How To Choose Side Dishes for Christmas Dinner

Choosing the right side dishes for Christmas dinner requires a mix of creativity and planning.  You want to find dishes that complement the main dish and one another.  Below are some factors to consider in finding the perfect side dishes for your holiday feast.

Style of the Meal

Are you cooking an elegant five course meal or a hearty family feast?  The style of your Christmas dinner should determine the side dishes you select. 

Elegant meals might call for more exotic choices like fava beans, fennel, or asparagus, and may include imported cheeses or fancy glazes.  If comfort food is your goal, you will want to consider dressing up the classics such as green beans and mashed potatoes.  You can always enhance classic side dishes like cranberry sauce by adding fruit or nut garnishes.

Complement to the Main Course

What you serve for your main course at Christmas dinner should also affect your choice of side dishes.  If you are serving turkey, you may want to prepare a stuffing with wild rice.  Baked ham can be complemented by something starchy, like potatoes au gratin or macaroni and cheese.  Wild rice and squash work well with duck and rabbit.


Make sure your Christmas dinner side dishes provide enough variety.  Consider one side dish from each of the following categories: fresh salad, sweet and starchy (like sweet potatoes, squash or carrots), salty and starchy (like potatoes or rice), green vegetables (like broccoli), bread or rolls, and stuffing. Each of these can be further enhanced by a wide range of dressings, sauces, or gravies.


Consider timing when you're selecting your side dishes.  Are you going to have time to create a complicated soufflé while working on your turkey?  A good rule of thumb is to make at least half of your side dishes the day before (such as salads and cold casseroles) and store them overnight, so that you will have less to fuss over right before the meal.

If you want an unexpected variety of side dishes at Christmas dinner, you can always consider another approach: asking your guests to bring whatever they like.  You may be surprised by how well the dishes work together!


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