Tempted though I may be to dictate your holiday spread, I'm given to understand that each family has its steadfast Christmas traditions. And hey, I'm working on my generosity of spirit*. So, rather than give you a whittled-down selection à la Serious Entertainings of time past, we're instead going to embark on a little choose-your-own-adventure...adventure.
*It also must be said that here at Serious Eats, we've been testing holiday recipes since early October, meaning that: a. we get to have a Christmas-quality feast on a weekly basis and, b. this menu could potentially go on for days. (Also, c. I am getting fat and it's great.)
So, without further ado, join me on a tour of our holiday recipe highlights!
When I have a multi-course dinner to prepare, the prospect of tackling labor-intensive appetizers can get daunting fast. My solution is to take the make-ahead route—I whip up a few dips and spreads, stick them in the fridge, and then take care of any final steps before company arrives. My personal favorites? A briny black olive tapenade or this bubbling hot bowl of creamy three-cheese artichoke dip. And, of course, no holiday meal in my household is complete without a rich and creamy mousse, whether you're a chicken or duck liver fanatic like I am, or prefer this meatless (but no less delicious) mushroom pâté, instead.
But hey, that's just me. See more holiday appetizers and hors d'oeuvres »
A well-balanced root vegetable salad has the potential to become a highlight of your meal, and I happen to love this beet and citrus salad with pine nut vinaigrette. Then again, I wouldn't turn my nose up at the tart, sweet, and peppery notes in, say, a persimmon and arugula salad with pomegranate seeds, mint, and feta cheese.
Still not satisfied? We've got more choices, right this way »
I'm going to go out on limb here and say that potatoes are a must-have at your Christmas table. If you have time and a little patience, go for this crisp-topped cheesy Hasselback potato gratin. Looks pretty awesome, right? Just wait till you taste it.
If gratins aren't in your wheelhouse (or you're intimidated by the geometry and physics of this dish), we've got you covered with everything from the crispiest of smashed potatoes to the creamiest onion-spiked mash. Check out all the options, along with more vegetable sides »
Might I suggest the king of holiday roasts, a.k.a. the all-belly porchetta? Rolled and slow-roasted, with a crisp, crackly skin and tender, melt-in-your-mouth interior, it's about as decadent a holiday roast as you can get. That is, unless you also cook it sous-vide and deep fry it.
But whether you're married to a perfect Christmas ham or looking to change things up with a crazy-tender slow-roasted boneless leg of lamb, there's plenty of inspiration to be had! Just head on over to our full holiday roast collection »
Whether you're feeling ambitious enough to whip up a classic Christmas cake—mayhaps an almost-too-good-to-be-true Chocolate and Salted Caramel Bûche de Nöel?—or looking for a low-maintenance and easy drop cookie recipe, we've got your back. Catch our full array of holiday cookies and cakes »
What's a holiday dinner without at least one inappropriately drunk relative? And there's no better way to get them there than ensuring you've got a well-stocked bar and some large-batch seasonal cocktails that go down nice and easy? But wait, there's more!
- 16 Sparkling Cocktails to Dazzle Your Party Guests
- The Serious Eats Guide to Holiday Beer Pairing
- Holiday Wine Pairing Advice: What to Drink With Ham, Lamb, Prime Rib, and More
About the author: Niki Achitoff-Gray is the associate editor of Serious Eats and a recent graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She's pretty big into oysters, offal, and most edible things. You can follow her on Twitter at @eatandcry.