30+ Christmas Dinner Ideas

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! If you’re looking for Christmas dinner inspiration (or Christmas Eve dinner ideas), you’re in the right place! We’ve got main dishes, broken down by protein, as well as appetizers, sides and of course, a few desserts.

herb crusted beef tenderloin on a white plate

I can hardly believe Christmas is almost here! It’s such a special occasion and one I get excited about every year.

Since I’m always thinking about food and what I’m going to eat, I wanted to offer some suggestions for Christmas dinner.

These are some excellent recipes to make for the holiday season, whether you’re cooking them on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Don’t miss these amazing Christmas recipes to make this year! And if you’re hosting a crowd, check out these Christmas cocktails.

Christmas Eve Dinner vs. Christmas Dinner

This all depends on your family and YOU! As I’ve chatted with various friends while writing this post, I’ve come to learn that every family’s tradition is a little different.

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    Some of it depends on where you’re from, as well as where your ancestors are from, and some of it depends on personal taste and tradition.

    Which is why you’ll find some Italian-American families putting together a Feast of Seven Fishes (festa dei sette pesci) on Christmas Eve. You’ll find many Mexican families making tamales on Christmas Eve. Some Louisianans will make a Christmas gumbo, which features tons of fresh seafood.

    In the past, my little family has traditionally made lasagna as the main dish for Christmas Eve. We do something more decadent for our Christmas dinner menu, though we always enjoy lasagna leftovers the next day.

    What you need to make Christmas dinner:

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    This is going to be dependent on what you’re cooking and serving, but here are a few common tools you’ll need in the kitchen:

    What main course to serve:

    The older I get, the more I realize that your holiday menu depends on you and your family’s traditions, as discussed above.

    Some families celebrate by cooking red meat, like a Christmas roast, beef tenderloin, a standing rib roast or even a prime rib dinner. Others roast a rack of lamb. Some make a gumbo to share with their whole family, as well as friends.

    If you’re making a meat-centric dish, the key is purchasing a good quality piece of meat to serve! Also, be sure to let the meat rest after you cook it for the best results.

    Below, you’ll find recipes for a variety of different main dishes, including Christmas ham, beef recipes (including steaks!), roast turkey and turkey breast. Also, we’ve got ideas for Christmas dinner other than turkey for those of you who aren’t into turkey.

    Some of these ideas have make-ahead options, while others cook in the slow cooker to make the celebratory meal on your holiday table that much lovelier and easier on you.

    What’s included in these Christmas dinner ideas:

    This round-up includes all the dishes you might want to serve for a holiday meal or even a holiday dinner party. We’ve got different options for different tastebuds.

    After all, every family’s traditional Christmas dinner is a little different, and this is a great way to include your favorite flavors as a part of the season.

    In here, you’ll find:

    • Christmas appetizers, which include baked brie and other finger foods. If you need more starter inspo, check out my Best Thanksgiving Appetizers.
    • Main courses. These are broken down by protein. We’ve got vegetarian options, as well.
    • Side dishes. If you need something to make with green beans, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, etc., we have the perfect side dish recipes for you.
    • Classic Christmas desserts. This does not include cookies. But if you want cookies, you should check out 39 Cookies for Santa and 43 Cookies to Bake This December.

    We’ve got recipes that are great for a larger gathering, as well as some that are better for a small crowd.

    We won’t be talking specifically about ingredients, though I suggest having some pantry ingredients on hand always. These include kosher salt, black pepper, a good quality olive oil, dijon mustard, fresh herbs, red wine, white wine, brown sugar and more.

    This is obviously dependent on the recipes you choose to make so write down your shopping list accordingly.

    The BEST Christmas Dinner Ideas

    Merry Christmas and happy holidays! If you're looking for Christmas dinner inspiration (or Christmas Eve dinner ideas), you're in the right place! We've got mains, divided by protein, as well as appetizers, sides and of course, a few desserts.

    Christmas Dinner Appetizers

    Nothing starts a holiday meal like some finger foods and dips! Consider making one or two ahead of time to keep the heat off you while you finish making the meal.

    Christmas Main Ideas: Beef

    If you're looking for a protein or a centerpiece for your holiday table, we've got plenty of options for you here. Here are some options that highlight beef!

    Christmas Main Ideas: Pork

    If you're a pork person for the holidays, we have options for you, too! Here are some ideas with pork, which feature pork tenderloin and ham.

    Christmas Main Ideas: Poultry

    If you're looking for a protein or a centerpiece for your holiday table, we've got plenty of options for you here. Here are some options to serve with chicken and turkey.

    Christmas Main Ideas: Cajun

    If you're looking for a Louisiana Cajun centerpiece for your holiday table, we've got some ideas for you, too!

    Christmas Main Ideas: Vegetarian

    If you're serving vegetarians at the Christmas table this year, we have options for them, too! Here are our vegetarian Christmas dinner ideas:

    Christmas Dinner Side Dishes

    Obviously, every family is a little different when it comes to their sides at the holiday table. Here are some of our favorites!

    Christmas Dessert Ideas

    While we love cookies and make them for Santa every year, we're going to serve something a little different for Christmas dessert. (And if you want cookies, head on over to my Cookie Recipe Index for all the ideas.)

    A woman with dark curly hair wearing a black tank top in front of a white wall

    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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