55 Side Dishes That Can’t Wait for Christmas

Our favorite winter recipes fit for a Christmas feast. Think: bubbly gratins, buttery rolls, and snap-to-it salads.

December  7, 2023
Photo by Mark Weinberg

A Christmas main can be many things: smoked ham, roast turkey, prime rib, red snapper, whole cauliflower. But whatever it is, there’s probably just one (maybe two if you’re accommodating different diets). The sides, on the other hand, are a chance to let loose. Pick a salad, a bread or stuffing (or both!), two to three cooked vegetables, and a potato or grain if you please. And when someone asks you what they can bring, don’t hesitate to text them a recipe.


1. Caesar-Style Kale Salad With Roasted Onions & Ricotta Salata

Roasted onions make this salad extra cozy. Don’t hesitate to adjust the anchovies, Worcestershire, and Dijon to taste—Caesar dressing loves to be fussed over.

2. Brussels Sprouts & Apple Salad With Cheddar & Rye Bread Crumbs

This salad gets along just great with meat, be it beef or pork. You can roast the Brussels sprouts earlier in the day and let them hang out at room temperature.

3. Radicchio Salad With Manchego Vinaigrette

Bitter radicchio is a love-it-or-hate-it ingredient; this Manchego vinaigrette makes it hard not to love it. Feel free to throw in some chickpeas to bulk things up.

4. Roasted Mushroom Salad

Winter is the time to embrace the roasted vegetable salad. This one, with mushrooms, features little more than olive oil, red wine vinegar, and parsley.

5. Northern Spy’s Kale Salad

A kale salad worth obsessing over. Two pro tips about the squash: To save time (and, um, frustration), leave the skin on. And instead of cubing it, opt for heftier wedges (just roast a little longer).

6. Radicchio Salad With Sourdough Dressing

Sourdough dressing, you say? We’re listening. This Genius recipe uses bread as both a thickener for the vinaigrette and crunchy croutons for the salad.

7. Kale & Bulgur Salad With Brown Butter–Apple Vinaigrette

Any bright-colored, crunchy-textured salad is highly welcome at a winter feast like Christmas. The brown-butter vinaigrette (oh yes) keeps things wintry.

8. Endive Salad in the Roman Puntarelle Style

Here, melting ice cubes temper a feisty dressing, full of anchovies, fresh garlic, and lemon juice—and keep the endive perky as can be.

9. Radicchio Salad With Toasted Hazelnuts & Capers

This salad’s toppers just so happen to be pantry staples: hazelnuts (keep in the freezer for longer shelf life), capers (salt- or vinegar-packed both work), and chopped, hard-boiled eggs.

Breads & Rolls

10. Heavenly Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

Molasses lends lots of depth and a chestnutty color to these community-favorite rolls (over 200 reviews!). Adding egg to the dough, just like challah, makes them rich and tender.

11. Sour Cream Dinner Rolls

These rolls come by way of longtime Food52er AntoniaJames. We love their ultra-creative ingredient list, with mashed potatoes, sour cream, and wheat germ.

12. Kindred’s Milk Bread

Executive Editor Joanna Sciarrino loves turning this milky bread recipe into dinner rolls. Whatever shape you go with, don’t forget the salted butter alongside.

13. No-Knead Peasant Bread

This recipe was dubbed Genius for its low-key method and high-reward result. Instant yeast means it can be ready in less than two hours.

14. Our Best Cornbread

If yeast intimidates you, cornbread is your guy. Our test kitchen’s best version opts for half-cornmeal, half-flour, malty dark brown sugar, and an extra-buttery crust.

15. Oaty Brown Sugar Soda Bread

Another no-yeast bread—this time, thanks to baking soda. Baking this loaf in a Dutch oven yields a fantastic crust. Skip the knife and encourage everyone to tear at it with their hands.


16. Challah, Mushroom & Celery Stuffing

Cremini mushrooms make this vegetarian stuffing plenty meaty, while challah (or brioche!) is happy to drink up all that vegetable broth.

17. Ciabatta Stuffing With Chorizo, Sweet Potatoes & Mushrooms

Spicy chorizo plus sweet potatoes is a stuffing combo we still think about—10 years after Melissaav first published this recipe.

18. Cornbread & Sausage Stuffing

This cornbread stuffing is famous in our contributor Ella Quittner’s family for its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink ingredient list: mushrooms, sausage, dried cherries, and nuts, to name a few.

19. Prune & Apple Stuffing

This stuffing—from 1924!—keeps it simple with prunes, apples, and “nut meats,” a term I am sad fell out of fashion in the century-ish since.

20. Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding

The biggest difference between stuffing and bread pudding is: Stuffing leans on stock or broth, while bread pudding leans on milk or cream. This bread pudding has lots of cheese, too—what else do you need to know?

21. Freezable Stuffing With Caramelized Onions & Kale

Yes, you can make stuffing in advance, freeze it until the holiday, then pop it in the oven. This recipe will show you how.

22. Brown Butter Stuffing

Brown butter, sage, and little else. Think of this stuffing like a white T-shirt or pair of jeans—as basic as it is essential.

Red, Orange & Beige Vegetables

23. Butternut Squash & Roasted Garlic Galette

A savory galette that we would happily eat for dinner with a salad—but it makes a great holiday side, too! You can bake this in the morning and let it lounge on a countertop until dinner.

24. Seared & Glazed Parsnips With Rosemary

A hard sear, plus white wine, fresh rosemary, and maple syrup, upgrade classic glazed parsnips. (A mix of carrots and parsnips here would be very pretty.)

25. Roasted Carrots With Carrot Top Pesto & Burrata

If you’ve ever wondered what the heck to do with frilly carrot tops, here’s the answer: Make a walnut-y pesto, then add a big ball of burrata for everyone to break up as they help themselves.

26. Butternut Squash & Cider Soup

The best part about this—or any other—soup for Christmas? You can make it in advance. Keep in the fridge (in the pot for bonus points), then reheat before serving.

27. Clever Parsnip Oven Soup

Another soup! This time with a clever trick: Roast vegetables in the oven, then blend with broth until smooth and silky.

28. Pomegranate Roasted Carrots

This ruby-hued carrots from New York Times columnist Melissa Clark get a tangy-sweet glaze from pomegranate molasses.

29. Root Vegetable Gratin With Herbs & Cheese

Butternut squash, potatoes, and parsnips team up in this cheesy gratin. The secret is to use garlic-infused whole milk instead of the usual cream.

30. Turmeric-Roasted Carrots With Seeds

These seedy carrots are wonderful at room temperature—perfect for working around fussier dishes that need to be finished right before serving.

31. Roasted Butternut Squash With Sweet Spices, Lime & Green Chile

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, this recipe brightens up roasted squash with lime juice, fresh cilantro, and slivered chiles.

32. Sweet & Smoky Roasted Carrots

“If you love smoked paprika, the odds are high that you’ll love these carrots,” cookbook author Dorie Greenspan writes. “They’re roasted in a hot oven after they’ve been rolled around in a mix of honey, vinegar, cumin, cayenne, and smoked paprika, which I consider a magical ingredient.”

33. Carrots Cooked Forever, a la Roy Finamore

Overcooked carrots—but do it on purpose. Lots of garlic, lots of olive oil, lots of time on the stove.

34. Bittersweet Roasted Radicchio With Ricotta & Dates

Roasting radicchio is an easy way to tame its controversial personality. Then the dates and ricotta will lure in any remaining skeptics.

Green Vegetables

35. Brussels Sprouts Gratin

A mustardy, creamy gratin that’s all about the crunchy topping, that’s part-bread (try a whole-wheat or rye for more flavor), part-pecans (walnuts would be awesome, too).

36. Stir-Fried Cabbage With Fennel Seeds

Stir-fried cabbage goes from ho-hum to holiday-worthy thanks to a slew of seeds: cumin, fennel, and sesame.

37. Miso-Creamed Kale

Next time you make creamed greens, do them the favor of adding a spoonful of funky-sweet white miso to the sauce.

38. Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pears & Pistachios

Brussels sprouts plus fruit and nuts is an endlessly adaptable formula. After you fall in love with this, try apples and walnuts, or citrus and pecans.

39. Lacinato Kale Gratin

The sheer amount of kale in this cheddar-crusted gratin will seem wrong. But just trust—it will melt down into a bubbly, creamy, crispy masterpiece.

40. Creamed Spinach & Parsnips

A little honey goes a long way in these creamed greens. Parsnips add chewy texture and a buttery-woodsy flavor.

41. Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage

Cream, ginger, and garlic are the secret agents behind this suspiciously delicious sautéed cabbage. Once you make a habit out of it on Christmas, turn it into an easy weeknight meal with a loaf of bread.

42. Spinach Gratin

“This gratin is almost always on the buffet for Christmas at our house,” LiztheChef writes. “A nice substitute for potatoes, it goes well with the beef tenderloin I usually serve.”

43. Our Best Brussels Sprouts With Bacon

Brussels sprouts love bacon almost as much as bacon loves Brussels sprouts. In our test kitchen’s favorite version of this classic side, we called in garlic, chile flakes, and maple syrup.


44. Sweet Potatoes Anna With Prunes

A sweet-potato take on the traditional French pommes Anna. And no, the cup of port is not a mistake.

45. Garlic-Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Why do garlic mashed potatoes when you could do garlic-garlic mashed potatoes? Using Yukon Golds means big-time potato flavor and a sunny color to boot.

46. Crisp-Smashed Yellow Potatoes With Sour Cream & Vinegar Dill Sauce

This knockout recipe is all about contrast. Crispy meets creamy! Rich meets tangy! Don’t hesitate to increase the dill or call in additional herbs, like parsley or chives, for more greenery.

47. Mashed Maple Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

These mashed potatoes seem simple—even too simple—from a distance, but they’ll be a holiday favorite thanks to the contrast between smoky chipotles and maple syrup.

48. Roasted Potato Salad With Mustard-Walnut Vinaigrette

You already know that boiled potato salad is great for summer. But did you know roasted potato salad is just as great for winter?

49. Baked Potatoes Stuffed With Broccoli & Cheddar

We could talk about the dreamy broccoli-cheddar filling, sure. But what you really should know is how easy these are to pass and share at a crowded Christmas table.

50. Twice-Baked Potatoes With Kale

Twice the bake, twice the fun. These kale-stuffed cuties were made to be served with roast beef.


51. Rice Pilaf With Crispy Cashews & Chickpeas

Rebecca Firkser puts a delightfully crunchy spin on rice pilaf with cashews and chickpeas. Bonus points if you serve Greek yogurt or labneh alongside.

52. One-Pot Kale & Quinoa Pilaf

One of our top 10 most popular recipes ever, this kale-quinoa pilaf is as laid-back as a side gets.

53. Farro With Golden Beets, Feta & Pecans

A nutty-cheesy farro dish we aspire to be more like. If you can’t find golden beets, worry not! Their red cousins will do the trick just the same.

54. Wheat Berries With Pistachio Pesto

Wheat berries pretend to be pasta for a day and we’ll let it slide! This pistachio pesto is ultra-green with not one, not two, but three herbs. Can you guess ’em?

55. Rainbow Chard and Wild Rice Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

You can taste the rainbow in this super-versatile grain salad. One community member subbed wheat berries and loved it.

This article was updated 12/7/23.

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Kay December 16, 2019
This list is vegetatively biblical! And that Lacinato Kale Gratin pic is the epitome of food porn. Well done!!!
ras_austin December 11, 2019
Are you guys getting a revenue spiff from the kale industry?