when they appear on the table. I have tweaked the original recipe a bit. They are so easy to prepare and they freeze well so they make a great make ahead appetizer, side dish or a great option for vegetarians as they can substitute for meatballs.
    There are a few spinach ball recipes out there. I use the “allrecipe” one…but substitute plain breadcrumbs sprinkled with some paprika for Italian, and instead of onions, I use crushed garlic.

  12. All of these sound wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing, that congealed salad looks divine, and who doesn’t love a great deviled egg? They are always the first to go at any party we’ve ever hosted. Thank you, there are never enough recipes that come highly recommended, especially by you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: