There are plenty of small joys we can share with one another this holiday season—it just so happens that many of them will, at some point, pass through the door of your oven. ’Tis truly the season for splashy cocktails, comforting sides, and decadent main dishes for all to enjoy.
Just as we did for Thanksgiving, we’ve combed through Texas Monthly’s recipe archive for some of our favorite holiday staples, just in time for Christmas. Whether you’re short a side dish, in need of a festive cocktail option (or two), or looking for the perfect sweet to top off your meal, we’ve got a recipe in mind.
Cocktails and Starters
Nothing can sell me faster on a recipe than the word “easiest.” Because this take on a classic greyhound calls for freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, easy is relative—but juicing aside, this surefire sipper comes together in mere minutes.
Batch cocktails are the future—and with this premixed, prefrozen martini, we’re living in it. This classic martini recipe utilizes liquor bottles as carafes that are fit for the freezer until you’re ready to pour.
Not a charcuterie board in sight—or on our menu. Whether spooned on top of your tamales or served with chips ahead of a sit-down dinner, queso is the gooey Texas staple your guests know and love. This iteration calls for ground beef and Cholula for garnish.
Did you draw the short straw and get assigned the salad? Not to worry—this recipe will take it up a notch. This colorful and fresh mix features beets, cooked sweet potato, and cauliflower, with a flavorful yogurt dressing.
It’s hard to improve on a perfect food, but this smoked mac and cheese recipe—which calls for a mixture of Gruyère, Velveeta, and sharp cheddar (all topped with Muenster and grated Parmesan and cooked in a smoker)—proves complexity can be brought to even the most straightforward side dishes.
You’re not going to need table decor if you opt to make this roasted and stuffed acorn squash. As delicious as they are beautiful, the squash halves are stuffed with collard greens, grains, and a spicy relish, making for a healthful and filling accompaniment to any Christmas protein.
Looking to impress this holiday? This roast duck comes to the table with bells* on. This is the most involved recipe on our menu, so if you’re a less experienced cook or hoping for an easier lift, scroll on. Those up for the challenge will have a Christmas duck reminiscent of the creator’s days in Wisconsin and New Orleans, but with a Texas twist.
*pecan cornbread dressing
Don’t forget you have free will this holiday season: when everyone around you is going ham, you can always mix things up and opt for pork loin. This recipe comes with some dependable advice from Roy Perez of the historic Kreuz Market, in Lockhart, and comes together surprisingly easily. If you’ve got both some yellow mustard and a reliable smoker, you’re halfway there.
After decadence upon decadence, this straightforward and fuss-free cake allows the citrus it contains to really shine, and it doesn’t require icing, decorating, or obscene amounts of chocolate.
You get to use a torch! This dish promises even more than the creamy sweet potato custard beneath its caramelized shell. It also allows you to casually brandish a torch!
It is cookie season, after all. If Thanksgiving is all about the pecan pie, the month of December gives pecan cookies a chance to shine. This 1987 snickerdoodle recipe has stood the test of time.