41 Essential Christmas Dinner Side Dishes
Roasted Winter Squash with Vanilla Butter
Fragrant vanilla-bean butter does double duty here—it both flavors the squash and softens the skin during roasting. The greater the variety of winter squash you use, the more interesting the dish will be. Top it all off with fried sage leaves for a simple and easy side dish.
Roasted Beets with Beet Green Salsa Verde
Tyler Florence uses beets and their greens to make this fresh and vibrant side dish. If you can’t find beets with beautiful greens, Swiss chard or curly spinach leaves can be used instead.
Speck-Wrapped Haricots Verts with Date Molasses
Wrapped in salty speck and glazed with date molasses, these bundles of crisp, tender haricots verts are the perfect pairing for beef or duck. Date molasses is thinner than standard molasses, so it needs to be cooked down to reach a glaze consistency; if it sets up too much, gently reheat it.
British Roast Vegetable Salad with Stilton
This salad celebrates the often-underrated vegetable sides that accompany a Sunday roast.
Schmaltzy Hakurei Turnips with Rosemary
Japanese white hakurei turnips (also called salad turnips) are much sweeter than regular purple and white turnips and taste great served with their greens—a perfect side for roast chicken or turkey. Start the turnips in a cold pan; letting them slowly heat helps bring them to perfect tenderness without browning too quickly.
Caramelized Vegetables with Dijon Butter
This simple roasted vegetable side dish tastes rich and complex thanks to mustard-spiced butter.
This gratin from Kay Chun features long spears of squash topped with panko and cheese and baked until tender and crisp.
Little Gem Lettuce with White Anchovies
Star chef Geoffrey Zakarian's herb-packed salad dressing is brightly flavored, sweet and tangy; it's like green goddess dressing but without the mayonnaise or sour cream.
Roasted Mushrooms with Red Wine Butter
Instead of cooking mushrooms in a skillet, chef Geoffrey Zakarian roasts them in the oven until tender before tossing them in a buttery red wine sauce with garlic and fresh herbs.
Creamed Spinach with Fried Cheese Curds
Chef Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis has a version of this incredibly decadent creamed spinach on his menu. Just how much do Minnesotans love cheese curds? The restaurant sold 8,459 orders of the dish in its first 10 months.
Sweet Potato Pavé
Super-thin slices of sweet potato are key to the finished texture and shape of these crispy bites. Use a mandoline for the best results, stabbing the last bit of potato with a fork to keep fingers safe.
Fried Wild Rice with Mustard Greens and Mushrooms
Properly cooked wild rice retains a pleasant crunch that adds satisfying texture to this fried rice. Paired with lightly spicy mustard greens, sweet celery, and tender, meaty mushrooms, it’s an earthy, savory side dish that could be a meal on its own.
Parsnip Mash with Fried Brussels Sprout Leaves
Mashed parsnips might be even better than mashed potatoes. They have the same creamy, luscious texture, with the addition of a distinctly nutty, slightly sweet flavor. Once topped with crispy brussels sprout leaves, this dish becomes 100 percent irresistible.
Crushed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Lemon
Chef Dan Holzman crushes his skin-on potatoes right in the saucepan and adds lemon and parsley for terrific flavor.
Sautéed Collard Greens with Pepperoni
Collards are often paired with bacon, but our new favorite twist is to flavor the greens with spicy pepperoni.
Glazed Pickled Red Cabbage
This recipe is Nadine Levy Redzepi’s riff on traditional Danish red cabbage, a very popular dish eaten throughout the year, especially at Christmas. It’s a lovely balance of sweet and tangy, with some richness from the addition of duck fat.
Creamed Spinach and Parsnips
This luscious side dish can be prepared up to three days ahead. The duo of sweet parsnip and creamy spinach is unbeatable.
Asiago and Sage Scalloped Potatoes
Holiday Make-Ahead Tip: The potatoes can be baked up to 5 hours ahead; let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in the oven before serving.
Endive and Grapefruit Salad with Smoked Trout
Suggested wine pairing: The best bet for this salad is a Sauvignon Blanc with herbal and grapefruit hints, such as those from South Africa or New Zealand.
Flash-Roasted Broccoli with Spicy Crumbs
The genius idea here is pulsing sliced pepperoni with bread crumbs to add a ton of extra flavor and a great crunch to broccoli.
Pull-Apart Cheesy Onion Bread
This recipe is as fun to eat as monkey bread (little balls of yeast dough that are baked in a pan together, then pulled apart at the table) but a lot less time-consuming to make. Grace Parisi spreads her buttery biscuit dough with a savory onion-Gruyère mixture, stacks layers of it sideways in a loaf pan, then bakes it until golden and fluffy.
Warm Mushroom Salad
Warm salads used to be common on restaurant menus, but their popularity has waned, for no good reason. This terrific salad is made with warm mushrooms that develop great meaty flavor when cooked with soy sauce.
Spice Roasted Butternut Squash
This quick side comes together in under an hour, and is flavored with ground cumin, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper for a kick.
Healthy Potato Gratin with Herbs
Inspired by a potato gratin at Restaurant Daniel in New York City, this creamy—but creamless—recipe gets great flavor from thyme and rosemary.
Lemony Beet and Beet Green Salad
Buying beets with the beet greens still attached is like getting two ingredients in one. To turn them into this fabulous salad, roast the beets until they’re sweet, blanch the greens until they’re tender, then toss both with olive oil, lemon and anchovies.
Spinach Bread Pudding with Lemon and Feta
Blogger Heidi Swanson shares this lightened bread pudding in her cookbook, Super Natural Every Day.
Green Bean-and-Blood Orange Salad
“Blood oranges are part of my Sicily fascination,” Renato Poliafito says. He uses the segments to add color and tang to green beans and reduces the juice with balsamic vinegar to make the dressing.
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
The combination of pecorino and Parmesan gives these potatoes a great cheesy depth.
Broccoli and Cheddar Casserole with Leeks
This classic is updated with deep-flavored cheddar and a crunchy topping of crumbled crackers and toasted almonds.
Spinach Salad with Citrus and Roasted Beets
Curly leaf spinach has great texture and flavor and holds this mustardy dressing well. For additional color, feel free to use a variety of different colored beets. You can also swap blood oranges for the tangerines.
Butternut Squash Basmati Rice
Adding butternut squash and spices is a lovely way to jazz up rice.
Pearl Onions au Gratin
Inspired by the pickled pearl onions that became a family tradition (“Mom just served them straight out of the jar and threw a toothpick at them”), Barbara Lynch bakes fresh pearl onions in a mixture of cream, garlic, shallots and bacon, then tops it all with a crispy panko crust.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
The only thing better than a full plate of caramelized brussels sprouts is a plate of brussels sprouts with pancetta.
For this vegetable side, L’Etoile chef Tory Miller's local gin source is Death's Door Spirits in Madison, Wisconsin, a distillery that uses wild juniper berries harvested on Washington Island in Lake Michigan. “I love that they pick all those juniper berries by hand up in Door County,” he says.