The 31 Best Things to Cook This December

published Dec 1, 2021
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To help you gear up for the final month of the year we’ve got some really great festive recipes, like cookies (for yourself and gifting!), make-ahead breakfast casseroles, fast and fancy appetizers, and impressive, holiday-worthy dinner ideas. And we’ve got you covered for those hectic weeknights, too, because December has a way of turning into a whirlwind — and you can’t survive on cookies alone!

While things are still a little quiet, go ahead and bookmark a couple of quick and simple recipes so you’ll be dinner-ready. We have plenty of great recipes that call for just a few basic ingredients (like two-ingredient salsa chicken) and ones that come together in 20 minutes or less (a copycat version of the Olive garden gnocchi soup, for example) to fuel you through this hectic month.

Beyond the holiday baking and celebratory dinners, it’s a month for cozying up with warming pots of soup, hearty braises, and big-batch slow cooker meals. We have all of that and more. Because we want you to have a positively delicious December, here are 31 our favorite ideas to inspire your cooking (and baking!) all month long.

1 / 31
Puppy Chow
If you make just one treat this month, Executive Lifestyle Director, Lisa, suggests following her lead with a big batch of chocolatey, peanut buttery puppy chow. "It's the absolute best salty-sweet party snack!"
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2 / 31
Wild Mushroom Tart
This five-ingredient puff pastry tart feels incredibly fancy, yet is easy to pull together. Serve it as an appetizer, for lunch, or even a light dinner.
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3 / 31
Make-Ahead Eggnog French Toast Casserole
Keep this family-friendly casserole in your breakfast lineup this holiday season (especially if you have house guests!). It's even better when assembled the night before, so the bread has plenty of time to soak up the rich custard. And come morning, all you have to do is pop it in the oven.
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4 / 31
Slow Cooker Chicken Parm Meatballs
Everything there is to love about chicken Parm, in meatball form. It just might be the coziest thing you make this month.
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5 / 31
Gingerbread Cake Cookies
These chewy, molasses-spiked cookies look just like the ones Executive Food Director, Nina's, grandma used to make! Needless to say, Nina cannot wait to get in the kitchen and try this version.
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6 / 31
Foolproof Salmon Baked with Olive Oil & Herbs
This herb-topped salmon does it all! It's easy enough for a weeknight dinner, yet feels fancy and special enough for a holiday meal.
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7 / 31
Skillet Lasagna Roll-Ups with Kale Pesto
This reimagined take on lasagna roll-ups boasts crispier edges and a fun new look. Starting with a store-bought sauce lets you focus your efforts on a nutty homemade pesto.
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8 / 31
Mozzarella-Stuffed Peppadew Peppers
If you need a super-simple app that's sure to impress, this is the one. Best of all, it requires just three ingredients.
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9 / 31
The Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
The best cut-out sugar cookies you can make! A delicious dough, with tips for cutting out pretty shapes and easy decorating.
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10 / 31
Instant Pot Roast Beef
After testing this recipe, Senior Contributing Food Editor Kelli knew immediately it was what she'd serve for Christmas dinner. "Forget the oven — this method is fast and totally foolproof!"
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11 / 31
Slow Cooker Sausage and Spinach Breakfast Casserole
Thanks to the slow cooker, you can wake up to a hearty sausage and spinach egg casserole that will serve a crowd.
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12 / 31
Christmas Funfetti Bar Cookies
These festive bar cookies (which happen to travel incredibly well) are how Production Editor, Tracey, will be spreading some holiday cheer to friends!
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13 / 31
Cacio e Pepe Farinata
Whether you call it socca or farinata, this gluten-free chickpea flour flatbread is the perfect appetizer or snack — especially when showered with Pecorino cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
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14 / 31
Creamy Braised Brussels Sprouts
Copy Chief, Lauren, never got a chance to make Faith's favorite braised Brussels last winter, but they're on the top of her to-make list this month!
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15 / 31
How to Make an Easy, Impressive Gingerbread House
Here's everything you need to bake your own gingerbread houses, including a printable template.
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16 / 31
Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks with Creamy Polenta
These braised lamb shanks are super tender and swimming in a rosemary-scented red wine sauce.
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17 / 31
Pomegranate Salad
Meet the salad that totally changed Senior Food Editor, Megan's, view on salad in the winter. "I'm not normally a big fan of salads this time of year because they're usually sad and uninspiring. But not so with this colorful pomegranate salad! It's gorgeous and made with fruit that's actually at its best in the winter."
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18 / 31
Pistachio Smash Cookies
These naturally gluten- and egg-free cookies are a Depression-era treat that are surprisingly rich and decadent, thanks to cream cheese, almond paste, and ground pistachios.
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19 / 31
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
When Food Editor-at-Large, Christine, asked her daughter what Christmas cookies she wanted to bake, she immediately said chocolate crinkles. Between the big chocolate flavor, soft, chewy bite, and powdered sugar coating, no wonder it's her top choice!
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20 / 31
Instant Pot Salsa Chicken
You're definitely gonna need an impossibly easy dinner to lean on this month, and you simply cannot go wrong with this foolproof, two-ingredient recipe. Use the shredded meat in tacos, burritos, grain bowls, sandwiches, and salads.
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21 / 31
Christmas Bark
This saltine toffee is easier than the real deal and so much tastier. Perfect for last-minute holiday gifting.
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22 / 31
Roasted Tomato Soup with Cheesy Crouton Topper
It’s officially soup season, and Assistant Food Editor, Nicole, has big plans to eat this ultra-cozy soup as often as possible.
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23 / 31
Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
Senior Contributing Food Editor Sheela says, "Give me all the gingerbread in December! These gingerbread-inspired cinnamon rolls have especially been catching my eye lately. They seem like the perfect morning treat among a month of festivities."
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24 / 31
5-Ingredient Skillet Chicken Parmesan
You'll get both the saucy pasta and cheesy chicken out of this easy, one-pan recipe. Pair with a simple green salad for a complete meal.
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25 / 31
Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup
This copycat Olive Garden chicken gnocchi soup has everything from the creamy broth to the pillowy gnocchi, chicken, and vegetables. Best of all, all you need is 20 minutes to make it.
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26 / 31
Spiced Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
This recipe delivers everything you'd expect from classic peanut butter blossoms, with a cinnamon spice twist.
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27 / 31
Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi with Mushrooms, Sausage, and Butternut Squash
Deputy Food Director, Grace, can't wait to make this wintery sheet pan gnocchi recipe with plant-based sausage. "It's so easy and I always keep these ingredients on hand!"
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28 / 31
Kale & Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash and Sweet Potatoes
Meet the make-ahead lunch salad Senior Contributing Food Editor Kelli just can't quit. "After making this salad all fall long I should be tired of it, but I'm not — it's just so good. This month I think I'll swap the apples for pears, and maybe add add some pomegranate arils."
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29 / 31
Maple Roasted Pear and Apple Mocktails
Infused with warm spices, made with sweet roasted pears and apples, and topped off with ginger beer, this mocktail is perfect for the holiday season.
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30 / 31
The Easiest Pigs in a Blanket
These pigs in a blanket are so easy, they're likely to become your new go-to party app.
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31 / 31
Classic Minestrone Soup
"I could eat Minestrone soup with crusty, buttered bread every week until spring," Contributing Food Editor, Patty, tells me. "It's cozy without feeling heavy and is perfect for meal prepping during busy weeks."
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