Ho Ho Ho! ?? Merrrrrrrrry Christmas! ?
Like so many, I can’t even believe it’s already here, but it is! And what a time of year, eh? The lights, the decorations, the snow boots (in some places), the family, the nostalgia, the keepsakes, the memories, the joy!
Even though I’m a Jewish boy, I have to say that Christmas is my favorite time of the year! There’s just something special and magical in the air. Something that makes you want to act nice and be generous. Something that makes you want to throw the diet out the door and COOK some SERIOUSLY AMAZING foods! (After all, the diet is what New Year’s is for, right? May as well squeeze in as much naughtiness as possible before it’s back to the gym!)
So, naturally, this holiday calls for a royal feast. Therefore I’ve rounded up THIRTY-TWO (yes, 32), of some of my finest recipes to help you plan a Christmas Dinner menu that only Clark Griswold could dream of.
From my kitchen to yours, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good bite!
Starters & Spreads
Popovers are the soufflé of bread rolls. They’re crunchy/flaky on the outside and warm, soft and buttery on the inside…and they’re TOTAL DIVAS! BUT, they’re also SUPER easy to make! Make them as soon as the guests arrive or serve at the dinner table or for breakfast the next day! No matter when they’re served, they will be loved!
You know you’ve made some top-form meatballs when your Italian best friend claims they’re some of the best she’s ever had. These classic Italian beauties are SO EASY to make and SO FULL of outrageous flavor, this one is perfect to put out as an appetizer (or even serve as a main) for nonna and family to keep coming back for more!
I know. The name may throw some people off, but don’t let that fool you. For once you’ve set the stage by putting this addicting dip out, you’ll be complimented non-stop by the pickle lovers and it will serve as a taste of all the great things to follow!
This classic dip needs no introduction. In fact, you’ll find it on the menu at just about any Americana-style restaurant (and at the novelty chains galore). So why not make the ultimate one for your friends and family? Indulgent. Addicting. Full of cheesy, creamy, green-y goodness!
This soup isn’t only a summer staple in New England but is my all-time favorite go-to soup in the winter. It reminds me of being all cliché and sitting beside a huge fireplace in a lodge after a long day of skiing. This is single-handedly the best clam chowder I’ve ever made/had and you can be sure that your clam chowder-loving guests will lap up every last drop. Serve it in sourdough bread bowls so you can eat the bowl when done!
This one has raves. Maybe it’s the fact that even tomato haters can’t get enough. Maybe it’s those unforgettable grilled cheese croutons. Whatever it is, it’s a smash hit and will get your table off to the right start! Easily my favorite tomato soup of all time!
You know a soup has to be good when a 1-year-old can’t get enough – just click here to see the proof! One of my favorites, a Pasta Fagioli is a hearty soup full of soft beans, pasta, stewed tomatoes and some Parmesan – it’s not wonder it’s a huge hit at any dinner, especially a royal Christmas feast!
This is, hands-down, one of the most popular recipes I’ve done. Not only is this soup so deeply rich in flavor and really easy to make, but it’s also better than practically any restaurant’s you’ve ever tried. This will please any crowd – in fact, even onion haters love this soup!
No Christmas table is complete without the centerpiece of a delicious, smokey, sweet, honey ham. And this is also one of the easiest and quickest things to make right in your Instant Pot thanks to these stackable pans. Not only that, the leftovers are absolutely perfect for breakfast alongside some french toast, pancakes and eggs. They also make a great lunch if you heat some up, slap some on between two slices of bread, put a little cheese over it and grill in a frying pan!
They said it couldn’t be done. But they were wrong. Very, very wrong! A TURKEY is also very common at many a Christmas table, and if you have a smaller size family or are only dining for 2-4, then THIS is the recipe for you! Not only does it make some of the most tender, juicy and beautiful turkey ever, but it also makes it with some of the best gravy and stuffing all in one pot! And I can promise you, THIS won’t happen!
If you’re like me, you may want something that’s a super tender meat with an Asian flair at your table. If you agree, then BOY is this Chinese Pork Tenderloin for you! You’ve never had pork melt in your mouth this beautifully before in an absolutely outrageous, glistening sauce that will have you SAVOR the FLAVOR and bring you the best good fortune ever!
Who says you need a smoker to make the juiciest, fall-off-the-bone Baby Back Ribs ever? And who says it needs to be summer to enjoy these? They are PERFECT for Christmas dinner! All you need are a few simple ingredients (and a lot of napkins) and your entire family will be licking their fingers with joy for the rest of the night!
Maybe it’s because I’m like Kyle from South Park and am a Jew on Christmas, but I love a good Chinese dish (just like my Chinese Pork Tenderloin). This SUPERB Shrimp with Lobster Sauce is not only perfect if you want a Shrimp dish that will make mouths salivate, but also a perfect choice of the Night of the Seven Fishes!
One of my claims to fame to try at your table this year! French Onion Chicken marries the best parts of French Onion Soup and a tender chicken dish together! The way it’s prepared makes for super easy serving and you can bet your bottom dollar that everyone won’t stop talking about this one for days to come and will be begging you for the recipe!
These enchiladas are serious. Not because they’re hard to make (they’re EASY), but because they’re FULL of chicken, cheese and topped with the most outrageous, creamy, cheesy sauce your taste buds can dream of. It makes a good amount, are easy to serve and it will easily be one of the most talked about meals at dinner. This is one of my personal favorite recipes!
I feel like I keep starting these off with “this is one of my most popular dishes!” but it’s just the way it is! This Chicken Marsala is one of my pride and joys and has received so much praise, it would be foolish to leave it off this list. A truly magnificent dish on every level full of a deep flavor of mushrooms, marsala wine and a brown buttery sauce. Just sensational.
Mele Kalikimaka! If you want a more Hawaiian/Polynesian-themed Christmas dinner, my Polynesian Pineapple Chicken is one for the books. The sauce is boss and you will find yourself wondering if you’re at your table in flannel or in a hula skirt on the shores of Maui/Bora Bora!
My Grandma Lil knew what she was doing when she made this one. Not only is it also one of my most popular recipes because of how incredibly delicious and homemade they taste, but it is a special treat to sit down and make them with a loved one while swapping stories of yore (and maybe a little gossip). A true family legacy, from mine to yours!
Pasta, Risotto & Sides
This is not only one of my most popular dishes because it tastes so magically out of this world, but it’s crazy easy to make! I guarantee you, the happiest of pasta (and clam) lovers will be on cloud nine after just one twirl of this pasta!
If you feel like making a REALLY indulgent pasta, then Mamma Mia, is this the one for you! This is a rich and creamy Alfredo that is done beautifully with pillows stuffed with a protein of your choice (be it chicken, sausage or cheese). And after enjoying it, lovers of this classic dish are going to soon realize it’s not only their stockings that are stuffed!
One of the most classic pasta dishes (maybe it’s because it combines some alcohol and sauce), I’ve yet to meet someone who DOESN’T love an Alla Vodka sauce! This once is basically the creamiest, cheesiest tomato sauces you’ll ever have with flavors and textures so spectacular, even kids are obsessed. A truly wonderful comfort dish!
Every holiday table needs a risotto as a side. And nothing makes a risotto as well as an Instant pot can! And if you want a Butternut squash to make an appearance at your table, then BOY is THIS creamy risotto dish for you! SO easy to make, you and yours will fawn over how truly wonderful this tastes – think of it as a creamy, rice pasta that is easily managed to be vegan and vegetarian friendly!
Move aside, boxed stuffing, because THIS “stuff” is the real deal! Done in a super handy bundt pan that will fit your 6 or 8qt Instant Pot, this stuffing is SO easy to slice into portions and is mouth-wateringly good. Pour some gravy over it and then prepare for a trip to Thanksgiving food nirvana! Of course, it pairs perfectly with my Turkey!
Ah, the controversial Brussels sprout. Many love it, others hate it. I used to be in the latter camp but NOT ANYMORE! The amounts of flavor this incredible vegetable side provides is so outrageous (sweet AND savory), that I’d be willing to bet that anyone who hated them before will become a convert and love them forever! If you want them in a more spicy, Asian-style, try these out too!
These carrots are as close to candy without being candy as you’re going to get. A wonderful sweet side that is a great alternative to sweet potatoes coated in a delectable maple sauce and made in no time at all, you’ll have no trouble convincing any kids to eat their veggies AND love it at the same time!
How about foregoing mashed potatoes this year and settling for something SO much healthier and less carb-y, but will also fool everyone into thinking they were actually eating mashed potatoes? I’m not even kidding here – I’d be the first one to call out if something didn’t taste like something else but this one is so astounding in the texture and taste that you won’t even be able to tell. Even the staunchest of cauliflower haters will be proven wrong on this one. How do I know this? Because I used to be one of them myself! This is a HUGE hit at every gathering I serve this at.
Okay so you know that thing I said about mashed potatoes above? I couldn’t resist and had to do one anyway – BUT not the way you may be used to! Aligot (pronounced “alley-go”) is a French dish that takes mashed potatoes to the next level. Like 40 levels higher. And this is because we add in a TON of cheese to our potatoes along with some cream to make them stretch and stretch and STRETCH to give you literally the CHEESIEST mashed potatoes of your life. Serve this with some of that Turkey or Brisket gravy on it and you’ll never look back. This side dish is going to WOW everyone at your table!
Best Banana Pudding
So this INCREDIBLE dessert is not only my most popular recipes, but it also requires ZERO cooking (that’s right – you can give your Instant Pot a break for this one)! Whenever I make this, people fall into food ecstasy and the whole thing is gone within a matter of minutes. You should also check out this perfect and portable trifle bowl to make it in!
It’s hard to resist this. It really is. So DON’T! This bread pudding is so easy to serve and is super moist thanks to the cooking of it in a bundt pan. Great for portion control as this is one SUPER decadent dessert! And that bourbon glaze we’ll cascade over the bread pudding in the final step just sets everything over the edge!
In keeping with that tropical theme if you make the Polynesian Pineapple Chicken, you’re not going to want to pass up my fluffy and dreamy Pineapple Upside Down Cake! It basically tastes like a giant pancake, but soaked up in the most decadent brown-sugary pineapple sauce this side of the Pacific! These stackable pans are the way to make them in your Instant Pot!
What can be more fitting for the season than some superb and gooey Apple Crumble? I love making this recipe just about anytime of year – especially on the 4th of July (talk about an All-American dish). But there’s also something about it making an appearance during the fall with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream to accompany it. It just fits together like a glove and will make any apple pie lover very happy!
If you love bananas, rum and a brown-sugary, syrupy sauce, you need to make this. And serve it with vanilla ice cream. The perfect ending to ANY meal. You’ll get applause. Trust me.
Well, that’s all for this year. After 100 recipes, I’m spent and am taking a little vacation! But not to worry, I’ll be back in 2018 with TONS more new and exciting recipes to come!
Have the happiest and healthiest of holidays with your family, friends and loved ones alike and, most importantly, make it delicious too!
All my best and love this Holiday Season,