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25 Most Essential Holiday Recipes, Ranked

Every holiday gathering deserves time-honored traditions and delicious helpings made with extra love. But most of all—they've absolutely got to work. Count on our best Test Kitchen-approved Christmas recipes.

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Old Fashioned Green Beans Exps Srbz16 496 C09 14 5b

#25: Old-Fashioned Green Beans

Mom would prepare homegrown green beans using this recipe and, boy, did they ever taste good! The bacon provides rich flavor and the brown sugar a touch of sweetness. This is one irresistible side dish. —Willa Govoro, St. Clair, Missouri
2 / 25
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#24: Homemade Eggnog

Once, I asked my mother how to make eggnog, and she showed me this recipe. After just one taste, folks will know this homemade holiday treat came from the kitchen, not from the store. —Pat Waymire, Yellow Springs, Ohio
3 / 25
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#23: Calzone Pinwheels

Once you try these mini-sized calzones, you may never go back to the large ones. Not only do these pretty bites take advantage of convenient refrigerator crescent rolls, but they can be made ahead and popped in the oven right before company arrives. No one can eat just one and people love the cheesy, fresh taste! —Lisa Smith, Bryan, Ohio
4 / 25
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#22: Twice-Baked Cheddar Potato Casserole

Bacon, cheddar and sour cream turn ordinary potatoes into an extraordinary twice baked potato casserole. It's one of our family's beloved standards for the holidays. —Kyle Cox, Scottsdale, Arizona
5 / 25
Holiday Mimosa Exps157991 Thca2449046a03 29 4bc Rms 2

#21: Holiday Mimosa

Add a splash of color to your brunch table with this lovely rosy mimosa. It has a fantastic sweet-tart taste. —Jessie Sarrazin, Livingston, Montana
6 / 25
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#20: Make-Ahead Butterhorns

Mom loved to make these lightly sweet, golden rolls. They're beautiful and impressive and have a homemade taste that makes them memorable. —Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri
7 / 25

#19: Mom’s Sweet Potato Bake

Mom loves sweet potatoes and fixed them often in this creamy, comforting baked sweet potato casserole. With its nutty topping, this side dish could almost serve as a dessert. It's a yummy treat! —Sandi Pichon, Memphis, Tennessee
8 / 25
Bourbon Glazed Ham Exps133631 Sd2232457c08 25 3bc Rms

#18: Bourbon-Glazed Ham

Smoky and sweet flavors come through in every bite of this Kentucky-style ham. Since I found this recipe, it’s the only ham I make. —Sue Schiller, Tomahawk, Wisconsin
9 / 25

#17: Frosted Cranberry Drop Cookies

I started making these treats after tasting a batch my friend whipped up. I immediately requested the drop cookie recipe and have been baking them by the dozens ever since. The icing is an ideal complement to the tart berries in the cookies. —Shirley Kidd, New London, Minnesota
10 / 25
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#16: Stuffing from the Slow Cooker

If you're hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner this year, add this simple slow-cooked stuffing to your menu to ease entertaining. The recipe comes in handy when you run out of oven space at large family gatherings. I use this Crock Pot dressing recipe often. —Donald Seiler, Macon, Mississippi
11 / 25

#15: Green Bean Casserole

This easy green bean casserole has always been one of my favorite dishes. You can make it before any guests arrive and refrigerate it until it’s ready to bake. —Anna Baker, Blaine, Washington
12 / 25
Pecan Meltaways Exps Cbz16 537 C05 12 5b

#14: Pecan Meltaways

This sweet, nutty pecan balls recipe is a tradition in our house at Christmastime, but the treats are delightful any time of the year. —Alberta McKay, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
13 / 25
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#13: Party Shrimp

The marinade for this dish makes the shrimp so flavorful, you won't even need a dipping sauce. Even those who claim they don’t like shellfish really dig this appetizer. —Kendra Doss, Colorado Springs, Colorado
14 / 25
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#12: Strawberry Pretzel Dessert

Need to bring a dish to pass this weekend? This make-ahead strawberry pretzel salad will disappear quickly at any potluck. —Aldene Belch, Flint, Michigan
15 / 25

#11: Easy Peanut Butter Fudge

My sister shared the recipe for this unbelievably easy peanut butter fudge with marshmallow cream. I prefer using creamy peanut butter for this mouthwatering dessert, but the chunky style works just as well. —Mary Jane Rummel, Linglestown, Pennsylvania
16 / 25
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#10: Best-Ever Stuffed Mushrooms

At party time, I bring out a platter of my easy stuffed mushrooms. I like to make mine with reduced-fat sausage, but you can use regular for an indulgent treat. —Debby Beard, Eagle, Colorado
17 / 25
Peanut Butter Snowballs Exps Hca20 530 E07 09 5b

#9: Peanut Butter Snowballs

This recipe for peanut butter ball cookies is a nice change from the typical milk chocolate and peanut butter combination. I once prepared them for a bake sale at my granddaughter's school, and I've also put them in gift boxes to share with neighbors at Christmas. —Wanda Regula, Birmingham, Michigan
18 / 25
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#8: Big Soft Ginger Cookies

These nicely spiced, big soft ginger cookies are perfect for folks who like the flavor of ginger but don't care for crunchy gingersnaps. —Barbara Gray, Boise, Idaho
19 / 25

#7: Creamy Cranberry Salad

One of my piano students taught me the perfect lesson in holiday recipes: this fresh cranberry salad. The keys are tangy fruit, fluffy marshmallows and crunchy nuts. —Alexandra Lypecky, Dearborn, Michigan
20 / 25
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#6: Gingerbread Men Cookies

No holiday treat platter would be complete without gingerbread man cookies! This is a tried-and-true recipe I'm happy to share with you. —Mitzi Sentiff, Annapolis, Maryland
21 / 25
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#5: Grandma’s Divinity

Every Christmas my grandmother and I made divinity, just the two of us. I still make it every year. —Anne Clayborne, Walland, Tennessee
22 / 25
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#4: Simple Au Gratin Potatoes

These homemade au gratin potatoes are always welcome at our dinner table, and they're so simple to make. A perfect complement to ham, this homey potato gratin also goes well with pork, chicken and other entrees. —Cris O'Brien, Virginia Beach, Virginia
23 / 25
Corn Pudding Exps Ppt18 31278 C08 21 4b 4

#3: Corn Pudding

Cornbread mix and canned corn make this southern corn pudding casserole a snap to prepare. Now this is real comfort food! —P. Lauren Fay-Neri, Syracuse, New York
24 / 25
Sweet Potato Pie Exps Ghbz18 1203 B08 15 3b

#2: Sweet Potato Pie

This creamy sweet potato pie is subtly spiced and slices beautifully! We suggest baking up a few sweet potato pies around the holidays to give to friends and family. — North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission
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#1: Whipped Shortbread

These whipped shortbread Christmas cookies melt in your mouth. Mostly I make them for the holidays, but I'll also prepare them year-round for wedding showers and afternoon teas. —Jane Ficiur, Bow Island, Alberta
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