The Healthiest Holiday Side Dishes
The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but they’re also the most infamously calorie-filled. Even though we believe in indulging during the season, small healthy holiday choices can make a big difference. This Christmas, cook up these healthy holiday side dishes to lighten up your spread. For every baked macaroni and cheese, add a leafy green salad. Next to the creamy mashed potatoes, offer guests some balsamic roasted vegetables. These healthy Christmas side dishes are guilt-free but not flavor-free. Your guests will appreciate having healthy Christmas vegetable sides like green beans, root veggies, asparagus, carrots, and butternut squash. If you’re worried about loading up on too many calories this Christmas, these healthy holiday side dishes are here to put you at ease. Quick, easy, and free of heavy cream and tons of cheese, these options are diet-safe choices that your family will love. With these flavor-filled and healthy options, you won’t even miss the heavy stuff.
Skillet Squash Blossom
Recipe: Skillet Squash Blossom
Obviously, this winter side dish will wow with its presentation, but it tastes so good that your guests won’t miss squash casseroles filled with cheese and cream.
Young Lettuces and Shaved Winter Vegetables with Walnut Vinaigrette
You’ll want to make this light salad recipe from chef Todd Ginsberg of Atlanta restaurant The General Muir on weeknights after it’s a hit at your holiday gathering.
Home-Style Green Bean Casserole
Recipe: Home-Style Green Bean Casserole
The homemade sauce on this casserole is lighter than the one that goes in old-school green bean casserole, and it's under 200 calories per serving.
Recipe: Roasted Vegetables
These roasted winter vegetables are ideal for a holiday table; not only do they look pretty, they taste amazing. To save time, chop the vegetables the night before.
Vegetarian Slow-Cooker Collard Greens
We promise—you don’t need ham hocks to make flavorful collard greens. If the slow cooker didn’t already make your job easier, you can make this recipe ahead of time.
Cider-Glazed Carrots with Walnuts
The tangy glaze and sweet carrots make a delicious match, and toasted walnuts add a little crunch. You can swap out pecans for walnuts if you prefer, and our Test Kitchen professionals advise that you’re careful not to over-reduce the glaze; it should have a thin, syrupy texture.
Cast-Iron Blistered Brussels Sprouts
If you want crispy, caramelized Brussels sprouts on your holiday table as quickly as possible, get out your cast-iron skillet.
Balsamic Green Beans with Pearl Onions Recipe
With this beautiful 20-minute recipe that combines lightly caramelized pearl onions and green beans, your family won’t miss that calorie-laden green bean casserole.
Recipe: Herbed Couscous
Swap out heavy starches like macaroni and cheese for this herb-filled couscous recipe.
Beet, Fennel, and Apple Salad
Recipe: Beet, Fennel, and Apple Salad
How could anyone pass a colorful salad like this and not grab a scoop? With fresh ingredients and a light dressing, this salad is a no-brainer healthy addition to the holidays.
Sweet Potato-and-Collard Green Gratin
We know that when you hear “gratin” you don’t immediately think “healthy,” but this recipe is low on butter and cheese, and it will be a welcome newcomer to your holiday table.
Farro Salad with Toasted Pecans, Feta, and Dried Cherries
Swap out that tired green salad with this grain-based salad that’s filled with dried cherries, scallions, parsley, lemon juice, toasted pecans, and feta cheese.
Sautéed Mustard Greens with Garlic and Lemon
This simple recipe lets the flavor of the greens, garlic, and lemon speak for themselves, and it only has 10 minutes of hands-on time.
Roasted Beet-and-Citrus Salad with Honey-Orange Vinaigrette
This colorful salad is bursting with citrusy flavor and despite its pretty presentation, it’s easy to make.
Lightened Squash Casserole
Recipe: Lightened Squash Casserole
This recipe dials back the classic squash casserole you love with reduced-fat ingredients and less butter.
Brussels Sprout Slaw with Apples and Pecans
Give your usual slaw a holiday upgrade with apples and pecans. The light dressing on this slaw is mad with lemon, olive oil, and a touch of honey for sweetness.
Roasted Vegetable Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
This beautiful collection of vegetables takes to the apple cider vinaigrette perfectly, and there’s no heavy cream or cheese in sight.
Wild Rice with Mushrooms
Recipe: Wild Rice with Mushrooms
If you’re looking to add a starch to your table without loading it down with mashed potatoes or mac and cheese, this 30-minute wild rice dish is light and flavorful.
Beet-and-Orange Salad with Spiced Pecans
From chef and cookbook author Virginia Wilson, this bright, light salad is a beautiful addition to any table, and it’s so easy to make.
Recipe: Cranberry-Apple-Ginger Salad
Switch out the canned stuff with this cranberry salad this year. It’s got a little crunch from thinly sliced celery, and apple, pineapple, and ginger add flavor you didn’t know was missing from this dish. Be sure to make it the night before or morning of your dinner so it can have plenty of time to chill.
Romaine with Creamy Olive Dressing
You’ll want to keep a jar of this creamy and slightly salty dressing in your refrigerator for weeknight salads, and it takes just a few minutes to throw this dish together.
Roasted Asparagus Salad
Recipe: Roasted Asparagus Salad
This light salad has more flavor variety than an average roasted asparagus dish, but it comes together so fast.