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15 Christmas dinner ideas so you can plan your menu now

The holidays are stressful. Let us help you plan your menu with our favorite Christmas dinner ideas and recipes for every course.
Christmas Dinner with Glazed Holiday Ham with Cloves, Vegetables, Minced Pies and Eggnog Orange Trifle
It only takes six ingredients to make a knockout roast.GMVozd / Getty Images stock
/ Source: TODAY

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.

Hors d'Oeuvres

Martha Stewart's Kale-Ricotta Dip

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.

Crunchy, salty and cheesy, this easy-to-make appetizer will definitely be a hit at any holiday bash.

Root Vegetable and Feta Bruschetta

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.


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.

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.

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.


Holiday Prime Rib Roast

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.

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.

Cider-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Plum Chutney

This roast pork with hard apple cider will fill your home with a wonderful aroma. Your guests will thank you. A million times over.


Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

Geoffrey Zakarian

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.

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

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.


Chocolate Pecan Pie

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.

"It wasn't Christmas without these cookies," says TODAY's Dylan Dreyer about these pillowy, anise-y bites of nostalgia.

Tiramisu Parfaits

Tiramisu Parfaits

Grace Parisi

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!