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17 Make-Ahead Christmas Dinner Side Dishes So All Is Calm That Night

Holiday classics and unexpected sides, too.

If you’re hosting Christmas dinner, you know the challenge you now face — how are you supposed to prep an entire meal the same day as opening presents with your family, heading to other relatives’ homes, and doing actual day-of holiday activities? That’s where make-ahead Christmas dinner sides come in. You can prep these dishes in the days leading up to your big dinner, so all you have to do is reheat them when the guests start arriving.

So, what should you serve? We all know what sides to expect at Thanksgiving — the green bean casserole wedged in between the mashed potatoes and your great aunt’s “famous” Watergate salad. When you’re making Christmas dinner though, you have a little more leeway with what you decide to make. The holiday classics are classics for a reason (when have mashed potatoes ever disappointed?), but your loved ones will probably also welcome something a little different, a nice change of pace from all the casseroles they’ve consumed in the last 30 days.

When you’re planning your Christmas dinner menu, just think about how you’ll reheat all these items at once. Choose a few recipes that warm up well on the stovetop or in the microwave so you’re not playing Tetris against yourself in a hot oven to get everything warm at the same time.


Perfect Mashed Potatoes

The name of this recipe from Damn Delicious says it all, and honestly, what more could anyone want on their Christmas dinner plate than a truly perfect little dollop of mashed potatoes? Or, maybe not such a little dollop... this recipe calls for sour cream and plenty of butter, and recommends using a potato ricer to get the best possible texture.


Salted Honey Parker House Rolls

Homemade rolls are a major crowd-pleaser, and A Cozy Kitchen’s recipe has a few options to make them ahead of time. You can make the dough and store it unassembled, ball the dough into roll shapes and store them in the fridge unbaked, or bake them all the way and store them in a tightly sealed plastic bag. The second option sounds like the best middle ground of doing all the hard parts ahead of time, but still having fresh-basked rolls the day of.


Butternut Squash Salad

Budget Bytes’ butternut squash salad tosses together mixed greens, roasted squash, dried cranberries, pecans, goat cheese, and a homemade maple Dijon vinaigrette. The recipe claims it “meal preps great” and holds up well in the fridge, so don’t feel bad throwing this together the night before.


Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

If you love sweet potato casserole, try it in this form: twice-baked sweet potatoes with a crunchy streusel topping, from A Cookie Named Desire. You can bake the taters and make the streusel in advance. Just wrap the sweet potatoes in tin foil to store in the fridge, and heat them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until warmed through.


Hot Buttered Rum Cranberry Sauce

You can’t serve a holiday meal without cranberry sauce, right? Remix the standard version and serve A Classic Twist’s hot buttered rum cranberry sauce. Just make this whenever you can and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.


Honey Butter Roasted Carrots

Roasted carrots always look so delicious and inviting thanks to their bright orange color, and as far as vegetables go, carrots are one that at least some kids will eat. These roasted carrots from A Spicy Perspective are drizzled in honey butter for a little savory-sweet moment your guests will love.


Creamy Cauliflower Mushroom Risotto

If you want to make an impression at this Christmas dinner, make Dr. Davinah’s Eats’ mushroom and cauli risotto. It’s like macaroni and cheese’s sophisticated cousin with nutty, earthy flavors courtesy of the mushrooms.


Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin

Brussels sprouts au gratin aren’t one of those traditional sides that feel like a must-have, but they might become one after your family tastes this dish, courtesy of All the Healthy Things. The recipe explains that you can make this au gratin a day or two before. When you’re ready to reheat, let it come to room temperature and pop it in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.


Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Baked mac and cheese is a delight and really screams “homemade,” but a stovetop version will stay creamier in the fridge (unlike baked pastas, which tend to absorb all the sauce even while cool). This recipe from Budget Bytes will stay irresistibly creamy even after microwaving.


Easy Corn Soufflé

Ah, the sweet, salty, fluffy delight that is corn soufflé (also known as corn pudding, depending on your family’s verbiage). This recipe from My Forking Life is easy to make and includes instructions to either make the batter and bake it day-of, or bake the casserole and reheat it when you need it.


Black-Eyed Peas

In Southern traditions, eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day promises to bring a year brimming with good luck. Why not get a head start and serve them on Christmas? Cooks With Soul’s recipe has easy-to-follow instructions for making ahead and storing your lucky peas.


Southern Collard Greens

If you’re sticking to Southern traditions, you could also dish up some old-fashioned collards, which many people eat on New Year’s Day as a way to usher in financial luck for the coming year. Brown Sugar Food Blog’s recipe explains how to store them (they’ll stay fresh for three days in the fridge) and the best methods for reheating them so they don’t turn soggy.


Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry, & Quinoa Salad

Want a fresh, green option to balance all the potatoes and cheesy sides? This Brussels sprouts, cranberry, and quinoa salad from Gimme Some Oven is satisfying, sweet, and crunchy. The recipe states you can prep it and refrigerate it up to three days in advance.


Cheesy Bourbon Potatoes Au Gratin

Potatoes au gratin never disappoint, and this version from Dude That Cookz has just a little hint of bourbon to add a special depth of flavor. The recipe makes the reheating process sound simple, too: Leave it assembled in the fridge for up to three days, then just stick it in the oven at 350 for an hour.


Vegan Creamed Corn

Creamed corn doesn’t need dairy products to be creamy, as evidenced by Jessica in the Kitchen’s recipe. And, you can definitely reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave and save a little oven space for something else.


Apple Bacon Herb Stuffing

If you already had stuffing at Thanksgiving, try a new recipe for Christmas dinner, like this apple and bacon-laden stuffing from Brown Sugar Food Blog. Make it the day before and reheat it in the oven until it is warmed through.


The Best Potato Salad Ever

If your family loves potato salad, try this “best ever” version from Damn Delicious. It’s got all the usual suspects: red potatoes, celery, green onions, and mayo. But it’s the soft-boiled eggs that really send this dish to the next level.

So, which make-ahead sides are you adding to your Christmas dinner menu? And if you make those cheesy bourbon potatoes au gratin, send an invite, will you? We want to try them.