Classic American Christmas Food Ideas for the Holidays



Last Updated: Dec 10, 2021

As you start thinking about your holiday meals, you might feel overwhelmed wondering what to serve this year. Sometimes, looking at what others traditionally eat can help inspire you. Whether you’re planning on making a traditional American Christmas dinner or you want to try something new, these ideas will help you come up with some great ideas.

Traditional American Christmas dinner food

The traditional American Christmas dinner is very similar to a Thanksgiving dinner. It usually includes a stuffed bird (turkey is the most common), with gravy and some classic sides.

1. Turkey

Roast turkey on a holiday dinner table.

turkey is an inexpensive main meal that will feed a lot of people. This makes it perfect for large Christmas dinners. To give your bird a festive flavor, try cooking it with a sweet and spicy turkey glaze.

2. Stuffing

Stuffing (sometimes called dressing) is another common Christmas dinner food. While store-bought stuffing is delicious, if you really want to make your meal special, try making your own stuffing seasoned with sage, sausage, and fresh mushrooms.  

3. Mashed potatoes

Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are always a staple at American Christmas dinners. Start with Yukon gold potatoes and add plenty of cream and butter. This will give it a smooth, creamy texture. If you want a more sophisticated flavor, add some roasted garlic as well.

4. Gravy

Turkey gravy is made with the drippings created when you cook your meat. Add some white wine and plenty of fresh herbs for a unique and delicious flavor. 

5. Cranberry sauce

Many people eat cranberry sauce out of the can, but when you’re making a special dinner, it’s much better to make it from scratch. Just mix fresh or frozen cranberries with sugar, water, and spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Cook the mixture in a pot for about 30 minutes until it thickens, and let it cool before you serve it.

Other American Christmas dinner food ideas

If you were the host for Thanksgiving dinner, you might have already had your fill of turkey leftovers. In this case, you might want to try some of these other popular American Christmas dinner dishes.

1. Christmas ham

Maple Glazed Spiral Ham Turkey Dinner

A honey-glazed spiral ham is super easy to make. After Turkey, it’s one of the most popular meats to serve at an American Christmas dinner.

2. Beef tenderloin

If you’re a meat lover, you can’t go wrong with beef tenderloin. Try making a crust out of horseradish, spices, and breadcrumbs before roasting it in the oven for about 45 to 55 minutes.

3. Rack of lamb

Since they tend to be on the pricier side, a rack of lamb is often the preferred Christmas dinner for Americans who really want to splurge. Try it with a fig-based sauce and a garnish of toasted walnuts.

4. Creamed spinach

A rich, delicious side that goes great with any of the meats listed above, creamed spinach is always a popular holiday dish. Heavy whipping cream and plenty of parmesan cheese give this dish a decadent texture and a taste you’ll be talking about for weeks afterward. 

5. Green bean casserole

Green bean casserole is an American holiday dish that people seem to either love or hate. It’s made with condensed cream of mushroom soup, milk, green beans, a bit of soy sauce, and french fried onions.

American Christmas dessert food

You can’t celebrate Christmas in America without something sweet! Here’s a look at some of the most popular holiday desserts.

1. Cookies

Close up of drawing Christmas tree sugar cookie on wooden table.

Cookies of all kinds are a staple at Christmas time in America. From Snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies to molasses and sugar cookies – everyone has their own holiday favorites.

2. Fruitcake

Fruitcake is a classic American Christmas dessert. Despite the bad rap they sometimes get, they’re actually delicious. There are plenty of commercially made brands on the market, or you can get creative and make your own.

3. Gingerbread houses

While gingerbread houses are often used more for decoration than to eat, this is an American Christmas tradition that’s fun for both kids and the young at heart.

4. Bourbon balls

Bourbon balls are tipsy treats that are always popular at Christmas time. They’re fudgy, nutty, and have just the right amount of bourbon to start your holiday celebrations off right.

5. Pecan tassies

A cross between a shortbread cookie and a miniature pecan pie, pecan tassies are the perfect Christmas morning treat.

American Christmas drinks

Many of the most popular American Christmas drinks are really only enjoyed during the holiday season. That’s part of what makes them so special.

1. Eggnog

Homemade White Holiday Eggnog with a Cinnamon Stick.

Nothing says Christmas quite like a glass of eggnog. This creamy, luscious drink is easy to make from scratch, and might just become your favorite new tradition. 

2. Hot buttered rum

This warm, spicy drink is incredibly comforting on cold days. It’s made by mixing brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, butter, cloves, and nutmeg, then adding spiced rum and boiling water.

3. Wassail

A long-standing American Christmas tradition, wassail is often shared with family and friends while roaming from house to house singing Christmas carols. This warm holiday punch is typically a mixture of orange and apple juice, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. If you want to make an adult version, add some brandy or sherry.

4. Mulled wine

While summer may be all about sangria, winter is the time to enjoy mulled wine. It’s arguably the best way to serve wine during the holidays. You can easily make your own with red wine, brandy, and holiday spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, anise, and vanilla.

5. Mimosas

Mimosas aren’t just for Sunday brunch! They’re also the perfect way to kick off Christmas morning. Just combine champagne and orange juice for a traditional mimosa, or give it a holiday twist by mixing champagne with a bit of cranberry juice.

Try something new this Christmas!

While many families stick to the same classic Christmas dishes year after year, sometimes it’s fun to try something new. If some of these ideas inspired you, consider adding a few to your traditional American Christmas dinner.

It’s easy to expand your holiday menu! All you need to do is head over to and add all the ingredients you need to your shopping list. Then, a professional shopper will buy everything for you, and you can even have them deliver your order right to your door. 



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