Fancy clam dip is a holiday party masterpiece.

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated December 07, 2019
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Warming soups. Crisp, freshly baked cookies. Hors d'oeuvres to feed a crowd. Winter is one of the busiest cooking seasons of the year, and as soon as it gets cold outside, we start brainstorming what to cook for the next few (very dark) months.

Some editors love a classic, bubbling cheesy pasta bake; others make satisfying meals out of loaded dip, potato chips, and crackers. We’ve included 14 of our favorite dishes to carry you through to spring.

Pull-Apart Milk Bread Wreath

Greg DuPree

“This buttery, pillowy, and salty bread wreath was a hit at Thanksgiving, so I’m anxious to make it again for the Christmas dinner crowd. I might even try to throw in some finely chopped herbs or dried cranberries to give it a festive kick.” – Adam Campbell-Schmitt, associate news editor

Get the recipe here.

Fancy Clam Dip

Justin Walker

“So often when I’m eating something, I’ll be like, ‘You know what, this really should be a dip.’ All the best foods are dips. Guacamole? That’s a dip. Pimiento cheese? Dip. Our Fancy Clam Dip from the December issue? Yet another dip. I can’t wait to walk around a New Year’s party with a big bowl of it, shouting 'clammmmm diiiiiiiiip!'” – Ryan Grim, digital executive editor

Get the recipe here.

Four-Layer Caviar Dip

Justin Walker

“I am a huge fan of light-feeling appetizers, and this caviar pie manages to look and taste totally decadent while pairing beautifully with champagne, martinis, or crisp white wine as an aperitif.” – Mary-Frances Heck, senior food editor 

Get the recipe here.

Winter Galette

John Kernick

“In the colder months, when my weekly farm share becomes more of a root vegetable share, this galette has become my go-to for dinner parties and potlucks. It's a hearty, comforting, and impressive way to use up those winter veggies languishing in the bottom drawer—sweet potatoes, celeriac, parsnips, rutabaga, hard winter squashes, carrots, and more all work beautifully here. The recipe calls for drizzling with lemon honey, but as a hot sauce devotee, I personally opt for spicy honey instead.” – Meg Clark, senior audience engagement editor

Get the recipe here.

Crab Macaroni Gratin

Jennifer Causey

“As soon as the weather gets cold, my mind immediately drifts to baked pasta—bubbling, cheesy, and comforting, with a crispy crust on top begging to be shattered with a spoon. This crab macaroni gratin checks off all the boxes. It includes three of my favorite cheeses—Gruyère, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and cheddar—and combines them with fresh Dungeness crabmeat for the ultimate indulgent meal. I’m saving it for our next snowy weekend.” – Bridget Hallinan, digital reporter

Get the recipe here.

Spaghetti with Clams and Garlic

“The month of December for me is just one long build up to the Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition where you prepare (AT LEAST) seven seafood dishes. Spaghetti and clams is always a huge crowd pleaser; I like to make mine with extra crushed red pepper.” – Maria Yagoda, digital restaurant editor

Get the recipe here.

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Homemade Harissa

“I love this slow-roasted lamb shoulder recipe from Peter Hoffman—it’s all tear-apart with your hands luscious lamb and warming Mediterranean spices. Not sure what Peter is up to these days, but at his wonderful SoHo restaurant Savoy (sadly closed in 2011) he was doing farm-to-table cooking before anyone had even coined the term.” – Ray Isle, executive wine editor

Get the recipe here.

Pork Meatball Stew with Carrots and Pickled Mustard Greens

Christopher Testani

"The recipe components in this stew (the broth, the veggies, and the meatballs) have all become individual staples for my winter cooking. The broth is smoky and rich, the veggies are bright and maintain their individual flavor, and the meatballs are a perfect ratio. The prepped components come together with a chef’s sensibility, making this the perfect make-ahead winter entertaining dish." – M.F.H.

Get the recipe here.

Burmese Samusa Soup

Greg DuPree

“Come winter, I lean into soups big time. I’m looking forward to making this Burmese Samusa Soup to break up my vegetarian chili, chicken soup, lentil soup rotation. The recipe, from Desmond Tan’s Burma Superstar in San Francisco, is seasoned to the hilt with black mustard seeds, cumin and turmeric, and fresh mint and cilantro, and each spoonful delivers a riot of textures—crunchy cabbage, fluffy potato, and creamy tender lentils. It’s a bowlful of life and color and verve when I need it most.” – Karen Shimizu, executive editor

Get the recipe here.

Lamb Shank Posole

"I don’t care whether it’s for a Sunday supper for family or a dinner party for friends, Hugh Acheson’s lamb-shank take on a classic Mexican posole is absurdly delicious, and easy to make as well (as long as you have a few hours to spare)." – R.I.

Get the recipe here.

Hanukkah Doughnuts

John Kernick

“I’m looking forward to trying my hand at Andrew Zimmern’s sufganiyot. My husband’s family observes Hanukkah, and mine observes Christmas, so in our house we celebrate both. I’m excited to make these with my toddler this year, as we start new combined-holiday family traditions—because fried balls of dough bring everyone together.” – Caroline Schnapp, audience engagement editor

Get the recipe here.

Chocolate-and-Citrus Cassata

Victor Protasio

“I’m hosting a holiday party this year, and I'm keeping the menu super simple and accepting all the contributions offered by my guests. I'm planning to have one spectacular centerpiece, though, in the form of the chocolate-and-citrus cassata. The flavor profile gives me holiday nostalgia for chocolate oranges, and it looks so gorgeous!” – Sarah Crowder, digital photo editor

Get the recipe here.

Triple Chocolate–Peppermint Cookies

Justin Walker

“In my family, the holidays are allllll about dessert—which means chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. I also love anything with peppermint during this time of year, and I’m really excited to make my very own mom’s triple chocolate Big.Fat.Cookie with pink peppermint bark!” – Nina Friend, assistant editor

Get the recipe here.

Slightly Chewy Ginger Cookies

© John Kernick

“This is the ultimate cookie for pairing with coffee, tea or hot chocolate all winter long. Think of shortbread, but make it ginger snaps. Simple and delightful.” – Megan Soll, associate digital editor, ecommerce

Get the recipe here.