List of Easy and Delicious Recipes Ideas for Christmas Day Dinner Side Dish
By Sharon MacGregor, Fed Well
You may be busy shopping, making lists and deciding on a holiday menu that looks festive, tastes delicious and will be easy to make. Whether you are looking for new and exciting side dishes for your Christmas dinner, or twists on classics, you’re sure to find the best easy and delicious recipe ideas for Christmas day dinner side dishes here. The key is not only having a list of ingredients and instructions, but also learning a few key techniques you can customize to taste to help you create the best Christmas side dishes you might even decide to keep making all year long! Many easy Christmas side dishes have less than five ingredients with plenty of options for customizing, so you can make each one just the way you like it.
Easiest Christmas Side Dish Ideas
The easiest of easy Christmas side dishes are those prepared using raw vegetables. The appeal is in reviving or reinventing flavors you and your family and friends are already in love with and switching up the ingredients.
- Turn Cesar salad into something new by substituting shredded, raw brussels sprouts for the romaine lettuce, or
kick up the same Cesar salad by trying kale in place of the lettuce.
- Create a green and red Christmas dinner side they cannot wait to eat by swapping out the cabbage in coleslaw with crispy, shredded, raw brussels sprouts, then sprinkle with some dried cranberries for flavor and color contrast.
- Think about arranging a salad on a platter instead of just tossing it in a bowl – creating a pretty presentation can be the difference between a boring and a best Christmas side dish!
Simple and Classic Christmas Side Dish Ideas
Sautéing vegetables is a classic technique to consider for your Christmas dinner side dishes. Sautéing involves the use of a medium- to large-sized pan heated on the stovetop with one to two tablespoons of olive oil, a vegetable or three, and seasonings or aromatics which may include minced garlic, chopped onion, and/or ginger and then finished with salt and pepper to taste with an optional garnish of fresh herbs, like chopped parsley, mint, dill or cilantro.
Some combinations to consider are:
- Baby bok choy with garlic, ginger and soy sauce
- Broccolini with garlic, onion and an optional pinch of red pepper flakes for spice
- Fresh green beans or haricots vert (thin string beans) with garlic
Best Christmas Side Dish Ideas for the Oven
Roasted Root Vegetables
One of the best Christmas side dishes are those that are mixed on a sheet pan and placed in a pre-heated oven to roast, maybe stirred half-way through cooking time, and then ready to serve.
Roasting requires a sheet pan, large cast-iron pan or a large flat oven-safe dish, a 400°F oven, olive oil, seasonings and vegetables (typically root vegetables).
Roasted brussels sprouts are a popular choice as a Christmas dinner side dish, since they can be paired very well with several proteins. Consider these options:
- Cowboy Sprouts – Roast halved brussels sprouts tossed in olive oil, with minced garlic, salt and pepper roasted for 30 minutes, then coated with your favorite barbecue sauce and roasted for an additional 10 minutes.
- Glazed Sprouts – Add ½ pound uncooked chopped bacon or pancetta to halved brussels sprouts and roast using the same method above, then drizzle with your favorite balsamic glaze.
- Roasted carrots is also one of the best Christmas side dishes, for its versatility and popularity with children because 1) It is not green, and 2) carrots have a nice natural sweetness.
- For Carrots with a Kick, try the same olive oil, salt, and pepper combo on one pound of peeled, sliced carrots, but add up to two tablespoons of cumin mixed with about ¼ cup of honey drizzled over before roasting,. For this method, the use of non-stick cooking spray, or parchment paper are recommended, for easier clean up.
- Roasted Ginger Candied Carrots follow the same instructions but substitute the cumin for one teaspoon of ground ginger and add 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
Other vegetable options could include:
- Roasted Parsnips as a side dish for Christmas dinner. Simply peel and halve the parsnips and roast with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper and sprinkle with parsley garnish.
- Buffalo Broccoli and Cauliflower that can be roasted for 20 minutes then tossed in buffalo sauce with melted butter and roasted for just a few more minutes more before serving.
Unconventional Christmas Side Dish Ideas
Grilled and Modern
Grilling vegetables creates an easy Christmas side dish that offers a little something extra in a smoky flavor profile simply by being cooked over an open flame. Simply coat vegetables with a little bit of oil, salt and pepper before grilling. Another benefit is one less pot to clean, and another burner can be open and available on the stove. The secret is to choose vegetables you may not normally see with grill marks, such as:
- Romaine lettuce that’s been quartered lengthwise can then be served on its own or as a wedge salad or chopped up for tossed or composed salads.
- Portobello mushrooms are the perfect Christmas side dish for beef mains.
- Cut planks of eggplant, zucchini or summer squash can each make a memorable Christmas side. Post-grilling, try drizzling with balsamic glaze.
- Potatoes can be grilled once they are par-boiled or partially cooked in boiling water, then seasoned.
Silky and Decadent Christmas Side Dish Ideas
Mashing seems to be the most frequently thought-of Christmas dinner side. It is simple; peel, chop, boil, drain, then mash your potatoes, adding salt and pepper, milk, cream, butter, olive oil and/or cheese. The key to fancying this method up is in choosing to either pair potatoes with another vegetable or making new vegetable choices altogether. Try:
- Creamy Mashed Cauliflower created by boiling one head of cauliflower florets until tender, draining and then mashing with ½ cup of sour cream and salt and pepper to taste.
- A dreamy duo of Mashed Potatoes with Parsnips includes one pound of cubed parsnips for every two pounds of potatoes (Yukon gold are the “gold standard” for mashing). After boiling and draining add ½ cup of warmed heavy cream with one stick of butter, then mash. Chopped chives make a pretty garnish.
*Tip: If you want to make your mashed Christmas dinner side dish ahead of time, transfer it to a slow cooker on low to keep warm.
Making side dishes for Christmas dinner can be turned on its head if you select a vegetable you already know you and your family or friends love, but then pick an unconventional cooking style for your recipe to create your own culinary masterpiece.
Writing from her desk in New York, Sharon MacGregor is a contributing reporter, freelance writer, and blogger with a passion for human interest stories as well as meals shared with friends and family. Her blog, Fed Well includes recipes with upcoming tips to prepare foods for infants and toddlers, simple and seasonal cocktails, and easy modifications to create dishes respecting dietary restrictions including dairy and gluten intolerances. She loves entertaining for the ones she loves including her new grandbabies!