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55 Last-Minute Christmas Dinner Ideas

Whether you forgot to defrost your roast, were too busy wrapping presents, or anything in between, realizing you're crunched for time on Christmas can be stressful. Have no fear! These Christmas dinner ideas, for mains and sides, come together in less than an hour.

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Cider Cheese Fondue

Cheese lovers are sure to enjoy dipping into this creamy quick-to-fix fondue cheese dip that has just a hint of apple. You can also serve this appetizer with pear wedges. —Kim Marie Van Rheenen, Mendota, Illinois

Find more last-minute recipes in our holiday cooking guide.

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Green Bean Bundles

I found this recipe in a rural newspaper years ago and have made it often. The bean bundles are excellent with chicken or beef. Sometimes I'll arrange them around a mound of wild rice to make an appetizing side dish. —Virginia Stadler, Nokesville, Virginia
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Roasted Chicken and Brie Holly Mini Bites

I got the idea for these appetizers from my favorite sandwich at a local restaurant—a symphony of sweet fig, roasted apple, melted brie and tangy garlic mayonnaise. I re-created this delectable combination in a quick appetizer with bright red cranberries and green spinach to give it a holiday twist. These scrumptious bites only take about 20 minutes, but taste like you spent hours; you can also make them a few days in advance, then warm them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds before serving. They're the perfect party appetizer! —Terri Gilson, Calgary, Alberta
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Mashed Cauliflower with Parmesan

I couldn’t shake my mashed potato habit—until I tried mashed cauliflower with a similar consistency. I started making my own, and my family loves it. —Meredith Howard, Franklin, Kentucky
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Cheddar Ham Soup

I knew this ham soup recipe was a keeper when my mother-in-law asked for it! The hearty soup—chock-full of ham, veggies and cheese—is creamy and comforting. And even though the recipe makes enough to feed a crowd, don’t expect it to last more than one meal! —Marty Matthews, Clarksville, Tennessee
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Potluck Sausage Casserole

Whenever my husband digs in to this pasta casserole full of Italian sausage and veggies, he gets a big smile on his face. I love that! —Jane Davis, Marion, Indiana
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Perfect Winter Salad

This is my most-requested salad recipe. Serve it as a side salad along with your holiday meal, or enjoy it for lunch the next day with cubed turkey or chicken on top. —DeNae Shewmake, Burnsville, Minnesota

Need a Plan B? Don’t miss our list of restaurants open on Christmas.

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Christmas Meatballs

Cranberry sauce and brown sugar create a tangy glaze for moist meatballs that are good Christmas appetizers or Christmas dinner ideas. We love them so much, I prepare them year-round. —Joyce Bentley, Redlands, California
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Beef Tenderloin in Mushroom Sauce

When our kids are visiting Grandma, I make this recipe for just my husband and myself. It's a recipe my mother-in-law has been using for more than 30 years. I especially look forward to preparing it as part of a special Valentine's Day menu. —Denise McNab, Warminster, Pennsylvania
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Creamy Sweet Potatoes

I took my mother's delicious sweet potato casserole and gave it a new twist by adding the tempting taste of orange—a fruit very abundant in our state. The flavors are wonderful together and make this dish a family favorite. —Norma Poole, Auburndale, Florida
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Spiced Salmon

This delicious, moist fish is very quick and easy to prepare. It gets a little sweetness from brown sugar, but overall the seasonings are mild and give this dish broad appeal. It's a wonderful way to enjoy healthy salmon.—Donna Reynolds, Innisfail, Alberta
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Homemade Chicken Potpie

Why look for potpie in the frozen food aisle when this easy version tastes much better? The chicken pot pie's crust is so tender and flaky, and underneath you'll find the ultimate comfort food for kids and adults. —Amy Briggs, Gove, Kansas

Check out all of our Southern Christmas dinner menu ideas.

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Holiday Green Bean Casserole

Try this green bean casserole and you'll never go back to the old stuff. — Laura Fall-Sutton, Buhl, Idaho
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Provolone Beef Pastry Pockets

My children always make sure they're home when they find out we're having these pockets for dinner. They're a smart way to use leftover pot roast. —Karen Burkett, Reseda, California
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Bow Ties with Gorgonzola Sauce

The name may sound fancy, but this pasta dish is comforting and simple to prepare. Add a mixed green salad to make it a complete meal for any occasion. —Nadine Mesch, Mount Healthy, Ohio
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Shredded Gingered Brussels Sprouts

Even people who normally don’t care for Brussels sprouts will ask for a second helping of these. This is a great recipe to add to your Christmas Eve dinner ideas. —James Schend, Taste of Home Deputy Editor
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Cider-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

This is a super-easy recipe full of sweet fall flavor. The maple flavor really shines through. —Susan Stetzel, Gainesville, New York
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Sausage-Stuffed Butternut Squash

Load butternut squash shells with an Italian turkey sausage and squash mixture for a quick and easy meal. Even better, it's surprisingly low in calories. —Katia Slinger, Columbus, Georgia
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Nanny's Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

My grandsons rave over these creamy potatoes loaded with Parmesan. That’s all the endorsement I need. Sometimes I use golden or red potatoes, with skins on. —Kallee Krong-McCreery, Escondido, California
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Creamy Spinach & Rigatoni Bake

Macaroni and cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods. My recipe gives it an Italian twist. —Tammy Rex, New Tripoli, Pennsylvania
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Roasted Green Beans with Lemon & Walnuts

I first tasted roasted green beans in a Chinese restaurant and fell in love with the texture and flavor. This is my Americanized version and it's always a big hit at our holiday table. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia
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Garlic Chicken with Herbs

Pan-roasting garlic cloves transforms them into rich, creamy deliciousness. This chicken is fantastic with crusty Italian bread or mashed potatoes on the side. —Kathy Fleming, Lisle, Illinois
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Garlic-Herb Pattypan Squash

The first time I grew a garden, I harvested summer squash and cooked it with garlic and herbs. Using pattypan squash is a creative twist. —Kaycee Mason, Siloam Springs, Arkansas
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Garlic Herbed Beef Tenderloin

You don't need much seasoning to add flavor to this beef tenderloin recipe. The mild blending of rosemary, basil and garlic does the trick. —Ruth Andrewson, Leavenworth, Washington
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Smoked Sausage & Potato Dressing

I tried this recipe for Thanksgiving. My husband is a picky eater, but he ate more of the stuffing than the turkey! If you have leftovers, top some with an over-easy egg for breakfast. —Adriana Torres, El Paso, Texas
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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

My mac and cheese is simple and has lots of flavor from the cheeses and ground chipotle chile. I use conchiglie pasta because its shape allows more melted cheese to pool inside. Yum! —Colleen Delawder, Herndon, Virginia
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Thymed Zucchini Saute

Simple and flavorful, this recipe is a tasty and healthy way to use up all those zucchini that are taking over your garden. It's ready in hardly any time! —Bobby Taylor, Ulster Park, New York
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Holiday Brussels Sprouts

Make Brussels sprouts special with peas, celery and, of course, bacon. The recipe doubles easily if needed. —Jodie Beckman, Council Bluffs, Iowa
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Parmesan Chicken with Lemon Rice

I like the challenge of inventing recipes with ingredients I have on hand. This easy-peasy meal fits the bill. —Colleen Doucette, Truro, Nova Scotia
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Broccoli with Asiago

This is one of the best (and most simple) ways I’ve found to serve broccoli. It’s also good with Parmesan if you don’t have the Asiago cheese. —cjintexas, Tasteofhome.com, Community
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Skillet Steak Supper

With all the ingredients cooked in one skillet, this steak dish couldn't be quicker to prepare—or to clean up! But the wine and mushroom sauce makes it seem special. —Sandra Fisher, Missoula, Montana
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Artichoke Florentine Pasta

Pasta loaded with artichokes and creamy cheese is everything a Sunday dinner should be: rich, tasty and memorable. Add cooked chicken, shrimp or crab if you like. —Nancy Beckman, Helena, Montana
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Pepper Parmesan Beans

A colorful mixture of peppers and green beans gets an Italian treatment with basil and Parmesan cheese in this delightful vegetable dish. The garlic adds a savory zip. —Marian Platt, Sequim, Washington
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Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream Cheese

My husband and I both love the classic combination of beef and horseradish. He asks me to make this for dinner often, and I'm always happy to. Try serving with baked potatoes as a side.—Mary Lou Cook, Welches, Oregon
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Classic Beef Wellingtons

Perfect for holidays, this beef Wellington recipe is also impressively easy. Find ready-made puff pastry sheets in the frozen food section. —Kerry Dingwall, Ponte Vedra, Florida
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Cauliflower au Gratin

Count on this dish to make new vegetable converts. Whenever I serve it, people ask for the recipe. Sometimes I’ll substitute broccoli for all or half the cauliflower, and the green veggie tastes just as good! —Jacki Ricci, Ely, Nevada
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Chicken-Pepper Alfredo

When I want a lighter dinner, I use lean turkey bacon in this recipe. It gives the pasta that richness you want without all the extra fat. —Courtney Harris, Denton, Texas
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Danish Meatballs with Pan Gravy

My great-grandmother made these meatballs, and I'm sure her mother must have taught her. Six generations have enjoyed them, and one of my daughters even served them at her wedding. —Kallee Krong-McCreery, Escondido, California
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Roasted Tater Rounds with Green Onions & Tarragon

I am crazy for potatoes, especially when they're roasted and toasted. Toss them with fresh herbs and green onions for a bold finish. —Ally Phillips, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
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Gingered Honey Salmon

Ginger, garlic powder and green onion blend nicely in an easy marinade that gives pleasant flavor to salmon. We also like to use this versatile mixture when grilling chicken, but we've found it tastes even better when marinated in the fridge overnight. —Dan Strumberger, Farmington, Minnesota
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Tenderloin Steak Diane

Sometimes, I add more mushrooms to this recipe when my son's eating dinner—he loves them, and they are just fantastic with the steak. — Carolyn Turner, Reno, Nevada
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Creamy Parmesan Spinach Bake

My creamy, comforting side dish wonderfully rounds out any holiday dinner. Just a little of this rich casserole goes a long way. —Jennifer Bley, Austin, Texas
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Creamy Sausage-Mushroom Rigatoni

In Rome, we dined near the Pantheon. The amazing restaurant is now history, but its memory lives on in this tasty pasta with mushrooms and sausage. —Barbara Roozrokh, Brookfield, Wisconsin
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Loaded Red Potato Casserole

This potato casserole has the same flavor of the potato skins you can order as a restaurant appetizer. It's an ideal dish for tailgating and potlucks. —Charlane Gathy, Lexington, Kentucky
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Blue Cheese-Crusted Sirloin Steaks

My wife adores this steak—and me when I fix it for her. She thinks it’s the ideal dish for Friday night after a long workweek. —Michael Rouse, Minot, North Dakota
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Chicken Potpie Casserole

I always have leftover chicken broth on hand and use it for many things, including this comforting family favorite. You can bake your own biscuits as I do or buy them at the store. I like to bake extra biscuits to eat with butter and jam. —Liliane Jahnke, Cypress, Texas
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Cheesy Cheddar Broccoli Casserole Exps Sdfm17 28900 C09 30 6b 10

Cheesy Cheddar Broccoli Casserole

Even people who don’t like broccoli beg me to make this comforting broccoli cheese casserole recipe. It's similar to a classic green bean casserole, but the melted cheese just puts it over the top. —Elaine Hubbard, Pocono Lake, Pennsylvania
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Tomato & Artichoke Bruschetta

A healthy and refreshing appetizer, I enjoy bruschetta anytime of year. For serving guests, I like to slice the garlic instead of chopping it for both beauty and flavor infusion. This is also a simple make-ahead dish: You can mix it up, cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.—Gina Bergamino, Chanhassen, Minnesota
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Roasted Beef Tenderloin

An overnight marinade provides a savory seasoning for this tenderloin. I've served this simple elegant roast on many special occasions. —Schelby Thompson, Camden Wyoming, Delaware
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Skillet Sausage Stuffing

To make this sausage stuffing, I dressed up a package of stuffing mix with pork sausage, mushrooms, celery and onion. It impressed my in-laws at a family gathering and has since become a popular side dish with my husband and children. —Jennifer Lynn Cullen, Taylor, Michigan
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Seafood-Stuffed Salmon Fillets

You could get stuffed salmon from a big-box store, but my fillets are loaded with flavor from crab, cream cheese and savory herbs. We love them. —Mary Cokenour, Monticello, Utah
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Garlic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Sauce

Don’t be afraid to bring out the roasted Brussels sprouts. Mellowed with mustard sauce, they may just delight even the most skeptical folks. —Becky Walch, Orland, California
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Brussels Sprouts au Gratin

In our house, Brussels sprouts have always been popular. When I topped them with a creamy sauce, Swiss cheese and bread crumbs, it became a new holiday dinner tradition. —Gwen Gregory, Rio Oso, California
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Sweet & Tangy Salmon with Green Beans

I'm always up for new ways to cook salmon. In this dish, a sweet sauce gives the fish and green beans some down-home barbecue tang. Even our kids love it. —Aliesha Caldwell, Robersonville, North Carolina
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Potato Stuffing Casserole

I adapted this recipe from a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook, and it's indicative of the fine German cooking found in this area. If you're looking for an alternative to mashed potatoes, try this dish. —Elsa Kerschner, Kunkletown, Pennsylvania

Caroline Stanko
As Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.

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