It's that time of year when family and friends gather around the dinner table to share stories and enjoy a delicious holiday meal. If you've already volunteered to host the dinner, you can expect to do a bit of prep work before the big day. For this reason, I prefer recipes that can be made ahead so I have time to enjoy chatting with my guests. I prepare all the ingredients the day before and, if possible, assemble whatever can be placed in baking dishes so they're ready to go into the oven. I also set my table the night before to allow a little wiggle room in the next day's dinner schedule.
These four delicious side dishes are perfect for any holiday meal and will have your guests asking for the recipes — and scooping up seconds!
No-Fuss Roasted Vegetables
This easy recipe from Delish is healthy and light compared to many holiday side dishes. What I love most is the tanginess of the vinegar blended with sweet cranberries. Another plus — you can chop the vegetables and herbs the day before, then quickly toss them into a baking dish 30 minutes before serving dinner.
3/4 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scatter vegetables on a large baking sheet. Toss with oil, vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring them in the pan halfway through cooking. Before serving, toss in pecans and cranberries.
Stuffing With Chorizo and Poblanos
Ree Drummond's recipes are some of the best I've ever had, so of course, I include her tasty stuffing from The Pioneer Woman in my holiday dinner lineup.
6 tablespoons butter
1 pound loaf Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound fresh chorizo, casings removed
4 stalks celery, diced
1 large (or 2 small) poblano chili peppers, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside. On a separate baking sheet, spread out the cubed bread and bake for 10-15 minutes until dry but not brown. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook (stirring occasionally) until browned, about 6 minutes. Add celery, poblano and onion. Cook for 6-8 minutes more until vegetables are soft. Add all seasonings and garlic, then stir, cooking 1 more minute. Remove chorizo/veggie mixture from the skillet and pour it into a large bowl with the bread. Combine and set aside. Heat chicken broth for 3 minutes in the skillet. Pour warm broth slowly into the bread/chorizo bowl and toss until moistened but not saturated. Transfer the stuffing to the greased baking dish, then cut the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and scatter over the stuffing mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
Sweet Potato and Pecan Casserole
My mother made this casserole every holiday but often doubled the recipe because everyone wanted the leftovers. So, I prep it for my family and put it together the day before our big dinner. This recipe also freezes well!
3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (about 4-5 medium-sized potatoes)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons, melted butter
Mix the first 7 ingredients together and pour into a greased casserole dish. To make the topping, place the last 4 ingredients in a bowl and stir with a fork until it makes crumbles. Spread evenly over the casserole and bake at 325 for 30 minutes.
Cauliflower Au Gratin
You can't go wrong with a recipe from Ina Garten, and this cheesy cauliflower dish will outshine any traditional mashed potato side. This recipe can also be prepared a day ahead and baked 30 minutes before serving dinner.
1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375. Cook cauliflower in boiling water for 5-6 minutes until tender but firm. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add flour, stirring constantly, with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour hot milk into the pan and stir until it comes to a boil. Once it boils, whisk constantly for 1 minute or until thickened. Take the pan off the heat, and add 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and all the parmesan. Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of a greased 8x11x2-inch baking dish. Place drained cauliflower on top, then spread the rest of the sauce evenly over it all. Combine breadcrumbs with Gruyere and sprinkle over the top. Melt the last 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle more salt and pepper on top, then bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly brown.
What's your favorite Christmas Day side dish? Let us know in the comments below.