Erin Kunkel

From latkes and roasted squash to holiday cookies and dark chocolate brownies, these 22 recipes will end your year on a cozy, festive note

Maya Wong  – December 5, 2019 | Updated December 9, 2019

Buckle up, everyone: it’s December. We know you’re busy planning for the holidays, refreshing your home with holiday decor, and shopping for gifts (have you found the perfect present for the food lover in your life?). We get it. But these recipes give you the opportunity to slow down a bit and gather with friends and family over something homemade like a bowl of garlicky White Bean Gratin or a sheet of chocolate-dipped Marmalade Sandwich Cookies. So put the phone down for a night, get out the measuring cups and baking pans, and end the year around the table with people who still love you whether or not your first batch of Mexican Chocolate Streusel Brownies come out a success.

Hearty Meat Dishes

Courtesy of Aran Goyoaga

Braised Chicken with Apples and Cider

Serving this braised chicken and apple dish feels like the right thing to do in December. If you can, stick with a Basque-style cider (drier and funkier than American cider) like Isastegi Sidra.

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

If unbearably cold temps leave you no choice but to stay inside all day, make this slow-roasted pork shoulder with crunchy, crackling skin and tender meat. Start cooking in the morning and it will be ready in time for dinner.

Poached Brisket of Beef with Salsa Verde

Reserve a night on your calendar for this slow-cooked brisket with herby, zesty salsa verde. We like to make extra of this parsley, anchovy, shallot, caper, and lemon sauce to use throughout the week.

Roast Chicken with Meyer Lemon Shallot Sauce

What’s not to love about classic roast chicken? Crispy skin! Juicy meat! Superb aroma! This citrusy shallot sauce upgrades the traditional roast using leftover pan drippings as a base.

Spicy Sausage and Chard Pasta

You only need 30 minutes to make this spicy sausage and chard pasta. We like to use hot sausage, but mild is a great alternative for the spice-averse. Leftovers highly encouraged.

Comforting Vegetables

Erin Kunkel

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Farro and Mustard Greens

This winter salad is sweet, savory, and full of greens and grains. Don’t forget the finishing touches: shavings of ricotta salata or feta cheese and a glass of California Chardonnay.

Black Bean Soup with Avocado, Orange, and Cucumber

Keep this soup brothy with spoonfuls of black beans or puree it into a smooth, thick soup. Just don’t skip the citrusy avocado and cucumber topping, which adds a refreshing kick to each bite.

Baked Fennel with Cambozola

Mild, aromatic fennel becomes meltingly tender in this easy baked dish. We use panko instead of traditional bread crumbs for a crunchier result, and you can choose between cambozola or gorgonzola cheese.

Roasted Carrots with Red Lentil Hummus

We’ll happily eat these Roasted Carrots with Red Lentil Hummus every week. You can also make the 15-minute lentil tahini hummus on its own for a holiday party appetizer your friends will love.

White Bean Gratin

Make this garlicky White Bean Gratin as a side to roast meat or as a main on its own. It’s what you’ll want to cozy up to on a chilly December evening.

Party-Worthy Desserts

Thomas J. Story

Marmalade Sandwich Cookies

Orange marmalade is sandwiched between two slightly citrusy cookies (thanks to orange juice and zest) before being dipped in bittersweet chocolate. These cookies will please both the fruit and chocolate lovers in the group. 

Walnut Shortbread Cookies With Flake Salt and Citrus

We like to use flake salt for these walnut shortbread cookies, which helps dough retain its shape in the oven while giving it a little crunch. Use a scalloped cookie cutter if you’re feeling extra festive.

Classic Sugar Cookies

What’s a holiday party without a few sugar cookies on display? Not a very fun one. This easy-to-work dough is great for cookie cutters and won’t spread out onto each other when baking.

Speculaas Snowflakes

This is a riff off our ultra-buttery Sheet Pan Scottish Shortbread dough, but with an added spice combination that’s traditionally used in Dutch speculaas cookies. Bake the whole batch in a rimmed baking sheet or use this Nordic snowflake shortbread pan from Amazon.

Chocolate Lace Sandwich Cookies

Thin and crispy, these chocolate lace cookies are exactly the type of dessert you want to see greeting you at the end of a meal. Be sure to use a nonstick baking sheet liner or parchment in the oven — these tend to stick and spread.

Dark Chocolate Brownies

These super-rich chocolate brownies only require seven ingredients (or six if you want to leave out the walnuts). You can make these up to two days ahead of any holiday party; just be sure to store them in an airtight container.

Mexican Chocolate Streusel Brownies

For a more unexpected take on your favorite doughy chocolate dessert, try these Mexican Chocolate Streusel Brownies. Brown sugar and cinnamon make these nice and sweet.

Holiday Traditions

Eva Kolenko

Grilled Potato Latkes

These Grilled Potato Latkes give a Western twist to the traditional Hanukkah dish. If the weather is still pleasant enough to fire up the grill (we’re looking at you, Los Angeles), cooking potato pancakes doubles as part of the night’s entertainment.

Classic Latkes

Or, keep it classic with good old-fashioned latkes with a variety of toppings like apple sauce, sour cream, chives, or caviar. 

Roasted Salmon with Dill-Yogurt Sauce

Celebrate Feast of the Seven Fishes with a gorgeous filet of salmon, specifically this Roasted Salmon with Dill-Yogurt Sauce. It’s the sharing plate that everyone will ask you to make again next year.

Cranberry Rugelach

Why is this Cranberry Rugelach cookie so good? Some people say it’s the white chocolate, walnut, and cranberry filling, while others say it’s the cream cheese-based dough. They’re both right.

Twice-Baked Beef Brisket with Onions

The key to this Twice-Baked Brisket with Onions is purchasing a whole fresh beef brisket (not corned) or two center-cut pieces. You’ll need to reserve an entire day to make this, but it’s oh so worth it.