Crowd-Pleasing Christmas Sides
Unlike the Thanksgiving feast, where turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes are pretty much guaranteed year after year, the menu for Christmas dinner is more flexible and can be more fun. You get to make what your family loves most — a big old-school ham, shrimp scampi, rack of lamb, whatever — and no one will judge. But as at Thanksgiving, sides (and ideally a plethora of them) are key. To help you choose your holiday lineup, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite traditional and unconventional side dishes.
If this year’s feast involves prime rib, you’re going to want Yorkshire pudding. Seriously, you don’t want those flavorful pan drippings to go to waste. The addition of chopped herbs to the batter is a simple but major upgrade.
Give Brussels sprouts and baby red-skinned potatoes a special holiday touch by coating them in a buttery, thyme-infused honey glaze. If you’re still deciding on what to make as your main dish, consider the impressive Rosemary-Salted Standing Rib Roast that Food Network Magazine made to be served along with this colorful side.
Christmas dinner is an opportunity to up your grain game. Choose from Food Network Magazine’s dozens of new ideas to upgrade rice, quinoa and more. If you’re looking for serious comfort food, Pimiento Cheese Grits (No. 50) and Slow-Cooker Squash Risotto (No. 17) fill the bill. For a lighter, brighter dish, consider Millet with Roasted Carrots (No. 10) or Citrus Farro Salad (No. 34).
Follow Giada De Laurentiis’ lead and give classic rice stuffing a California flair. Combine brown rice and wild rice and toss them together with crispy bacon, shredded portobello mushrooms, Brussels sprouts and toasted hazelnuts.
Mashed potatoes are for Thanksgiving; these cheesy stuffed potatoes are ideal for Christmas. To serve a crowd, go with Ree Drummond’s 5-star recipe. It’s filled with all the classic fixings — cheddar cheese, bacon, scallions and sour cream — so you can’t go wrong.
Rather than using Gruyère, a popular cheese choice for gratins, Bobby Flay uses a combination of Monterey Jack and goat cheese. For his recipe, you don’t need to make a roux or dirty a bunch of pots and pans — just pour heavy cream over cauliflower florets in a casserole dish, toss with cheese and bake until bubbly.
To make rich and silky creamed spinach like you’d find in a steakhouse, go with Tyler Florence’s tried-and-true recipe. His version calls for baby spinach and caramelized onions.
It seems hard to get excited about a salad when the table is set with so many decadent dishes. But Marcela Valladolid’s bright and citrusy salad is a fresh and welcome counterpoint to all the rich and heavy flavors of the big feast.