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Great ideas for holiday dinners

Here are 20 of our best recipes for your upcoming holiday dinners and entertaining. We have extra special main entree recipes for when you want to put on the dog, as well as easy casual options that will let you relax and enjoy the moment. We have some wonderful holiday cookies and desserts and of course a handful of our favorite holiday cocktails to make sure you get some good cheer.

Click to download our free e-cookbook: 3 Fabulous Turkey Recipes Guaranteed To Be Spectacular

Holiday main course ideas

Incredible bacon wrapped turkey 

This eye-poppingly beautiful, easy, fun-to-make turkey is our most popular recipe ever. If you are looking for wow factor, this bird is the word. For a holiday twist, consider making Yorkshire pudding with the drippings.


Photo credit: Tim Dean, one of the winners of our Turkey photo contest.

Slow cooker chicken with walnuts and pomegranate 

This modernized version of an ancient Persian dish is festive and flavorful. There is a little bit of work browning the chicken and sauteing the onions, but after that, your slow cooker does the work.

Easy rack of lamb 

Rack of lamb always impresses, but the great part is it is so quick and easy to make. This recipe calls for a garlic and herb crust which makes a great rack even better. And who doesn't like a great rack? Serve with this easy mint and vinegar sauce. Costco sells quality Australian rack of lamb at a very good price.

The best prime rib roast

If your budget is deep, there is nothing like prime rib for the holidays. This is my favorite prime rib recipe. It is easy to make and show stopping when served with Red wine and porcini mushroom sauce and Yorkshire pudding. Costco, again, is probably your best buy for prime rib.

Osso buco

Osso buco is an old entertaining secret. It is easy to assemble and then slowly cooks in an abundance of red wine, freeing you up hours before your meal. If you want to economize you can substitute lamb or turkey shanks for the more pricey veal shanks.


Cioppino is often thought of something you order in a restaurant, but it is surprisingly easy to make. The secret is to make the broth in advance, even a day or two in advance. Heat up the broth and add your seafood right before serving. Add some crusty bread and maybe a simple salad and you are done. The difference between a good cioppino and a so-so one is not the seafood you add. The secret is a great broth. I promise you this is a great cioppino broth.

Roast leg of lamb and potatoes 

Roast leg of lamb is simple to make, feeds a crowd and the leftovers make delicious sandwiches the next day. I roast potatoes in the same pan with the lamb so all you need to do is add a salad. Serve with mint and vinegar sauce.

Chicken Marbella 

This old-school recipe from The Silver Palatte is as good today as it was in the 80's. Marinate the chicken for a day, bake it and you are done. Easy, inexpensive, flavorful and can be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd.

Mom's chili

We often serve chili for dinner on Christmas Day or even Christmas Eve when we want to keep things simple and don't know exactly how many people we are feeding. In our house this has now become Dad's chili because my husband likes it so much he makes it more often than I do. We serve it with lots of fresh veggies, cheese and tortilla chips.

Chicken chili tomatillo soup

This one-pot chile soup is just the thing for a casual holiday get together. Chicken, tomatillos, roasted peppers, jalapenos, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chili and smoked paprika come together for a satisfying meal. This recipe takes a couple hours to make, so make a lot and freeze the leftovers.

Chicken tortilla soup 

This recipe is another old family favorite that lends itself to casual holiday gatherings. I know I am biased, but I think it is the best tortilla soup period. I serve it with fresh garnishes and lots of lime squeezes. I always make a huge batch and freeze the leftovers.

French lentil and garlic sausage soup

I have been serving this comforting soup at our wine and cheese party for years.  The key is to use French De Puy lentils and a good garlic pork sausage. Easy to assemble, recipe can be multiplied and leftovers freeze well.

Holiday dessert ideas

 Molasses ginger cookies

Baking is not my forte, but I am very proud of these cookies. It took me several iterations to come up with these crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle, buttery, gingery cookies. I have yet to meet the person who can only eat one.

Pignoli cookies

I first discovered these traditional Italian cookies at a small bake shop in London and then later at Mike's Pastry in the North End in Boston. I was immediately addicted. For years I searched for similar recipes and finally found this December 2002 Gourmet Magazine recipe for Pignoli cookies. These almond-paste based cookies are to die for, gluten-free, expensive to make, but a great "wow" cookie to share for the holidays.

Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies 

Speaking of expensive cookies, these Jacque Torres salted chocolate chip cookies call for $20 of chocolate chips alone! But they are worth it. My daughter Margo says it is unfair to call these cookies, because there must be a word for something that is even better than a cookie. Don't take any shortcuts when you make these cookies and you will be rewarded with an indescribably good treat.

Raspberry almond trifle 

My step-dad is a big fan of triffe, so I often make a trifle for holiday family gatherings. This Raspberry almond trifle feeds a crowd and is simply beautiful.

Hawaiian chocolate bread pudding

This is my signature dessert I have been making for years. It takes minutes to prepare and is always a crowd-pleaser. If you want a glimpse at how to make it check out our dinner party video It All Starts Somewhere.

Favorite holiday cocktails

Old school eggnog

This Old school eggnog is nothing short of incredible. Take it to your next party and you will leave with a lot of new friends. Made with Maker's Mark bourbon, pasteurized eggs for safety and a dash of fresh nutmeg. You will be sold for ever even if you don't think you like bourbon. This eggnog is even better when you have new puppies laying by a Christmas fire.

Ginger smash Christmas cocktail 

Muddled with fresh lemon, ginger, mint, Maker's Mark and ginger beer, this cocktail will put you in a festive holiday mood. Garnish with some candied ginger and a cranberry for some extra holiday style.

Moscow mule Maui style

You can't go wrong with a good Moscow mule. Here is a recipe I was given from Mala Ocean Tavern in Maui. Or you may prefer our Orange Mule or Garden Mule, two great variations. If you are in the market for some Moscow mule copper mugs, these are our favorite.

Roasted cranberry champagne sparkler

A spoonful of roasted cranberries makes for a festive holiday glass of champagne. You can roast the cranberries a day or two in advance.


Have a wonderful holiday filled with family, good friends and terrific food and drink!



  1. Brenda Macklin says:

    wow! Super Yum! Thanks for all the great ideas!

    1. Kim says:

      Glad you enjoyed them Brenda. If you try any of the recipes, please let us know how you like them. Happy Holidays!

  2. Emily says:

    Mouth watering recipes. Enjoying these one by one this holiday season with my brand new kitchen.

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