Lighten Up Holiday Classics

Eat your favorite holiday dishes guilt-free. The editors at Cooking Light share their tips for slimming down classic holiday dishes.

  • Pecan Sticky Rolls
    Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr

    Pecan Sticky Rolls

    Decreasing the calories from 835 to 275 without altering the flavor was a huge task when lightening these rolls. The result, a gooey, sweet sticky bun with a soft texture and rich flavor.
  • Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
    Oxmoor House

    Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

    Prep this the night before for an easy breakfast or brunch that has just 184 calories per serving (the traditional version has around 350 calories). Find turkey sausage in the freezer section of the supermarket with other breakfast meats. Turkey sausage has 1/3 less fat and half the calories of pork sausage.
  • Brioche Rolls
    Photo: Raymond Hom; Styling: Pamela Duncan Silver

    brioche rolls

    You don't need a brioche pan for this recipe—a muffin tin works well. Start a day ahead, as the overnight rise is essential for bakery-like flavor.
  • Coconut Cream Pie
    Photo: John Autry; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

    Coconut Cream Pie

    With flavors better than the traditional version, the Cooking Light Test Kitchen shaved over 200 calories and 10 grams of saturated fat off this coconut cream pie while still maintaining its creamy, fluffy Italian meringue.
  • Chocolate Chip Cannoli
    Photo: Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr

    Chocolate Chip Cannoli

    Our lighter version takes the “no” out of the cannoli with easy phyllo-based shells (follow our method to make your own cannoli molds), a simple lower-fat homemade ricotta, and a hint of semisweet chocolate. The best part: You can make the filling and shells ahead, and assemble while the espresso brews.
  • Zesty Broccoli Casserole

    Zesty Broccoli Casserole

    The original version of this creamy, cheesy recipe had 351 calories and 30.9 grams of fat per serving. The revised rendition has only 141 calories and 4.9 grams of fat. Lighten your own casseroles that include buttery or cheesy cracker crumbs by substituting panko. Using these extra-crisp Japanese breadcrumbs instead of crushed buttery crackers can reduce the recipe's fat, calories, and sodium.
  • Carrot Soufflé
    Randy Mayor; Melanie J. Clarke

    Carrot Soufflé

    This pretty holiday dish has only 187 calories and 5.1 grams of fat per serving, down from its original 289 calories and 13.6 grams of fat. Fat-free sour cream replaces nearly an entire stick of butter in the final version. When you're lightening your own recipes, look for opportunities to replace excess fat and sugar with zesty substitutes like fat-free sour cream, low-fat yogurt, spices, and bursts of citrus.
  • Mama Totota's Tamales
    Randy Mayor


    Using a leaner cut of pork and a reduction in vegetable oil changed this dish's nutritional make-up from a whopping 657 calories and 46.8 grams of fat per serving to a manageable 344 calories and 7.4 grams of fat. You can serve leaner cuts of meat at your own table by choosing center-cut or loin meats and making sure that you trim away any excess fat.
  • Potluck Potato Casserole

    Potluck Potato Casserole

    This makeover required only a slight reduction in the amount of cheese, while still cutting calories from 380 to 194 per serving and fat from 26.9 grams to 6.4. You can do the same in your cheese-laden dishes with a blend of reduced-fat and fat-free dairy products.
  • Baked Potato Soup
    Randy Mayor; Jan Gautro; Food Kellie Gerber Kelley

    Baked Potato Soup

    Inevitably, some recipes need more of a makeover than others. Such was the case with this soup, which had 555 calories and 38.2 grams of fat per serving. After eliminating more than a quarter-pound of butter and substituting reduced-fat products for the whole milk and full-fat cheeses, the final result was an equally savory dish with 329 calories and 10.8 grams of fat per serving. You can improve the health benefits of your own soups at home by starting with fat-free, low-sodium broths and using reduced-fat dairy products.
  • Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

    Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

    This recipe became even easier with the substitution of skinless, boneless chicken breasts for skin-on, bone-in chicken. And you won't have to worry about its nutritional values any longer – the revised version has 276 calories and 7.8 grams of fat per serving, down from the original recipe's 565 calories and 44.7 grams of fat. Reduce the calories in your own one-dish dinners by decreasing the amounts of the high-fat ingredients such as mayonnaise and adding extra low-cal ingredients (in this case, fresh broccoli).
  • Walnut Coffee Cake
    Randy Mayor

    Walnut Coffee Cake

    One reader's favorite coffee cake contained 400-plus calories per serving and almost half of the calories came from fat. To trim the recipe, Cooking Light replaced shortening with butter, and used less of it, to cut 102 calories and 11 grams of fat per serving. To lower cholesterol, they replaced whole eggs with egg substitute and added nonfat buttermilk instead of whole milk. Try these tips to lower fat without compromising the rich flavor or the tender crumb that defines a good coffee cake.
  1. Enter at least one ingredient