If you’ve gotten into the habit of trusting shortcuts to help you through making big holiday meals, I’ve got one word for you: Potluck. Our family affairs were always potluck, with the host making the main course and side dishes provided by guests. It made it easier on everyone. But whether you’re hosting a big meal for extended family or keeping it relatively simple, take a peek through the recipes included below for homemade holiday alternatives to the convenience foods many of us have come to depend on. I think you’ll be surprised to find that it doesn’t take that much more time or effort — plus, homemade just tastes better.
Raise your hand if you remember your mom getting up in the wee dark hours to put the turkey in to cook all. Day. Long. What was up with that? A nice big turkey might take three or four hours to cook, but certainly not all day. Yes, you need to allow a few hours for cooking, but once it’s in the oven there’s little required of you. Don’t let a big bird or memories of tedious 1970s-style turkey prep scare you away — give it a try!
- Mustard & herb rubbed turkey [Real Food Outlaws]
- Turkey and roasted vegetables [The Provision Room]
- Best turkey ever [Raia’s Recipes]
- Turkey brine [Recipes to Nourish]
- Butter and herb-infused turkey [Real Food Girl: Unmodifed]
- Sage-rubbed turkey breast [Happy Healthnut]
- Maple bacon turkey [Eat.Play.Love…More.]
- Best ever brined turkey [Gutsy by Nature]
Holiday sweet potatoes — canned yams topped with marshmallows — ruined this root vegetable for me for years. They were just too sweet. I know some people love them that way, but not me. Good news: You can have the goodness of sweet potatoes fresh from the farmer with these amazing recipes.
- Honey spiced sweet potatoes [Raia’s Recipes]
- Baked sweet potatoes with kefir sour cream [Oh, The Things We’ll Make!]
- Chipotle-maple mashed sweet potatoes [Life Currents]
- Healthier Boston Market-style sweet potatoes [Real Food Outlaws]
- Roasted sweet potato puree with coconut, orange, and ginger [And Here We Are]
- Maple roasted sweet potatoes [We Got Real]
- Maple Dijon sweet potato mash [Real Food Girl: Unmodified]
- Roasted sweet potatoes and apples [Recipes to Nourish]
- Sweet potato mash with tangerine balsamic glazed onions [A Harmony Healing]
- Peachy keen sweet potatoes [Real Food Girl: Unmodified]
Mashed or scalloped potatoes
Potatoes are a must have for holiday dinners, though every family seems to have a preferred way of preparing them. Whether you prefer scalloped or mashed, you can easily skip the box and go straight for homemade goodness.
- Decadent smashed potatoes [The Organic Kitchen]
- Crockpot cheesy potatoes [Lil’ Suburban Homestead]
- Rustic mashed potatoes [Real Food Girl: Unmodified]
- Dairy-free scalloped potatoes [Food Your Body Will Thank You For]
- Roasted garlic & rosemary mashed potatoes [The Provision Room]
- Make ahead Irish mashed potato casserole [Farm Fresh Feasts]
- Scalloped potatoes and ham [We Got Real]
- Garlic & parmesan mashed potatoes [Raia’s Recipes]
Call it stuffing or call it dressing; cook it in the bird or alongside. No matter, you’ll be amazed at the difference between homemade and boxed.
- Sprouted whole wheat stuffing [Simple Clean Living]
- Sweet potato stuffing [Edible Harmony]
- Sage stuffing from scratch [Buttered Side Up]
- Apple herb stuffing [Smitten Kitchen]
- Homemade sausage stuffing [Food 52]
- Stuffing with savory herbs and cranberries [A Teaspoon of Happiness]
- Grain free Thanksgiving stuffing [Against All Grain]
Truly, I don’t know why gravy has such a reputation for being hard to make. It’s not.
- Gluten free gravy [Gutsy by Nature]
- Healthy gravy with miso [Rules of Dieting]
- Wild mushroom gravy [Oh My Veggies]
- Make ahead turkey wing gravy [Food Wishes]
- Homemade gravy in three easy steps [100 Days of Real Food]
- Savory mushroom gravy [Post Punk Kitchen]
Dinner rolls and breads
Of all the homemade dishes on the holiday table, dinner rolls and bread are probably the most time consuming. They are also often the most appreciated by diners. There’s nothing better than a hot roll fresh out of the oven. In my book, they’re completely worth the effort. And making them yourself allows you to control ingredients, especially for gluten free folks.
- Easy homemade buns [We Got Real]
- KarenLynn’s favorite biscuits [Lil’ Suburban Homestead]
- 20-minute homemade rolls [Vintage Kids, Modern World]
- Pumpkin dinner rolls [The Provision Room]
- Moist maple cornbread [Naturally Loriel]
- Multi-grain cereal buns [Farm Fresh Feasts]
- Honey whole wheat rolls [Raia’s Recipes]
- Grain free dinner rolls [Edible Harmony]
We stuck with canned cranberry sauce for years — family tradition and all — until my eldest started making a wonderful orange spiced cranberry relish. Nothing wrong with creating new family traditions, right?
- Apple-apricot, beet, cranberry sauce [Farm Fresh Feasts]
- Roasted cranberry sauce [Life Currents]
- Homemade cranberry sauce [Simple Clean Living]
- Cranberry cherry sauce [Common Sense Homesteading]
- Brandied cranberry sauce [Homespun Seasonal Living]
- Cranberry orange relish with ginger and nuts [Delicious Obsessions]
- Cinnamon cranberry chutney [Raia’s Recipes]
- Classic cranberry sauce [A Happy Healthnut]
- Fermented cranberry sauce [Oh Lardy]
- Cranberry recipes gone wild [Hybrid Rasta Mama]
- Cultured cranberry sauce [LittleOwlCrunchyMomma]
Even in a household that considers water to be the best drink ever, during the holiday season we like to splurge a bit. Warm drinks, spiked drinks, juicy drinks – pick your poison and make it yourself. Who needs an “instant drink mix” on the holiday table?
- Glühwein [And Here We Are]
- Liliko‘i Gingerade [Attainable Sustainable]
- Cranberry pineapple punch [Celebrating Everyday Life]
- Spiced pumpkin punch [Domesticate Me]
- Grandma’s warm spiced cider [Six Sisters’ Stuff]
- Spiced hot drink mix [The Yummy Life]
Is it any coincidence that there are more dessert recipes listed here than any of the others? I think not. Because, dessert! Pie! Cake! Tarts! Crisps! There’s kind of no end to the wonderful homemade desserts that can replace the frozen version. And some are downright easy.
- Grain-free chai-spiced pumpkin pie tartlets [So Let’s Hang Out]
- Grandma’s pie crust [Attainable Sustainable]
- Pumpkin pie [Life Currents]
- Candy Roaster pumpkin cake [Lil’Suburban Homestead]
- Maple pecan pie [Learning & Yearning]
- Winter squash pie [Learning & Yearning]
- The original pumpkin pie [Mama Rosemary]
- Allergen friendly cranberry-apple pie [Scratch Mommy]
- Award-winning apple pie [The Provision Room]
- Paleo sweet potato pie [Hollywood Homestead]
- Pecan-coconut crusted pumpkin pie [Naturally Loriel]
- Crustless sweet potato pie [Happy Healthnut]
- No cans pumpkin pie [Kitchen Stewardship]
- Deep dish French apple pie [Richly Rooted]
- Cranberry pear crisp [Naturally Loriel]
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