Perfectly Paired Holiday Side Dishes for Christmas
Looking for exciting side dishes to add to your holiday menu? Forget about cooking another batch of plain vegetables. Instead, scroll through our Test Kitchen approved collection of Christmas side dishes. Nothing can round out your holiday meal better than one (or more!) of our spectacular holiday sides. Paired with a staple main dish, these festive and unique Christmas side dishes bring delicious variety that your holiday guests will truly appreciate. From our hearty Two-Cheese Gnocchi Mac and Cheese, to our light, flavorful Christmas salad, you’ll find crowd-pleasing Christmas side dishes to suit all occasions. Fluffy Fontina-Chive Yorkshire Puddings impress a worldly crowd, while Creamy Parmesan Grits bring the heart-warming comfort that only Southern soul food can. If a plate of creamy mashed potatoes is the Christmas side dish you desire, upgrade the beloved classic with smooth buttermilk, flavorful brown butter, or rich cream cheese. So pick one – or five – and serve them up. Only thing is, you might need bigger plates.
Dirty Rice Risotto
Recipe: Dirty Rice Risotto
Adding hot broth slowly to the mixture helps release the starch from the rice, giving the risotto its characteristic creamy texture.
Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
Recipe: Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
Turn this kid-friendly side into an entrée by serving with a salad and warm, crusty bread.
Roasted Garlic Duchess Potatoes
Recipe: Roasted Garlic Duchess Potatoes
Want to make a fancy presentation and don't have a pastry bag? A 1-gallon zip-top plastic freezer bag will do the trick. Simply snip a small hole in one corner of the bag, and pipe.
Charred Ambrosia with Toasted Coconut and Marshmallow Crème
Because the marshmallow-egg white mixture isn't cooked, it's necessary to use pasteurized egg whites.
Recipe: Christmas Salad
A warm vinaigrette will soften these sturdy greens, but their structure will hold up for up to an hour or two on a holiday buffet. Prep all the ingredients ahead of time, and store in individual zip-top plastic freezer bags in your refrigerator until ready to toss with warm vinaigrette. We love Chiogia beets, with their candy-striped interiors, for this recipe.
Fontina-Chive Yorkshire Puddings
Recipe: Fontina-Chive Yorkshire Puddings
Don't skip the first step: For the fluffiest, puffiest puddings, make sure the muffin pan is super hot. You can also make these in popover pans.
Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cream
For the most tender Brussels sprouts, look in your produce section for sprouts sold on the stalk. Then cut off the sprouts, and store in a zip-top plastic freezer bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Recipe: Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
With only four ingredients, you can whip these mashed potatoes up in a flash. These potatoes can be as chunky or smooth as you would like. Smash them until they reach desired consistency.
Recipe: Herbed Couscous
This light side is full of fresh flavor that will perfectly complement whatever is on the menu. Use your favorite fresh herbs for a custom dish.
Recipe: Browned-Butter Farro
Farro is an ancient form of wheat that has seen a resurgence in recent years. Here we toast cooked farro in a bit of browned butter for a surprisingly delicious side.
Creamy Parmesan Grits
Recipe: Creamy Parmesan Grits
Look for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which adds nutty flavor and an earthy depth to the grits.
Roasting whole carrots in a hot oven and then giving them a final toss in a sweet glaze yields an unforgettable side dish. Look for multicolored carrots for a stunning presentation. If you can't find them at the supermarket, try a local farmers' market. We use a little chile pepper to add just a whiff of heat. Feel free to increase the pepper or omit it, if you prefer. Also, you can sub chopped fresh thyme or mild flat-leaf parsley for the rosemary.
Braised Cabbage with Apple and Bacon
Humble cabbage is an affordable and easy holiday side. Make it more elegant by braising red cabbage with apple slices. Adding bacon makes it delicious.
Harvest Salad with Roasted Citrus Vinaigrette and Spiced Pecans
Grainy Creole mustard adds texture and a delightful kick to the dressing, and roasting the lemons and oranges heightens both the sweet and sour flavors, creating a wonderfully nuanced balance. If you can find satsuma oranges, definitely use them to add a bright sunshiny tang. You can make the vinaigrette and pecans several days ahead.
Recipe: Fennel-and-Potato Gratin
This cheesy potato gratin gets a punch of flavor from nutmeg and fennel. It's impressive enough for a holiday party, but easy enough to put together on a busy weeknight.
Spinach-Apple Salad With Maple-Cider Vinaigrette
This deluxe version of spinach salad features a tangy sweet maple syrup vinaigrette, sliced apple, onion and and goat cheese and is topped with sweet curried pecans.
Green Beans With Mushrooms and Bacon
We loved the dash of dried crushed red pepper—it made the flavor lively, not hot.
Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes
Recipe: Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes
Everyone loves the simplicity of mashed potatoes, so make it a tradition to always have some on your Thanksgiving table. Crafting delicious mashed mashed potatoes is not easy, but this recipe shows you how it’s done. It also brings the rich flavor of browned butter—those nutty taste you simply can’t get any other way—into the bowl. You’ll love the rich buttermilk, which adds fluff and creaminess to the mashed Yukon gold potatoes. Once you’ve whipped your potatoes to the perfect texture, you can garnish them with parsley, rosemary, or thyme. Once you sample the flavor of these potatoes, you’ll want them on the table every night of the week.
Golden Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe: Golden Macaroni and Cheese
This homemade baked macaroni and cheese recipe beats the boxed kind any day of the week. For a divine main dish, stir in chopped cooked ham before baking, and then sprinkle top with chopped cooked bacon before serving.
Au Gratin Potato Casserole
Recipe: Au Gratin Potato Casserole
Make a cheesy, creamy potato casserole for your next family gathering or holiday meal. Make it easy with frozen hash browns, cream of mushroom soup, and cornflakes cereal. You can also make it ahead and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.
Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
Mushroom, Apple, and Goat Cheese Salad
If you receive candied or spiced nuts as a holiday gift, try them on this salad for a special touch. To splurge, use a variety of mushrooms such as shiitake, portobello, oyster, or enoki. Often grocers carry a gourmet mushroom mix. Standard white mushrooms will yield tasty results too.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Recipe: Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a pure delight, and having them on the Thanksgiving table should always be a family tradition. But making perfect mashed potatoes is not as easy as it sounds, so this recipe is designed to get you spuds from whole to whipped in a jiffy, and to get your family from skeptical to enjoying scrumptious mashed potatoes. The secret here is the cream cheese: it gives your potatoes extra richness and flavor, and mixes well with the butter and half-and-half. Yukon gold potatoes are the perfect potato choice because they yield a texture that's just right for holding a pool of flavorful turkey gravy or melted butter.
Recipe: Home-Style Butterbeans
Bacon, onion, and brown sugar pack these beans with holiday flavor.
Green Bean-and-Red Bell Pepper Toss
Combine French green beans and red bell pepper strips with shallots and garlic for a delicious side dish that's far from boring.
Hurry-Up Homemade Crescent Rolls
Recipe: Hurry-Up Homemade Crescent RollsThis from-scratch recipe is suited for any level of cook—even first timers. Tip: Brush unbaked rolls with lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and fennel seeds. Or, brush unbaked rolls with melted butter; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, coarsely ground pepper, and dried Italian seasoning.
Two-Cheese Squash Casserole
Recipe: Two-Cheese Squash Casserole
Cheddar and Parmesan combine forces with yellow squash in this creamy casserole. For a tasty and colorful twist, substitute sliced zucchini for half of the yellow squash.
Recipe: Baked Onions
Sweet, caramelized pearl onions make an elegant side dish. This version is flavored with butter, white wine, and brown sugar and then baked for less than an hour.
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts With Apples
The presence of apple elevates this often overlooked veggie to new and delicious heights.
Recipe: Broccoli-and-Cauliflower Gratin
A quick and creamy Dijon-mustard sauce laced with Parmesan and Cheddar cheese turns a simple dish of broccoli and cauliflower into company fare.
Smoked Salmon-Avocado Salad
Recipe: Smoked Salmon-Avocado Salad
Roll salmon into spirals if you have extra time when making Smoked Salmon-Avocado Salad.
These potato pancakes are a classic Hanukkah dish. Make a variety of flavors and add distinctive garnishes to clue guests in on the different flavors. All three are superb with Horseradish-Sour Cream Sauce and Spiced-Thyme Applesauce.
Warm Frisee Salad With Crispy Kosher Salami
Frisée is a member of the chicory family often used in mesclun salad mixes. Buy bunches with crisp leaves and no signs of wilting. Use all of the leaves except the core.
Green Beans with Garlic
Recipe: Green Beans with Garlic
Sauté fresh garlic to jazz up this simple yet delicious side dish.
Mashed Potatoes en Croûte
Recipe: Mashed Potatoes en Croûte
Recipe developer Victoria Amory recommends mashing Yukon gold potatoes by hand. "Don't even think about using a blender or food processor. Giving in to such temptation will result in a dense, inedible paste.
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Recipe: Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
For this delicious dish you oven-roast Brussels sprouts in the oven and crisp slices of pancetta in a pan on the stovetop. Once the sprouts are lightly browned, they will be covered in the crumbled Pancetta and dusted with Parmesan cheese, adding a touch of saltiness to the roasted richness of the sprouts. If you prefer—and to make the dish more classically Southern, of course—you can substitute bacon for the pancetta. However you enjoy it, you will delight in the crisp Brussels sprouts, the crunchy bacon, and the salty bite of the Parmesan cheese.
Leafy Greens Salad with Pears
Recipe: Leafy Greens Salad with Pears
Sliced pears and roasted glazed pecans add a sweet, crisp flair to this super simple salad.
Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust
Easy Asiago-Olive Rolls
Recipe: Easy Asiago-Olive Rolls
Salty tapenade pairs with Asiago cheese, which is sweeter than Parmesan or Romano, in these elegant rolls. Starting with refrigerated pizza dough keeps the prep simple.
Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
Recipe: Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
Packed with nutrients and hearty flavors, this salad is both pretty on the plate and perfect for winter. It tastes equally delicious with other roasted vegetables, such as butternut squash, onions, carrots, and potatoes.
Arugula-Pear-Blue Cheese Salad
Recipe: Arugula-Pear-Blue Cheese Salad
For a more pungent flavor in this classic salad, use gorgonzola cheese.
Cranberry Roasted Winter Vegetables
A medley of roasted vegetables including carrots and turnips combine with Brussels sprouts, cranberries, and a drizzle of molasses in one delicious side dish.
Wild Rice with Bacon and Fennel
Recipe: Wild Rice with Bacon and Fennel
For this earthy salad, make sure to use wild rice, not a blend, to get a nice chewy texture.
Sweet Potato Soup
Recipe: Sweet Potato Soup
Make the soup through Step 2 the day before. Reheat, and stir in the lime juice before serving.
Crispy Goat Cheese-Topped Arugula Salad
The Panko-coated goat cheese slices lend a nice and crisp bite to this salad, which we've topped with a fruity pomegranate vinaigrette.
Green Beans with Hollandaise Sauce
Tie green beans in small bundles of five or six with chives that have been boiled for 5 seconds.
Recipe: Potatoes Patio
A mixture of Gruyère and Parmesan cheese makes this luxurious baked dish all the more delicious.
Recipe: Tomato Bisque
Recipe developer Alex Hitz learned this creamy soup from his former business partner Mary Boyle Hataway. Strong coffee gives it superior depth.
Citrus Salad with Spiced Honey
Recipe: Citrus Salad with Spiced Honey
Use any combination of citrus on hand to compose this vibrant, fresh salad, and present it however you like. No matter how you serve it, sweet and sunny citrus complements any roast or fish.
Roasted Squash with Farro and Almonds
Look for farro, a grain gaining in popularity, in your supermarket, or substitute wild rice. High in fiber, farro's firm texture and nutty flavor pair well with tender, sweet roasted squash and creamy crumbles of cheese.
Glazed Turnips and Parsnips
Recipe: Glazed Turnips and Parsnips
To make ahead, prepare recipe through Step 1. Then, spread vegetables in a single layer in a jelly-roll pan, and cool. Cover and let stand up to 4 hours. Proceed as directed.
Savory Bacon-and-Leek Bread Pudding
We love how buttery Gouda and nutty Parmesan lend richness and depth of flavor to this dish. Bake it as directed or divide among 6 to 8 ovenproof dishes, reducing the bake time to 30 minutes.
Sweet Potato Soldiers
Recipe: Sweet Potato Soldiers
This new take on glazed sweet potatoes looks as good as it tastes. We used the slender 'Garnet' variety commonly grown in North Carolina. If you can't find them, any petite sweet potato will work well in its place.
Collard Greens Gratin
Recipe: Collard Greens Gratin
Move over, creamed spinach—there's a new steak house side in town. Give the packaged collards an extra chop with a sharp knife to get them to bite-size pieces.
Sweet Potato Spoonbread
Recipe: Sweet Potato Spoonbread
Cornmeal is a key ingredient in this soufflé-like side from Durham, NC, chef Sara Foster. It provides structure so the spoonbread won't fall in the center, even after you scoop out a serving.