32 Show-Stopping Christmas Dinner Ideas from Appetizers to Desserts to Everything in Between!

From rich peppermint brownies to a stunning Chocolate-and-Citrus Cassata, these Christmas dessert recipes are sure to bring a little extra holiday cheer to your menu. We’ve gathered 26 so that you can find the perfect dish to round out your dinner, be it Sticky Toffee Pudding, bright green Putri Salju Pandan, or a slice of simple lemon cake. Looking for a gingerbread recipe? We’ve got cookies you can try, and a gingerbread trifle recipe, too. Read on for even more Christmas dessert recipes to enjoy.

Gingerbread and White Chocolate Mousse Trifle

This trifle is three desserts in one: mousse, gingerbread, and caramel. Each part is delicious on its own, too.

Salted Caramel Pie

There are only seven ingredients in this luscious pie. The caramel filling is rich and thick and delicious with a sprinkle of flaky fleur de sel.

Cherry-and-Chocolate Bûche de Noël

Pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s version of bûche de noël is lighter than many, thanks to the beaten egg whites in the batter and the use of whipped cream in place of buttercream as frosting.

Chocolate-Peppermint Brownies

These rich peppermint brownies topped with crushed candy canes are from London’s cult-favorite bakery Violet. If you can’t find candy canes, use striped peppermint candies.

Triple-Ginger Rye Cookies

Hearty rye flour paired with three types of ginger—powdered, candied, and fresh—lends an earthy, lightly spicy flavor to these holiday cookies.

S’mores Linzer Cookies

Swapping graham flour and hazelnut meal for the all-purpose flour and almond meal gives these linzer-inspired cookies the flavor of s’mores. With marshmallow creme sandwiched between them and a drizzle of melted bittersweet chocolate on top, they’re a festive reminder of the campfire classic.

Orange-Anise Croquembouche with White Chocolate

Wow your loved ones with this stunning tower of cream puffs, which seems more challenging to make than it actually is (seriously—only one hour of active time on your part).

Sour Cherry–Cheesecake Trifle with Black Pepper and Saba

Pichet Ong’s riff on a proper British trifle retains the classic form while reinventing the components. Cheesecake stands in for egg custard; pound cake replaces ladyfingers. Rather than sherry, Ong’s trifle uses saba, a syrup made from cooking down grape must, which has a flavor similar to balsamic vinegar.

Spiced Gingerbread Cookies

These gingerbread cookies have a tender and cakey texture, yet they’re sturdy enough to decorate. The recipe yields about two dozen large cookies—you can keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

These luscious sticky toffee puddings are all about the honeyed sweetness of plump dates and creamy caramel. A touch of corn syrup ensures that the caramel stays silky smooth, while a bit of vanilla in the cake complements its richness. Serve them with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream for contrast.

Putri Salju Pandan (Pandan-Flavored Indonesian “Snow White” Cookies)

To League of Kitchens cooking instructor Shandra Woworuntu, baking comes naturally. Her grandmother owned a baking supply and snack company in East Java, Indonesia, and Woworuntu and her mother ran a homemade cookie business in Jakarta in the late 1980s. Traditionally in Indonesia, Putri Salju (“Snow White” or “Snow Princess”) cookies are made with almonds, peanuts, or cashews inside and are popular during the holidays, including Christmas, Ramadan, and Chinese New Year. Her mother’s version, and now the recipe Woworuntu makes, adds pandan flavoring and omits the nuts, making them more cakey than crispy. Pandan, a tropical plant with fragrant leaves that’s a popular flavoring in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia, imparts a vanilla-citrusy flavor and a naturally vivid green color to these cookies.

Tropical Mendiants

Pastry chef Paola Velez’s stunning mendiants are surprisingly easy to make with her simple method for tempering chocolate in the microwave. Piped into rounds, the chocolates are topped with a colorful mix of tropical fruit, toasted nuts, and seeds. Like mini, open-faced chocolate candy bars, the mendiants can be made ahead and served right from the fridge.

Goat Cheese Cake with Wine-Poached Cranberries

Crowned with candied pistachios and draped in tart, glistening cranberry gelée, pastry chef Claudia Fleming’s holiday cheesecake is extra creamy thanks to a combination of tangy goat cheese and mascarpone. Be sure to beat in the mascarpone at low speed to preserve its extra-smooth texture. Don’t skip straining the cranberry mixture after adding the gelatin; removing the foam is key to a clear, glossy gelée.

Spiced Pavlovas with Oranges and Mulled Wine Caramel

The first Christmas Food & Wine editor Melanie Hansche celebrated in Bavaria with her Australian husband, he made her family a classic Australian pavlova. Even though Bavarians don’t tend to eat dessert at the end of a Christmas meal, the lightness and freshness of the fruit and meringue in the pavlova, which balanced the rich, savory dinner that had come before, was a winner. These individual pavlovas represent a mash-up of Hansche’s Bavarian and Australian upbringing. In it, the aromas and ingredients of a Bavarian Christmas market—glühwein, toasted almonds, spiced cookies—are infused into the components of the classic Australian dessert: a base of sweet, cinnamon-spiced meringue is topped with fresh, tangy quark, and crowned with bright citrus and intense mulled wine caramel.

Butterscotch Pudding Parfait with Gingersnap Crumble

Classic butterscotch pudding is enhanced with tangy whipped crème fraîche and warm, spicy gingersnap crumble to make a beautiful parfait.

Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Layers of delicate flavors from lemon, honey, and extra-virgin olive oi­l—which helps keep the cake moist and imparts mild fruitiness—come together in this one-bowl batter. Stacked with a fluffy and rich lemon-cream cheese frosting, this easy layer cake is a keeper.

Chocolate Cardamom Cream Tart with Pistachio-Sesame Brittle

This elegant tart gets complex depth from a combination of bittersweet and milk chocolate, and plenty of richness from heavy cream. A touch of cardamom in the custard and the whipped-cream topping, plus the contrasting crunch of homemade nut brittle, takes this dessert to the next-level.

Basque Cheesecake

2020 Best New Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph bakes a perfectly creamy cheesecake, minus a water bath or risk of a cracked or sunken top, by incorporating whipped cream cheese with heavy cream to make the batter.

Alfajores de Maizena (Sandwich Cookies Filled with Dulce de Leche)

Extra-thick dulce de leche between two buttery cookies rolled in shredded coconut all add up to the perfect bite in these alfajores de maizena. Argentinian League of Kitchens instructor Mirta Rinaldi learned how to make these melt-in-your-mouth sandwich cookies from her mom. Because of the generous amount of cornstarch in the dough, the cookies remain tender and soft after baking. Seek out dulce de leche repostero, which is made for pastry and baking, for this recipe; it’s extra thick, with a firm body that won’t squeeze out past the edges of the cookies in between bites.

Coconut Arroz con Leche Tamales


Lightly sweetened coconut rice pudding provides a custardy contrast to the tender masa in these dreamy dessert tamales. Drizzled with sweet and buttery goat’s milk caramel, they also make a festive holiday breakfast.

Cocoa Cola Bundt Cake

Traditional Coca-Cola cake, a staple of the American South, usually comes in the form of a chocolate sheet cake that’s doused in a gooey glaze. The batter is splashed with a bit of cola, sometimes for flavor but mostly for fluff; the soda’s carbonation acts as a leavening agent, similar to baking soda or baking powder, helping the cake rise and come out light and airy. In her modern-day version, cookbook author Vallery Lomas flips tradition on its head by making a cola-flavored cake with cola-flavored icing. The key to Lomas’ Cocoa Cola Bundt Cake is in the Coca-Cola syrup. Lomas concentrates the cola by reducing it with sugar and adding a bit of lemon juice, and then she mixes the resulting syrup into both the cake and the icing for a more concentrated taste.

Chocolate-and-Citrus Cassata

To decorate this spectacular holiday dessert, use an offset spatula, a bench scraper, and a cake turntable for the smoothest cake with straight sides. Prevent air bubbles from forming in the dark chocolate ganache glaze by using a spatula to stir the melting chocolate.

Vegan Coconut-Ginger Caramels

For these ginger- and chile-spiked caramels, plant-based fat from coconut replaces the typical butter, resulting in creamy, chewy caramels that are perfect for anyone on your gift list. Thai chile brings complex, fruity heat to these fragrant caramels; substitute a pinch of crushed red pepper, if desired. To package them to give as gifts, individually wrap caramels in parchment paper.

Kourampiedes (Greek Christmas Cookies)

Blanched and toasted almond pieces bring a lovely crunch to these crumbly, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth Greek Christmas cookies. Some versions of kourampiedes add orange zest, but League of Kitchens Greek cooking instructor Despina Economou prefers the simple flavors of butter, sugar, almonds, and vanilla. This recipe can easily be doubled.

Bûche de Noël with Mascarpone Cream and Dark Chocolate Ganache

A few smart moves make this Bûche de Noël a cut above the rest. Allowing the cake to cool while still rolled helps prevent cracking. Mascarpone stabilizes the whipped cream filling so that it can be chilled overnight without weeping. Butter and corn syrup in the ganache keep it smooth and glossy. And stirring slivered toasted almonds into the ganache frosting gives it a “tree bark” look and adds contrasting texture to the silky filling and tender cake. If you’d like to make Meringue Mushrooms to decorate the cake, feel free to bake them up to three days ahead.

Chestnut Pavlova

All we want for Christmas is a holiday table heavy with beef, potatoes, pie, and, sure, some roasted veggies.

  • Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Spencer Richards, Prop Styling by Marina BevilacquaSpicy Maple-Glazed HamThis Christmas dinner idea is the ham recipe to end all other ham recipes—and that’s not just because it’s from legendary French chef Jacques Pépin. It’s also because it’s tender and juicy, you can make it ahead, and it requires only four ingredients.
  • Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Spencer Richards, Prop Styling by Marina BevilacquaSalt Cod BrandadeCalled brandade de morue in Provence, the cheesy, garlicky French mashed potato dip uses inexpensive dried salt cod—a perfect pairing for a glass of Champagne or vermouth on the rocks.
  • Photograph by Jenny Huang, Food styling by Susie Theodorou, prop styling by Martha BernabeAsian Pear Salad With Peanut-Lime DressingThis sweet and tart salad gets its satisfyingly crunchy texture from floral Asian pears and raw cauliflower. It gets its style from famed fashion designer Peter Som, who moonlights as a recipe developer.
  • Photograph by Isa Zapata, Prop Styling by Emma Ringness, Food Styling by Liberty FennellSpinach Pilaf PieThe dough component of this pie is a simple yogurt-based mixture that rests at room temperature while you make the spinach-packed filling, studded with salty feta, sliced almonds, and sweet golden raisins.

In our new series, Selfmade U, we’ll tackle the most common questions and pain points that come up for business owners with tips and tricks from Selfmade, a virtual business coaching program, led by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin and sponsored by Office Depot OfficeMax. We’ll hear from Selfmade alum, business coaches, and Brit herself on what it takes to run a successful business and make it as an entrepreneur.

Networking as a solopreneur, especially an introverted one, can be a little scary and easy to put off. But there are simple ways you can connect with other entrepreneurs that can be helpful for your business growth and your spirit as you navigate the sometimes-lonely journey of entrepreneurship. “Networking is a mutually beneficial relationship based on trust and exchange of information,” says coach Emily Merrell in her Selfmade workshop, How to Network Like a Pro. “It’s that feeling of learning from someone but also expanding with that person.”

Christine Tong, founder of Christine My Linh, applied for an Office Depot OfficeMax scholarship to Selfmade when she reached a point in her business where she felt stuck and needed to collaborate with others. “I knew I needed to do something different because I couldn’t accomplish my vision working in isolation and alone anymore,” says Tong. “I think the best ideas that make the most impact are an accumulation of your own thoughts and experiences and those of others. That’s when magic happens.”

Winner of the Selfmade Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Tong creates illustrations and stories to guide creative women away from negative self-talk and toward building their self-esteem, something she struggled with early in her personal journey. “Growing up in a strict Vietnamese and Cantonese household, I learned that being obedient and agreeable made me a good daughter,” she recalls. “These habits helped me to finish school at the top of my class, but as an adult, these habits only made me fear rejection, disappointment, and failure.”

She started a bullet journal in 2017 and created two characters, Bunny and the Bear, who would go on adventures to overcome their fears, helping her to face her own. “At that time, I had no idea that my stories and characters would gently inspire change in so many others as well. The truth is, we all have the power to write our next chapter.”

That next chapter would mean a thriving business and an outlet for expressing her gentle creativity. “The scholarship opportunity, Selfmade’s mission, and my desire to grow, led me here, a step I didn’t know I needed to grow in confidence,” says Tong. “Knowing my mission, honing in on my idea, meeting imaginative women was such an inspiration.”

Coach Merrell suggests starting to build your network now so that you have established solid relationships when it’s time to ask questions or ask for feedback. “Build your network when you aren’t looking and tap it when you are,” she says. Here are more tips to get comfortable with networking:

Find your community: There are many avenues for networking and they don’t all require leaving the house. You can connect online through Selfmade and other digital communities and online events. If you prefer IRL interactions, try your local coffee shop, local meetups, and coworking spaces. Charitable groups are a way to do good for your community while building your network. Even places like the dog park or a fitness class could offer good networking opportunities.

“In Selfmade I was able to connect with others in a safe place, which makes networking much easier,” says Tong. “Knowing that we are on similar paths with similar experiences helps us to connect faster. And because of this I was able to validate my ideas, gain reassurance on a few pain points, and feel encouraged to keep going within membership.”

Get in the right mindset. Not motivated to get out and mingle and talk about your business? Merrell suggests identifying something that activates your networking alter ego. Wear something that makes you feel confident, such as your favorite leather jacket, a certain color lipstick, a necklace that comforts you. Then consider the impact just one good contact could have on your business and your outlook as a founder.

“As a split introvert and extrovert personality, I find it difficult to stay consistent and energized with connecting with others. But as an entrepreneur, connection is important to the success of my business and in developing new products or ideas,” says Tong. “When I’m faced with the opportunity to network, I mentally list out the pros and cons and remind myself that discomfort is mainly short lived but the possibilities can be life-changing.”

Set an intention. Decide what you want to get out of a networking opportunity. Take it slow if you’re not totally comfortable at first. “To this day, I still sweat when I’m talking to someone new but I’ve learned that I don’t need to rush into a conversation,” adds Tong. “I’ll choose to take deep breaths and to listen first. I’ll focus on the other person and ask questions. Eventually and naturally, it’ll feel more like a friendly conversation than networking.” That’s the thing about networking – like friendship, it goes both ways. Sometimes you help them, and they help you and that’s what makes the opportunity so rewarding.

Not sure where to start? Merrell suggests simple conversation starters like giving a compliment, being aware of cues of connectivity, making cultural conversation (motherhood, similar interests, same college/city, etc), or helping to serve food or clean up at an event to connect with others.

“Fortunately, I have met a handful of other entrepreneurs and women in business throughout the years by reaching out through email or saying ‘yes’ to things that I’m afraid to do, like an interview,” adds Tong. “I now have a circle I can count on and that has been sustaining my joy and my business. This journey of entrepreneurship and life in general is definitely more fun with a friend or a few.”

As you start to build your network, you’ll find your confidence grows because your learnings will expand along the way. Thanks to her Selfmade membership and pitch win, Tong can accomplish more in her business with new friends by her side, greater knowledge and experience, and Office Depot products and services. “I’m looking forward to getting a large color-graded computer monitor to help me achieve better color accuracy for my artwork and printing process,” she says. “It seems so simple, but a good monitor means better videos, more accurate prints, stickers, and everything that makes my business run and look pretty.”

Get more business advice by signing up for the Selfmade newsletter!

Illustrated by Daniela Jordan-Villaveces

Networking can open new doors for you and your business. Office Depot OfficeMax can help you organize & save time with a suite of business services & solutions to help you accomplish more. Make a good first impression with business cards & build the business pitch of your dreams with custom presentations. Office Depot OfficeMax can support you in so many ways on your entrepreneurial journey.

If you’re in search of a delicious Christmas dinner menu, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite crowd-pleasing party recipes, from holiday cocktails and easy appetizers to main dishes and festive desserts your guests won’t forget. We’ve included the holiday party classics, like glazed ham, roast beef, and prosciutto-wrapped pears, as well as a few fresh takes on comfort foods, including caramelized onion and apple tarts, cider-roasted root veggies, and lots more. Don’t forget merry desserts and drinks to keep the cheer going all night long: no-bake chocolate caramel tart, cherry cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, warm mulled wine, and caramel apple punch are just a few of our favorites. Browse our Christmas dinner ideas, then mix and match dishes to create the holiday meal of your dreams.

Caramelized Onion Tarts With Apples

Need an impressive Christmas appetizer that doesn’t take a lot of effort? Sweet meets savory in the mixture of onions and apples that tops crisp, elegant tarts. These tasty bites look fancy, but they’re surprisingly easy to make. It all starts with thawed store-bought puff pastry (one of our favorite shortcut ingredients), which you’ll spread with luscious, tangy crème fraîche. Smother with sliced onions and chopped apples cooked until tender and golden, then bake until the pastry is crispy and browned. Cut into squares, preferably with a pizza cutter for best results, and serve warm.

Get the recipe: Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples

Marinated Beet Toasts With Yogurt

If your Christmas dinner party guests are on the way and you forgot to prep an appetizer, these marinated beet and yogurt toasts are just the thing. It comes together quickly: simply combine Greek yogurt with horseradish, olive oil, salt, and pepper and divide it among your toasted whole-grain bread slices, then top each with marinated beets, radishes, and chives. It tastes as pretty as it looks.

Get the Recipe: Marinated Beet Toasts With Yogurt


Help holiday guests warm up on a chilly winter evening with this retro dish that’s become trendy again. Two kinds of shredded cheese combine for a deeper, more complex flavor; because the cheese is shredded, it should melt fairly quickly. The final product—gooey melted cheese with a bitter kick—is the comfort food of your dreams. Serve with soft pretzels, toasted baguette, or go beyond the basics and offer an assortment of dippers: cut-up apples and pears, sliced cooked sausage, broccoli and cauliflower florets, or cherry tomatoes. It’s a fun way to get everyone mingling before they sit down for Christmas dinner.

Get the recipe: Beer Cheese Fondue

Pears With Blue Cheese and Prosciutto

If you have 10 minutes to spare, you can put together these elegant sweet-salty treats. Tender, salty prosciutto takes the classic combination of pears and blue cheese to another level. Just cut ripe yet firm pears into wedges and toss with some lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Lay a slice of pear, a piece of arugula, and a piece of blue cheese on a strip of prosciutto, then roll it up. Secure with a toothpick if necessary for the perfect two-bite hors d’oeuvre. It’s best to use a creamy, not crumbly, blue cheese here, so that the cheese doesn’t fall apart.

Get the recipe: Pears With Blue Cheese and Prosciutto

Rosemary Pecans

Beatriz da Costa

Sure, you can open a package and set out a bowl of nuts. But the holidays are all about making things special—and if you can do that without a lot of effort, even better! These addictively snackable pecans take just 20 minutes and will make your holiday appetizer spread extra festive. Toss pecan halves with a mixture of melted butter, sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt and bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Stir in chopped fresh rosemary and serve warm or at room temperature. They’re sweet, spicy, and savory all at once, and we guarantee that once your guests start digging in, they won’t be able to stop.

Get the recipe: Rosemary Pecans

Brown Sugar and Black Pepper Glazed Ham

A Christmas ham dinner is as traditional as it gets. To make this beauty, you’ll brush the ham (buy a bone-in ham—it has more flavor) with a mixture of mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to create the sweet, golden glaze. Don’t forget to score the ham before cooking to help the skin crisp up as it bakes. Baste several times during the cooking process to build up that succulent glaze, resulting in a juicy, tender ham that’s not too sweet and not too spicy. You can serve it warm or at room temperature, so it’s perfect to set out for a Christmas buffet.

Get the recipe: Brown Sugar and Black Pepper Glazed Ham

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin With Cherries

Get a double dose of porky goodness with a glorious bacon-wrapped pork loin that will be the star of your holiday table. Amazingly, it takes just 15 minutes of prep time, and once it’s in the oven, you’ll just need to baste it once. First, you’ll season the loin, then cover it with a mixture of dried cherries, parsley, and whole-grain mustard. Wrap the whole thing in bacon, making sure the slices overlap and the ends are tucked underneath. Roast, then brush a combination of currant jelly and red wine vinegar over the bacon towards the end of the cooking time. You’ll wind up with crispy bacon, a tangy, fruity layer of cherries, and moist, tender pork.

Get the recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin With Cherries

Striped Bass With Toasted-Shallot Vinaigrette and Spinach

The seafood lovers at your Christmas table will appreciate this dish; it’s a lighter alternative to the typical meat-driven mains and heavy sides. It’s high in protein but low in calories (just 307 per serving!), so you can indulge a little more when it’s time for dessert. This skillet-cooked striped bass recipe is totally company-worthy, but it requires only six ingredients―and 30 minutes of your time. The quick shallot-caper vinaigrette is the star of the dish, perking up the mild fish and spinach. If you can’t find bass at your market, halibut makes a great substitution.

Get the recipe: Striped Bass With Toasted-Shallot Vinaigrette and Spinach

Roast Beef With Slow-Cooked Tomatoes and Garlic

Roast beef doesn’t get any easier than this. You only need four main ingredients, and your oven does all the work. In fact, the only time you’ll need to use a knife is when you’re ready to carve the roast. All four components―the beef, grape tomatoes, garlic cloves, and thyme sprigs―roast together in one pan for about an hour for medium-rare meat, and you’re done. While it’s cooking, you’ll have plenty of time to work on your sides and put together the rest of the meal. When the beef is cooked to your liking, let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing so it stays nice and juicy.

Get the recipe: Roast Beef With Slow-Cooked Tomatoes and Garlic

Yucatan-Style Pork

Buck holiday tradition with this Mexican-inspired pork stuffed with prunes, then slow-cooked in a rich, spiced sauce. The sweetness of the prunes makes a nice contrast with the spicy chili powder. First, you’ll make slits all over the pork roast and stuff with dried prunes, then brown the pork. For the sauce, you’ll combine sautéed garlic and onion with apple juice, cider vinegar, chili powder, oregano, and cinnamon in a Dutch oven. Add the pork and cook in an oven for about two hours, basting occasionally. When the pork is cooked through, boil the sauce until reduced and serve with slices of the meat.

Get the recipe: Yucatan-Style Pork

Roasted Tarragon Lamb With Butter Beans

Hector Manuel Sanchez

How do you make succulent lamb even tastier? Before cooking it, rub the meat with a garlic-and-tarragon mixture to make it extra delicious. Because you’re using a boneless roast instead of a whole leg, the lamb takes only 30 minutes to roast to a perfect medium-rare. While it’s working in the oven, you can make the accompanying butter beans to serve on the side. Just sauté a thinly sliced onion in a skillet for a few minutes, then add the beans and cook until heated through. Round out the meal with additional sides like wilted greens or roasted potatoes, if you like.

Get the recipe: Roasted Tarragon Lamb With Butter Beans

Frisée, Bacon, and Goat-Cheese Salad

Here’s a salad we can get on board with. This delicious side dish combines frisée greens with bacon, goat cheese, and walnuts (or pine nuts) and gets tossed in a mouthwatering mustard vinaigrette. If your little ones aren’t fans of frisée​​​​​​​, no sweat: you can use curly endive or chicory instead.

Get the recipe: Frisée​​​​​​​, Bacon, and Goat-Cheese Salad

Tender Greens With Champagne Vinaigrette

This salad looks deceptively plain, but the greens are livened up with a mix of fresh herbs: dill, parsley, tarragon, chives, and chervil. To make it holiday-worthy, you’ll top the salad with a honey mustard vinaigrette made with Champagne vinegar―it’s light and flavorful, with a taste similar to genuine bubbly. You can make this salad a day ahead, too; just mix up the vinaigrette in a bowl, toss the lettuce leaves with the herbs in a another bowl, then cover and store separately in the fridge overnight. Before serving, whisk the dressing again to recombine and drizzle over the prepared salad.

Get the recipe: Tender Greens With Champagne Vinaigrette

Broccoli With Toasted Garlic and Hazelnuts

Steamed broccoli might sound boring, but give this everyday veggie a holiday lift with the addition of toasted hazelnuts. This side is simple enough to pair with just about anything you’ll serve for the holidays, whether it’s beef, pork, poultry, or fish, and takes just 15 minutes to make. First, toast the hazelnuts in the oven until fragrant (make sure to keep an eye on them, as they can burn quickly). Combine the nuts with some sautéed garlic and lemon juice, then drizzle over broccoli that’s been steamed until tender. The crunchy nuts, fragrant garlic, and bright citrus will give broccoli a boost that even haters will love.

Get the recipe: Broccoli With Toasted Garlic and Hazelnuts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pecans

Brussels sprouts are all the rage these days, but if you can’t stand them, it’s probably because you’ve never had them cooked properly. Here’s a recipe to convert even the most dedicated Brussels sprouts skeptic. It’s all in the cooking method: The sprouts are roasted, which brings out their nutty, sweet flavors and makes them tender and a bit crisp. Add olive oil, garlic, and chopped pecans to the pan to roast with the sprouts for a side dish that’s the perfect combination of crunchy and savory. It’s easy, too; all you need is one pan, and the oven does almost all of the work.

Get the recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pecans

Sautéed Collard Greens and Garlic

It seems as if every southern cook has a recipe for this classic. Here, a straightforward approach gets its bite from pungent garlic. Make sure to discard the tough collard stems and cut the leaves into thin strips, which helps them become tender more quickly. You’ll need to parboil the greens before sautéing them with the garlic, as the leaves can be a bit tough. This dish is simple and light, making it a refreshing and healthy addition to your holiday menu to balance out the heavier dishes. And if you already have a southern theme going on (Cornbread stuffing? Mashed sweet potatoes?), so much the better.

Get the recipe: Sautéed Collard Greens and Garlic

Glazed Carrots

Here’s another side dish that looks simple but packs in a lot of flavor. You’ll simmer the carrots in a skillet with butter, sugar, and some water, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze. The glaze helps bring out the carrots’ natural sweetness, as well as keeps them moist and adds an attractive shine. Because they’re so simple, they’ll complement anything on your holiday table. If the carrots are cooked to your liking before the liquid becomes a glaze, just remove the veggies, continue cooking the liquid until reduced, then return the carrots to the skillet and toss before serving.

Get the recipe: Glazed Carrots

Garlicky Green Beans With Pine Nuts

Green beans are a staple side dish for any holiday meal, not just Thanksgiving. There are no creamy sauces or fried onions here; this lighter recipe pairs tender green beans with garlic and pine nuts and takes just 15 minutes to make. First, you’ll boil the green beans in salted water (for extra flavor) until they’re tender but still have a bit of a bite. In a skillet, sauté the garlic with the pine nuts for a few minutes to enhance the pine nuts’ flavor and aroma; once they’re golden brown, add the cooked, drained green beans. Season and toss, and the dish is ready for your table.

Get the recipe: Garlicky Green Beans With Pine Nuts

Vanilla Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes shouldn’t be saved solely for Turkey Day; they’re just too delicious (not to mention healthy and a great source of beta-carotene, too). Bring the flavors of the season to your Christmas table with this unique take on sweet potatoes—no marshmallows allowed. You’ll bake the potatoes until fork-tender, then enhance their natural sweetness by drizzling with a sauce made from maple syrup, vanilla bean, and whole cloves. (You can even prepare the syrup two days ahead.) Cut the potatoes into long wedges to make them look especially elegant. This dish is so good, you might even work it into your regular weeknight meal rotation.

Get the recipe: Vanilla Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

For a more rustic presentation, try serving sweet potatoes another way—mashed with honey, orange juice, sour cream, and nutmeg. Instead of roasting the potatoes, you’ll cut them into pieces and boil until tender. The honey brings out their sweetness, while the sour cream adds some creaminess and helps smooth out the mash without making it too rich. Orange juice (freshly squeezed is best, if possible) lends a bright, citrusy tang that contrasts with the potatoes’ sweet earthiness. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg as a nod to the holiday. The result is hearty, comforting, and perfectly seasonal—a great dish to include in your Christmas menu.

Get the recipe: Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Cider-Roasted Root Vegetables

Give earthy root vegetables the love they deserve by roasting them with brown sugar, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. You’ll start cooking the beets, parsnips, and carrots first, as they’ll take the longest, about an hour. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add shiitake or cremini mushrooms, or a mix of both (so much more flavorful than white button mushrooms), to roast along with the rest of the veggies. The result? Sweet, nutty, tender vegetables with a little crispness around the edges. Make sure you spread the veggies in two small roasting pans to give them room to brown and caramelize instead of crowding them into one.

Get the recipe: Cider-Roasted Vegetables

Cauliflower and Ham Gratin

A creamy, comforting gratin is just the thing to warm up your holiday table. This recipe calls for ham, but you can easily skip it to make the dish vegetarian. No vegans allowed, though—there’s lots of heavy cream, plus butter, whole milk, and crumbled goat cheese to create that soul-satisfying richness. The cauliflower bakes in the dairy-heavy sauce in the oven until meltingly tender, while a topping of bread crumbs adds a little texture and crunch. You’ll bake the casserole uncovered during the last 20 minutes to allow the top to brown—essential for any proper gratin!

Get the recipe: Cauliflower and Ham Gratin

Sautéed Tomatoes and Shallots

With the bright red of the grape tomatoes, this dish even looks festive. It has a nice sharpness and bite to it, thanks to the shallots and briny capers, which makes it a refreshing addition on the table to cut through the richer dishes. It couldn’t be easier to make, too; just sauté the shallots in olive oil, then add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to burst. Add dry white wine and cook until nearly evaporated, stir in the capers, and you’re done. Make sure to use a decent drinking wine for the recipe, and feel free to serve the rest of the bottle with dinner (or treat the cook to a glass before the holiday guests arrive).

Get the recipe: for Sauteed Tomatoes and Shallots

Horseradish Potato Gratin

Rich with cream, potato gratin is a special-occasion recipe in all meanings of the phrase. We’ve taken the classic recipe, omitted the cheese, and kicked it up with prepared horseradish instead to give it some heat. The dish looks très French-fancy, but it’s actually quite easy to prepare, and it only takes 10 minutes of hands-on work. Toss peeled, sliced potatoes in a mixture of cream, horseradish, and nutmeg, then transfer to a buttered baking dish. Cover with foil, bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for another hour or so, until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown.

Get the recipe: Horseradish Potato Gratin

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

What feast is complete without a hearty side of mashed potatoes? These are flavored with sour cream and scallions to elevate them without getting overly fancy or complicated. We like to use red potatoes and leave the skin on to add some color and create a more rustic texture. Start by boiling the potatoes until tender, then mashing with sour cream, milk, and butter until you get just the right consistency. Sprinkle with chopped scallions for a little oniony bite. With the red-skinned potatoes and the green of the scallions, this dish is appropriately festive for your Christmas celebration.

Get the recipe: Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Pumpkin Pavlova with Roasted Apples

This sweet treat is a showstopper for stress-free entertaining: it comes together quickly but has the wow-factor you need for a major holiday meal. Traditionally a summer dessert, we switched this pavlova up by using leftover pumpkin puree and sweet-tart Honeycrisp apples to give it an apropos fall twist.

Get the recipe: Pumpkin Pavlova with Roasted Apples

Bread Pudding With Fruit Compote

This rich, fruity dessert is an incredibly rich indulgence that’s a fitting end for a holiday celebration. You can also serve this bread pudding at room temperature, so it would make a sweet addition to a holiday brunch, too.

Get the recipe: Bread Pudding With Fruit Compote

Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding

Buttery croissants and bittersweet chocolate are baked together in a scrumptious, warm mélange that no one can resist. If your croissants are stale or next-day leftovers, so much the better—it won’t matter for this decadent dessert. Cut up the croissants, then douse them with a mixture of egg yolks, milk, cream, and sugar, and bake in a dish with the chocolate until set. It’s an incredibly rich indulgence that’s a fitting end for a holiday celebration. You can also serve this bread pudding at room temperature, so it would make a sweet addition to a holiday brunch, too.

Get the recipe: Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding

Sour-Cream Apple Crumb Pie

You can never go wrong with serving pie for dessert. The humble apple pie gets a serious upgrade with tangy sour cream, plump raisins, crunchy walnuts, and a cinnamon crumb topping. Start with a homemade dough for the bottom crust, then top it with sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon, sour cream, and raisins. We like to use a combination of apple varieties to get the right balance of sweet and tart. Spoon the filling into the crust, then sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Top with a buttery cinnamon crumble and bake for about an hour, until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender.

Get the recipe: Sour-Cream Apple Crumb Pie

Cherry Trifle

Many cuisines feature some type of a layered custard-and-cake dessert, but this take is closest to the classic English trifle. You’ll simmer cherries (either fresh or frozen will work) with some brandy, then layer the fruit with ladyfingers, toasted sliced almonds, grated dark chocolate, and whipped cream. Refrigerate for a few hours to set, then spoon into small bowls to serve. Hint: For a holiday-worthy presentation, make the trifle in a large glass serving bowl. When you’re ready for dessert, bring it to the table so guests can marvel at the beautiful layers before dividing into individual portions.

Get the recipe: Cherry Trifle

Apricot Parfait

Here’s another layered dessert that’s an elegant way to end your meal, and it can take as little as 15 minutes to make. This gorgeous-looking parfait starts with vanilla pudding, either store-bought or―even better―homemade. You’ll also need shortbread cookies, which you can buy or bake from scratch if you have time. Spoon a portion of apricot preserves into individual parfait glasses, then top with a cookie, some pudding, and more preserves. Finish with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Feel free to change it up by using different fruit preserves; try cherry or raspberry to add some festive color.

Get the recipe: Apricot Parfait

Butterscotch Bananas With Vanilla Ice Cream

Reserve this sophisticated pecan-and-banana confection―flambéed in dark rum―for the grown-ups. It’s a take on Bananas Foster, a classic dessert that originated in New Orleans. To make it, you’ll melt butter, sugar, and cinnamon together to create a rich, sticky sauce. Stir in ripe yet firm sliced bananas to coat them in the butterscotch sauce. Make sure to remove the pan from the heat before adding dark rum and lighting it with a match; you don’t want to start a kitchen fire! Once the flame goes out, stir in toasted pecans. Serve the bananas and sauce over scoops of vanilla ice cream for a stunning finish.

Get the recipe: Butterscotch Bananas With Vanilla Ice Cream

Chocolate Bar Fondue

Oh, yes, it’s thoroughly decadent, but the merriment of Christmas calls for a little indulgence (especially when New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner). It’s a cinch to make, too. Just gently melt together heavy cream and chocolate—milk or dark, it’s up to you—and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with an assortment of treats for dipping, such as fresh strawberries, cubes of angel food or pound cake, jumbo marshmallows, and dried apricots, pineapple slices, or figs. Leftover Christmas cookies make delicious impromptu dippers, too—try gingerbread men, sugar cookies, or spiced molasses cookies to give your fondue a holiday twist.

Get the recipe: Chocolate Bar Fondue

Gooey Chocolate Caramel Tart

If you’re going to indulge, you might as well go all in. There’s no better way to accomplish that than with this ultra-rich, extra-decadent tart. Amazingly, this tart doesn’t require any baking. It all starts with a chocolate wafer cookie crust, which chills in the refrigerator until firm. For the filing, you’ll cook sugar and light corn syrup together until it caramelizes, then combine with melted cream and butter. Continue to cook until a thick, smooth caramel forms, then pour into the chilled crust. Refrigerate until firm. A few minutes before serving, drizzle the caramel tart with melted chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt. It’s sweet, savory, chocolatey, and gooey—the ultimate holiday dessert.

Get the recipe: Gooey Chocolate Caramel Tart

Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake

While we’re on the subject of indulging, let’s talk about this glorious dessert. There’s no better way to end your Christmas dinner than with a showstopping holiday cheesecake, and this one—with an extra layer of vanilla cream and cherry preserves—definitely fits the bill. You’ll start with a gingersnap cookie crust filled with a sweetened mixture of sour cream and cream cheese and bake until just set. Here’s where you’ll take it to the next level: Top the cheesecake with vanilla sour cream and bake for another few minutes. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. For the final touch, spread the cherry preserves over the cheesecake before serving.

Get the recipe: Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake

Boozy Apple Cider Slushie

J Muckle; Styling: Rebekah Peppler

Want to know how to win at any holiday gathering? Make boozy apple cider slushies. These delightful, festive cocktails are just the thing to get your Christmas fète started. If you want to get super fancy, garnish each drink with an apple slice and cinnamon stick. Your friends will be begging you to make these all year round.

Get the recipe: Boozy Apple Cider Slushie

This mulled wine recipe is the perfect thing to serve at an ugly Christmas sweater party. It’s so retro and delicious! A classic mulled wine is a staple of holiday parties in cold climates, but the result can often be sticky sweet. Thanks to a hearty dose of black peppercorns and spicy fresh ginger, this mulled wine recipe delivers a balanced and unique cocktail. Shopping tip: if you can’t find red Zinfandel, Merlot or Cabernet will work well, too. The key is to find a full-bodied wine so that the flavor can compete with the sugar, spices, and orange. Pair with a crackling fire, snowy landscapes, and those scratchy wintery sweaters.

Get the recipe: Spicy Mulled Wine

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