Traditional Christmas Dinner Recipes
If you really want to make an entrance during the holidays, something spectacular on a platter does the trick. Here are six deceptively doable dishes—three serves-a-crowd main courses, three grand-finale desserts—to delight everyone, including you. Looking for something to please the whole gang? A glorious bone-in ham glazed with mustard and brown sugar is a no-brainer. For something a little more exotic, try a leg of lamb stuffed with slivers of garlic. Or skip the meat entirely and go for an elegant roasted salmon with a creamy horseradish sauce. For dessert, a fluffy, four-layer coconut cake is sure to impress; or serve up some old-world Austrian with a classic raspberry linzertorte (with a decidedly new-world non-traditional top crust). But for a true pièce de résistance, the choice is clear: a stunning oh-so-French Yule log, covered in decadent chocolate ganache and filled with a layer of whipped cream icing. It looks beautiful from the outside, but once you slice into it, revealing the swirl of dark cake and white cream, your guests will be oohing and aahing with amazement. Round out the meal with your favorite sides, and you’ll have a traditional Christmas dinner menu that will be truly memorable for years to come.
Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic Leg of Lamb
A whole leg of lamb is a glorious thing. This one has loads of flavor infused throughout the meat with very little effort. You’ll start by stuffing sliced garlic all over the lamb, then storing it in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes (and up to 24 hours) before roasting for the tastiest results. This allows the garlic to thoroughly permeate the meat. When you’re ready to roast, place the lamb on a layer of lemon slices and rosemary sprigs to allow those flavors to infuse the meat while it cooks, too. The lamb takes less than 2 hours to roast, making this a relatively quick and easy main dish for such showstopping results.
Get the recipe: Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic Leg of Lamb
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
Roasted Salmon With Creamy Horseradish
There’s no rule that the centerpiece of your Christmas dinner must revolve around meat. Large enough for a crowd, a roasted salmon fillet offers a lighter alternative and is equally stunning. It’s simply seasoned with coriander and fennel, but it’s the spicy, creamy sauce that makes the dish. Just stir together crème fraîche, grated cucumber, and horseradish to serve as both a topping and a condiment on the side. Not only is this salmon incredibly easy to prepare, but it cooks extremely quickly, too. A holiday main dish that serves a dozen and takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish? Yes, please!
Get the recipe: Roasted Salmon With Creamy Horseradish
Bûche de Noël
Traditionally served around Christmas, this French cake (whose name means “Yule log”) can be made up to 2 days in advance.
Get the recipe: Bûche de Noël
Four-Layer White Cake
This beautiful, fluffy cake is topped off with a generous coating of shredded coconut.
Get the recipe: Four-Layer White Cake
Instead of creating a complicated lattice crust, top the raspberry jam with rounds of dough for a more modern look.
Get the recipe: Raspberry Linzertorte