Roast turkey and roast beef might be holiday classics that mom used to make, but not all of us have time to prep a Christmas dinner menu of that intensity. If you’re looking for quick, simple, and tasty recipes to try this holiday season, we’ve got everything you need right here. In this post, we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite festive dinners and desserts that you definitely have to try making this Christmas.
1. Duck Breast and Sauteed Cauliflower
We’re huge fans of roasted duck around the holidays. With its rich flavor and tender mouthfeel, this bird is bound to please dinner guests. It’s also a Christmastime staple, appearing in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Story as the centerpiece of a festive feast. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a roast duck at Christmas!
Our recipe for duck breast with roasted cauliflower is the perfect balance of gourmet and simple. Ready to eat in no time, you can easily toss it in the oven after a busy day and make it the main course at an unforgettable Christmas party.
As an added bonus, this recipe is perfect for low-carb eaters. Made without any starchy vegetables or grains, the dish instead pairs duck with oven-roasted vegetables. Cauliflower and onions both absorb flavors from the duck with ease, taking on a rich, mouth-watering set of flavors all their own.
If you want a classic side to go along with it, make a stuffing chock full of pecans and cranberries, or whip up some fluffy mashed potatoes.
2. Pasta Bake With Ham and Cheese
This timeless casserole is the definition of comfort food. It’s basically macaroni and cheese taken to the next level, which means it’s perfection. Made with just a few simple ingredients, our pasta bake with ham and cheese is a fantastic dish to bring to your next Christmas potluck or enjoy at home with friends and family.
Add a side of Brussels sprouts with butter and garlic to the menu or a crisp green salad.
3. Apple Tarte Tatin
This delicious dessert is our staff’s favorite ever, and you’ll see why when you try it! Sweet baked apples are a holiday classic, and they taste even better when they’re part of this delectable upside-down cake.
Tarte tatin is the quintessential French dessert, and it’s definitely worth making at least once – or as many times as possible. The secret to its deliciousness is the way it’s baked. The buttery, flaky crust is on top of the pan at first, but it rests on the bottom when served. Baking with the crust on top seals in the flavors of the apples and spices, making each bite of this classic dessert an experience!
4. Cauliflower Steak With String Beans
If you’re looking for a low-carb alternative to a classic steak dinner, this cauliflower-based dish is exactly what you need. You might be a little skeptical about whether cauliflower can compare to beef – and rightfully so – but you’re in for a surprise! With the help of a simple marinade made from spices, maple syrup, and lemon juice, this oven-roasted steak can easily become your favorite fall and winter dinner.
While it’s definitely a tradition to pair steak with mashed potatoes, we’ve opted to swap out the tubers for mouth-watering mashed cauliflower in this recipe.
5. Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup
There’s nothing like a warm, comforting bowl of soup when the holidays come around. This pureed soup is completely vegan, and it makes a fantastic side dish for any wintertime meal. The real star here is bouquet garni, an aromatic bundle of herbs that often consists of thyme, bay leaves, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, basil, and more. A bouquet garni is perfect for winter cooking, and you can easily make your own with fresh herbs and spices.
To make a bouquet garni, simply tie together your favorite herbs with a small rubber band. It’s that easy! You can add yours to our lentil and sweet potato soup recipe to make it taste even better.
6. Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza
Pear on pizza? It might sound like an unlikely combination, but we guarantee it’s delicious. Making pizza at home isn’t necessarily a holiday tradition, either, but we’re on a mission to change that!
This homemade pie has a unique flavor profile that is the perfect combination of sweet and savory. Plus, ingredients like pear slices and hazelnuts add a little bit of festive flavor to every slice.
7. Winter Grain and Veggie Bowls
If you’re eating a vegetarian diet this holiday season, our winter grain and veggie bowl recipe is the perfect meal to try. You can make yours with any of your favorite whole grains, including barley, couscous, quinoa, or brown rice. Cooking your grain of choice in vegetable stock makes each bite full of flavor, and a sprinkling of fresh goat cheese adds some richness and creaminess to the bowl. However, you can always skip the goat cheese to make this meal 100% vegan!
You can find our recipe for winter grain and veggie bowls on our cooking page. If you’re on the lookout for more vegan and vegetarian recipes, we have enough to fill up your entire week with delicious meals!
8. Broccoli Gratin
Broccoli gratin makes a scrumptious side dish or main course when the holidays come around. It’s a combination of roasted broccoli with grated cheese and a rich, creamy sauce. What could be better than that?
Like so many of our favorite holiday recipes, you’ll be making this dish in the oven. Roasted vegetables – especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower – taste amazing year-round, but they’re especially appetizing during the fall and winter months. And, of course, there’s nothing tastier than oven-roasted cheese. When exposed to high heat, the cheese takes on a crisp brown exterior, which melts in your mouth to create a culinary experience like no other.
9. Upside-Down Orange Cake
This cake has everything you could ask for in a holiday dessert. It’s colorful, inviting, and literally bursting with flavor. Made with sugary boiled oranges, our upside-down orange cake is sure to be a hit when the holidays come around. It’s a perfect recipe for veteran bakers and novices alike, and it’s also an excellent dessert to make with friends and family. Bon appetit!
10. Gnocchi With Ham and Cheese
This is the perfect pasta for winter nights! If you need a quick, yummy dish to bring to your next Christmas party, our gnocchi with ham and cheese is always an excellent choice. We recommend using rich, creamy Comté cheese if you can find it, but Swiss or provolone are worthy alternatives as well.
One of the best ways to take this meal to the next level is by using plenty of fresh herbs and spices. To make your gnocchi as savory and festive as possible, top it off with some fresh chives and thyme.
What are the Best Spices to Use Around Christmas?
Making your meals taste like Christmas is largely dependent on the spices that you use. Below are some of our favorite festive herbs and spices to use in your holiday cooking!
- Cloves: Cloves are considered by many chefs to be the quintessential Christmas spice. Using whole cloves is a quick, easy way to give roasted meats like ham, chicken, and duck a warm, aromatic touch, and there are plenty more uses for them around the holidays as well. If you ever just want to make your home smell like Christmas, one of the best places to start is by boiling some cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg in water and letting the aromas waft through your house.
- Sage: This herb pairs exceptionally well with numerous festive meats, including pork, ham, beef, and chicken. It’s also an unlikely but delicious pairing with bread, roasted vegetables, or even rice.
- Thyme: Thyme is another excellent roasting herb that you definitely don’t want to skip around the holidays. Its flavor profile is the perfect mix of earthy, grassy, and aromatic, making it an ideal mate for roasted meats, veggies, and fish.
- Rosemary: This herb makes the perfect addition to a pan packed with roasted meat and vegetables, and it’s a must to keep some in your pantry around the holidays. There’s even some special festive significance to this herb – legend has it that it bloomed out of season around the time of Christ’s birth and was named after his mother, Mary.
- Nutmeg: Nutmeg is another warm, inviting spice that can bring both sweet and savory dishes to life. It’s often thought of as a spice reserved for baking, but there are plenty of cooking applications for nutmeg.
- Mint: The most common pairing for mint around the holidays is with roasted lamb, a dish enjoyed around the world every year at Christmas. A classic combination is lamb with mint jelly, which might sound strange at first, but it’s a real treat that you definitely have to try at least once.
- Star Anise: Star anise is often used to add some extra flavor to holiday sweets, including pies, muffins, cakes, and more. It’s also delicious when combined with baked apples.
Pair Your Christmas Meals with Some Festive Beverages!
If you’re planning on making any of these Christmas dinner ideas this holiday season, you’ll need some tasty beverages to pair with them. Whether you want something alcoholic or alcohol-free, you can’t go wrong with one of these festive drinks. They’re Christmas staples for a reason!
- Eggnog: Made with milk, heavy cream, whipped eggs, and some sugar for sweetness, eggnog is one of the quintessential holiday beverages. It’s often enjoyed spiked with rum, brandy, or bourbon, but it tastes just as delicious without the added alcohol. Best served cold, the silky texture of eggnog makes it a perfect beverage to pair with desserts like our apple tarte tatin or our upside-down orange cake.
- Spiced wine: Often made with a dry red or white wine, some brandy, and a combination of mulling spices and citrus fruits, mulled wine is the holiday season’s timely answer to sangria. You probably already have everything you need to make it in your pantry and refrigerator, so adding a glass to your Christmas menu is a no-brainer! You can easily make mulled wine by heating the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
Make This Christmas the Best One Yet With Our Help
If you’ve been feeling uninspired and lacking confidence in your at-home cooking, this holiday season is the time to change that for good. With help from our massive database of recipes, you’ve got everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday menu, wow dinner guests, and love every bite of your own cooking.
For more inspiring recipes to try, make sure to visit our cooking page. In addition, you’ll find plenty more food-related thoughts, tips, and ideas on our blog, including some more helpful articles about Christmastime cooking.