20+ Cozy Christmas Eve Dinner Ideas
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 day, 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 bourbony 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.
I wanted to make a glaze that was a bit punchier than the usual basic brown sugar or honey mustard, so I experimented with some of my favorite ingredients. Mango Chutney, with its sweet and sour base. Savora, a French condiment that was 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. The result was a ham that got demolished at the party.
Perfect Roast Turkey
First-time Thanksgiving hosts, don’t fear: We’ve got the perfect simple, yet doable turkey recipe that also happens to be super delicious. 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. After the turkey is brined, carefully loosen the skin and rub softened butter underneath. This is the key to juicy, full-flavored meat. We suggest hickory chips to give the smoke a classic flavor. Turkey is safe to eat when the thickest portion reaches 165˚F, but that’s not the temperature to look for when the bird is still on the smoker. Instead, remove the turkey at 155˚F, and cover loosely with foil. The meat will continue to “cook” as it rests and will remain tender and juicy.
Crock Pot Easy Pot Roast
Instant Pot Eye of Round Roast Beef
Despite its tempting price tag, you’ve probably walked right on by that eye of round roast in the supermarket meat case more times than you can count… but no more; now, you know exactly what to do with it. This easy Instant Pot recipe transforms what’s typically considered a less-desirable cut of meat into succulent, perfectly rare roast beef with a richly savory jus. You can serve it simply over a bed or fluffy rice, or layer the tender beef onto warm rolls and 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. This step allows the meat to to release surface-level moisture, which makes for optimal exterior browning, and gives the salt time to really make its way into the meat. Additionally, allowing your cooked roast to rest thoroughly is essential to ensuring peak tenderness. That being the case, this is a great make-ahead recipe, especially for easy—and inexpensive—entertaining. Prep you 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.
The ideal meat loaf temperature is about 160°F. The easiest way to measure this is with a meat thermometer, a handy tool that ensures your meatloaf is perfectly juicy every single time. Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans—and sprinkle over a little parsley for extra pizzazz.
When it comes to meat sauces, Bolognese is the heavyweight champion of the pasta world, clocking in at over 800 calories with almost 1,800mg sodium. The traditional dish has a rich cast of characters—up to three kinds of meat, cream, cheese, pasta—and packs half a day’s worth of sat fat into just one serving. 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. Our version delivers classic satisfaction for less than half the calories and 1,300mg less sodium than the standard.
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!
Many New Englanders have freezers stocked with venison from autumn hunting expeditions. 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
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. Paired with skirt steak and a flavorful red pepper sauce, this meal is great for any night of the week. It all comes together in 40 minutes. Your family will love this one-bowl meal and request it for dinner often.
Grilled Balsamic Skirt Steak
This budget-friendly grilled skirt steak is quick and easy to make, whether it’s outdoors on the grill or indoors on a grill pan. 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. For a perfectly complemented meal, serve with Sautéed Baby Spinach and Tomato-Vidalia-Blue Cheese Salad.
Everything Bagel Roasted Salmon
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.) Additionally, toasting the breadcrumb topping on the stovetop will keep them exceptionally crispy during baking; so while it may seem like an unnecessary extra step in the casserole’s assembly, it does make for a tastier final product. We call for shredded rotisserie chicken here, but rest assured—this is a great casserole recipe for using leftover cooked chicken. In fact, you can even cut the recipe in half and bake the chicken cordon bleu casserole in an 8-x8-inch square pan for a smaller crowd. One final pro-tip from our test kitchens: You can finely chop the chicken and ham and turn this recipe into an awesome dip for a party.
Extra-Crispy Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Chard
One-skillet dinners like this one make weeknight cooking a breeze—and since it comes together in 30 minutes, you spend less time cooking and more enjoying the meal. 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 busy weeknight dinners, quick and easy is the name of the game; and 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.