40 Elegant and Easy Christmas Recipes for Delicious Holiday Dinners
Browse our Christmas dinner ideas, then mix and match dishes to create the holiday meal of your dreams.
RELATED: 8 Crowd-Pleasing Christmas Morning Breakfast Recipes
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Spiced Apple Kombucha
Wow your Christmas crew with this cocktail containing kombucha, spiced rum, and classic winter spices. Make it a few days ahead of your event to let the flavors really come together. Then, serve it up in a highball glass with ice and an apple to garnish.
Get the recipe: Spiced Apple Kombucha
Caramel Apple Punch
A hot drink is comforting on a cold winter night, but if you’re in the mood for something refreshing, mix up this simple three-ingredient punch. There’s alcohol involved, so this one is strictly for the grown-ups, too. It’s a nice cocktail to enjoy with small bites before the big meal, but since it’s sweet, you can serve it post-dinner, too. To make it, combine apple cider with spiced rum and fresh lemon juice in a pitcher or punch bowl, then chill for up to 12 hours. When you’re ready to serve, pour over ice and garnish with apple slices.
Get the recipe: Caramel Apple Punch
Warm Hazelnut Toddy
Traditional hot toddies made with whiskey aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this equally boozy variation is sure to be a hit. It’s a sweet (but potent) ender to the meal that could almost double as dessert: hazelnut liqueur warmed and served with whipped cream. The recipe is for one serving, but it’s so easy to make, you’ll have no problem stirring up a batch for your guests. Just combine Frangelico and hot water in a mug, then top with whipped cream right before serving. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg over the top to garnish, if you like. Think of it as a grown-up version of hot chocolate.
Get the recipe: Warm Hazelnut Toddy