It’s the season for merriment, drunkenness, and stuffing your face full of delicious treats. Personally, while I’m excited to be cooking and baking and all that jazz, I do not look forward to warding off potential weight gain. And so far, I feel like I’m not doing too terribly.

Then again, I just got myself a pack of gingerbread cookies and other holiday cookies… and some gingerbread Clif Bars.

Think I’m going overboard on the sweets.

Will have to double exercise efforts… Good thing I like the winter for exercising.

Either way, you may be wondering what you should be baking or cooking for your loved ones around this time of year. Should you go with the traditional ham or turkey? Should you try something different, just because you’re not fond of ham or turkey? Do you want to go all out for dessert?

Well, you’ve come to the right place! Today, I will provide you with Holiday meal ideas that are sure to make the mouths of your guests water. We’ll be going over the following categories:

It is advised to take each category with a grain of salt, as I aim to suggest something for everyone (with exclusions to fish).



Photo of herb roasted turkey breast from Rachel Cooks, as a main dish for Holiday meal ideas.

Herbed Roasted Turkey Breast

If you’re a fan of turkey, then you may want to give this turkey breast recipe a try. Dressed in a blend of aromatic herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, and parsley as well as a white wine (such as Chardonnay), garlic, and dijon mustard, this turkey would be hard to pass up. Get the recipe at

Photo of deep-fried turkey from Epicurious as a suggestion for Holiday Meal Ideas article

Fried Turkey

Fried turkey is delicious. I’ve only had it once when I was a child, but to me, it was worth it. All I advise, however, is DO NOT DO THIS INDOORS.

Oh, and make sure that the turkey is thawed before plopping it in the deep fryer. That’s also important. Epicurious has an interesting recipe for deep-fried turkey if you’re wanting to take the fried route for turkey.


It’s what’s for dinner.

Photo of slow cooker pot roast from Damn Delicious as a Holiday meal idea

Pot Roast

Pot roast is what many envision when they think Sunday dinner. And damn, there are many variants. Check out this pot roast recipe from Damn Delicious.

Gordon Ramsays Christmas beef wellington as Holiday Meal Idea

Beef Wellington

Show off with Gordon Ramsay’s famous beef wellington recipe. Simple to make, too, so don’t feel intimidated and put those pesky fears of being called an idiot sandwich to rest!


Always known for its fowl taste.

Rotisserie Cornish Game Hens

Absolutely delicious, and a recipe I’ve toyed with that replaces turkey since admittedly, I’m not all that much a Turkey fan.

Either way, here’s my own recipe, with inspiration from Sun Prairie’s article on “How to Brine a Roast,” as it helps retain moisture and adds a festive flavor:

• 1/8 cup sugar
• 1/8 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup salt
• 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
• 2 tablespoons ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 tablespoon nutmeg

1. Add all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until all sugar is dissolved.

2. Add 3 cups of cold water.

3. Pour mixture into a Ziplock bag.

4. Plop up to three hens into mixture and seal. Place the bag into a massive pot to prevent spillage and place it into the fridge overnight.

Cooking the hens


• Two packs rotisserie seasoning
• Three brined hens
• Duck fat

1. The next day, preheat oven to 375F.

2. Pull hens out of the mixture, rinse and dry them.

3. Place them in a baking pan and pat them with rotisserie seasoning.

4. Apply duck fat to the hens.

5. Add one more pack of rotisserie seasoning to the hens.

6. Place the hens into the oven when the oven is fully preheated.

7. Roast for 1h 30min – 2 hours.


You can’t spell spork without pork!

Holiday meal idea of honey mustard glazed ham

Honey Mustard Glazed Ham

Here’s a hamtastic recipe from Chowhound that adds a zing to the sweetness of the ham.

Photo of brown sugar glazed ham from Cafe Delites as holiday meal idea

Brown Sugar-glazed Ham

If you’re not for honey, then this brown-sugar glazed ham recipe from Cafe Delites should do the trick if you want to clash sweet with savory.

Photo of Jo Cooks rosemary garlic pork roast as a main dish for Holiday Meal Ideas

Rosemary Garlic Pork Roast

If you’re not for ham this holiday season (I know I’m not fond of ham), you can always settle down with a warm, herb-encrusted pork roast. Here’s a good recipe for rosemary garlic pork roast from Jo Cooks.


For those who prefer to be the rabbit, not eat the rabbit.

Simply Recipes butternut squash soup for holiday meal ideas

Apple Butternut Squash Soup

Bound to warm your heart and tummy, this soup complements the cold weather well. Be aware that this Simply Recipes recipe contains butter, so you may want to omit the butter if you aren’t Lacto-vegetarian.

photo of cauliflower casserole from cozy apron as holiday meal suggestion

Cauliflower Casserole

Cauliflower casserole is… interesting to say the least. I’ve not had it myself, but it looks so tasty, it’s a surprise that I haven’t yet. I think I will make that for Christmas…

Check out one such cauliflower casserole recipe from The Cozy Apron.


You need to have a complement for the main dish, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Photo of Taste of Home Mom's Sweet Potato Bake as a side dish option for Holiday Meal Ideas

Sweet Potato Bake

Never had it. Want to try it, considering I love all things sweet potato. Get the recipe for sweet potato bake from Taste of Home!

Homemade dinner rolls from Mom On Timeout as one such side for Holiday meal ideas

Dinner Rolls

Every Christmas day I would indulge in some dinner rolls, but they were always storebought and not homemade. What I wouldn’t give for some rolls from scratch right about now.

I mean sure, store-bought dinner rolls are great, but have you had freshly made dinner rolls straight from the oven? If you haven’t, now’s the time to try ‘em with Mom On Timeout’s recipe.

Photo of Cooper Sharp Homestyle Mac and Cheese as one such side as a Holiday meal idea


Macaroni and cheese is a great side dish, stuffed with rich and creamy goodness, but in all honesty, the cheesy aspect is what makes or breaks the entire dish. Cooper Sharp Cheese is just one such glorious cheese that creates such a smooth texture that will cause your taste buds to dance for joy.

To prove it, Cooper brand has a recipe for some delicious homestyle mac and cheese that includes their very own sharp cheddar.

If you don’t happen to live in an area that offers Cooper Sharp, then do yourself a favor and prepare for a vacation.

Duck-fat Potatoes

Duck-fat potatoes is a recipe I’ve tried at this year’s Thanksgiving with my small family, and this dish was fantastic, to the point I was asked if I could make it on less special occasions. So here is my own recipe, adapted from learning from various sources (particularly comments from several Reddit threads):

1. Preheat oven to 425F and slip in a baking sheet.

2. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add salt and two teaspoons baking soda. This gives the potatoes a crunchy exterior and creamy interior.

3. In the meantime, cube up/slice any potatoes you would like to use.

4. Dump potatoes into the pot of boiling water.

5. Boil them for 6 minutes, no more no less.

6. Drain the water, place a lid over the pot, and shake very hard.

7. Place the potatoes in a bowl, then toss with some garlic, salt, pepper, and duck fat.

8. Spread potatoes over the pan and bake until they are golden brown on both sides – personally I baked for 15 minutes, flipped them, and then checked every 5 minutes after.

Photo of southern cornbread dressing from Spicy Southern Kitchen for Holiday Meal Ideas

Cornbread Dressing

So good. You have no idea what you’re missing if you love cornbread. If you don’t want to miss out, check out this recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen.

Photo of roasted brussel sprouts for holiday meal idea

Roasted Balsamic and Honey Brussel Sprouts

If you hate Brussel sprouts, you may want to give these a try anyway. Roasted and tossed in a tangy honey-balsamic vinaigrette mixture, these Brussel sprouts have been a hit among those who detest Brussel sprouts.

Once Upon a Chef has a great recipe for these tasty morsels.

photo of cheesy mashed potatoes for holiday meal idea

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Bacon and Chives

What’s better than cheesy mashed potatoes? Try cheesy mashed potatoes with bacon and chives, the recipe of which you can get from Jo Cooks.

photo of sausage and herb stuffing for holiday meal ideas

Sage Sausage Stuffing

Stuffing doesn’t have to be boring. You can add all sorts of spices and additions to this fluffy traditional side dish. Give sage sausage stuffing a try with this Serious Eats recipe – you won’t regret it.

garlic parmesan roasted broccoli suggestion for holiday meal ideas

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Need another veggie to give your meal that pizzazz it needs? Then you should give this garlic parmesan roasted broccoli recipe from Damn Delicious a spin!

green bean casserole as holiday meal idea

Fancied-up Green Bean Casserole

This ain’t your grandma’s green bean casserole… or is it? Either way, green bean casserole doesn’t need to be boring. Dress it up with chestnuts, slivered almonds, and a hearty crust. Check out this Taste of Home recipe for fancied-up green bean casserole for one such take.

Collard greens with garlic as holiday meal idea

Collard Greens with Garlic

If you’re from the Southern U.S., then it’s likely you’ve had collard greens. I ate collard greens for the first time a couple of years ago, and I was seriously missing out. Collard greens with some garlic mixed in is a nice veggie treat to consider. Give this Food Network recipe for collard greens with garlic a try!

white wine rosemary gravy as a side option for holiday meal ideas

White Wine and Rosemary Gravy

Brown gravy, white gravy, turkey gravy… well, those are great gravy options for your turkey, no doubt. But why not have a fancier taste that will have your family begging for the recipe? Well, you can, by taking delicious turkey reserves and seasonings and mixing white wine (or try using red wine!) and rosemary with it, if we’re to go by this Country Living recipe.

hasselback potatoes as a holiday meal idea

Hasselback Potatoes

It’s so simple to create, but it is something that I would recommend a sharp knife for. Plus, they look rather elegant on dinner plates! If you’re interested, Simply Recipes has a great recipe for Hasselback Potatoes.

charcuterie board as a suggestion for holiday meal ideas

Charcuterie Board

A charcuterie board is not only simple to create but also a crowd-pleaser, able to appear like a work of art (so long as you use fancy types of fruits, cheeses, and other stuff). Some ideas for a Charcuterie Board:

• Sharp white cheddar (like Cooper Sharp Cheese)
• Goat cheeses
• Baby belle
• Grapes
• Raspberries
• Strawberries
• Triscuits
• Brie
• Cheese spreads


The best part of the meal, if I do say so myself.

chocolate swirled pumpkin cheesecake as a dessert idea for holiday meal ideas

Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Alright, so you’ve heard of chocolate satin pie. You’ve also heard of pumpkin pie. And, let’s be honest: cheesecake is delicious. So why not blend chocolate with pumpkin into a creamy, cold cheesy goodness?

Hence, the existence of chocolate-swirled pumpkin cheesecake, which you can make with Fine Cooking’s recipe.

Photo of sweet potato cheesecake as holiday meal idea

Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Think sweet potato pie, but instead of pie, you have cheesecake. My Baking Addiction has a neat recipe for sweet potato cheesecake!

Sweet potato pound cake as dessert item for holiday recipe ideas

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Screw the pie and cheesecake, just make sweet potato pound cake instead! All Recipes has a delish recipe for sweet potato pound cake here.

pecan pie dessert as holiday meal idea

Pecan Pie Cheesecake

Okay, so it’s fairly obvious that I’m not the most pie-centric person out there, but I would certainly take cheesecake any day over a typical, regular pie. Either way, take a peek at this Delish recipe for pecan pie cheesecake if you’re interested in making it.

Shortbread cookies as a dessert for holiday meal ideas article

Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookies are crumbly, buttery, and oh-so-perfect, capable of melting in your mouth the moment you bite into one.

I wholly recommend this recipe from Food Network if you have a hankering for shortbread cookies.

Hopefully, the above ideas and recipes are enough to provide you with all you need to make your holidays as merry and festive – food-wise, anyway – as possible.

What are your favorite dishes? Do you plan on adorning the holiday table with anything from this list? Do you have any recipes you enjoy that you’d like to share with the world? Let me know in the comments below!

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