The 31 Best Things to Cook This December

updated Dec 1, 2020
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We’re approaching the end of what’s been a very long year, and like the months that have preceded it, this December is looking pretty different. It’s a festive holiday-filled month that’s usually packed with all sorts of gatherings and get-togethers, but this year will be traded for more time at home with our immediate families. That’s not to say there’s no celebration to be had — it will just be smaller and quieter.

This year my family and I are skipping the fancy Christmas dinner (hello, cooking fatigue!). Instead, we’re focusing our efforts on an extra-special breakfast that includes a make-ahead casserole, easy cinnamon rolls, and, of course, bacon. It feels manageable and fun, and I’m really excited about it. Perhaps it’s the start of a new tradition for us.

It’s also a month for lots of baking. If it’s cookies you’re after, you can’t go wrong with classic spritz cookies, pizzelles, or butter cookies (yes, just like the ones from the blue tin). Maybe this is the month you bake up a batch of buttermilk biscuits or make the spiced crème brûlée pie our entire team has been drooling over.

Several members of our team have plans to try out one new-to-them recipe this month, which sounds like a great idea and a lot of fun. The common theme is comfort food, with dishes like adas polo, matar paneer, and lugaw. Don’t forget to keep plenty of simple, satisfying dinners on hand to get you through the week. Instant Pot chicken noodle soup, mushroom and garlic pasta, and no-boil baked ziti are all great picks for cold December evenings.

Breakfast casseroles, cookies, latkes, short ribs, and so much more — here are 31 of our favorite winter recipes to inspire your cooking all month long.

1 / 31
Make-Ahead Gougères
"I'm planning to celebrate all month long (with just my husband and our son), so I'm gonna need a batch of these in the freezer" says Food Director, Nina.
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2 / 31
Easy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Butter Cookies
Like most of us, Studio Food Editor Amelia used to love getting (and eating) that classic blue tin filled with butter cookies during the holidays when she was little. This year she's excited to make them herself.
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3 / 31
Adas Polo
It's easy to see why this Persian lentil-and-rice dish has been on Managing Editor, Lauren's, mind since our Food Fest last month! I mean, how can you not get excited about that crispy bottom? It's the very first thing she plans to make this month.
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4 / 31
Classic Latkes
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not, you should absolutely make a batch of latkes this month. This recipes uses a straightforward technique and delivers fail-proof results every time. Just don't forget the applesauce and sour cream.
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5 / 31
Red Wine Hot Chocolate
"I start drinking mulled wine as soon as November hits, but once I flip the calendar to December, it's time for red wine hot chocolate, says Lifestyle Director, Lisa. "I know what you're thinking, and wine in hot chocolate TOTALLY works. The fruitiness of the wine pairs oh-so nicely with the bitterness in the dark chocolate and the hint of caramel in the brown sugar. And it just feels so special on a Saturday night — or, um, Sunday afternoon."
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6 / 31
Cardamom Crème Brûlée Pie
Our entire team has been gushing over this pie from Erin McDowell! And it's the number-one thing Studio Food Editor Jesse plans to bake this month. "I made a classic apple pie for Thanksgiving, and have been saving this recipe as a special treat to make in December! Erin's pies are always such a hit when I make them!"
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7 / 31
Royal Icing
Cookie decorating is at the top of Deputy Food Director, Grace's, mind, and this year she's all about this royal icing. "I'm planning on shipping cookies to all my friends this year, and I think this recipe will be the key to making them look picture-perfect," she says.
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8 / 31
Cacio e Pepe Popcorn
You know what makes popcorn even better? Pecorino cheese, black pepper, and olive oil!
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9 / 31
Spritz Cookies
Production Editor, Tracey, is most excited about getting out her cookie press this month. "I’ve been thinking about how to make the holidays feel festive and cozy, and I’ve decided to revive a family tradition that I had growing up: baking spritz cookies!"
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10 / 31
Brie & Mushroom Breakfast Strata
This year instead of cooking a big Christmas dinner, I'm focusing my efforts on a special breakfast for my family, and this savory casserole is the star of the menu. It gets bonus points because it can be assembled in advance then just popped in the oven in the morning.
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11 / 31
Matar Paneer
Cozy, warming dinners are the very part best of cold December nights. And as soon as one rolls in, Interim Executive Editor, Carey, can't wait to make this recipe from Priya Krishna.
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12 / 31
Butter-Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Like clockwork, Senior Contributing Food Editor, Sheela, starts craving these sweet potatoes as soon as the temperature drops and she can't get them out of her mind until she's made them at least once.
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13 / 31
Oven-Cooked Bacon
No matter what you're cooking or baking for breakfasts this month, I hope it includes crispy bacon! I'm a firm believer there's no easier or more foolproof way to make it than in the oven.
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14 / 31
Slow Cooker Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs
If you're looking for a holiday dinner that's equal parts impressive and easy, this is it. Plus, they're even better the second day, so they can be totally cooked ahead of time.
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15 / 31
Cranberry Cake
'Tis the season for cranberries. And if you like their sweet, tart flavor even a little bit, you've got to try this snack cake. It's the most unbelievable thing you'll bake this season.
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16 / 31
Grapefruit and Avocado Winter Salad
If you're feeling as excited as I am about the return of decent grapefruit, consider this simple salad a must.
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17 / 31
When it comes to holiday baking, these pizzelle are at the top of Food Editor Meghan's list every year — and this year is no different. She plans to make a bunch and gift them to neighbors.
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18 / 31
Lugaw (Arroz Caldo)
This month feels like a great time for comfort food, and Contributing Editor, Patty, has her sights set on this Filipino rice dish. "I've been eyeing Amelia's recipe for lugaw, so now I've just got to wait for a cold-enough night in Atlanta to make it."
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19 / 31
Butter-Baked Saltines with Chili Crisp Yogurt Dip
Since we'll be indoors a whole lot more this month, good snacks are a must, and it absolutely does not get any better than this duo. You'll never see Saltines the same way again after trying this.
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20 / 31
Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
Made in the Instant Pot, this one-pot chicken noodle soup is just like the classic, loaded with juicy pieces of chicken, chunky vegetables, just-tender egg noodles, and a rich, herb-flecked broth.
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21 / 31
Buttermilk Biscuits
Assistant Food Editor, Nicole, is looking forward to more time indoors this month, because for her it means more time to perfect her biscuit-making skills.
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22 / 31
Mushroom and Garlic Spaghetti Dinner
Remember that you can never go wrong when you partner pasta with garlic-butter mushrooms. This recipe hits the spot when you need a quick and easy weeknight dinner, yet has even oomph for a holiday dinner.
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23 / 31
5-Ingredient No-Boil Baked Ziti
Few things feel more right this month than a saucy, cheesy, impossibly comforting pasta bake — especially when the recipe doesn't involve cooking the noodles first.
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24 / 31
Flaky Garlic Bread Pinwheels
These quick and easy puff pastry pinwheels make a winning app or the perfect side to that pan of baked ziti.
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25 / 31
Easy Cinnamon Rolls
I've always wanted to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, and it's finally happening this year. With just seven ingredients, plus no yeast or rise time, this recipe is totally doable.
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26 / 31
Sweet & Tangy Slow Cooker Brisket
This brisket might not cook up with a bunch of vegetables, but that's okay because instead it's simmered in the most irresistible sweet and tangy tomatoey sauce laced with tender onions and just the right amount of spices.
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27 / 31
Apple Honey Challah Pull-Apart Bread
Food Editor-at-Large, Christine, bookmarked this fun loaf ages ago, and is excited to make it for Christmas morning.
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28 / 31
Vanilla Cashew Clusters
I've been making these candied nuts for the past three years, and this year I'm making an extra-big batch (mixed with cashews, almonds, and walnuts!) to send to friends and family around the country.
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29 / 31
Jammy Shortbread Thumbprints
These classic cookies are sandy and buttery with a crisp, snappy bite, and a very subtle sweetness to make the the soft, jammy center stand out.
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30 / 31
Eggnog Doughnut Muffins
If there's not already a carton of eggnog in your fridge, this is the best reason to pick one up.
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31 / 31
Creamy Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms
This easy skillet dinner all about the sauce — and it doesn’t hold back. It's perfect for a weeknight dinner and can totally hold its own on a holiday table.
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