Wild Rice with Roasted Buttered Onions. Matt Taylor-Gross
So you’ve chosen your perfect holiday roast. Now what? Don’t let your roast outshine your sides. Instead, let them accompany one another in perfect harmony, or even let your sides take center stage for a change. From maple-glazed carrots to creamy mashed potatoes and green bean casseroles, Christmas side dishes are the comfort companions for hearty mains. Upgrade your Christmas side dishes for silkier mashes, cheesier gratins, and hearty greens with our best Christmas side dishes. They’ll definitely leave your guests coming back for seconds. For more Christmas inspiration, check out our Christmas Holiday Guide.
In addition to being baked on an olive oil-slathered pan, this focaccia dough is mixed with olive oil as well as creamy mashed potatoes, giving it a fluffy interior and crispy, oil-slicked edges. Kale and red pepper flakes add color and texture that make an otherwise simple bread a side dish in its own right. Get the recipe for Tuscan Kale and Red Pepper Focaccia »
This warm salad is made with a naturally sweet, high-quality balsamic vinegar to balance the bitterness of the leaves. If top-shelf balsamic vinegar di Modena is unavailable or out of your price range, cooking the grocery store version down by about one-third of its volume over a medium-low flame—and further sweetening it to taste with a drizzle of honey as needed—helps produce a similar level of sweetness.
This classic Southern-style Thanksgiving dressing is tossed with crumbled breakfast sausage and plenty of sage, then cooked in a casserole dish beside the browning bird. Get the recipe for Cornbread Dressing »
Wild rice adds a toasted nuttiness to this dish, and breaking it up in a food processor allows the rice to cook at the same rate as the polenta. Cookbook author Amy Thielen advises to scrape the corn cobs with the back of a knife after you grate the kernels to extract as much of the corn liquid as you can. Get the recipe for Polenta with Corn and Wild Rice »
It’s rare that we encounter spaghetti squash not shredded into its eponymous noodle-like threads. But kept intact, it reveals a beautifully yielding texture and a savory, subtle flavor that’s perfectly offset by a rich walnut-miso glaze.
Its name derived from the French verb souffler, meaning “to breathe” or “to puff”, a soufflé’s pillowy top will naturally rise in the oven but slightly deflate just moments after removal. The eggy treat’s fleeting moment of perfection is one of the reasons the dish is handled so delicately by chefs and cherished so deeply by diners. This savory cheese version is courtesy of chef Daniel Skurnick of Le Coucou restaurant in New York City. Get the recipe for Egg and Cheese Soufflé »
This hearty, chicken stock—braised kraut is smoky, spicy, and well balanced, with sweet onions, garlic, and bacon fat nicely contrasting the brightness and brininess of jarred sauerkraut. If you prefer the end result even more sour, feel free to add a splash more brine from the jar. Get the recipe for Braised Paprika Kraut »
Freekeh—sun-dried and roasted unripe wheat berries—is a popular grain in Mediterranean cuisines, and has a mildly smoky flavor and pleasant chew. Here, chef Mehmet Gürs of Istanbul’s Mikla cooks it pilaf-style and spices it with sumac, a bright red spice that lends color and a lemony zing to anything it hits. Get the recipe for Freekeh Pilaf with Sumac »
This simple Southern-style cornbread harkens to cookbook author Lee Bailey’s Louisiana upbringing and highlights his simple entertaining and cooking style. Bailey calls for baking the cornbread in a cast-iron skillet, but you can substitute a well-greased 9-inch metal baking pan. Get the recipe for Sour Cream Corn Bread »
Thirty cloves of garlic go into this creamy side dish, adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume 1 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961). The cloves are first blanched whole, which enhances their sweetness, then used to make a rich béchamel sauce that’s stirred into mashed potatoes with cream and parsley. Get the recipe for Julia Child’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes »
This green bean dish is mildly creamy, thanks to a quick blanching in milk, which also sweetens the beans slightly. A garnish of toasted chopped hazelnuts adds a lovely nutty crunch. This recipe appeared with Irene Sax’s piece Small Wonders (November 2008), a tribute to Thanksgiving side dishes–though we think it works well anytime of year. Get the recipe for Green Beans with Pancetta and Mint »