53 Christmas Eve Dinner Recipes for a Festive Feast

53 Christmas Eve Dinner Recipes for a Festive Feast

Wondering what to cook for the most wonderful time of the year? TODAY Food has you covered with the best recipes to make for your Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Eve invites a wide range of traditions for those who celebrate, most of which involve gathering with friends, family and loved ones at some point in the evening. And planning a great meal is an important part of the holiday festivities, no matter how you enjoy gearing up for the big day on Dec. 25.

Caroling around the neighborhood? Fuel up with some light bites beforehand and enjoy a hearty dinner afterwards to soothe the cold. Staying in with the kids to decorate cookies for Santa? Make a big pot of Christmas pasta sauce that can simmer while Santa’s sweet snacks bake in the oven. Trying to stay up for midnight mass? Make a beautiful two-course meal with an earlier appetizer and serve the main course later to keep everyone tied over. Throwing a big Christmas Eve bash? Kick it off with festive finger foods and Christmas cocktails, followed by a fancy roast.

To make menu planning even easier, we divided the roundup into appetizers and entrées, each with something for everyone. There’s vegetarian options, hot soup for a sit-down starter and individually portioned hors d’oeuvres that can be easily passed around or set out on a decorated table. Savor seafood dishes and flavorful pastas for the Feast of the Seven Fishes, or cozy up with a holiday movie and a big portion of meatloaf. The most crucial part of preparing any of these recipes is that everyone enjoys who they’re with and savors a bit of Christmas magic!


Maple-Chile Glazed Mixed Nuts

Courtesy Ed Anderson

“There’s nothing like eating glazed nuts still warm from the oven, toasty and flavorful through and through. They’re perfect served with a cocktail for an easy appetizer and will elevate any cheese-and-fruit plate to new heights,” says Bobby Flay.

Baked Clams

Anthony Michael Contrino

“When I think about how many baked clams we go through on Christmas Eve, it’s absurd — my brother can wipe out a couple dozen himself!” says Anthony Contrino. “We always make more than we need and whatever is leftover gets served on Christmas Day.”

Kelsey Nixon's Tear-and-Share Warm Cheesy Bread Wreath with Marinara

Zach Pagano / TODAY

Want to have the kids help out and eat a few shares of food? This is a great recipe to keep your kids busy as they help you with the holiday dinner.

Ina Garten's Perfect Potato Pancakes


Potato pancakes are a favorite holiday dish of Ina Garten’s husband Jeffrey. Her secret for the crispiest and creamiest ones is to combine both grated and mashed potatoes.

Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Casey Barber

These crab-stuffed mushrooms may look totally decadent, but they’re actually light and airy, which means they’re an ideal way to start a holiday celebration. And don’t be shy about making a big batch — even if they’re just for you and your loved ones.

Spicy Crab Dip

Getty Images/Cavan Images

Alex Guarnaschelli’s crab dip is such a great option for gatherings and get-togethers because it is so versatile. “I really like to maximize an expensive ingredient like crab and dip is a smart and tasty way to do just that,” she says. “Buy really great quality crabmeat so it is front and center in the dish. But, if you do not like crab, swap it for chicken! If spicy isn’t your thing, omit the cayenne pepper and Tabasco.”

Goat Cheese Toasts

Quentin Bacon

Whenever Ina Garten has leftover baguette, she likes to slice it diagonally and keep it in the freezer. “This way I can make these cheesy toasts in minutes,” she says. “Toast the bread slices, then add the garlic and goat cheese. They’re perfect to serve with drinks or as a crouton to float on top of a bowl of soup.”

Martha Stewart's Baked Brie with Boozy Fruit Compote

Konstantin Kopachinsky / Shutterstock

Martha Stewart’s show-stopping, gooey baked brie is perfect for cocktail hour. “Your goal is to welcome guests with nibbles, not fill them up too much before the main event,” she says. It’s a perfect board to adorn with red-colored fruits and green herbs to make it as festive as you want.

Root Vegetable and Feta Bruschetta

Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY

The layers of flavor from this caponata are simple but powerful, while the salty bacon, capers and sweet raisins provide a nice variety of textures.

Mini Meatballs with Sweet-and-Sour BBQ Glaze

Casey Barber

Packed with a little sweetness and a lot of punch, these adorable, bite-sized meatballs are fun to serve as a finger food (though some festive toothpicks might help cut back on saucy fingers).

Deep-Fried Lasagna Bites

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

These bite-sized, flavor-packed bites have the full experience of mouthwatering lasagna with some added crunch — plus, they’re portable.

Phyllo & Prosciutto Asparagus Cigars

Brandon Goodwin / TODAY

Flaky, crisp phyllo dough, tender asparagus with a cheesy, salty filling — this easy-to-make appetizer will definitely be a hit at any holiday dinner.

Twice-Baked Potato Bites

Daniel Krieger / The Laws of Cooking…and How to Break Them

Who knew that the humble new potato could be turned into shell casing for a bullet of flavor? These little bombs of cheesy, buttery flavor are a great way to fuel up for the holiday season.

Everything Pigs-in-a-Blanket with Cranberry Mustard

Courtesy Robin Ventress

This is a great recipe for family snacks any time of year but is especially fun for the holidays to counter the abundance of sweet snacks. The cranberry mustard is also great served with roasted turkey or pork and added to leftover sandwiches.

Sunny's Easy Holiday Brussels Sprout Salad

Rebekah Lowin / TODAY

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.

Easy Jumbo Shrimp Wrapped in Pancetta and Sage

Quentin Bacon

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.

Fancy Gougères

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

It is so easy to enhance a traditional Pate a Choux recipe by simply adding grated cheese and pepper to the dough. It’s the perfect vehicle for an easy, elegant appetizer. Be sure to brush the tops of the puffs with egg wash before baking for a beautiful, glossy crust.

Pumpkin, Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Flatbreads

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

The opposing flavors and textures of the crispy, salty bacon and sweet, smooth pumpkin butter actually complement one another perfectly. The savory Brussels sprouts round out the autumnal flavor profile of this seasonal dish.

Chestnut, Celery Root and Apple Soup

Alamy Stock

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.

Broccoli and Cheese Twice-Baked Potatoes

Helen Healey / TODAY

The potato is one of the humblest foods, but it has the ability to be a superstar — especially when you add cheese and broccoli. This dish is a winner for kids of all ages and is as welcome on a holiday table as it is for a quick, mid-week meal.

Martha Stewart's Kale-Ricotta Dip

Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY

Most greens work well in this addictive dip recipe: Spinach, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collards, beet greens, and turnip greens each contribute their distinctive flavor, all with slightly different results.

Bloody Mary Dip with Focaccia Skewers


These inventive bites turn a classic bloody mary cocktail into a delectable appetizer. They’re a refreshing departure from the usual party fare, are so fun to dip and they’re vegan-friendly, too!

Fried Squash Rings with Pear, Dried Cherries and Feta


Delicata squash rings are roasted, tempura-dredged, fried, then stuffed with a simple salad of raw pear, dried cherries, feta cheese and a few sprigs of arugula. The result is a sweet yet savory wonder, perfect for a starter or perhaps a decadent side dish on a holiday table.

Brussels in Blankets

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

These super sprouts are so cute, they’re irresistible. The recipe can be a side dish or an appetizer, and it’s a cinch to make — only three ingredients. The best way to get a picky eater to eat their vegetables? Wrap ’em in bacon!

Giada's Grappa-Poached Pear Crostini


Giada De Laurentiis likes to whip up these crostini when guests stop by. “The poached pears are especially comforting as the weather gets cooler,” she says. “They’re easy to make and always delight a crowd.”

Bobby Flay's Baked Ricotta with Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

Bobby Flay

Bobby Flay’s baked ricotta is a great easy-to-prepare and shareable starter for a crowd. “It works well as a center-of-the-table appetizer, served with grilled toast,” says Flay. “The fontina and cream cheese help solidify the creaminess of the ricotta and the sun-dried tomato sauce gives the flavors a well-deserved contrast of sweet acidity.”


Christmas Eve Sauce

Anthony Michael Contrino

Make this gorgeous Christmas Eve dish by Anthony Contrino. A homemade, delicately spiced sauce of San Marzano tomatoes, garlic and calamari sticks to al dente linguine. The wonderful thing is, once you’ve stewed the calamari in the tomatoes, you can cool the sauce and reheat it later on.

Brown Sugar-Orange Glazed Ham

Kardea Brown

Kardea Brown puts her own twist on her grandmother’s holiday ham with Cajun seasoning. Pro tip: She uses the leftovers to make biscuits and gravy the next day for an easy Christmas breakfast or brunch.

Chicken Parmigiana

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Chicken Parmigiana is the definition of classic Italian comfort food. The crispy breaded cutlets, bright tomato sauce and melty cheese make it irresistibly delicious, warming and satisfying. The leftovers also make some of the best sandwiches.

Roasted Turkey Breast with Apricot-Herb Butter

Courtesy Moriah Brooke

Celebrate Christmas Eve with a vibrant roast turkey breast that gets smothered in an herbacious apricot butter. Glazing it at the end provides a festive hue that looks gorgeous on a platter of citrus and pomegranate.

Curtis Stone's Pan-Fried Snapper with Fennel and Salsa Verde

Quentin Bacon

“I love this recipe because it’s so fresh and easy! I can prep my ingredients ahead of time and just put everything together in a matter of minutes right before serving,” Curtis Stone says about this ideal-for-entertaining dish.

Citrus-Sage Roast Turkey and Gravy

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Save time and brine and thaw at the same time! Take a frozen turkey and thaw in a brine solution and kill two birds with one stone (get it?). It will take about 12 hours or overnight. Leave a thermometer in to make sure water doesn’t get above 40 F.

Cider-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Plum Chutney

Quentin Bacon / Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten/Clarkson Potter/Publishers

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

Lobster Meatballs

Nathan Congleton/TODAY

These lobster meatballs are a decadent combination of upscale-meets-low-key. Whether you serve them a la carte or over your favorite pasta, everyone at the party will be impressed.

Easy Glazed Ham with Sriracha and Orange Marmalade

Grace Parisi / TODAY

Six ingredients combine to make a knockout roast in this holiday ham. 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.

Spaghetti Squash with Sage and Walnuts

Quentin Bacon

This hearty dish is a winter favorite that is perfect to serve as a vegetarian main. It’s filled with earthy sage flavors that pair beautifully with buttery squash.

Glazed Turkey Meatloaf with Sage-Cornbread Stuffing

Nathan Congleton / Nathan Congleton

This all-in-one dish is comforting, festive and fun for any holiday dinner. Turkey meatloaf gets seasoned with classic barbecue flavors and filled with a surprise center of cornbread stuffing.

Slow-Cooker Spinach Lasagna

Maggie Shi

This classic dish is surprisingly successful and easy to make in your slow cooker. So let your crockpot do the work if you’re having guests over.

Ultimate Holiday Prime Rib Roast

Casey Barber / TODAY

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.

Seafood Stuffed Shells

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

This dish combines everything Reed Alexander loves about Italy — pasta shells, fresh herbs, marinara, succulent shrimp and scallops — in one single dish that can easily and affordably feed a crowd.

Spaghetti with Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

A little spice, a nice portion of protein and tender noodles make this easy dish a win for entertaining on Christmas Eve. It goes well with a range of wines and salads and won’t require too much cleanup.

Make-Ahead Veggie Potpies

Courtesy Skyler Bouchard

Make vegetarian potpie quick and easy with frozen veggies and store-bought puff pastry.

Cacio e Pepe with Pancetta and Arugula

Aubrie Pick / Giada’s Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita

Giada De Laurentiis has plenty of pasta dishes but there’s something incredibly comforting about this classic. Cacio e pepe gets a beautiful hit of additional saltiness from pancetta and more peppery bite from the leafy green arugula.

Pinot-Braised Beef Stew with Baby Potatoes and Pearl Onions

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Make a hearty pot of red wine-braised beef stew to make whomever you’re cooking for a happy camper. It’s also super simple to make ahead of time (it can be frozen, too) and warmed up when the festivities are about to commence.

Tagliatelle and Italian Sausage with Sage Cream Sauce

Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY

Creamy, rich and way easier than it looks, this fast pasta dinner idea comes from twin chefs Tony and John Alberti. Fresh sage makes the sauce especially fragrant. Serve the pasta topped with crispy fried sage leaves.

One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Two simple vegetarian additions turn simple one-pot pasta into a vibrant main dish. You can customize the ingredients to suit your taste. You can use any kind of noodle you prefer or switch up the greens with chopped kale, escarole or chard instead of spinach.

Simple Italian Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

Laura Vitale

Rich and savory, this simple-yet-elegant vegetarian stew will warm guests from the inside out. Serve it with crusty bread and a salad, and you’ve got Christmas Eve dinner all set!

Joy Bauer's Savory Swedish Meatballs

Kelly Harrison

In this decadently creamy meatball dish flavored with allspice, Joy Bauer put her own loving spin on the Swedish meatballs from a world-famous furniture store (you know the one). It’s an absolute crowd pleaser that feels festive, too.

Spiced Pomegranate Glazed Ham

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

A tangy, warm and slightly sweet glaze takes this baked him to the next level. It’s quick and simple to put together and looks beautiful as the centerpiece to a holiday feast.

Easy Steak with Herb Butter and Green Beans

Brandon Goodwin / TODAY

Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or a partner or friend on Christmas Eve, this steak feels glamorous, but uses simple ingredients to create a buttery, flavorful dish that’ll feel like you’re dining out.

Baccalà alla Livornese (Braised Salt Cod)

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Prepare the fish a day or two in advance by soaking it in milk, which omits some of the fishy flavor and allows the bright, savory ingredients to pop. On Christmas Eve, just pop everything in one dish, bake for 40 minutes and you’re done!

Sheet Pan Flounder with Roasted Tomatoes and Black Olives

Gentl + Hyers / “Small Victories” by Julia Turshen

One of Julia Turshen’s go-to dishes when she has friends over for dinner, it’s the easiest and tastiest way to make fish for a group. Even if you double the recipe, you can cook all the pieces at the same time; there’s no splattering or mess whatsoever and there’s no chance of the fish sticking to the pan.

Roasted Chicken with Standard Brine

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

This produces a straightforward, classic, simple dish that is just so delicious. You just can’t beat a beautifully roasted chicken. It’s comforting, easy to prepare and perfect for entertaining or feeding the family.