27 Recipes That'll Bring Back Memories of Christmas at Grandma's
No one masters the holiday season was as much tradition, flair, and downright deliciousness as a Southern grandmother. It’s simply not up for debate. Who do you call when you’re trying to make cocktail meatballs for a Christmas party? Who knows just how much booze goes into the eggnog? And finally, whose kitchen are you raiding when in need of a sweet tooth fix of homemade sprinkle cookies? Exactly.
We don’t deserve our Southern grandmothers, but we sure would like to appreciate them extra during the holidays with an ode to all the nostalgic recipes they’ve made for decades. From holiday appetizers like cheese straws and ham delights to classic Christmas treats like ambrosia and fudge, these are the best-ever retro Christmas recipes that will remind you of holidays spent at Grandma’s.
Recipe: Classic Eggnog
Many a Southerner's first time tasting this interesting Christmas concoction occurs nowhere else but at grandma's after supper.
Mamau’s Cheese Straws
Recipe: Mamau’s Cheese Straws
A batch of any Southern grandmother's cheese straws don't last long, so grab a handful while you can and enjoy the crispy, cheesy kick.
Slice-and-Bake Sugar Cookie Bites
She's sure to have a roll of slice-and-bakes ready to go in the freezer, should the need for a Christmas cookie strike.
Cranberry Sauce Meatballs
Recipe: Cranberry Sauce Meatballs
Cocktail meatballs might be the unofficial holiday appetizer sponsor of the last 50 years, and we'll be darned if they don't deserve it. This recipe nixes the usual grape jelly and chili sauce and uses jellied cranberry sauce and hot jalapeño pepper jelly instead.
Recipe: Smoked-Fish Dip
The kids would always stick out their tongues at this classic Christmas dip, but it remains a crowd-pleaser nonetheless.
Bisquick Sausage Balls
Recipe: Spicy Bisquick Sausage Balls
Whether your grandmother went traditional or fell into Cajun ways with tons of spice, sausage balls are a staple in any home during the holidays.
Recipe: Christmas Fudge
Mark our words: This recipe is the most perfect rendition of classic Christmas fudge in existence. Box them up and give to family and friends.
Recipe: Ham Delights
This 13x9 recipe is a quintessential holiday appetizer if we've ever seen one, and the mini baked sandwiches almost always feature the same flavor combo of butter, poppyseeds, Dijon mustard, and Hawaiian rolls. Oh, and more butter.
Brown Butter Cornbread
Recipe: Brown Butter Cornbread
The real ones know that browning the butter is the secret to mastering the most old-fashioned Southern cornbread—and she'd never forget to use the cast-iron skillet.
Triple B Milk Punch
Recipe: Triple B Milk Punch
A cousin of holiday favorite, eggnog, milk punch goes back even further in history. The "Triple B" name comes from three ingredients used to make this super creamy cocktail: bourbon, brandy, and buttermilk.
Old-School Green Bean Casserole
Recipe: Old-School Green Bean Casserole
You can't escape the holiday season without a few casserole dishes of this all-time classic—and we're not mad about it. Call us hostages.
Glazed Ham with Pineapple Chutney
Nana did always know how to glaze a ham properly—especially using pineapple, which complements the saltiness in the most scrumptious way.
Santa's Kitchen-Sink Cookies
Recipe: Santa's Kitchen-Sink Cookies
Always a favorite around the holidays, these anything-goes cookies explode with festive flavors courtesy ingredients like Christmas M&Ms, pretzels, and marshmallows.
Baked Oysters with Bacon, Greens, and Parmesan
Raise your hand if appetizer time before the family Christmas dinner consisted of your grandmother having all the men outside shucking oysters? Because, same.
Recipe: Potato Latkes
Some Southern households serve this Hanukkah staple like it's going out of business—and one taste will tell you why. Fried potatoes? You can never go wrong.
Our Best Ambrosia Ever
Recipe: Our Best Ambrosia Ever
This vintage citrus salad will never leave the recipe box, and we're grateful for riffs like this that make it even more delicious with creamy yogurt, juicy fruit, and crunchy coconut chips.
Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels
She probably wasn't on the buffalo chicken train back in the day, but might as well be now. Pinwheels seem to be a skill that grandmothers know inherently, especially when filled with a cream cheese-sausage mixture.
All In One Spaghetti
Recipe: All In One Spaghetti
Big Southern families meant many mouths to feed on any given Sunday during the holiday season. The solution? A big pot of spaghetti that requires no messy pans and has all the comforting homemade flavor.
Spiced Cranberry Mold
Recipe: Spiced Cranberry Mold
You'll recognize the familiar jiggle of this gelatinous superstar. Wonderfully spiced and dressed up in its holiday red, this cranberry jello salad has headed up countless Christmas tables.
Vanessa's Make-Ahead Beefy Lasagna
Having a big casserole dish of lasagna in the freezer is a major holiday power move that sneaky grandmothers have been pulling for decades.
Easy Black-Eyed Peas
Recipe: Easy Black-Eyed Peas
Why wait until New Year's to serve up this Southern side dish classic? Exactly. This essential recipe is reminiscent of many old-school ones.
Recipe: Angel Biscuits
Like a flaky cross between a buttermilk biscuit and a Parker House roll, angel biscuits are a favorite amongst cooks during the holidays because you can make them up to a week ahead and store in the fridge until ready to bake.
Old-Fashioned Pecan Logs
Recipe: Old-Fashioned Pecan Logs
Any trip to Stuckey's meant snagging one of these indulgently sweet nougat treats—and the best grandmas knew how to whip up a batch, too.
Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin
Recipe: Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin
One of the most beloved holiday traditions was to break out your fanciest main course on Christmas Eve, which brings us to this perfected basic: beef tenderloin with a crusty herb coating.
Best Cornbread Dressing
Recipe: Best Cornbread Dressing
Don't dare tell your mother or grandmother that cornbread dressing is only for Thanksgiving. Their tender hearts can't take it.
Cassandra’s “Light” Fruitcake
Recipe: Cassandra’s “Light” Fruitcake
A throwback to end all throwbacks, fruitcake cannot be topped as one of the most divisive Christmas dishes ever. Ask your grandmother what her secret ingredient is and odds are she'll say: more booze.
Recipe: Mushroom Gravy
This is an occasion-worthy gravy that tastes amazing paired with everything from your fancy Christmas dinner main to a night of tree decorating with pork chops.