Christmas is when family and friends gather together to celebrate the holidays, share quality time, and eat special dishes that are not ordinarily cooked in other seasons. That's why planning your menu is so important, because you can plan ahead and make nostalgic comfort food that is meaningful to you and your family.
From recipes that you grew up eating, to more modern sides and salads, to classic desserts and meaty main dishes, our collection of Christmas ideas has it all. The recipes are organized in descending order: appetizers, mains, side dishes, rolls and biscuits, desserts, and finally beverages and cocktails.
For twists on oldies but goodies, try these alternatives.
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Smoked Salmon Crostini
Smoked salmon crostini is a fantastic appetizer at Christmas celebrations, but can also be a dish you serve during the morning-after brunch. Use baguette, ricotta, herbs, and good quality smoked salmon to make these open-faced bites.
Ready in 25 minutes, use cream cheese if you can't find ricotta, or go for a less traditional mascarpone. Decorate with extra dill and serve with lemon wedges.
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Spinach and Artichoke Dip
This warm dip is a great option to occupy your guests' appetites while you're finishing up dinner. Tangy and creamy, our dip has cream cheese, mayo, Cheddar and Parmesan – it's a really decadent appetizer. Soft onion and aromatic garlic go into the filling, and vibrant green spinach and artichoke give texture and color.
Serve it in a bowl surrounded by crackers, warm naan, mini pitas, or tortilla chips for dipping. Use it to make open-face sandwiches adding a slice of brie on top and broiling it for 5 minutes. Ready in 40 minutes.
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Duck Liver Pâté
Duck liver pâté is an elegant addition to your holiday table, and its richness and creaminess go really well with wine and liquors during cocktail hour. Use duck liver in place of foie gras, or go for chicken liver if that's what you can easily get. Use cooked livers and soak them in milk, process with seasonings, and be sure to allow time for chilling the pâté at least 24 hours before serving.
Serve it with crostini or crackers, make it part of a cheese and charcuterie spread, or use it as the filling of mini sandwiches. Ready in 23 minutes, plus 1 day of refrigeration.
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Cheese Ball with Pecans
Cheddar and cream cheese are the base for this decorative – and tasty – party appetizer. Plan ahead, as this cheese ball needs at least 24 hours in the fridge to set. Replace Cheddar with a different cheese in the same proportions and experiment with other flavors if you're into sharper types of cheeses. Goat or blue cheese are other great choices.
Grated onion, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce add a lot of earthiness and the saltiness you'd want in an appetizer to offer at cocktail hour. Roll the chilled ball in chopped pecans and serve with your favorite crackers.Continue to 5 of 51 below.
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Cranberry Brie Bites
Bite-sized Brie and cranberry puffs are wonderful appetizers for your parties, and they can be easily transported if you need to contribute a dish to a Christmas party.
Use store-bought puff pastry, and allow yourself 1 hour of prep and baking. Use good quality Brie and cranberry sauce to fill puff pastry squares. Make glazed walnuts to decorate each bite and serve.
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Prime Rib Roast
Serving prime rib is such a treat for your guests, and that's why nailing the right cooking method is always important. You don't want to ruin such a delicious and expensive cut of meat! Our close oven technique is the best way of guaranteeing a medium-rare, juicy inside and crusty outside.
Plan ahead, as you need to refrigerate your meat overnight, unwrapped. Add salt and pepper and roast, fat up, in a 500 F oven, for five minutes per pound. When you turn the oven off, leave it inside for 2 whole hours without opening the door. Serve immediately once 2 hours have passed.
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Roasted Rack of Lamb
Roasted rack of lamb makes a stunning presentation on your holiday table and requires very little prep and cooking time. Ask your butcher to "French" the racks for you so you can simply come home, prep and sit down to a beautiful dinner in just 45 minutes.
Simply season the meat, coat it with mustard, dredge it in herby, seasoned breadcrumbs to form a crust, and pop it into the oven to roast to perfection. If you have a Christmas dinner for a few guests, this easy dish is a great option.
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Bring to life the world of Charles Dickens by making roast goose, as was the tradition during the Victorian era. Plan ahead, as the goose needs to brine for up to 24 hours and at least for 8. Make a mixture of water, salt, sugar, bay leaf, and peppercorns to brine the bird.
Once it's ready, pat dry, stuff with apples, onions, and oranges, and roast for close to 3 hours. This beautiful whole bird will look stunning in your Christmas table, decorated with rosemary and orange slices.Continue to 9 of 51 below.
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Southern Pot Roast
Pot roast is a wonderful way to enjoy the rich and savory flavors of low-and-slow cooked beef for Christmas. Our perfect meaty entree—tender and delicious—can be served with or without gravy, and cooked with or without potatoes.
We use chuck, a budget-friendly cut of beef. It's so flavorful and delicious, this easy preparation will become a family favorite, Christmas or not. Sautee onions and carrots, and make a wine and broth reduction to cook the meat in for two hours, three if you're adding potatoes to the recipe.
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A whole roasted duck is a thing of beauty on the holiday table. Follow our clever recipe for oven-roasting this special, rich-tasting bird. Because duck is an extra fatty meat, simmering it with vegetables and spices helps get rid of some of the fat, while roasting it afterward creates a crispy outside while keeping the meat juicy and pink.
Simmer for 45 minutes and let cool before roasting for 30 minutes at 500 F. Alternatively, you can simmer the duck, cool it, and refrigerate it overnight before roasting it.
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Roast pheasant is a sophisticated recipe reminiscent of those elegant Christmas Eve dinners of days gone by. Go old style and make this classic preparation. It's visually stunning and a great main for smaller parties. Cook and cool a mixture of onion quarters, garlic, bay leaf, port wine, salt, and pepper. Marinate the birds overnight in the mixture, drain, and roast for 45 minutes.
Flavored with the aromatics of dried herbs, the marinade helps to tone down the gaminess of this wild bird, for a moist and flavorful roast.
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New England Style Pot Roast
Our classic recipe for New England-style pot roast with root vegetables makes a great Christmas dinner. Cooked in the crockpot for 7 to 9 hours, the roast tenderizes to perfection, while veggies, herbs, and seasoning flavor the meat. Prep in the morning and have it ready for dinner time without standing over the stove for hours.
Make a sauce of butter, onions, beef broth, and horseradish to serve on the side of the roast. Serve with roasted potatoes.Continue to 13 of 51 below.
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Perfect Roast Turkey With Bacon
Layering plenty of bacon or pancetta over a simply seasoned whole turkey is a fantastic way to help the meat retain moistness as it cooks while infusing the bird with extra smoky, savory flavor. Plan ahead, as this recipe requires the turkey to sit in your fridge from 1 to 3 days, with plenty of salt on top, to help it retain its juices.
Once ready to bake, butter up the bird, cover it in bacon and roast until the thickest part of the turkey breast reads 160 F. Save the crispy bacon to chop and add to a salad or to sprinkle on a potato casserole.
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Instant Pot Coq au Vin
Make this homey, French country-style dish for smaller holiday gatherings when you want to create a special atmosphere. The Instant Pot makes it easy to prepare coq au vin, in which chicken legs are braised with bacon, mushrooms, onion, and carrots in a rich, red wine sauce.
Although original coq au vin is made with rooster, finding this type of poultry is hard and not everyone is keen on the gamey flavor and tough texture. That's why the classic preparation requires long cooking times, to break down the collagen in the meat and soften it so it's more palatable. Our recipe uses chicken and the Instant Pot makes it happen in 35 minutes, plus 20 minutes of prep.
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Roasted Turkey Breast
Brining a basic turkey breast overnight (or up to 24 hours) results in more juicy and flavorful meat. Once the meat has brined, rinse, pat dry with paper towels, season, and roast until the meat has reached a safe eating temperature, between 2 to 3 hours.
Use apples, limes, lemons, or oranges, or a combination of all of them, to stuff the breast cavity and add flavor to the meat. This is a great dish for when you're hosting a small party and cooking a whole bird doesn't make sense.
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Classic Crown of Lamb and Gravy
To really impress your holiday guests, roast a full crown of lamb. This is a nice option if you don't want to serve beef but still want a big centerpiece. Roasted in a high heat oven, it takes some prep but the presentation is worth it. The recipe includes a homemade gravy for extra flavor and deliciousness.
You'll need to learn how to do a French trim for this dish, but it's clearly spelled out in the instructions. Plus, it's a trick you can pull out at other occasions.Continue to 17 of 51 below.
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Crockpot Oyster Stew
Oyster stew is a traditional Christmas Eve meal in Ireland; many fish stews came into being when people abstained from meat in strict Catholic observance of the festivities. Oyster replaced the fish when Irish in America couldn't find dried ling. Our recipe recalls the classic stews, but it is made in the crockpot. Set it, go on with your day, and return at dinner time to a bowl of delicious, salty, and tender oysters and veggies.
The recipe cooks in 4 hours after 20 minutes of preparation. Cook a milky base filled with veggies for an hour, then the oyster and butter go in the pot for a final 3 hours of cooking time.
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Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs
Place a tray of these saucy, tangy cocktail meatballs on your holiday buffet table and watch as they disappear. Cook up a big batch in 1 hour. Savory ground beef is seasoned with soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, and onions. Breadcrumbs and eggs add texture to the meat to help it hold together in little meatballs.
Coat the balls with a sauce of cranberries, pineapple, and a hint of chili before they bake for 45 minutes.
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Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes
Scalloped potatoes are a fantastic side dish for the holidays because a little goes a long way, and feeding a crowd is easier with a heartier and filling side like this one. Layer thinly sliced potatoes with onions, butter, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Cover with milk and bake for 1 hour until cooked and golden brown on top.
Serve hot as a side to beef, chicken or game. Top with fresh parsley.
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Polenta is an Italian classic that is usually forgotten on American holiday tables, but with our recipe, this corn preparation will be a new family favorite. Creamy ricotta cheese adds richness and fluffy texture, while tangy Parmesan lends saltiness to a dish that you'll find goes well with all meats. Use fresh chopped basil to perfume the mixture.
Serve polenta instead of potatoes or rice. Make it in only 30 minutes, multiplying the measurements as needed to feed a crowd.Continue to 21 of 51 below.
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Cheddar and Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casseroles are always on American tables at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and there are as many recipes for this dish as families, with each household adding or subtracting one or another ingredient.
Our take on the classic Campbell's recipe includes a homemade cheddar cheese sauce made with sour cream and mushrooms that coats cooked and crispy beans. Top with generous amounts of Parmesan cheese and French fried onions and bake. Ready in 50 minutes.
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Parmesan Roasted Potatoes
These savory potatoes come out nicely crisp on the outside and tender on the inside after 1 hour in the oven. Use a large resealable bag to coat the cubed potatoes with salt, oil, Parmesan cheese, herbs, and garlic powder. Our recipe is a great accompaniment to meats, fish or chicken.
Terrific as a side dish, these potatoes can also be a good appetizer if you cubed them in bigger chunks, use small cocktail skewers, and add a hot dipping sauce.
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Sage Butternut Squash
Roasted butternut squash with sage makes a great holiday side dish. Sweet and tender squash, herbs and seasonings can accompany any meat or fish, but also could serve as the base for a heartier salad if you add arugula, chopped kale, nuts, and balsamic dressing.
Our six-ingredient recipe is ready to eat in less than an hour, so it's a pretty convenient preparation for a holiday meal when the stove and oven are going to be busy all the time. Serve warm or hot.
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Ready in 10 minutes, this seasonal apple salad with pecans and raisins is similar to the creamy Waldorf salad and is so scrumptious and fresh that it makes a great side for meat mains. It can also double as a vegetarian option for guests who abstain from meat consumption.
Use sweet but firm red apples, celery, grapes, mayo, lemon juice, pecans and raisins for an explosion of flavors and texture. Serve over lettuce or add baby spinach or baby kale for a touch of green.Continue to 25 of 51 below.
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Maple-glazed parsnips are a great side to roast turkey, duck, or pork dishes. Ditch the classic roasted carrots and use these sweet root vegetables in an easy recipe instead. Quickly parboil the parsnips before glazing and oven-roasting them. Add sesame seeds for crunch and flavor.
Replace the sesame seeds for pepitas or sunflower seeds if you're concerned about allergies. The result is equally flavorful. Ready in 50 minutes.
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Green Bean Amandine
Add something special to simple steamed green beans. Amandine is a culinary term that indicates that the dish is made with almonds. In this recipe, crunchy green beans are blanched and then tossed with buttery almonds and seasoning. Ready in barely 20 minutes, these beans make an excellent side for fish or chicken but could go well with red meats too.
Make right when you're ready to eat them to avoid the beans becoming soggy and too soft.
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If you want to achieve the perfect mash to serve at Christmas dinner, this recipe has all the tips you need for choosing the right potatoes, cooking them until perfectly done, and adding in flavoring ingredients. Milk, butter, salt, and pepper are all that you need for a yummy side dish, but most importantly, mashing the potatoes in the right way is the first step to achieving an airy and fluffy texture.
Using a hand masher, or a potato ricer first, you crush the potatoes without tearing the starch molecules. If you used a food processor, you'd do exactly that, releasing the starches to make your potatoes into a gooey mess. Stick with the classics and serve a delicious and soft mash. Ready in 40 minutes.
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Duchess Mashed Potatoes
Make these French-style dish potatoes ahead of time and freeze them for reheating when ready to serve. Beautiful, tasty, and easy to make, they go well with any meat and are ready in just 45 minutes.
Make buttery mash potatoes with eggs and cream, pipe it onto a baking sheet, and bake until browned.Continue to 29 of 51 below.
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Broccoli Cheese Casserole
Vegetable gratins make excellent holiday side dishes, and our recipe for broccoli coated in a cheesy sauce is perfectly decadent and holiday-appropriate. Rich and buttery, with a touch of crunch from the almonds, the casserole is simple to make and super flavorful.
The filling of condensed soups and Velveeta cheese also makes a creamy sauce that you could use on pasta bakes. Top your casserole with buttery breadcrumbs and bake at 375 F until the cheese is bubbling.
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Easy Pea and Mint Soup
Green pea soup with a hint of fresh mint is elegant and utterly simple to make. It is an excellent, light starter before a heavy holiday dinner, but also makes a light lunch on the day of the big celebration.
Simply cook onions and garlic in butter, add the peas, mint, veggie broth, and seasonings. Cook and blend, and then simmer again. This vegetarian alternative can be made vegan by using vegan margarine and skipping the optional Parmesan or using vegan cheese to top the soup. Ready in 40 minutes.
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Vegetarian and Vegan Roasted Chestnut Soup
Roasted chestnut soup is a nutty, creamy dish that makes a great appetizer before a heavy dinner. It's also a fantastic light lunch on the day of the big feast. Because it is vegetarian and also suited for vegan diets, this dish should be in all holiday menus in case you have a vegetarian guest that needs a filling meal, besides a salad.
Made with unsweetened soymilk and vegetable broth, it is also gluten-free in case you have other guests with dietary restrictions. Ready in 55 minutes.
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This rich-tasting creamed spinach is an indulgent way to serve up a side of greens at Christmas dinner. Traditionally served with steak, these vegetables will have your guests asking for seconds. Rich cream, butter, and tangy Parmesan coat leaves of spinach and cook in just 30 minutes.
For a different take, use baby kale instead, and enjoy a more pungent dish with these superfood greens.Continue to 33 of 51 below.
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Honey-Glazed Baby Carrots
Honey-glazed baby carrots are a quick and easy recipe that will provide a delicious side dish in 30 minutes. Quickly cook the carrots but leave them still firm. In a pan, coat the drained carrots with cinnamon, butter, honey, olive oil, and raisins.
These veggies are loved by kids, but surely all the adults will want a serving. Use molasses instead of honey for a thicker coating, or maple syrup if you want to skip the honey. Add 1/3 cup of orange juice to the mixture to add some tang.
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Sweet and tart cranberry coulis makes a tasty puréed accompaniment for roast turkey, duck, chicken, or game meats. Invest 30 minutes in making this special sauce and spruce up your traditional cranberry sauce.
Cook cranberries, orange juice and its zest, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and Triple Sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier. Reduce on medium heat and process in a blender. This sauce freezes well so you can make bigger batches and freeze for other special meals throughout the year.
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Braised Cabbage With Apple and Onion
When roast pork or ham is on your Christmas dinner menu, offer up this buttery, braised cabbage as a side dish. Simply cook tangy apples, cabbage, onions, spices, and cider vinegar in a dutch oven for 1 to 1.5 hours until the cabbage is tender.
Serve it while hot, but also use any cold leftovers to make morning-after turkey sandwiches, layering sliced turkey, mayo and cabbage on sourdough bread.
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Buttery Pan Rolls
Homemade rolls are a wonderful accompaniment to a special meal, and our incredibly fluffy, buttery rounds are no exception. If you have family visiting over the holidays, an afternoon of baking is always good entertainment for the kids and teens, plus it'd be welcome to have them helping with sides and desserts.
Plan ahead, because these rolls take just under 3 hours to be ready and need to prove twice to achieve their fluffy and airy texture.Continue to 37 of 51 below.
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Yorkshire puddings are a classic British recipe and the traditional accompaniment for a prime rib or other roast beef dinners. What's not to love about puffed-up pastry puddings with beef drippings?
Combine eggs, flour, milk, lard, and salt and make a batter that should rest for at least 30 minutes, ideally a few hours. In a very hot oven, heat up your pudding tins with vegetable oil until it is smoking. Add the batter and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
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Chestnuts are a traditional Christmas treat celebrated in popular holiday songs. Sold on street stands all over the world, these nuts keep people warm during hours of outdoor activities like skiing or snowshoeing. Our recipe roasts chestnuts in the oven, instead of over an open fire, for a festive holiday snack that you can serve in individual paper bags.
Preheat your oven at 425 F and make an x-shaped indentation on each chestnut with a sharp knife. Roast for 20 minutes and serve.
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An English trifle is a traditional British dessert that has appeared on Christmas dinner menus for the last four centuries. Luscious layers of sponge cake soaked in sherry, fruit jelly, custard, and whipped cream make this a popular and beautiful treat at the holidays.
Be sure to have a glass dessert bowl so your layers show. Skip the sherry if kids are eating this dessert, and add fresh sweet fruit both under the custard and on top of the whipped cream. Ready in 40 minutes plus setting time in the fridge.
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Vanilla Sugar Cookies
These classic, buttery holiday cookies are kid favorites, and also provide a perfect kid's activity during the cold holiday days. Set a decoration station in your dining room with icing and sprinkles and let the kids make dessert.
Mix butter, eggs, vanilla, evaporated milk, flour, salt, and baking powder, make a dough, and refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling. Cut and bake for 5 minutes. Let cool before decorating. This same dough can be the base for chocolate chip cookies by simply adding 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chips. Add coconut flakes, almonds, or any other cookie topping you'd like.Continue to 41 of 51 below.
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Bûche de Noël
Create a showstopping dessert for your Christmas feast with this French-style recipe for yule log cake. Although it looks difficult, this cake is actually fairly easy to make.
Make a fluffy and moist Genoise, flavor with Grand Marnier liqueur, and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Let cool briefly and roll on a kitchen towel. A filling of sugar, chocolate, egg white, espresso powder, and butter covers the unrolled cake and then it's rolled again to achieve the log shape. Decorate with chocolate shavings. Ready in 1 hour and 15 minutes.
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Instant Pot Bread Pudding
Your Instant Pot is the shortcut to producing a rich, silky, and smooth bread pudding that makes a perfect holiday dessert. The warming, nicely spiced mixture is finished with a stunning Bourbon sauce, perfumed with vanilla and made silky by adding cream and butter.
Cook bread, raisins, pecans, eggs, spices and butter in the Instant Pot for 42 minutes. Let cool and serve the sauce on the side so guests all of ages can enjoy the dessert without necessarily have to eat the alcoholic sauce.
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Quick Italian Panettone
Celebrated Italian panettone is a buttery Christmas cake with a tall, loaf-like appearance, filled with candied and dried fruits. Making one from scratch takes some effort, but this straightforward recipe will help and yields beautiful results. More traditional recipes might take days to achieve, and although totally amazing, are less realistic for a home cook to work with, considering that the holidays aren't the best of times to take on on difficult recipes.
Soak your fruit in liqueur for one night. Make a dough, preferably using a stand mixer, and refrigerate it overnight before putting together the panettone. Strain the fruit and mix with dough, kneading constantly. Shape and let prove for 3 hours. Bake for approximately 40 minutes.
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Pumpkin Pecan Pie
If you love both pecan and pumpkin pie and can't decide what to make for dessert, go for this flavorful hybrid and enjoy the best of both flavors in one sweet slice of decadent goodness.
Use a pre-made crust to save some time, and make a mixture of eggs, pumpkin, sugar, spices, butter, and pecans. Bake for 1 hour and let cool a little before slicing. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.Continue to 45 of 51 below.
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Treat your family to a delicious piece of American culinary tradition with vinegar pie. An old-fashioned recipe that was popular during the Depression, it's inexpensive to make and tastier than the name makes it sound. The buttery crust holds a custard-like filling made of apple cider vinegar, walnuts, raisins, and all the favorite winter spices. Add a little whipped cream and dusting of nutmeg or cinnamon, and enjoy this classic holiday dessert.
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Caramel Meringue Pie
A homemade buttery pie crust is the perfect way to start a holiday dessert. Take your time, make it from scratch, and indulge in a still-warm slice of this holiday dessert. A creamy caramel filling and a pillowy meringue topping make this stunning pie a wonderful ending to any Christmas meal.
For a quicker preparation, use store-bought crust, but don't miss out on making the pie! Ready in 1 hour and 5 minutes.
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Classic New York Cheesecake
This recipe for wonderfully dense and velvety cheesecake is a wonderful way to wrap up your meal. Bake it the day before and refrigerate it overnight or up to 24 hours.
Graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter make an irresistible crust, while the classic cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and sugar batter make a thick, creamy filling. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 2 different temperatures. Cool for 3 hours and decorate with fresh berries or fruit compote.
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Merry Christmas Cocktail
Say "Merry Christmas!" with a sparkling holiday cocktail that's a festive, refreshing drink for your Christmas gatherings. Cranberry juice and soda are spiked with gin, for a simple, delightful seasonal beverage.
For larger parties, make one pitcher at the time by multiplying the ingredients by 8, but be sure to use it all at once so the bubbles of the seltzer don't disappear.Continue to 49 of 51 below.
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White Christmas Cocktail
White chocolate liqueur, eggnog, and whiskey combine to create a fabulous cocktail in this naughty and nice holiday drink recipe. Not all people are fond of eggnog, but with the addition of a sweet liqueur and good quality whiskey, this cocktail will certainly please your guests.
Use a cocktail shaker to make it, and serve an ice-cold drink in festive glasses decorated with chocolate flakes or edible gold. Ready in 3 minutes.
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Traditional Mulled Wine
Mulled wine is a traditional holiday beverage that makes a warming tipple for grown-ups at your winter parties. The secret to a good mulled wine is to use quality wine. The better the wine, the tastier its hot version.
This fruity, well-spiced stovetop recipe needs 1 bottle of good Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Merlot, spices, orange, brandy, ginger, and honey. Let the ingredients develop their flavor on low heat without letting the mixture boil. Serve in festive glasses. Ready in 30 minutes.
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Quick Brandy Eggnog
Eggnog is a holiday classic and a favorite party drink to enjoy at Christmas time. While there are many ways to make eggnog, few recipes are as traditional as this from-scratch version, which features brandy and fresh egg yolk, and is ready in a quick 3 minutes.
In a cocktail shaker mix brandy, milk, egg yolk, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously and then add ice for a second shake. Strain and serve. If you want a non-alcoholic version, check our gingerbread eggnog, in which alcohol is optional.