34 Recipes That'll Bring Back Memories of Christmas at Grandma's

Mamau’s Cheese Straws
Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Prop Styling: Mary Beth Wetzel; Food Styling: Pam Lolley

No one masters the holiday season with as much tradition, flair, and downright deliciousness as a Southern grandmother. It's simply not up for debate. The ultimate hostesses and special guests at any potluck, Southern grandmas have holiday festivity knowledge to spare. We all know that they're the best in the business. Who do you call when you're trying to make cocktail meatballs for a Christmas party? Who knows just how much alcohol goes into the eggnog? And finally, whose kitchen are you raiding when in need of a sweet tooth fix of homemade sprinkle cookies? Exactly.

Our Southern grandmothers have kept our family and friends full every holiday, and for that we're forever grateful. From holiday appetizers like Cheese Straws and Ham Delights, to classic Christmas treats like ambrosia and fudge, these recipes would make Grandma proud. Serve up some Classic Eggnog with hints of nostalgia and plate your Old-School Green Bean Casserole to satisfy beside the Christmas ham. No matter which you choose for your holiday spread, these are the best-ever Christmas recipes that will remind you of holidays spent at Grandma's.

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The Best Classic Eggnog

Classic Eggnog
Van Chaplin; Styling: Sissy Lamerton

Recipe: The Best Classic Eggnog

Many a Southerner's first time tasting this interesting Christmas concoction occurs nowhere else but at Grandma's after supper. Recreate that memory with just five ingredients and the option to add liquor.

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Slice-and-Bake Sugar Cookie Bites

Slice-and-Bake Sugar Cookie Bites
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Slice-and-Bake Sugar Cookie Bites

Granny's sure to have a roll of slice-and-bakes ready to go in the freezer, should the need for a Christmas cookie strike. These sweet treats also make an excellent host gift in a festive holiday tin.

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Cranberry Sauce Meatballs

Cranberry Sauce Meatballs
Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Kathleen Varner

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce Meatballs

Cocktail meatballs could 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.

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Smoked-Fish Dip

Smoked-Fish Dip
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Smoked-Fish Dip

The kids would always stick out their tongues at this classic Christmas dip, but it remains a crowd-pleaser nonetheless. Elegant yet easy, this recipe is straight from the kitchen of an award-winning Birmingham seafood chef but can be on your holiday table in just 20 minutes.

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Bisquick Sausage Balls

Spicy Bisquick Sausage Balls
Photography: Caitlin Bensel Food Styling: Ali Ramee Prop Styling: Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland

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. Using Bisquick ensures a fluffy texture, just like Nana used to make them.

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Christmas Fudge

Christmas Fudge
Micah A Leal

Recipe: Christmas Fudge

Mark our words: This recipe is the most perfect rendition of classic Christmas fudge in existence. Box them up to gift to family and friends who will be asking for your recipe in no time.

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Ham Delights

Ham Delights
Photographer: Jennifer Causey; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe: Ham Delights

This 13x9 recipe is a quintessential holiday appetizer if we've ever seen one. The mini baked sandwiches on the holiday table almost always feature the same flavor combo of butter, poppyseeds, Dijon mustard, and Hawaiian rolls. Oh, and more butter.

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Brown Butter Cornbread

Brown Butter Cornbread
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Brown Butter Cornbread

The real ones know that browning the butter is the secret to mastering the most old-fashioned Southern cornbread. Bubbe would never forget to use the cast-iron skillet, either.

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Triple B Milk Punch

Triple B Milk Punch
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Triple B Milk Punch

A cousin of the 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, oh my!

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Old-School Green Bean Casserole

Old School Green Bean Casserole
VICTOR PROTASIO; PROP STYLING: GINNY BRANCH STELLING; FOOD STYLING: EMILY NABORS HALL

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 to green beens with just a bit of snap and crispy shallots.

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Glazed Ham with Pineapple Chutney

Glazed Ham with Pineapple Chutney
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: 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. Say "so long" to commercial glaze packets and dress your holiday ham with bourbon-brown sugar alongside tangy, tropical chutney.

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Santa's Kitchen-Sink Cookies

Santa's Kitchen-Sink Cookies
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Santa's Kitchen-Sink Cookies

Always a favorite around the holidays, these anything-goes cookies explode with festive flavors courtesy of ingredients like Christmas M&Ms, pretzels, and marshmallows. Santa will happily gobble up a plate of these fun-filled cookies, and so will all your holiday guests.

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Baked Oysters with Bacon, Greens, and Parmesan

Baked Oysters with Bacon, Greens, and Parmesan
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Baked Oysters with Bacon, Greens, and Parmesan

Raise your hand if appetizer time before the family Christmas dinner consisted of elder family members shucking oysters outside? Us too. Here's a dish worthy of all that hard work.

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Potato Latkes

Andrew’s Potato Latkes
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell

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.

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Our Best Ambrosia Ever

Our Best Ambrosia Ever
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Our Best Ambrosia Ever

With good reason, this vintage citrus salad will never leave the recipe box. Even though Thanksgiving has passed, we're thankful for riffs like this that make ambrosia even more delicious with creamy yogurt, juicy fruit, and crunchy coconut chips.

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Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels
Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Kathleen Varner

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

Pinwheels seem to be a skill that grandmothers know inherently, especially when filled with a cream cheese mixture. An upscale twist on buffalo wings, these snacks will fly off the platter.

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All-In-One Spaghetti

All In One Spaghetti Recipe
Photo: William Dickey

Recipe: All-In-One Spaghetti

This holiday season, forgo canned pasta sauce for something a little more special, but no need to fear the hassle of a homemade sauce. This recipe delivers a big pot of spaghetti that requires no messy pans and has all the comforting, feel-good flavor.

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Spiced Cranberry Mold

Spiced Cranberry Mold
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

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 salad has headed up countless Christmas tables.

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Easy Black-Eyed Peas

Easy Black-Eyed Peas
Jennifer Causey; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Easy Black-Eyed Peas

Why wait until New Year's to serve up this Southern side? It's too good to wait. This tempting recipe is reminiscent of many of the classics.

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Old-Fashioned Pecan Logs

Pecan Logs
Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Kathleen Varner

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Pecan Logs

Any trip to Stuckey's meant snagging one of these indulgently sweet nougat treats—and the best grandmothers knew how to whip up a batch, too. With this recipe, the torch is passed for delicious results for generations to come.

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Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

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 coating. Simple for first-time holiday hosts but decadent as ever, this entrée is dressed in herbs to impress.

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Best Cornbread Dressing

Best Cornbread Dressing
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

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. Make sure to dry out your cornbread first, and you'll know what they mean.

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Cassandra's "Light" Fruitcake

Cassandra’s “Light” Fruitcake
Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Anna Hampton

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.

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Mushroom Gravy

Mushroom Gravy
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Mushroom Gravy

This is an occasion-worthy gravy that tastes amazing paired with everything from your fancy Christmas dinner main to pork chops on a night of tree decorating. Gravy can make or break a meal and this one promises to satisfy.

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Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie

Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie

This pecan pie recipe reminds us why it's our favorite holiday dessert. The secret to a pie so good its positively deadly is to bake it in a cast-iron skillet—trust us.

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Classic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Rustic Mashed Red Potatoes with Parmesan
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Classic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Fluffy and buttery, this creamy potato dish is much more than an excuse to eat gravy. That having been said, these rich potatoes still pair beautifully with our Mushroom Gravy.

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Best Deviled Eggs

Best Deviled Eggs
Southern Living

Recipe: Best Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are a classic addition to any holiday appetizer spread, and we've got making them down to a science. Follow this recipe closely for savory starters that are perfectly cooked with a yolk that's not too runny or dry.

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Southern Pimiento Cheese

Southern Pimento Cheese
Southern Living

Recipe: Southern Pimiento Cheese

This creamy cheese spread is guaranteed to be a hit with everyone at your holiday gathering. Our straightforward recipe uses two types of cheeses and is so good, it will be hard to resist as it waits in your fridge for the guests to arrive.

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Mamau's Cheese Straws

Mamau’s Cheese Straws
Robbie Caponetto; Prop Styling: Mary Beth Wetzel; Food Styling: Pam Lolley

Recipe: Mamau's Cheese Straws

A batch of any Southern grandmother's cheese straws won't last long, so grab a handful while you can and enjoy the crispy, cheesy kick. Sometimes, the simplest treats make the biggest impression.

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Buttermilk-Pecan Pralines

Buttermilk-Pecan Pralines
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe: Buttermilk-Pecan Pralines

This New Orleans favorite is a welcome guest at any holiday dessert table. These treats are as rich as their history and so good that we can't resist whipping them up year-round.

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Cranberry Baked Brie Bites

Cranberry Baked Brie Bites
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Cranberry Baked Brie Bites

A festive take on a classic crowd-pleaser, these hors d'oeuvres are elevated by winter cranberry and a crunchy crust, all in a bite-sized package. Each miniature baked brie truly has it all: melty cheese, seasonal homemade sauce, nuts, and flaky pastry.

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Angel Biscuits

Angel Biscuits
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

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. You can make them up to a week ahead and store in the fridge until ready to bake. Don't forget to brush them with golden melted butter before serving.

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Vanessa's Make-Ahead Beefy Lasagna

Vanessa's Make-Ahead Beefy Lasagna
Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Recipe: Vanessa's Make-Ahead Beefy Lasagna

Keeping a big casserole dish of lasagna in the freezer is a major holiday power move that grandmothers have been pulling for decades. A jar of pesto is the secret ingredient in this hearty 13x9 recipe fit for feeding a crowd.

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My Grandmother's Meatballs

My Grandmother's Meatballs
© John Kernick

Recipe: My Grandmother's Meatballs

No holiday celebration is complete without Grandma's meatballs. This recipe relies on milk-and-cream soaked breadcrumbs and an egg to bring them together.

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