Side dishes rule! Some say side dishes are the best part of any meal. But for Christmas dinner, they really do step up to star status. Oftentimes side dishes are your favorites, passed down from generation to generation. They can be your way of putting a creative spin on the anticipated meal. Either way, side dishes are where you really put your stamp on the holiday dinner. They are your chance to get creative and have fun with cooking. In the spirit of the season, we have 13 Christmas side dishes to get your creative inspirations flowing.
1. Wild rice vegetable casserole
Cozy and comforting would be the two words to describe this wild rice vegetable casserole from Budget Bytes. Who doesn’t love a good casserole? They are versatile, they hold up well for reheating, and they are delicious!
The true beauty of casseroles, is you can use any number of leftovers on hand to create the dish. No matter the extra veggies, meat, or starches you happen to have in surplus… any combination will make a beautiful casserole. Think of the recipe as an outline, and you can fill in the tasty details with what you have on hand. The keys are having a rich sauce, plenty of veggies, and a starch (think rice, pasta, or potatoes). Extras are crunchy toppings (think breadcrumbs, panko, or fried onions). All cooked up in your favorite casserole dish.
Any variety of rice blend will work with this recipe. The heartier varieties of rice, like wild rice, tend to hold up well in casseroles. These can either be bought as a mix or create your own mix in the bin section of your local grocery store. After you have all of your ingredients prepared, mix all that goodness together in a single casserole dish. Then let your oven do its magic!
Warm, rich, and savory, this casserole has it all. The crunchy tang of the fried onions are a perfect contrast to the rich, creamy rice medley. And to be honest… what doesn’t fried onion make better! Earthy mushrooms, onions, and carrots round out the flavors. You can add any vegetables of your choice. Make this dish your own and add any veggies you have on hand.
This dish is sure to feel like home. True comfort food. It works beautifully as a side dish to your Christmas dinner or a main meal in and of itself. Rich and decadent, you and your guests will have a hard time putting down your fork and moving on to the main course.
Bonus: This dish heats up well the next day for leftovers. And truly… what reason do we cook an entire holiday dinner for, other than leftovers?
2. Sweet potato cranberry pecan stuffing
Stuffing. If there is one single must-have Christmas side dish, it would have to be stuffing. This is light years away from the out of the box and mix-with-water stuffing some of us (not naming any names) may have grown up with. This is your grown-up, la-de-da, to-die-for stuffing. Lemon Tree Dwelling shares their recipe for sweet potato cranberry pecan stuffing. And it is basically Christmas in side dish form.
What is so beautiful about this stuffing is it has the perfect balance of savory and sweet. Fresh herbs and big hunks of bread are met with tart cranberries, creamy sweet potatoes, and crunchy pecans. A perfect balance of all your favorite holiday flavors. You couldn’t ask for more in a stuffing.
Don’t be shy about making this stuffing your own. To make it even more hearty, you could saute some ground sausage and add that in to bake with the stuffing. The savory, flavorful sausage will pair great with the sweet potatoes and cranberries. You don’t need much sausage, a little will go a long way for flavor in the dish.
Even those guests who think they don’t like stuffing will be converted with this side dish at your next Christmas dinner! This savory, rich stuffing side dish will make anyone a stuffing-lover.
3. Christmas tree pull-apart bread
Warm, cheesy pull-apart bread would have been enough to get our attention. (Honestly, just bread would have been enough). But all of this gluten goodness in the shape of a Christmas tree? Get. Out. And get ready to be handing this recipe over to your guests. This recipe for Christmas tree pull-apart bread from Eclectic Recipes is as beautiful as it is tasty — and addicting.
Every Christmas dinner needs a good roll. It is an essential holiday item. A necessity for sopping up all that extra gravy on your plate! This one goes the extra mile though. Stuffed with cheese and topped with butter and herbs, this dish may require a good deal of self-control.
The beauty is that the hard part is done for you. Using premade dough will save loads of valuable food prep time. Any premade bread or pizza dough will do. Buy some dough at the grocery store or local pizzeria. There is no need to make a dough from scratch. And really who has time for that during the holidays? Take the help — buy the dough.
Next, it’s time to get creative. Make this recipe yours and blend together any combo of cheeses you like. Mozzarella, sharp cheddar, Parmesan, Romano — so many delightful cheeses to choose from! Same goes for the herbs sprinkled over the top of the baked bread. Try chili flakes or garlic salt. Go to town with whatever herbs and spices you adore. The green herbs make for a festive touch over the top of the Christmas tree shape.
Not a fan of cheese? Leave it out and make your rolls extra garlicky and topped with loads of herbs and butter instead. It’s hard to go wrong with this recipe. So many delicious options, one great Christmas dinner.
The real beauty of this recipe is that it is all in the shape of a Christmas tree! You could really shape these rolls any way you like: a star, an angle, whatever you can dream up. A fun display on the table. A totally festive side dish. This is what cooking for the holidays is about. Enjoying food, being creative, and making your guests smile.
4. Roasted mushrooms in browned butter
When you love mushrooms — you really love mushrooms. And this recipe for roasted mushrooms in browned butter from Closet Cooking brings these fungi to a whole new level. All mushrooms need are a little butter and garlic. But add brown butter and that nutty earthy flavor gets dialed up a notch.
Brown butter, beurre noisette, is a perfect pairing for mushrooms. The nutty flavor of the butter heightens the other earthy flavors. The herbs add a nice flavor to the dish.
A wonderful side dish to your Christmas dinner, especially if you are enjoying a roast as your main dish. These mushrooms are a perfect complement — so simple and easy to prepare. Roasting the mushrooms brings out the wonderful umami flavor. Combining with garlic and brown butter enhances the earthy flavors.
If you are pressed for time but want a stunning side dish, this should be your go-to. In no time at all these mushrooms will roast in the oven. Toss with the brown butter and garlic, and you are ready to go. Not every Christmas dinner serves mushrooms. Be different, be creative, and give this side dish a try for your next Christmas dinner.
5. Spicy warm winter salad
Looking for something different, fresh and creative for your guests? Look no further, this is the perfect side dish for your Christmas dinner. This spicy warm winter salad from A House in the Hills is not only gorgeous, but amazingly flavorful.
Warm and hearty rice, spicy arugula, crunchy almond slivers, sweet golden raisins, and tangy fresh pomegranate seeds: This salad has a wonderful contrast of winter flavors. All this and a pop of fresh mint make this side dish a true surprise favorite. The flavors work together to create a wonderfully fresh side dish.
The flavors of these ingredients can stand on their own, no dressing needed. Simple olive oil, fresh mint, salt, and pepper are all this salad needs to enhance the natural fresh flavors. Choose a hearty rice or blend, like wild rice, to start this salad. The heartier the rice, the better it will stand up to the olive oil and reheating.
This healthy and beautiful salad will be a true favorite. Pomegranate seeds are loaded with health-boosting benefits. They can be a pain to deseed, but luckily you can now buy pomegranate seeds with the work already done at most grocery stores.
They say we eat first with our eyes. This salad is no exception. The colors scream Christmas, making it a fitting side dish for your Christmas table. The colors are bold and beautiful. Bright red pomegranate seeds contrast the bright green arugula to make a new guest favorite.
Want more? Check out these other Christmas side dishes.