It’s said the kitchen is the heart of the home, and that idiom never rings truer than during the holiday season.
Hosting holiday meals fills your home with warmth and life and joy. Plus, you know, people. It fills your home with people. Hungry, hungry people.
Cooking with guests can be an integral — and fun! — part of the meal. Loved ones file in and out of the kitchen to help dice and stir, laugh over infamous family anecdotes of failed recipes, taste your take on Aunt Myrtle’s cookie batter and, naturally, steal a pinch of food fresh out of the oven before it even hits a plate.
That said, sometimes you don’t want to spend any more time cooking (or overthinking what you’re going to cook) than is absolutely necessary. You have necks to hug! Gossip to catch up on!
When your holiday gathering priority is not cooking, take a cue from us and think big this holiday season. As in, an entrée big enough to feed your famished crowd so you don’t have to fuss over a bunch of different main dishes. Here are a few of our favorites.
Red wine cranberry braised short ribs
Fresh herbs, tart cranberries and tangy red wine give these braised short ribs from Half Baked Harvest a festive flair. Not only do they plate beautifully (we recommend our creamy mashed potatoes on the side), but they’re also super-easy to make thanks to the slow-cooker.
And you know what that means, right? It’ll only look like you slaved all day over a hot stove — yet you can still bask in the same accolades as if you did.
Easy and delicious orange, anise and thyme roasted turkey
Let’s talk turkey. It’s kind of a big deal around the holidays, after all. But if it’s the only protein gracing your holiday table this year, you want to make it something really special.
Well, say hello to this mouth-watering bird! Slathered with a garlicky citrus butter, infused with fresh orange juice and stuffed with heady aromatics — including star anise, your new favorite secret ingredient — this turkey is totally GBD (golden brown and delicious).
Bacon wrapped meatloaf
If you can wrap it in bacon, it’s bound to be a hit. These days there are (drool-worthy) recipes for bacon-wrapped, well, just about anything! But if you really want to send your guests to comfort food nirvana, try this bacon-wrapped meatloaf from Recipe Girl. Yes, that’s what we said. Bacon. Wrapped. Meatloaf.
Satiating and packed full of flavor, this fresh spin on a down-home classic is ideal for cozy holiday dinners with family and close friends. You’ll be hoarding the leftovers — if there are any!
Tofurkey with mushroom stuffing
If you’re hosting a vegetarian dinner, you can’t go wrong with tofurkey — it’s the meat-free holiday staple. What makes this one rise above other recipes is its one-and-done approach.
The tofurkey is filled with mushroom stuffing and topped with gravy, so you don’t have to bother making separate recipes for either of those traditional sides. It’s an entree even non-vegetarians find tasty and satisfying.
Instant Pot pulled pork with cranberry barbecue sauce
Are you hosting a more laid-back holiday get-together? Because if that’s the case, you need this pulled pork recipe from The Recipe Rebel in your life. For starters, you can make it in your Instant Pot, saving you tons of time and hassle. Second, everyone loves barbecue. They just do.
The cranberry-infused sauce keeps this pulled pork seasonal. And did we mention the recipe is easy to adapt depending on how many guests you invite? Trust us — it’s a good call.
Classic prime rib with horseradish cream
There may be no more timeless a holiday meal than a classic prime rib with horseradish cream — and it’s easier to make than it seems. You don’t have to be intimidated by roasting prime rib. We promise!
This recipe, adapted from That Skinny Chick Can Bake, serves eight to ten and is sure to elevate your tablescape. It’s the kind of dish you serve when your dinner party includes hard-to-please guests, like your boss or mother-in-law (which, let’s be honest, sometimes feels like the same person).
Brown sugar bourbon slow-cooker spiral ham
Brown sugar? Bourbon? Sign us up! That combo couldn’t sound more delectable if it tried. And when you consider that your slow-cooker does most of the work to make this easy spiral ham, it’s seriously a no-brainer. Pass the carving knife!
Whole wheat gnocchi with pumpkin sage sauce
Consider this hearty gnocchi recipe from culinary scientist Jessica Gavin a gift you give both yourself and your guests this holiday season. You’ll love it because it comes together in half an hour (yes, really!). Your guests will love it because pillowy potato gnocchi tossed in pumpkin sage sauce is a revelation for the taste buds.
This entrée proves especially perfect for holiday dinners with vegetarians or picky eaters at the table.
Turkey and stuffing casserole
No one should feel tied down by roasting a whole turkey during the holidays. If you’ve devoted hours of your life to basting and brining big ol’ birds simply because it’s tradition, your day of liberation has arrived. We propose a dish that drastically reduces your stress level while still boasting those feel-good holiday flavors.
This recipe is brilliant on a few levels. First, you can get a buzz while preparing it — because it’s clearly your job as the chef to taste-test the Guinness and ensure it’s suitable for guests. Next, it’s just plain delicious. And, you can serve it up with cabbage on New Year’s Day to usher in good luck and prosperity, per Irish folklore.
Easy baked turkey meatballs
Anyone who has ever hosted a kid-friendly holiday dinner knows that trying to please little palates can be an exercise in futility. Enter turkey meatballs. We’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t gobble down meatballs, and this version from Divas Can Cook combines the tried-and-true flavor combo of turkey and stuffing.
Bonuses? They’re easy to freeze, the recipe be doubled (or even tripled) and they can be served with virtually any side dish and still make sense.
Grilled cotija-stuffed pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon
All you really need to know about this recipe from Hola Jalapeno is that it involves stuffing a juicy pork tenderloin with creamy, flavorful cheese and then wrapping the whole thing in bacon. Enough said, no?