Holiday Entertaining

How to Dress Up Your Favorite Comfort Foods for New Year's Eve

After the dinner on Christmas Eve, the cinnamon buns on Christmas morning. After the feast on Christmas Day with the roast and all its trimmings. And then the leftover turkey sandwiches, and the hashed sprouts, the panettone, and the pudding.

After all of the eating and the merry-making... comes New Year’s Eve.

Pure comfort food, with a touch of (truffle oil) elegance. Photo by Skye McAlpine

Where Christmas is more of a family affair, New Year's Eve is a party: Champagne flutes and sequined dresses, staying up late into the night and watching the fireworks light up the sky at midnight. It’s fancy. And so you feel the food should be fancy too.

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Of course, you could go to a restaurant and eat a twelve course set menu, but I've found that the most memorable New Years are those which we have celebrated at home. It’s more relaxed. We invite friends and dress up a little; I lay the table nicely, open (many) a bottle of prosecco, and then we settle down to a long and lingering meal, so that we are still eating, drinking, and talking as the new year comes in.

Blood orange and rosemary tart. Photo by Skye McAlpine

For the menu, I keep it simple. After all the fuss and fanciness of Christmas, I crave comfort food and imagine my guests do too—something filling and warming to soak up the alcohol and keep everyone going into the early hours of the morning. And, ideally, it's something that feels special yet is simple to cook so that I, too, can relax and enjoy the party.

Macaroni and cheese all dressed up for New Year's. Photo by Skye McAlpine

Here are some ideas for dressing up simple comfort foods that everyone loves:

  • Hot baked potatoes: add a little crème fraîche and serve with a pot of caviar (salmon roe or lumpfish are nice, less costly varieties) or a side of smoked salmon
  • Macaroni and cheese: douse it in white truffle oil; it's a particularly handy dish because it can be made well in advance and stored in the fridge, then finished in the oven before serving
  • Pasta: make an elegant shape like tagliolini and keep it plain (no sauce), then drench in butter and top with shavings of black or white truffle
  • Toast: toast brioche and serve with foie gras and pickles or cornichons
  • Scrambled eggs: serve on toast or with homemade bread, topped with shavings of truffle or a drizzle of truffle oil
  • Shepherd's pie: replace the lamb mince with shredded duck confit legs, then top with creamy mashed potatoes and warm in the oven
  • Hamburgers: ideal for a New Year's barbecue, smear the bun with foie gras, top with a chargrilled burger and relish, and serve with homemade French fries
Serve chocolates with the coffee to make the meal last longer. Photo by Skye McAlpine

And for the rest:

Simple, elegant, and very hard to resist.

What do you serve on New Year's Eve? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • fitzie
  • amysarah
  • Third Floor Kitchen
    Third Floor Kitchen
  • Skye | From My Dining Table
    Skye | From My Dining Table
Writer & home cook living la dolce vita in Venice


fitzie December 31, 2015
Shrimp, some boiled and some roasted. Upscale Macaroni and Cheese. Recipe at Epicurious. Really good. Salami and cheese board, olives. Chocolate cake for dessert. Champagne. Happy New Year.
amysarah December 30, 2015
Yes, love the idea of truffle accented mac and cheese, but 7 tablespoons of truffle oil sounds exponentially too much - a little goes a very long way! Maybe it's supposed to be 7 teaspoons (though even that sounds like a lot.)
Skye |. December 31, 2015
Hi, Thank you so much for spotting this and apologies for the typo! Yes, it is 7 tsps not tbsps - I know it seems like a lot, but I like to add a little oil to the breadcrumb topping as well as the pasta, so that it tastes very truffly... Happy New Year - hope that you have a wonderful night! Xx
Third F. December 30, 2015
Seven tablespoons of truffle oil, no matter how good the brand, would seem to overpower the dish. My two stalwart must-haves on New Year's Eve are gougeres and flutes of prosecco. After that my menu is open to whatever I'm in the mood to make. (Oh, and I love to show a classic old film. Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Holiday has always been a favorite. I am old school.)
Skye |. December 31, 2015
Thank you so much for spotting this. It is my mistake: the recipe should read 7 tsps not tbsps. Gougeres, flutes of prosecco and Cary Grant sounds like my idea of heaven. I hope that you have a wonderful night and a very happy new year! Xx