12 Easy Holiday Recipes for Beginners, Busy Bees, and Last-Minute Hosts

Updated 04/23/19

Easy holiday recipes you can whip up in a hurry that also happen to taste gourmet while capturing the warm, cozy energy of the occasion sound like they're too good to be true. But we assure you such recipes are out there—it just takes a little digging. We took it upon ourselves to sift through the noise and hone in one the best 12 options around.

So whether you're a beginner in the kitchen, a last-minute host, or simply want to minimize stress this holiday season, these dishes will make you (and everyone who enjoys them) very merry indeed. We'll begin with a mood-setting concoction followed by festive cocktails and appetizers, and then move our way through mains and side dishes before finishing with dessert to make sure your menu tastes and feels memorable without stressing you out.

So without further ado, check out the ultimate holiday recipes below.

Easy Holiday Recipes
Half Baked Harvest

Okay, so technically this isn't a drinkable cocktail (though all the ingredients are edible if you insist on giving it a try)—it's more of a magical holiday aroma. This scrumptious combination of fruits and spices from Half Baked Harvest will make the whole house smell and feel like Christmas, especially if you're cooking all day and the house starts to smell like a compost bin. And the good news is that this thoughtful, atmospheric touch only takes five minutes to brew.

Holiday Cocktail Recipes
Hola Jalapeño

There's nothing like a homemade cocktail to impress guests and create a memorable holiday bash that stands out. Festive and unique, you'll definitely want to add this mezcal cocktail recipe from Hola Jalapeño to your holiday traditions. In total, it only takes about 15 minutes to make, so you can throw it together while you're working on bigger mains that have a little more wait time involved.

Holiday Appetizers
Salt and Wind

Though the pretty bright hues and fancy presentation make this dish from Salt and Wind look like it takes a ton of time to create, it actually only requires five minutes of your time. Seriously. If you want to cook your own crab meat, it may take a little longer, but otherwise you just have to assemble these Meyer lemon bites with the radishes and add a few garnishes. 

Easy Snack Recipes
Half Baked Harvest

A great charcuterie board or cheese plate becomes even better when there are also some delicious dips joining the lineup. Consider trying one of these recipes from Half Baked Harvest, from an Indian spiced hummus to a roasted garlic hummus with parmesan and pesto, or pumpkin and goat cheese hummus. Then just add market veggies and crackers or pita chips.

Holiday Salad Recipes
Minimalist Baker

The dressing for this kale salad is packed with garlicky goodness and the warm roasted tandoori chickpeas are the perfect way to warm things up. The best news is that you can make this whole winter green recipe from Minimalist Baker in about 30 minutes.

Spoon Fork Bacon

Here's another delicious salad option from Spoon Fork Bacon. This medley of warm winter veggies is a wholesome and healthy addition to your holiday dinner lineup. Topped with Humboldt Fog cheese, pomegranates, pepitas, and farro, it's sure to go fast, so make sure there's enough for everyone to load up their plates for seconds.

The First Mess

Nothing warms the soul like a sunny bowl of bisque. This creamy vegan carrot-ginger soup from The First Mess is bright and beautiful while also being just decadent enough to comfort and soothe your dinner guests without being too heavy. 

Minimalist Baker

These perfectly golden, flaky biscuits taste just like as rich and buttery as the traditional recipes, though this one from Minimalist Baker is dairy-free so it'll satisfy your vegan guests too. Just make sure there are enough to go around, as everyone will want a second helping. 

Playful Cooking

This chicken breast recipe from Playful Cooking will blow you away, and not just because it's simple enough to make even if you only have one hour to work with. Dunked in a caramelized onion wine sauce, it's packed with flavor punctuated with beautiful colors to keep your plates looking vibrant and wholesome.

Half Baked Harvest

Taking one bite out of these simple baked Italian oregano meatballs brought to us by Half Baked Harvest will prove that your hard work in the kitchen paid off. Cheesy, satisfying, and full of spices, this dish only takes one hour total with only 10 minutes of prep. Add some spaghetti, or serve them on their own.

Chelsea's Messy Apron

Rich flaky crust dusted with cinnamon and doused with sweet icing, these caramel apple hand pies are about as good as it gets when it comes to desserts. And this recipe from Chelsea's Messy Apron makes it easier to present beautifully since you won't have to worry about messy slices. 

Mitzy at Home

If you want to make a homemade dessert but don't have the time to bake an extravagant pie or cake, opt for this simple but delicious citrus loaf cake from Mitzy at Home. Give it a boost with fresh berries or a make-your-own-sundae station. 

On the other hand, if you do want to go all out and show off your baking skills, read up on the best pecan piet and other holiday dessert recipes of all time. 

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