20+ Cozy Christmas Eve Dinner Ideas
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house all the family creatures are stirring—and they're hungry. Feeding your family a holiday feast on Christmas Eve doesn't have to be hard. Our favorite Christmas Eve dinner recipes are as easy as they are showstopping. From holiday hams (try this Smoky Glazed Ham with Red Pepper Jelly) to low-key casseroles (like this Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole), your Christmas Eve dinner just got a lot easier.
Smoky Glazed Ham with Red Pepper Jelly
Chef Jonathon Sawyer's secret to a successful holiday feast is doing most of his preparation ahead of time, for what he calls "easy game-day execution." He makes the sauce that becomes a sweet-sticky glaze and the spicy pepper jelly a few days in advance; then, on Christmas Eve, all he has to do is bake the ham.
Brown Sugar-Bourbon-Glazed Ham
It’s hardly the holidays without a ham, and with a deliciously sweet glaze (made with whole cloves, brown sugar, brown mustard, cola, and bourbon), this one delivers big on festive flavor. For this bourbon-y, brown sugar-glazed ham recipe, choose a bone-in half-ham, brined with natural juices. Leaving a thin layer of fat after trimming amps up the flavor and keeps the meat moist.
Honey-Port Lacquered Ham with Whipped Dijon Cream
This isn’t your salty, pink smoked ham that’s typical of a holiday event. Covered in a shiny cracklin’ shell, it’s a showstopper worthy of the center of the table. This delicious cream is great over ham, but it also works well over grilled meats, such as steak or pork. Add your favorite herbs to personalize the taste.
We wanted to make a glaze that was a bit punchier than the usual basic brown sugar or honey mustard, so we experimented with some of my favorite ingredients. Mango Chutney, with its sweet and sour base. Savora, a French condiment that is like a spiced Dijon, for mustard heat with a bit more oomph. Asian honey ginger jam for sweet, and garam masala for musky depth. Raw ginger and garlic and Thai chile to bring freshness to the party, and orange for familiarity and acid.
Perfect Roast Turkey
If you want to have a little bit fancier Christmas Eve, roast turkey is always a good choice, and this recipe will ensure success! The bird comes out moist (Butterball turkeys are pre-brined, saving first-time roasters some serious time and cooking space) with a delectably crispy, brown skin. There’s a bit of butter involved, so wear disposable gloves while you’re rubbing it all over the outside of the bird. The turkey's temperature will rise as it rests, meaning that the entire bird will be at least 165°F by the time it's ready to eat.
Smoked Turkey with Herb Rub
This is the only smoked turkey recipe you will ever need. The herb brine brings all the wonderful flavors of the holidays: thyme, rosemary and sage, all made for turkey, with a balancing sweetness from the light brown sugar and the perfect amount of salt to round it all out. Dry-brine the turkey and let it sit, uncovered, in the refrigerator to dry out the skin so that it crisps up and turns deep amber when cooked.
Crock Pot Easy Pot Roast
Crock Pots are the perfect solution to holiday (controlled) chaos. Just throw the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning, and you'll have a meal that the whole family will love by dinnertime. Bonus? If you've got afternoon or evening Christmas Eve plans, you won't even have to be home to cook.
Instant Pot Eye of Round Roast Beef
Serve homemade roast beef on toasted baguettes for an elegantly simple Christmas Eve dinner. Be sure to serve with the luscious jus for dipping. Salting the beef and allowing it to sit, uncovered, in the refrigerator (for at least one hour, but longer if you can) is key to achieving supreme flavor. Prep your Instant Pot eye of round the day before, refrigerate overnight (this will help lock in those savory juices and make thinly slicing so much easier), slice it up, and then put it out with your warmed jus and all your favorite fixings for a build-your-own roast beef sandwich bar.
Classic Meat Loaf
This is the iconic, classic meat loaf like your mom used to make (or that you wished your mom would make). Mix the ingredients gently, just until combined, and don't compact the meat when shaping the loaf for best results. This recipe is wonderfully homey and comforting, making it the perfect option for a low-key Christmas Even. Serve with steamed green beans and mashed potatoes.
Spaghetti is an oft-overlooked option for Christmas Even dinner. However, a plate of pasta loaded with meat Bolognese is high in calories, sodium, and packs half a day's worth of saturated fat into just one serving. If you would rather save your indulging for Christmas Day, try this vegetarian Bolognese. Here, tempeh and two types of mushrooms mimic the texture of ground meat while adding plenty of savory depth. By upping the veggies and nixing the cream, we leave plenty of room for the good stuff—Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Simmering the cheese rind with the sauce infuses the sauce with full-bodied flavor and salty tang.
Seafood soup might seem like a strange choice for Christmas Eve, but it's unique, simple, and heartwarming. All the fish in this impressive, yet surprisingly easy, soup are available at markets like Whole Foods. Don't forget the crusty bread for dipping!
Once Christmas rolls around, many hunters have freezers stocked with venison from autumn hunting expeditions, making chili an excellent choice for a casual Christmas Eve. If venison is not available, substitute ground sirloin. Garnish with reduced-fat sour cream and/or reduced-fat shredded cheddar, if desired. You can make the chili a day ahead and refrigerate; reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Skirt Steak and Cauliflower Rice with Red Pepper Sauce
Skirt steak is both inexpensive and easy to prepare, making it the perfect choice for a meal when both free time and budgets are stretched thinner than normal. No longer just a trend, cauliflower “rice” crumbles can be found in many grocery stores and you no longer have to make your own. They make a tasty (and low-carb) substitute for grains. Five minutes should be plenty of time for the cauliflower rice to cook. Make sure it’s tender, not mushy or al dente; taste it to check for doneness.
Grilled Balsamic Skirt Steak
This budget-friendly grilled skirt steak is quick and easy to make; plus, it can be grilled outdoors for a socially distanced Christmas Eve celebration, or indoors on a grill pan if it's just too cold to be outside. . Use balsamic vinegar to create a base for a fast and easy marinade made up of kitchen staples. For bolder flavor, marinate the steak for 24 hours.
Everything Bagel Roasted Salmon
Quick-cooking salmon is an excellent go-to for a wow-worthy Christmas Eve supper. Everything bagel seasoning is an easy but unexpected way to add punch to salmon; the onion flavor is subtle, and the added crunch provides a nice textural contrast to the tender fish. Brushing on honey and mustard adds the perfect sweet and tangy kick.
Seared Hanger Steak with Braised Greens and Grapes
This recipe calls for Swamp Pop Noble Cane Cola, but Dr Pepper has a similar spicy and moderately sweet flavor and will work fine. Collard greens have been an important part of the Southern cuisine for generations, and they are an integral part of this recipe. A cast iron skillet is ideal for grilling steaks, so be sure to keep yours in tip-top shape.
Basic Grilled Flank Steak
An easy marinade gives this flank steak a robust flavor--yet the seasonings are subtle enough that leftovers work in a variety of applications. Embellish with a cilantro sprig garnish.
Oven Baked Chicken Thighs with Vegetables
Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
This creamy, crowd-pleasing casserole delivers generously on cheesy, savory flavor—but requires a fraction of the fuss of classic chicken cordon bleu. The key to this chicken cordon bleu casserole’s incredible, bubbly richness is the stovetop cheese sauce made with Swiss and Gruyère. (If you have trouble finding Gruyère, simply substitute the same amount of Swiss.) We call for shredded rotisserie chicken here, but rest assured—this is a great casserole recipe for using leftover cooked chicken.
Extra-Crispy Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Chard
Since this easy skillet supper comes together in 30 minutes, you spend less time cooking and more time enjoying time with family on Christmas Eve. Starting the chicken in a cold skillet renders flavorful fat that crisps up the chicken and potatoes to golden perfection. Use a cast-iron skillet; its even heat distribution delivers delicious results.
Molasses-Soy Glazed Salmon and Vegetables
In just 35 minutes, you can serve your family this incredibly delicious and good-for-you seafood supper. When it comes to holiday season suppers, quick and easy is the name of the game; this tangy salmon with savory roasted vegetables is both full of flavor and hearty enough to satisfy the whole family. Make sure to cut the vegetables in similar sized pieces so they cook in the same amount of time. Couscous or quick cooking farro are both delicious and healthy substitutes for brown rice, and can be prepared while the rest of the meal is cooking. The tangy glaze is a great match for salmon, but it also pairs well with chicken and shrimp. Avoid buying thin fish fillets because they will finish cooking before the vegetables.