It’s time to set the Christmas dinner (or Christmas Eve) menu! And that’s no easy feat. You’ve got special diets to consider, number of guests to count, prep lists to make, grocery shopping and more. Which is why I put together this mix ‘n match Christmas menu to help ease the burden of planning. In addition to great main dish and side dish pairings, I’m also sharing prep tips so you too can enjoy the holidays!

Festive Holiday Appetizers

The beautiful thing about most of these apps—they can be made ahead of time and pulled out right before people arrive.

  • Smoked Salmon Dip a tried-and-true app that’s always a hit.
  • Lamb Meatballs, this entire dish can be made ahead! Consider decreasing the simmer-time when first cooking these since you’ll reheat them on the stove-top for serving.
  • Smoked Trout Dip if you love a salmon dip but want to try something new, this is the one to whip up. My favorite on this list!
  • Mom’s Spiced Nuts are always a hit. These can be made up to a week ahead of time. Once they’re completely cool, store them in an airtight container at room temp.
  • Citrus Marinated Olives & Manchego can be made ahead and stored in the fridge until the day-of. I recommend reheating them on the stove over low just until everything is warmed through.
  • Oyster with Beet Mignonette are the freshest and most festive thing you can serve!
  • Winter Cheese Board, have fun with this! Throw on any seasonal accoutrement you have on hand. And for more guidance on assembling a cheese board, check out this article.
  • Smoked Salmon Platter with Blini is one of the most stunning and fun appetizers to serve. The mini buckwheat pancakes (blini) can be cooked and frozen up to 2 weeks ahead of time. Before serving, reheat them in a 300-degree oven for a few minutes until warmed through.
  • Edamame Hummus—a vibrant and healthy appetizer!
  • Sweet Potato Hummus is a super-creamy appetizer with a bit of kick.
  • Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce with Shrimp.

Main Dish Recipes

This list of entrée recipes run the gamut—seafood, vegetarian soup, pasta, beef and poultry. Some serve a big crew (the mushroom soup and prime rib) while others are geared towards smaller, more intimate dinners (filet and cornish hens). But the thing is—even those recipes can be doubled or tripled to serve a big family. Be sure to read the recipe articles for tips on doubling the recipes and making or prepping ahead of time.

  • Shrimp Bisque is the perfect celebratory dinner. This is loaded with flavor and decadence so a little goes a long way. Each batch serves 4 if served with a couple of sides. If you aren’t planning on sides, consider doubling, tripling, etc. as needed.
  • Light & Delicious Seafood Soup is a great way to knock out the majority of feast of the seven fishes. There’s nothing quite as celebratory as this.
  • Hungarian Mushroom Soup is a great vegetarian offering. A one pot meal that’s hearty and savory enough to satisfy even the meat-eaters.
  • Red Wine Pasta Sauce with Spaghetti is another vegetarian offering everyone will enjoy. You could always offer some cooked sausage for those who would like some or make a small meat-based side dish (like these chicken meatballs or lamb meatballs). A board of different cured meats would also be a great no-cook option.
  • Filet Mignon with Creme Fraiche Sauce is a great option if serving a small crew. It’s all made on the stovetop in one skillet and comes together quickly which makes it all the more special.
  • Herb-Roasted Cornish Hens are a favorite of mine. They’re celebratory, festive and great for a small crowd as well.
  • Garlic & Herb Prime Rib with Au Jus is the perfect large-crowd entrée for your Christmas dinner menu!

Holiday Side Dishes

Side dishes are our jam around here. Most of the time I show up to the holidays for the side dishes and the side dishes alone (kidding, kinda). You’ll find everything from veg-froward sides and salads to creamy, cozy au gratin and revamped mashed potatoes.

Holiday Bread & Roll Recipes

Gotta have a carb or two on the holiday table, yea? Any of these will impress the crowd but I’m partial to the milk bread rolls. They’re just so dang soft and tender.

Christmas Desserts

You can’t go wrong with any of these festive desserts! Let your taste buds guide you and don’t be afraid to make more than one!

Christmas Cocktails

There’s no better time than the holidays to go all out with the cocktails. There’s a variety here—including different booze options, flavor profiles, and amount of prep. For a very low-effort drink, turn to the simple yet stunning pomegranate kir royale.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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