14 Festive Dishes to Celebrate Christmas Outside
Due to the pandemic, holiday celebrations are sure to look a lot different this year. While some folks are choosing to stay home altogether, others might be considering some alternative options, such as hosting small gatherings outdoors. Winter outdoor entertaining presents its own challenges, but can be a wonderfully festive way to celebrate the holidays. We've selected entree, appetizer, and drink recipes that can be prepared on the grill (or smoker) or in a crockpot, plus some desserts that don't mind being served a little (or a lot) chilled. Pick up a fire pit (if you don't have one already) and gather outdoors (safely) with a few friends and family for a little 2020 holiday cheer.
Boozy Buttermint White Hot Chocolate
Toast the holidays (and warm up outside) with this grown-up version of seasonal white hot chocolate. Bailey's Irish Cream adds a little kick to this creamy and indulgent drink. Although the recipe makes 4 servings, you can double or triple the ingredients and keep warm for serving in a small crockpot. Feel free to leave out the Bailey's if you'd rather keep this drink family-friendly.
Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
Commonly known as "poppers," these peppers are stuffed with a mixture of crumbled bacon, cream cheese, and shredded Cheddar cheese, then grilled to perfection. The salty-savory-spicy combo is simply irresistible. The poppers can be grilled on a traditional gas or charcoal grill, or on a grate over a fire pit.
Smoked Turkey Breast
This year, skip roasting the full bird in favor of smoking a turkey breast. A turkey breast still provides plenty of meat for smallish gatherings, while also eliminating the guesswork of trying to get white and dark meat fully cooked (but not dried out) at the same time. Smoking the breast turns holiday cooking into an outdoorsy activity, and lends an incredible flavor to the meat that's hard to beat on sandwiches.
A Southern favorite, pimiento cheese is delicious spread on Ritz crackers or served with fresh-cut veggies for dipping. This baked version cooks in the crockpot, meaning it can be kept warm for hours--even when entertaining outdoors in chilly temperatures.
Cheesecake Christmas Trees
This festive dessert is not only adorable, but also easy. Simply decorate slices of frozen cheesecake as shown, using fudge shell coating, green decorator icing, and red candy-coated chocolate pieces. Plus, these cheesecake bars needs to be kept chilled, making them perfect for serving outside!
If outdoor smoking is new to you, try this recipe for smoked pork shoulder. Since pork shoulder is a relatively fatty (and inexpensive cut), it's also one of the more forgiving cuts of meat to cut your smoking teeth on. Just be sure to allow plenty of time for the meat to cook fully, as pork shoulders can easily turn into an all-day affair. You can even start very early and have the meat ready ahead of time, then foil the pork and place in a cooler, filling the empty space with towels, until ready to serve.
Cinnamon Hot Toddy
Mulled cider and cinnamon whiskey unite to create a perfect winter sipper. The Fireball flavor may be subtle here, but there’s no doubt this cider is spiked. We prefer using refrigerated cider to shelf-stable cider. Like the spiked white hot chocolate, this warming winter drink can be kept hot in the crockpot.
Chocolate-Peppermint Candy Cupcakes
With peppermint's cooling sensation, chocolate-peppermint cupcakes are the perfect dessert for an outdoors Christmas gathering. Bake these chocolate cupcakes in muffin tins, topping with homemade vanilla buttercream frosting. To add the peppermint flavor: Melt white chocolate morsels and mix in chopped peppermint pieces, then chill the entire mixture and chop again before sprinkling on top of the cupcakes.
Blue Cheese-Artichoke Dip
Blue cheese amps up the flavor for a little twist on the traditional artichoke appetizer. The dip holds up well for about two hours after the cook time. Serve with pita chips or toasted baguette slices.
Give your taste buds a wake-up call by switching from sweet and savory holiday dishes to this zesty turkey soup. Since the recipe calls for this soup to be cooked in a Dutch oven, you can prepare it inside before transferring to a slow cooker for outdoor serving. To keep things safe, consider filling small paper cups with individual servings of sour cream and shredded cheese for guests to top their soup.
Cupid's Creamy Peppermint Punch
If you serve this dreamy drink in a large punch bowl, hang peppermint candy canes on the bowl's rim. As written, this recipe contains no alcohol, making it perfect for guests of all ages. Got adults wanting to add a little Christmas cheer to their punch? Prep a row of plastic shot glasses with shots of rum, brandy, or bourbon.
Grilled Herbed Pork Tenderloin
Grilled pork tenderloin is another fantastic outdoor holiday meat option. Pork tenderloins often come in packs of two, meaning that you can easily scale up or down based on the numbers of guests you expect to have. Only need one tenderloin? Toss the other in the freezer.
Chili might just be the ultimate winter comfort food. Served hot and full of warming spices like chili powder, red pepper, and paprika, a bowl of chili is hearty, heartwarming, and simply delicious. This version cooks right in the slow cooker, perfect for keeping the chili warm during your gathering. Prep the toppings--sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped green onions, and sliced black olives-- in individual disposable cups for an extra layer of safety.
Rudolph's Christmas Sugar Cookies
What's a Christmas celebration without Christmas cookies? Kids and adults alike are sure to love these cookies resembling everyone's favorite reindeer. Plus, they just couldn't be easier to make, as they start with refrigerated sugar cookie dough and call for just three more ingredients: pretzels for the antlers, semisweet mini morsels for the eyes, and red cinnamon candies for the nose. Worried about possibly spreading germs? Simply use gloves when decorating.