Giada De Laurentiis' Best-Ever Holiday Recipes

While delivering the comforting flavors of the season, Giada brings Italian style to classic dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Photo By: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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Photo By: Alice Gao ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2009

Photo By: Alice Gao ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Tara Donne

Photo By: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Marshall Troy ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

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Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Giada de Laurentiis ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini

Instead of serving a wedge of crusty bread alongside her garlic-laced soup, Giada floats a toasty piece of crostini right on top in the bowl. She layers the bread with a bit of fragrant sage and then a sprinkle of creamy fontina for extra richness.

Get the Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini

Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta

In place of traditional bacon and white bread, Giada opts for pancetta, an Italian cured bacon, plus day-old ciabatta bread, which is just the right texture to absorb the flavors of the stuffing. She bakes the stuffing in two parts: first covered so the inside can heat through, then uncovered so the top turns crisp and golden.

Get the Recipe: Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta

Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto

Eight minutes and just a handful of ingredients — that's all it takes to make Giada's easy yet elegant appetizer. These cheesy bites are satisfying enough to serve guests when they arrive, but they won't fill them up ahead of the turkey dinner.

Get the Recipe: Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Breadcrumbs

There are regular mashed potatoes, sure. Then there's this beauty of a creamy casserole. For over-the-top richness, Giada mixes plenty of gooey mozzarella and nutty Parmesan into the mashed potatoes before she tops them with a blanket of cheesy breadcrumbs and bakes the casserole until it's golden brown with crispy bits on top. Perhaps best of all, you can assemble this side dish ahead of time and bake it when you're ready to eat.

Get the Recipe: Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs

Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus

Giada's secret for roasting the most-succulent bird? Stuffing it with plenty of bold flavors, like a duo of citrus fruits, plus fresh onion and fragrant herbs. When it comes to the outside of the turkey, she keeps it simple: just melted butter laced with herbes de Provence and seasonings.

Get the Recipe: Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus

Apple and Walnut Torta

Lightly sweetened and full of quintessential seasonal flavors, like cranberries, warm cinnamon and bright orange zest, Giada's easy-to-make torta comes together in just 45 minutes and is best served alongside indulgent vanilla ice cream.

Get the Recipe: Apple and Walnut Torta

Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts

Consider this the ultimate all-in-one veggie side for your Thanksgiving table. There are no fewer than five kinds of colorful produce, including golden sweet potatoes, and for added flavor Giada opts for crowd-favorite herbs like dried oregano and dried rosemary. 

Get the Recipe: Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts

Thanksgiving Turkeys

Once you've melted the chocolate chips, which will act as the glue for the peanut butter cup body of the turkey, it all comes down to assembly when making these quick-fix treats. 

Apple Cider Shandy

If you have two minutes, then you can make Giada's go-to cocktail. She combines lager beer with sparkling apple cider for a chilled, seasonal sipper.

Get the Recipe: Apple Cider Shandy

Turkey Bolognese

When you've just about had your fill of turkey soup, look to Giada's 5-star pasta to use up the rest of your Thanksgiving turkey. For the sake of simplicity, Giada uses a ready-to-go marinara sauce (though the store-bought stuff works well too, she says) to bring together her pasta in less than an hour.

Get the Recipe: Turkey Bolognese

Christmas Stuffing with Bacon

Who says that stuffing is reserved for Thanksgiving alone? Giada serves this party-ready favorite for Christmastime as well, but instead of using a traditional bread-based recipe, she opts for rice instead. Smoky bacon adds a rich, salty bite, while fresh portobello mushrooms and seasonal Brussels sprouts round out the recipe with bold flavors.

Get the Recipe: Christmas Stuffing with Bacon

Braciole

For a striking presentation that's deceptively simple to pull off, Giada rolls up a cheese-stuffed flank steak as you would a jelly roll. As the meat simmers in the wine-spiked tomato sauce, it becomes juicy and tender, absorbing the savory tastes of the sauce. While Giada prefers to make a homemade, basil-scented tomato sauce, you can use a jar of store-bought marinara, too.

Get the Recipe: Braciole

Holiday Salad

Crisp, clean flavors are the star of Giada's lemon-dressed salad featuring crunchy endive and tart green apple plus creamy avocado. For a splash of red color to complement the seasonal green, there are dried cranberries, offering a welcome bite of chewy texture.

Get the Recipe: Holiday Salad

Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce

Quick enough to make on a weeknight yet impressive enough for a holiday supper, Giada's comforting pasta comes together with tender shrimp and a wine-laced tomato-cream sauce for flavors that are both bright and hearty.

Get the Recipe: Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce

Antipasti de Salumi

If you're focusing heavily on the main dish on your holiday menu, opt for an easy, no-cook appetizer. Giada's meat-and-cheese platter serves up to a dozen people and features rich prosciutto, bresaola dressed up with olive oil and lemon, plus cheeses cut in the shape of Christmas trees and stars, and fresh melon. 

Get the Recipe: Antipasti de Salumi

Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Panettone is an Italian sweet bread often studded with candied fruits, and here it gives Giada's big-batch bread pudding a rich base. She bakes it in a creamy custard, then serves it with a silky-smooth sauce spiked with amaretto liqueur.

Get the Recipe: Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Holiday Cheesecake

"This cheesecake is more of an appetizer than a dessert," Giada explains of this party-ready dish. She assembles it as you would a traditional cheesecake in a springform pan — with a crust, a cheesy filling and a topping — but she opts for largely savory flavors, including a base of homemade breadcrumbs and a ricotta-goat cheese filling studded with roasted bell peppers. 

Get the Recipe: Holiday Cheesecake

Cioppino

If you're celebrating Christmas Eve with a Feast of the Seven Fishes supper, as many Italians do, look to Giada's warming fish stew made with a whopping four kinds of seafood, including tender clams and mussels, plus succulent shrimp and meaty-fish fillets. Once you've prepared the garlicky broth of white wine and diced tomatoes, it's as simple as cooking the seafood and adjusting seasonings. 

Get the Recipe: Cioppino

Holiday Biscotti

For a seasonal touch, Giada dunks lemon-scented pistachio-cranberry cookies in melted white chocolate, then adorns the chocolate with red and green sugar sprinkles.

Get the Recipe: Holiday Biscotti

Struffoli

"It is so fun and so cute," Giada says of her traditional Italian dessert, featuring citrus-scented fried dough balls and hazelnuts tossed in a sweetened honey mixture. She arranges them in a wreath shape, then dresses up the dessert with sugar sprinkles.

Get the Recipe: Struffoli

Want More Giada De Laurentiis?

Check out the Giada's Holiday Handbook headquarters for more holiday cooking inspiration.

More: Giada's Holiday Handbook