10 Essential Sides for a Holiday Dinner

10 Essential Sides for a Holiday Dinner

Kelli Foster
Dec 14, 2017
(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

When I'm in charge of hosting holiday dinners, I have two requirements for all the side dishes on the table: Since it's more of a special occasion than a regular weeknight dinner, I want the sides to feel fancy and impressive alongside the main course, but they must not be fussy or especially time-consuming to pull off. Here are 10 of my favorites. They're fast and fancy, and easy to pair with a variety of mains.

1. Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

The classic combination of roasted potatoes tossed with rosemary delivers every single time. My favorite potatoes for this side are Red Bliss or Yukon Gold.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

2. 15-Minute Parmesan-Thyme Mushrooms

This is a side that really gives you a ton of of bang for your buck. Not only do these super-savory, cheese-flecked mushrooms come together in only 15 minutes, but they also go with everything from beef and chicken, to lamb and seafood.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

3. Butter-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I don't say this lightly: You have not lived into you've had these lush, buttery sweet potatoes. Break them out for your holiday dinner and you will not be sorry. They are like no other sweet potatoes you've ever had.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

4. Cider-Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

If there's one thing that makes a pan of roasted Brussels sprouts even better, it's bacon. Brussels sprouts pair well with its smoky flavor, and the fat rendered during roasting helps the leaves grow lacy and crisp.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

5. Easy Lemon-Ginger Spinach

If you're looking for a way to get something green on the table, this is it. It is one of my favorite side dish recipes, for both weeknight dinners and occasions that are a little more special. Grated fresh ginger and a squeeze of lemon join forces to really bring basic greens to life.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

6. Bourbon-Glazed Carrots

This riff on basic glazed carrots is great paired with hearty mains like beef and pork. This recipe ups the ante with a splash of bourbon (in place of traditional orange juice) to bring an added layer of warm smokiness to the plate.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

7. Stovetop Steam-Fried Green Beans and Mushrooms

I love this side dish because it's so easy to pull together and feels fancy on my holiday table. Sautéed shallots impart a sweet, oniony flavor, balanced by the rich, savory taste of the mushrooms.

(Image credit: Jerrelle Guy)

8. Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

This is an indulgent recipe I like to reserve for special occasions, and a holiday is the most wonderful time to bring it to the table. A bit of thyme and nutmeg are added to bring out the savory side of sweet potatoes, and a sprinkle of nutty Gruyère cheese tops the dish before it goes into the oven.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

9. How To Make the Creamiest Mashed Cauliflower

Creamy mashed cauliflower always has a spot on my holiday table. It's a lighter alternative to mashed potatoes, but most of all I love the lush texture and earthy aroma.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

10. Baked Polenta with Greens and Gruyère

A mess of sautéed Swiss chard and chopped artichoke hearts forms the base of this simple, hearty casserole that will be loved by vegetarians and omnivores alike.

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