Food

Christmas dinner ideas: appetizers, mains, sides and desserts recipes to try

Holidays shouldn't be stressful. They're a time for appreciating good food and good company. But the reality is: They are. A jolly bearded man may bring the presents, but unfortunately, he's not doing any cooking.

But if you set your menu well in advance, you can get the shopping out of the way, allocate tasks and mentally prepare for the mission ahead. With that said, we've come up with a few of our best Christmas dinner ideas with recipes for every course — you can't go wrong with any of them — so you can start planning your course of action. Deep breaths. We've got you.

RELATED: Best gifts under $25 for food lovers, chosen by star chefs

Hors d'Oeuvres

Martha Stewart's Kale-Ricotta Dip
Martha Stewart's kale-ricotta dip
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
4-6
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Other greens work well here, too: spinach, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collards, beet greens, and turnip greens each contribute their distinctive flavor, all with slightly different results.

Phyllo & Prosciutto Asparagus Cigars
Phyllo & Prosciutto Asparagus Cigars
Brandon Goodwin / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
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Crunchy, salty and cheesy, this easy-to-make appetizer will definitely be a hit at any holiday bash.

Root Vegetable and Feta Bruschetta
Stephanie Izard's Root Vegetable and Feta Bruschetta
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
Servings:
4 to 6
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The layers of flavor from the caponata are simple but great, while the salty bacon and capers and sweet raisins provide a variety of textures.

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Celebrate 'Feast of 7 Fishes' with Italian recipes

Play Video - 3:26

Celebrate 'Feast of 7 Fishes' with Italian recipes

Play Video - 3:26

Appetizers

Sunny's Easy Holiday Brussels Sprout Salad
Turkey Trot: Sunny Anderson's brussels sprout saladTODAY, November 16, 2016.
Rebekah Lowin / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
4
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Sunny Anderson's brussels sprout salad has the big flavors of the holidays — cranberries, pecans, rosemary, nutmeg — while still being fresh and light. It's a refreshing reprieve from all the heavy eating of the rest of the meal.

RELATED: Mini mac n' cheeses, plus 3 more easy last-minute holiday appetizers

Easy Jumbo Shrimp Wrapped in Pancetta and Sage
Easy Jumbo Shrimp Wrapped in Pancetta and Sage
Quentin Bacon
Rating:
( rated)
Prep time:
Servings:
4
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The flavors for this dish come from traditional Roman saltimbocca: veal cutlets with sage and prosciutto. The tender prawns balance the meatiness and crispiness of the bacon, and the sage, tempered by the lemon, makes it all very fresh-tasting.

Chestnut, Celery Root and Apple Soup
Chestnut soup
Alamy Stock
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
4
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This creamy fall soup contains nutty chestnuts with sweet celery root and apples. It'll set a smooth tone for the rest of the meal. Bonus: It can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen so it's ready when you are.

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Laura Vitale cooks an easy butternut squash soup

Play Video - 4:17

Laura Vitale cooks an easy butternut squash soup

Play Video - 4:17

Mains

Holiday Prime Rib Roast
Prep of a prime rib roast
Casey Barber / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
Servings:
8-10
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Cooking a prime rib roast — especially for company — can be intimidating. Impress without the stress with this no-fail guide to putting a perfect prime rib roast on the table.

Easy Glazed Ham with Sriracha and Orange Marmalade
Sriracha-Orange Glazed Ham
Grace Parisi / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
Servings:
10 to 12
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It’s hard to believe that six ingredients could combine to make such a knockout roast. The marmalade is citrus-y, sweet and a little bitter, the Sriracha is tangy and peppery, the ginger is sharp and spicy, and the lemon juice balances out the sweetness of brown sugar with just the right amount of sour.

RELATED: Crock-Pot Christmas! 10 slow-cooker recipes to try

Cider-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Plum Chutney
Cider-roasted pork tenderloins with roasted plum chutney
Quentin Bacon / Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten/Clarkson Potter/Publishers
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
4-6
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This roast pork with hard apple cider will fill your home with a wonderful aroma. Your guests will thank you. A million times over.

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Cook up Italian-style roast beef

Play Video - 3:55

Cook up Italian-style roast beef

Play Video - 3:55

Sides

Scalloped Potatoes
Baked scalloped potatoes
Brandon Goodwin / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
6-8
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This cheesy, creamy potato gratin will be the one thing on your table that won't turn into leftovers. Everyone will go back for seconds — nay, thirds.

Pomegranate-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Pomegranate-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
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The combination of tangy pomegranate juice and sweet caramelized Brussels sprouts is finger-licking decadent. If you hate Brussels sprouts, we beg you to try these — you’ll want more.

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Bacon
Curtis Stone's Baked Mashed Potatoes with Bacon.TODAY, November 23rd 2016.
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
Servings:
8
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This potato dish makes a really convenient side dish for a festive dinner, since it can be assembled in baking dish, covered and refrigerated for up to one day. Oh, also, bacon makes everything better.

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The secret to whipping up the creamiest mashed potatoes

Play Video - 1:21

The secret to whipping up the creamiest mashed potatoes

Play Video - 1:21

Desserts

Chocolate Pecan Pie is the ultimate dessert
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Grace Parisi / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
Yield:
One 9-10 inch pie
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This is like a pecan pie-brownie hybrid — if that doesn’t make you swoon, I don’t know what will. Extra-bittersweet chocolate cuts through the inevitable sweetness. Serve it with crème fraîche for added richness and ooh la la.

RELATED: Christmas cakes, cookies and pies: Holiday desserts to make now

Dylan Dreyer's Aunt Tillie's Christmas Cookies
Dylan Dreyer's Aunt Tillie's Christmas Cookies.TODAY, Dece,ber 7th 2016.
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
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"It wasn't Christmas without these cookies," says TODAY's Dylan Dreyer about these pillowy, anise-y bites of nostalgia.

Tiramisu parfaits: The ultimate easy dessert
Tiramisu Parfaits
Grace Parisi / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Prep time:
Servings:
4
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Come dessert time, serving individual glasses of tiramisu is a piece of cake (well not literally). Not only will these impress your guests, but everyone is guaranteed to get one!

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