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79 Christmas Dinner Ideas That Make the Best Gift of All

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Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Thu Buser, Prop Styling Tim Ferro 

Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Spencer Richards, Prop Styling by Marina Bevilacqua2/79

Salt Cod Brandade

Called 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 Bernabe3/79

Asian Pear Salad With Peanut-Lime Dressing

This 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 Fennell4/79

Spinach Pilaf Pie

The 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.

Photo by Alex Lau5/79

BA’s Best Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp cocktail is all about the shrimp: big, fat, perfectly cooked, gorgeous shrimp. We prefer the jumbo kind (it’s a holiday appetizer, not just any appetizer), but this method works for any size.

Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Thu Buser, Prop Styling Tim Ferro 6/79

Maple-Butter-Glazed Turkey

Inarguably the best way to cook a well-seasoned, juicy turkey is to break it down into parts, dry-brine it, and roast it on a wire rack in a baking sheet. That’s all there is to say!

Photograph by Isa Zapata, Prop Styling by Emma Ringness, Food Styling by Liberty Fennell7/79

Harissa Sweet Potato Tarte Tatin

This semi-homemade (thanks, frozen puff pastry dough) savory tart makes for a great side to a meaty main dish such as red wine–braised short ribs or coriander-roast pork.

Photograph by Isa Zapata, Prop Styling by Emma Ringness, Food Styling by Liberty Fennell8/79

Cheesy Mushroom Galette

Umami lovers rejoice: This savory vegetarian galette features mushrooms in two ways, a rich duxelles-style spread and scattered over the top. Oh, and there’s lots of cheddar cheese.

Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Sean Dooley, Prop Styling by JoJo Li9/79

Creamed-Spinach-Stuffed Meatloaf

Recast as an impressive centerpiece bursting with creamy, cheesy spinach and slathered in glossy ketchup, this usually humble main dish will compete with the Christmas tree for everyone’s attention.

Photograph by Eva Kolenko. Food styling by Susie Theodorou. Set design by Kira Corbin. On set producer: Jennifer Thomas.10/79

Prime Rib Roast With Habanero Crema

This Christmas dinner idea is inspired by the braised oxtails that actor and cookbook author Ayesha Curry’s mom served at Sunday dinners, but repackaged into a prime rib roast. Just add some cornbread and you’re good.

Photo by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Cyd McDowell, Prop Styling by Paige Hicks11/79

Potato-Tomato Gratin With Horseradish

This unconventional (and dairy-free) take on potato gratin strikes the perfect balance of rich and bright thanks to jammy tomatoes and a generous dusting of zingy fresh horseradish.

Photographs by Emma Fishman12/79

Crispy Olives With Calabrian Chile Sauce

Take olives from regular snack to Christmas Eve–worthy snack by coating them in panko and deep-frying them until golden brown and begging to be bitten.

Photograph by Jenny Huang, Food styling by Susie Theodorou, prop styling by Martha Bernabe13/79

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Gochujang Brown Butter

If you haven’t ever tried tossing roasted brussels sprouts in gochujang, brown butter, and maple syrup, then we urge you to give it a go. We’re confident you’ll be cooking all of your vegetables this way for the rest of winter.

Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Mieko Takahashi14/79

Parker House Rolls

Fun fact: Created for the Parker House Hotel in Boston soon after it opened in 1855, these classic yeast rolls are sometimes called pocketbook rolls because of their shape, which resembles a purse.

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Kate Buckens15/79

Party-Ready Pork Roast

Instead of using one larger bone-in pork loin roast, this recipe calls for two smaller ones. That means more exposed surface areas, which decreases cooking time and develops more of the delicious golden brown crust.

Photographs by Emma Fishman16/79

Creamy French Onion Dip

Think of this crowd-pleaser as the love child of French onion soup and French onion dip: an ooey-gooey, salty, tangy dip with jammy caramelized onions.

Photograph by Emma Fishman, Food styling by Susie Theodorou, Prop styling by Sophie Leng17/79

Kale Salad With Pecan Vinaigrette

A Christmas salad should have enough flavor and heft to hold its own and enough strength to withstand being dressed ahead of time. This one checks both of those boxes.

Photograph by Emma Fishman, Food styling by Susie Theodorou, Prop styling by Sophie Leng18/79

Cacio e Pepe Rösti

Pros: The potatoes can be boiled the night before Christmas dinner and all of the cooking takes place on the stovetop, meaning you’re not competing for coveted oven space.

Photo by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Cyd McDowell, Prop Styling by Paige Hicks19/79

Rice Pilaf With Lemony Brown-Butter Mushrooms

Fresh herbs, toasted angel hair pasta, and a glorious amount of brown butter make this mushroom-topped rice pilaf worthy of a holiday main course.

Photo by Heidi’s Bridge, styling by Molly Baz20/79

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

This Christmas dinner idea is not necessarily the classic Italian porchetta (seasoned and deboned pork roast), but it sure is delicious—and relatively easy.

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Kate Buckens21/79

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

Look at those short ribs, happily bobbing in glossy red liquid. Looks like a delicious place to be, no? A place of onions, carrots, red wine, and garlic.

Photograph by Jenny Huang, Food styling by Susie Theodorou, prop styling by Martha Bernabe22/79

Char Siu Wellington

This Christmas centerpiece recipe combines the flavors of Cantonese sticky-sweet char siu with those of British beef Wellington.

Photo by Christopher Testani23/79

Classic Potatoes au Gratin

This recipe is mostly potatoes, cream, and cheese (plus garlic and thyme). What requires your attention is the placement of the potato slices: fanning them out a handful at a time and at an angle is not only beautiful, it will also ensure that every scoop will have tender potatoes at the bottom and crisp edges at the top.

Photo by Marcus Nilsson, Food Styling by Frances Boswell, Prop Styling by Amy Wilson24/79

Sweet-and-Saucy Pork Chops

For succulent pork chops, we turn to an unexpected ingredient: sugar. A pinch sprinkled over the surface helps the meat stay moist while the chops develop a golden brown crust.

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Pearl Jones, prop styling by Sophie Strangio25/79

Tangy Brisket With Fennel and Herbs

This brisket is seasoned heavily with salt and pepper, seared until deeply browned, strewn with caramelized savory aromatics, and braised until fall-apart tender. Need to know anything else?

Photo by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Anne Eastman26/79

Burnt Orange and Coriander Roast Pork

This is one of the most leftovers-friendly but still showstopping Christmas dinner ideas. All week, this slow-roasted pork can be repurposed into sandwiches, stir-fries, tacos, and more.

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Sue Li, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski27/79

Pimento Cheese Crackers

These sensational, melt-in-your-mouth cheddar crackers are all grown up thanks to a little heat from the cayenne and a hint of sweet pepper from the pimento.

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, Food Styling by Alison Roman, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski28/79

Low-and-Slow Rib Roast

The secret ingredient in this rib roast recipe: anchovy fillets. Ten of them. Combined with rosemary, garlic, and olive oil, the punchy mixture takes this already delicious Christmas dinner idea to the next level.

Photo by Emma Fishman, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Sophie Strangio29/79

Harissa-Roasted Eggplant With Fried Capers

Think of capers as plant-based anchovies: They’re salty with a unique acidity, and they’re also the secret weapon in this savory-sweet roasted eggplant dish.

Alex Lau30/79

Seared Radicchio and Roasted Beets

This festive vegetarian side dish is a study in ruby: red beets, radicchio, red wine vinegar, and pomegranate seeds. This is the most delicious way to break up all of that brown and beige on the table.

PHOTO BY ALEX LAU, FOOD STYLING BY REBECCA JURKEVICH, PROP STYLING BY KALEN KAMINSKI31/79

Slow Roast Beef

We’ve adapted the classic roast into a buffet-style, serve-yourself dish, with options: Make a sandwich with cornichons and horseradish sauce, or eat it up as distinct components if that’s more your thing.

Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski32/79

Burnished Potato Nuggets

Behold, your new standard for roasted potatoes: puck-size oven fries with creamy insides and unimaginably crunchy exteriors. Seat yourself close to the serving bowl—these are going to go fast.

Photograph by Laura Murray, food styling by Susie Theodorou, prop styling by Sophie Strangio33/79

Garam Masala Short Rib Roast With Pistachio Crust

The secret to this seriously flavorful crust is the trifecta of garam masala, salt, brown sugar, and MSG. Bonus: You can scale this dish to suit your needs. It’s a Christmas for-two-or-maybe-for-eight recipe.

Marcus Nilsson34/79

Reverse Sear Rib-Eye Roast With Fennel and Rosemary

Cutting the meat into two smaller pieces reduces cooking time, but it’s the roast first, brown later reverse sear that’s game-changing in this recipe.

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Rosemary-Sizzled Salami, Dates, and Pecans

Forget the charcuterie board, just toss the cured meat, earthy-sweet dates, and nuts together in a pan with rosemary for a festive spin on a party staple. Imagine this snack with an ice-cold extra-dry martini. Chef’s kiss.

Photo by Marcus Nilsson36/79

Garlic Confit Toast

You’ve had garlic toast, and you’ve probably had something confited (slow-cooked in fat)—but have you had garlic confit toast? It’s time to live large then.

37/79

Candied Mandarin Oranges With Cranberries

You already had plenty of cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. This dish is almost the reverse: Instead of cranberry compote flavored with a small amount of orange zest, it involves broiled mandarin oranges finished with a little bit of cranberry reduction.

Bobbi Lin38/79

Hasselback Butternut Squash With Bay Leaves

For this Christmas dinner idea, roasting the butternut with several bay leaves slipped between the slices results in a subtle, aromatic backdrop for the chile glaze.

Alex Lau39/79

Bistek With Onion and Bay Leaves

This is a fairly classic version of bistek, a Filipino dish consisting of thinly-sliced beef braised in soy sauce, citrus juice, and onions cut into rings.

Photograph by Emma Fishman, Food styling by Susie Theodorou, Prop styling by Sophie Leng40/79

Bitter Greens With Cranberry Dressing

Sprinkled with crunchy candied pecans and salty shavings of Manchego cheese, this fresh and lively salad is the dream complement to what can otherwise be a rather heavy spread.

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski41/79

Jerk-Spiced Duck

Spiced with nutmeg and allspice, whole ducks are slow-roasted for five hours, then served with your pick of cabbage, scallion, ginger, serrano chiles, mint, and cilantro. 

Photo by Alex Lau, Food Styling by Yekaterina Boytsova42/79

Squash and Caramelized Onion Tart

Arranging thin slices of butternut and delicata squashes, sweet potato, and red onion in concentric circles, starting from the outside edge and working your way inward, takes this tart to centerpiece status.

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Kate Buckens43/79

Charred Brussels Sprouts With Warm Honey Glaze

This side dish hits all the right notes with charred veg dressed in sticky-sweet honey, tangy red wine vinegar, bright lemon zest, spicy chile flakes, and a good dose of butter.

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Styling by Chris Morocco44/79

BA’s Best Lasagna

If you’re short on time, you can make both the bechamel and the ragù earlier in the week and pop them in the fridge. You can also make a full tray of this lasagna in advance and freeze it unbaked.

45/79

Bacon and Spinach-Stuffed Rib-Eye Roast

Stuff your favorite steakhouse sides into your prime rib-eye roast, and don’t be surprised if you get a standing ovation at the Christmas table.

Christina Holmes46/79

Buttery Roasted Chestnuts in Foil

Chestnuts roasting on an…well, you might not have an open fire, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have this cozy Christmas classic. Follow this recipe.

Laura Murray47/79

Shallot Tarte Tartin

This buttery shallot pastry will flip everything you know about tarte Tatin on its head—including the fact that you can make it ahead. Let the tart cool in the pan, then reheat over medium to soften the glaze before inverting.

Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski48/79

Broccoli Caesar

You’ve never met a better, brighter riff on the classic Caesar than this raw broccoli twist. The crunchy, punchy side is a tasty way to make sure you eat your vegetables on Christmas night.

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Sue Li, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski49/79

Onion-Dip Potato Chips

Grind onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt in spice mill. Sprinkle the mixture over store-bought potato chips and add fresh dill. Thank us later.

Photo by Alex Lau50/79

Chopped Salad

It takes some extra effort to cook some of the vegetables in this chopped salad, but the eventual mix of earthy and fresh, caramelized and crunchy is worth it.

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Sue Li, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski52/79

Marinated Manchego

The only thing more crowd-pleasing than cheese? Marinated cheese. And if Manchego isn’t your thing, go for any semi-firm cheese like white cheddar, Gouda, or Monterey Jack.

Photo by Emma Fishman, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Sophie Strangio53/79

Braised Short Ribs With Onions and Curry Leaves

Two ingredients make these braised short ribs stand out: fresh coconut, which doesn’t need to be toasted to bring out its natural nutty and sweet flavors, and citrusy, nutty curry leaves.

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Chris Morocco54/79

Grand Aioli

When spiced nuts won’t cut it for your crowd and they need a more substantial cocktail-hour snack, turn to the grand aioli platter. Everything on it—green beans, radishes, lettuce wedges, boiled eggs, poached shrimp—is meant to be dipped into garlicky mayonnaise.

Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski55/79

Glazed Shallots With Chile and Thyme

These sweet and saucy shallots are your best answer to a plan-way-ahead side: They can hold for a day or two, and then go straight from the fridge to the microwave to the table.

Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott56/79

Set-It-and-Forget-It Roast Pork Shoulder

Its skin scored and rubbed with a mixture of finely ground peppercorns, juniper berries, and coriander seeds, this roast pork shoulder is so gorgeous we had to photograph it like a still life work of art.

Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski57/79

Radicchio Salad With Sour Cream Ranch

With salty, sweet, and creamy components, this recipe is more than just a salad: It’s a fully realized Christmas side dish.

Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski58/79

Parsnip Confit With Pickled Currants

You’ll never look at root vegetables the same way again. These sturdy parsnips soften in a warm bath of olive oil, then get seared and bejeweled with pickled currants.

Photo by Alex Lau59/79

Ensaimadas

Salty and sweet, these sugary, buttery, Parmesan-y rolls work just as well for Christmas dinner as they do for Christmas morning breakfast. Either way, they should become a holiday mainstay in your household.

Alex Lau60/79

Spinach-Yogurt Dip With Sizzled Mint

Our version of this dip, called borani esfanaaj in Iran, uses spinach, but it can be made with cooked beets or roasted eggplant too.

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Sue Li62/79

Broccoli and Garlic-Ricotta Toasts With Hot Honey

So, you forgot the ricotta for this appetizer that has ricotta in the name. Don’t worry: You can mix the mashed, roasted garlic into mayonnaise instead and proceed as if nothing happened.63/79

Extra-Buttery Mashed Potatoes

There’s a lesson to be learned from one important step in this mashed potato recipe: Dry the cooked potatoes in the pan and they’ll absorb that much more flavor from your herb-infused dairy.Alex Lau64/79

Potato-Leek Soup with Toasted Nuts and Seeds

How to get this soup so snowy white without even a tinge of khaki? Just be careful not to let the leeks and celery take on any color when you sauté them.Alex Lau65/79

Cheesy Sausage and Sage Stuffing

This holiday-worthy recipe was inspired by bread pudding and ended up somewhere between a strata, a gratin, and a traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. We say there’s no reason why you can’t have it at Christmas too.Photo by Chelsie Craig, food styling by Claire Saffitz66/79

Slow-Cooked Green Beans With Harissa and Cumin

Impossibly soft and caramelized green beans that only ask one thing of you: patience while they roast. Surrender them to your oven for an hour or two and you will be rewarded.Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott67/79

Buttery Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls

We realize, there are a lot of steps in this recipe, but if you follow them closely, you’ll end up with the softest dinner rolls you’ve ever made.Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Dana Bonagura68/79

Greens With Braised Pancetta and Garlic

This satisfying vegetable-forward dish proves that sometimes the role for meat is as a supporting actor, helping to make green things shine. If you can’t find pancetta, slab bacon can be used in its place.Photograph by Julian Cousins, Food styling by Adriana Paschen69/79

Radicchio, Bean, and Feta Salad

Marinate any white bean (like cannellini, navy, or Great Northern), then toss them with pleasantly bitter radicchio, thinly sliced brussels sprouts, and big chunks of salty feta.Alex Lau70/79

Cranberry-Pear Mostarda

This sweet and sour twist on cranberry sauce is ready to be spooned over turkey, baked Brie, or directly into your mouth. We won’t judge.Marcus Nilsson71/79

Lobster Fra Diavolo

Fra diavolo is defined by the use of onions, olive oil, tomatoes, crushed red pepper, garlic, seafood. In this case, the seafood is 1¼-pound lobsters. Because it’s Christmas.Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski72/79

Shaved Carrots With Charred Dates

At least two kinds of citrus juices and some rice vinegar give this holiday side—already tangy and fresh from raw carrots, and soft and sweet from Medjool dates—some extra energy.Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott73/79

Chicory Salad With Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

This sweet-sharp vinaigrette pairs well with the bitter escarole and radicchio, which help balance what we assume will be a meaty, buttery meal. If Dijon mustard is all you’ve got, feel free to use that in place of whole-grain.Photo by Chelsie Craig, styling by Judy Mancini74/79

Clam Dip

Dan Monick75/79

Shawarma-Spiced Braised Leg of Lamb

A boneless leg of lamb is a bit more manageable and cooks more quickly, but this is a Christmas dinner recipe, remember? We say go (Flinstonian-sized) bone-in or go home.Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Sean Dooley, Prop Styling by JoJo Li77/79

Beet Tartare

Maybe you’re eating a little lighter on Christmas Eve? When boldly seasoned and finely chopped, red beets can have the earthy taste of classic beef tartare.78/79

Butter-Roasted Turkey Breasts

If your dinner table is set for a smaller crowd, these bone-in turkey breasts might be the move. They’re easy to find and just as impressive as a whole bird when you roast them in butter and herbs.Ditte Isager79/79

Candied Nuts With Smoked Almonds

Don’t forget snacks when you’re dreaming up Christmas dinner ideas. This sweet and savory nut mix is as good to nibble on with festive cocktails as it is for wrapping and gifting. ’Tis the holiday season, after all.Explore Bon AppétitChristmasDinnerEntertaining 

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