Because hosting a holiday feast doesn’t have to be stressful.

By Adina Steiman
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Shrimp With Spiced Cocktail Sauce
Jazz up a classic appetizer with a homemade cocktail sauce made with cumin, garlic, ginger, and mustard seeds. Get the recipe:Shrimp With Spiced Cocktail Sauce
| Credit: Jonny Valiant

With all the roasts, hearty side dishes, and fancy cookies and desserts, Christmas dinner is an event to look forward to all year long. But let’s face it, juggling oven space to cook this epic meal can be a daunting challenge! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, fear not. Here are 10 tips to free up oven space and dial down the pressure so you can enjoy the planning, preparation, and gathering.

Spinach and Caramelized Onion Dip
Credit: Jonny Valiant

Go With Make-Ahead Cocktail Snacks

The key to happy holiday hosting? Having snacks pre-made and ready to go when guests arrive! Make this Oniony Spinach Dip or this luscious Cheese Ball a day ahead, then simply pull it from the fridge just before you’re ready to serve. And don’t forget the appeal of a bowl of Homemade Roasted Nuts, which can be made up to three days before the big event.

Pears With Blue Cheese and Prosciutto
Credit: Mikkel Vang

Stick to No-Cook Appetizers

Simple appetizers, like our Endive Cups With Ricotta, Stuffed Sweet Peppers, Smoked Salmon Triangles and Crisp Pears Wrapped With Blue Cheese and Prosciutto require no oven space; in fact, they need no cooking at all—just a few minutes of countertop prep. Their luxe ingredients make these options extra festive.

Apricot-Glazed Ham With Potatoes and Asparagus
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Swap Out Your Turkey for a Quicker Cooking Ham

In just one hour, you can prepare a cooked ham (glaze included!) big enough to feed a crowd, and have more time to use the oven for sides and other dishes. To keep cooking time quick, be sure to pick up a ham labeled “fully cooked” or “ready-to-eat,” rather than a fresh ham, which will have a “cook thoroughly” note on the label. You can also purchase a smoked or aged ham; these methods also fully cook the ham so you don’t have to. A 3-pound “fully cooked” boneless ham feeds a party of eight to ten. Our Apricot-Glazed Ham is a reader favorite.

Lamb Chops With Cauliflower and Raisins
Credit: Kan Kanbayashi

Move Your Main Course From Oven to Stovetop—or Even Outside

Who says a holiday main dish needs to come from the oven to be impressive? In lieu of roasting a whole leg of lamb, try cooking up a regal platter of our Skillet-Cooked Lamb Chops (Bonus: No carving necessary!), or fire up the grill for a Spatchcocked Turkey, which cooks in half the time as a whole bird. (Spatchcocking is easy to do with a good pair of kitchen shears or you can have your butcher do it for you.)

Classic Coq au Vin
Credit: Roland Bello

Simmer a Luxurious Stovetop Stew Instead of Making a Roast

Fancy, French Coq au Vin or Boeuf a la Bourguignonne taste just as “holiday” as any Christmas turkey, and both come together right on the range. What’s more, these braises taste best when made a day or two ahead and then gently reheated just before serving, so you can get them done early then cross them off your list!

Baked Brie With Cranberry Compote and Pecans
Credit: Greg DuPree

Deploy Your Toaster Oven

Chances are, there’s a little oven elf sitting on your countertop, just waiting to used for your holiday party. Toaster ovens are perfect for making Baked Brie or Hot Cheese Dip. They also turn out gorgeous Bacon-Wrapped Apricots, and piping hot Homemade Pigs in a Blanket.

Slow-Cooker Pork Roast with Beans and Spinach
Credit: Christopher Testani

Pull Out Your Slow Cooker

If you want to keep your stovetop free as well as your oven, plug in your slow cooker instead. Start our Asian Short Rib Braise, Cozy Beef Stew, or Italian-Inspired Pork Roast on Christmas Eve morning, and your dish will be ready by the time the doorbell begins to ring.

Shrimp With Spiced Cocktail Sauce
Credit: Jonny Valiant

Declare Your Oven a Potluck-Free Zone

Ask guests who offer to add something to the table to stick to oven-free fare. If they’re stuck for ideas, suggest classics like Shrimp With Cocktail Sauce or this Roasted Butternut Squash side dish, which tastes just as good at room temperature as it does when warm. Substantial salads like Escarole With Parmesan or Roasted Beets With Ricotta are also a welcome addition—just keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to toss and serve.

Credit: Brie Passano

Keep Your Desserts Out of the Oven

Baking up a fancy holiday cake can tie up your oven for hours. And why bother, when there are so many seductive dessert options that don’t require heating? Set out a DIY Affogato bar after dinner, with a pot of super-strong coffee and plenty of ice cream pints in coffee-friendly flavors like butter-almond, mocha, chocolate, and vanilla. Or make our Classic Icebox Chocolate Cream Pie, dressed up with crushed mini candy canes for some Yuletide cheer. Popcorn Balls are a surefire kid-pleaser. And if you’re going full-on sophisticated, our Caramel-Chocolate Tart can’t be beat.

Pear Cornmeal Cake With Rosemary Syrup
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Or Bake Desserts Ahead of Time

Hankering for cakes and cookies at Christmas? We get it! Luckily, there are plenty of cakes that only become more luscious when made a day ahead, like this fudgy Flourless Chocolate Cake—all it needs is a fresh dusting of cocoa powder just before serving. Also, classic fruitcake isn’t the only holiday dessert that improves with age: rich, fruit-studded cakes, like our Pear and Cornmeal Cake also get better after sitting out for a day on the counter (well wrapped, of course).

And if your Christmas isn’t complete without an impressive platter of holiday cookies, we have you covered there, too. Our Gingerbread Cookies become even more irresistible when made a day in advance. Same for our sturdy Lemon Shortbread and salt-kissed, chocolate-studded Oatmeal Cookies. The only challenge with this strategy? Not raiding the cookie platter before Christmas comes.