31 Recipes to Make in December

Spitzbuben Holiday Cookie Recipe
Photo: Photo by Jenny Huang / Food Styling by Tyna Hoang / Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka

December tends to be a busy time of the year, but with these 31 recipes—one for each day of the month—we've got you covered. For a festive treat, make a batch of Banana Challah Fritters With Sweet Tahini Sauce or Fudgy Grasshopper Sandwich Cookies. Or go all out on a Seafood Tower with Crab Salad with Serrano and Kewpie Mayonnaise and Scallop and Apple Tartare. Need a pick-me-up? An Espresso Martini is your best friend. Read on for even more recipes to make this month, and start planning your menus now.

>> The nights are getting longer and just a tad bit colder, so it’s the season for slow-roasted dishes that fill your house with wondrous smells. The Le Creuset Dutch Oven is sure to get the job done to perfection every time. And with a range of colors, you can personalize it to match the rest of your kitchen decor. 

Sponsored by Le Creuset

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Banana Fosters Cheesecake

Bananas Foster Cheesecake
Bananas Foster Cheesecake.

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

In this recipe, two classic desserts become one in the form of Bananas Foster Cheesecake. The cinnamon-scented buttery crust doubles down on the nutty pecan flavor by using pecan sandies and pecans. The crust comes together easily in a food processor,  meaning you don’t have to do any chopping.

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Khao Soi

Khao Soi
Khao Soi.

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

An aromatic mixture made of shallot, garlic, and radish is the base of this riff on the Northern Thai classic from chef Donny Sirisavath. He amps up the flavor with soybean paste, cherry tomatoes, and ground pork to create a deeply savory pork sauce. Red pepper flakes, black pepper, and palm sugar act as a balancing act to the spices and aromatics in the sauce. The addition of grated galangal in combination with the lemongrass offers a really nice floral fragrant note to the overall dish.

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Cranberry-Onion Hanukkah Brisket

Cranberry-Onion Hanukkah Brisket
Justin Walker

This nearly effortless brisket gets a festive garnet glaze from cranberries; their tart sweetness cuts through the super-savory onion soup mix and hearty brisket with ease. Double-roasting the brisket yields incredibly tender meat that soaks up the concentrated sauce.

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Citrus-Champagne Punch

Citrus-Champagne Punch Recipe
Justin Walker

Inspired by old-school 7-UP sherbet punch, this grown-up version is spiked with piney gin, tart lemon sorbet, and a generous splash of fizzy Champagne. This punch is only as good as the Champagne you use, so splurge for the good stuff!

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Crab Salad with Serrano and Kewpie Mayonnaise

Crab Salad with Serrano and Kewpie Mayonnaise

Justin Chapple’s Crab Salad with Serrano and Kewpie Mayonnaise recipe combines bright and acidic lime juice with cilantro, mint, and flaky, sweet crab meat. The richness and velvety texture of the crab salad base of kewpie mayo and chiles delicately coats the crabmeat without masking the naturally sweet and succulent seafood. 

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Go with Cookware That Can Endure Heavy Use

Le Creuset pan
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Hanukkah Doughnuts

Hanukkah Doughnuts
John Kernick

Hebrew for "doughnuts," sufganiyot are the most popular Hanukkah food in Israel. These fried treats are simply made from balls of yeast dough and filled with chocolate, creams, curd or, as here, jam. Bakeries and markets start frying them weeks before the actual holiday and keep going until the week after. With Andrew Zimmern's recipe, you can prepare them year-round.

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Standing Pork Rib Roast with Cracklings

Standing Pork Rib Roast with Cracklings
Con Poulos

This crispy, crackly pork rib roast, from butcher Erika Nakamura, is flavored with just one ingredient: kosher salt.

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Winter Chicory Salad with Kumquats and Date Dressing

Winter Chicory Salad with Kumquats and Date Dressing
Greg DuPree

A mix of young chicories, like endive, frisée, and radicchio, make for a blast of color welcome during colder months. If kumquats are unavailable, use paper-thin slices of unpeeled clementines.

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Juniper-Rubbed Roast Duck with Cherry Jus

Juniper-Rubbed Roast Duck with Cherry Jus
Christopher Testani

Angie Mar models her roast duck on the one her father made every Christmas. After a prolonged salt cure, he'd cold-smoke it so the fat picked up the whiff of sweet smoke. Then he'd slow-roast the bird until it resembled the crisp-skinned, mahogany-hued ducks that hang in the windows in Chinatown. Mar serves hers with a rich sauce of reduced duck broth and tart cherries as a nod to the cherry trees in the Pacific Northwest where she grew up.

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Cauliflower Salad with Yogurt Sauce and Pomegranate

Cauliflower Salad with Yogurt Sauce and Pomegranate
Greg DuPree

Inspired by her mother's fried eggplant salad, Reem Kassis tops fried cauliflower with toasted nuts, pomegranate arils, and lemon-and-garlic-laced yogurt.

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Crispy Skillet Latke with Kale

Crispy Skillet Latke with Kale
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

For Ashkenazi Jews (those hailing from Central and Eastern Europe), latkes are the heart and soul of Hanukkah. Instead of frying batches of traditional pancakes, here the whole lot of shredded potato batter is pressed into a sizzling frying pan and finished in the oven. The oversized pancake emerges golden with a tender center and crackly shoestring curls around the perimeter. To amp this dish up for brunch, serve it topped with lox.

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Brown Butter-Cardamom Spitzbuben

Spitzbuben Holiday Cookie Recipe
Photo by Jenny Huang / Food Styling by Tyna Hoang / Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka

German for "cheeky boys," these Bavarian cookies will be the star of your holiday cookie platter. Brown butter and cardamom make this simple cookie into a fragrant treat. Take the time to freshly grind the cardamom—its robust, citrusy flavor is worth it. You can use round or fluted cutters to cut out the cookies and any shape that takes your fancy for the center.

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Coulibiac of Salmon with Pickled Beets and Kale

Coulibiac of Salmon Recipe
Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Once the centerpiece on the tables of czars, coulibiac has a storied past. The pastry-wrapped parcel of fish and various layered fillings started its life as kulebyaka, a Russian delicacy, before being commandeered by the French and rechristened coulibiac. This modern update on the classic swaps labor-intensive brioche with store-bought phyllo, which bakes into an ethereally crisp parcel that encases lemony rice, mustard-brushed salmon, pickled beets, and garlicky kale.

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Carrots en Croûte

Carrots en Croute
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

This filling appetizer stars curry-and honey-roasted carrots wrapped in flaky puff pastry. For best results, look for carrots that are five to six inches in length. Pre-roasting carrots with curry and thyme balances their natural sweetness with rich, savory flavor, making them a satisfying stand-in for sausages.

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Caramelized Five-Onion Dip

Caramelized Five Onion Dip
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

A mix of five different alliums — shallots, scallions, and sweet, yellow, and red onions — upgrades this classic caramelized onion dip with layers of flavor.

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Oyster Mushroom Tamales with Mole Encacahuatado

Oyster Mushroom Tamales with Mole Encacahuatado
DYLAN + JENI

Paola Briseño González roasts oyster mushrooms, concentrating their flavor, for a hearty vegetarian tamale filling. Paired with velvety, intensely aromatic, and deeply savory peanut mole, or mole encacahuatado, these tamales satisfy everyone at the table.

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Chile Crisp-Glazed Bacon Bites

Chile Crisp Glazed Bacon Bites
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

For this party snack, meaty bites of slow-roasted slab bacon are tossed with a homemade chile crisp that's studded with freshly toasted chunks of dried chiles, fresh ginger, and garlic. Native to Mexico, slender and spicy dried Japones chiles lend their heat to this quick and easy version of the popular Chinese condiment. For an even easier version, try this recipe with your favorite store-bought version of chile crisp.

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Kumquat-Riesling Gummies

Kumquat Riesling Gummies
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Bright orange kumquats give these gorgeous gummies their all-natural sunny glow and a puckery, sweet-and-sour flavor. To play up the tartness, a citric acid coating adds a burst of sour flavor and a craveable quality.

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Farro Mafaldine with Black Truffle Butter and Mushrooms

Farro Mafaldine with Black Truffle Butter and Mushrooms
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

"The best way to cook with truffles is as simply as possible," says chef Karen Akunowicz, of the Northern Italian restaurant Fox & the Knife in Boston. Bold in scent and flavor, black winter truffles require very little coaxing to lend their heady punch to a dish, though Akunowicz does recommend using a bit of gentle heat, which helps develop and release their deepest flavor, as in this elegant-yet-hearty dish, which pairs creamy butter, nutty farro pasta, and a fortifying mix of wild mushrooms with just enough truffle to elevate each forkful.

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Miss Kim's Fried Tofu

Miss Kim's Fried Tofu
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

At her restaurant Miss Kim in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ji Hye Kim, a 2021 F&W Best New Chef, tosses deep-fried crispy tofu in a flavorful salty-sweet brown sugar glaze amped up with a handful of powerhouse ingredients, including Korean soy sauce (made exclusively from fermented soy beans), gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes) and ginger. For a shorter day-of cook time, make the sauce and the cornstarch-dusted tofu up to a day ahead, and store in the refrigerator; warm up the sauce and fry the tofu just before serving. Garnished with sesame seeds and scallions, the glazed fried tofu is a festive appetizer or can be paired with kimchi and rice for a vegetarian meal.

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Date and Walnut Rugelach with Tahini Glaze

Date and Walnut Rugelach with Tahini Glaze

Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Rugelach, a 20th century adaptation of the filled, crescent cookies from Central and Eastern Europe known as kipfel, are popular year-round and often served for Hanukkah and Shavuot. 

This rugelach recipe from Faith Kramer starts with a cream cheese and butter-based dough that is scented with cinnamon and cardamom. Date, walnut, and spice filling come together in the food processor and are brightened with the inclusion of lemon zest. Date syrup added onto the dough during assembly deepens the flavor of the filling while providing additional sweetness.

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Cheddar Cheese Coins

Cheddar Cheese Coins
Cheddar Cheese Coins.

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

These savory snacks have a crisp texture, buttery mouthfeel, and a sharp, cheese-filled bite. When creating this recipe, Lisa Donovan drew inspiration from her cheese straw recipe, a variation of a recipe from the iconic culinary duo Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, and then morphed it into a cracker. Part of the beauty of this recipe is that it’s easy to create variations on it, once you have mastered the basic process.

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Lasagna with Mushroom Ragù and Prosciutto Cotto

Lasagna with Mushroom Ragu and Prosciutto Cotto
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

This 24-layered pasta masterpiece from Danielle Glantz, chef and owner of Pastaio Via Corta, a pasta shop in Gloucester, Massachusetts, consists of a hearty mushroom ragù made with both dried and fresh mushrooms; a creamy, onion-infused béchamel; and salty slices of prosciutto cotto, layered between handmade sheets of pasta. "The pasta sheets are like silk—it's something special to share with the people you care about most," says Glantz, who likes to spread this project recipe out rather than making everything at once. "I suggest spacing out the recipe over a couple days. Make the ragù, then make the béchamel, and the morning of, make the pasta."

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Calamari Toast with Hawthorn Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

Calamari Toast with Hawthorn Sweet and Sour Sauce
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

This crunchy party appetizer from 2021 F&W Best New Chef Lucas Sin, of Junzi Kitchen and Nice Day in New York City, is inspired by classic Chinese shrimp toast. Here, Sin combines calamari and shrimp for the toast topper; a quick blitz in the food processor yields a tasty mixture that fries up perfectly crisp. Haw flakes, Chinese sweets made from the fruit of Chinese hawthorn, are a sweet and tangy snack usually served to guests with tea or as a treat for children; in this recipe, Sin uses them to flavor a dipping sauce for the toasts.

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Banana Challah Fritters With Sweet Tahini Sauce

Banana Challah Fritters
Banana Challah Fritters.

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Your Hannakah spread needs these challah fritters with big banana flavor. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, these Banana Challah Fritters are like fried banana pudding, but even better. As is the case with most banana desserts, starting with overripe bananas will give you the best banana flavor; this is a great way to use those bananas that are just about to be tossed out.

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Chilled Lobster Tails with Green Goddess Aioli

Chilled Lobster Tails with Green Goddess Aioli

Justin Chapple’s recipe for Chilled Lobster Tails with Green Goddess Aioli serves perfectly steamed lobster tails with a creamy and herb-packed dip.

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Coquito

Coquito
Photo by Jacob Fox / Food Styling by Lauren McAnelly / Prop Styling by Jessica Thomas; Susan Mitchell

Coquito, or "little coconut," is a traditional creamy rum punch served in Puerto Rico for Christmas and throughout the winter holidays. While some cookbook recipes refer to the drink as coconut eggnog, each family puts their own twist on the drink: Some include eggs or egg yolks, others do not. Shamil Velázquez, the executive chef of Delaney Oyster House in Charleston, stands firmly in the no-egg camp. Velázquez's coquito recipe takes its richness and viscosity instead from coconut cream and three types of milk, while warming spices and white rum add aroma and flavor. In Puerto Rico, some families use pistachios, almonds, and even Nutella to flavor their proprietary blends. "People get crazy with this stuff around the island," Velázquez says. "My family's signature is the ginger, which gives a little spiciness. That's what makes ours different."

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Roasted Soy-Citrus Chilean Sea Bass

Roasted Soy-Citrus Sea Bass
Photo by Jacob Fox / Food Styling by Lauren McAnelly / Prop Styling by Jessica Thomas ; Susan Mitchell

This tender, flaky oven-roasted Chilean sea bass is the headliner on musician Patrice Rushen's holiday table. To make it, Rushen bakes butter-rubbed fillets in a citrus-forward mixture of freshly juiced oranges, ponzu, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic, which infuses the fish with a lovely flavor without overwhelming it. Seek out Chilean sea bass with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification label to ensure it was caught sustainably, or substitute salmon or halibut, which are also good choices for this preparation. Timing will vary depending on thickness of your fish; for thinner fillets, begin checking fish after about 12 minutes into the cooking time.

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Hot Buttered Rum Biscotti

Hot Buttered Rum Biscotti

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Sweetened browned butter, rum, and warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice form the base of blogger Jonathan Melendez’s holiday treat – a cookie interpretation of a buttered rum cocktail. Rum extract provides a punch of flavor without adding a lot of moisture, ensuring the dough stays soft and pliable, not sticky, for easy shaping. A double-bake gives the cookies a toasty flavor and crisp texture, perfect for dunking in a mug of boozy hot buttered rum.

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Oysters with Yuzu Kosho Mignonette

Oysters with Yuzu Kosho Mignonette

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Victoria Granof / Prop Styling by Karin Olsen

Justin Chapple’s recipe for Oysters with Yuzu Kosho Mignonette combines citrusy and slightly spicy yuzu kosho with briny oysters on the half shell. Yuzu kosho is an intensely flavored fermented Japanese condiment that’s made with yuzu (a fragrant citrus fruit that’s somewhere between a lime, a lemon, and a mandarin orange), chiles, and salt. When mixed with mild rice vinegar and shallot, it’s transformed into a mignonette-style condiment that complements both East and West Coast oysters. 

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Fudgy Grasshopper Sandwich Cookies

Fudgy Grasshopper Sandwich Cookies

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Matcha powder adds festive color to these crisp butter cookies from Aiko Cascio, a Japanese cooking instructor with the League of Kitchens in New York City. Cascio learned how to make these not-too-sweet matcha tea–flavored cookies from a friend who owns a bakery in Tokyo, where they are popular during the winter holiday season. Matcha powder is made from finely milled green tea leaves and imparts a slightly bitter and earthy flavor to these cookies, and melted white chocolate boosts the sweetness and gives them a festive look. Due to the high ratio of butter in the dough, it softens quickly at room temperature; chill it in between rolling and cutting for clean cuts.

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