We all have our family-favorite Christmas dishes, the ones that we make every year, no matter what, but sometimes it’s just nice to shake things up a little. After all, if you never try anything new, how will your family ever start new Christmas traditions?
If you’re looking for a new side dish or dessert, appetizer, or cocktail to try this holiday season, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 16 new and unique Christmas dishes you don’t want to miss out on.
To Start: The Appetizers
Skip the tired ol’ cheese ball and go for something a little more fun — and far more tasty.
Like, for example, these homemade pimiento cheese crackers. While making your own crackers may seem a bit challenging at first glance, don’t be intimidated. This recipe comes together in a snap, but will absolutely impress your in-laws.
For something a little more kid-friendly (after all, there’s no harm in getting the kids in the kitchen this holiday season), go with pull-apart cheesy rolls shaped like a Christmas tree and ready with a side of marinara for dipping.
If you’d prefer something sweet to start — and you don’t plan on making sweet potato casserole for the main meal — you can go with these adorable sweet potato bites, which put all the flavors of a sweet potato casserole, including marshmallows, into a more palatable size (because let’s face it — the sweet potato casserole never goes quickly).
The Main Event: The Entree
Sure, you’re technically supposed to have turkey or ham for Christmas dinner, but if no one in your family really cares for either, what’s keeping you to them?
You could, instead, try a pork crown roast — which looks awfully reminiscent of the roast beast that appears in the original, animated Grinch special.
Or, if you do like your Christmas ham, but you’re wanting something a little extra, you can always wrap it up in a wonderfully decorative puff pastry.
For some families, seafood and pasta are Christmas requisites, and if that sounds good to you, too, you might want to try this deceptively easy lobster fra diavolo. Similarly, cioppino, a seafood stew, is a Christmas Eve tradition in Italy, and one that you might find yourself adopting, no matter what your roots.
The Right Accompaniment: The Sides
Even if your family is strictly all about the turkey or classic ham, most allow for a bit of creativity when it comes to the side dishes. After all, there are usually so many different side dishes in the Christmas spread that, if one isn’t entirely perfect, no one cares too much.
So, if you’re tired of bland, lumpy mashed potatoes, you can swap them out for these potato nuggets, that are far tastier.
And, if you just hate that jello mold cranberry sauce that your mother always drags out, kick things up a notch with a jalapeño-infused cranberry sauce.
Instead of mac ’n cheese or cheesy mashed potatoes on the table, why not opt for cheesy rice, sure to be a hit with both kids and adults?
The Grand Finale: The Desserts
Sure, sure. Make sure you have a pumpkin pie and a fruitcake, but otherwise, try your hand at making something new and deliciously yummy.
How about a pretty holiday berry meringue wreath that combines the sugary crunch of meringue with the tart flavors of raspberries and cranberries?
Similarly, mini meringues make a totally elegant, bite-sized dessert.
Or, you could get the kids involved in making this whimsical coal candy, which is simple chocolate, but very fun and very cute.
If you’re wintering somewhere warm this season, you may find ice cream a suitable Christmas dessert, in which case you can’t go wrong with a bit of peppermint bark ice cream.
The All-Day Affair: The Drinks
It’s no secret that many people have their fair share of the tipple all day long on Christmas. But you don’t need to stick to your traditional eggnog and spiked hot cocoa.
Go with something a little slushy, like this Drunk Jack Frosty, or a Christmas-inspired margarita.
Whatever Your Christmas Menu…
Of course, whatever you end up putting on your Christmas menu, whatever new additions you try out on the fam, try to keep in mind the more important aspects of the holiday. No matter if no one likes your new side dish, or if you accidentally burn the meringues, the reason for the season is still spending time with the family — not at the table.