Essential Holiday Dinner Side Dishes

If you’re making a traditional dinner for your Christmas or other holiday meal, by which I mean the typical turkey, ham or roast, don’t forget to shine the spotlight on the side dishes. I don’t know about you, but they can be the stars of the plate for me. Here are some essential holiday dinner side dishes that are always welcome at my table.Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes ❘ ©

I’m of Belgian origin, so that means first and foremost there will be potatoes on the table. And as far as The Offspring are concerned, potatoes means mashed potatoes. And for me as the cook, that means Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes. They make everyone happy, and my life easier!

Simple Pleasures - Apple Mashed Potatoes | © Life Through the Kitchen

Mashed potatoes don’t always have to be traditional. These Apple Mashed Potatoes are a real showstopper as far as I’m concerned and they would be wonderful with whatever protein you choose for your main.

Metje's Belgian Green Beans | © Urban Cottage

Once the potatoes are sorted, our thoughts turn next to vegetables. No dish is as iconic for my family as green beans made according to my mother’s recipe. Every time I put them on the table, someone asks: “Are those Metje’s Green Beans“?

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Leaves with Bacon | ©

Brussels sprouts are often a classic for holiday dinners, but I think most of us have stories to tell about mushy, watery and altogether unappealing sprouts that our mothers used to feed us. Fear not, these Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Leaves will make just about anyone a sprouts fan! They take a little more prep work (which can be done in advance), but they cook up quickly and will have your guests marvelling … not too many people have eaten sprouts like this!

Thanksgiving Turkey & Stuffing | © Life Through the Kitchen Window

If turkey is on the menu, then you may want stuffing. My traditionalist Offspring want the stuffing simple — bells and whistles need not apply (you sausage and fruit stuffing lovers are out of luck here). This Simple Bread Stuffing is just the ticket for my family.

A Gravy Primer: Turkey Gravy ❘ ©

Does gravy qualify as a side dish? I don’t know about at your house, but it sure does at mine. If I’m making a turkey or a roast, there must be gravy, or my goose will be cooked (not that I’ve ever cooked a goose). My Gravy Primer will guide you through the steps to delicious, reliable gravy every time.

Cranberry Compote | © Life Through the Kitchen Window .com

Oh, cranberry sauce. Not the quivering yet stiff pillar that slides slowly out of a can with that strange suction sound, but homemade from actual cranberries with lots of good flavourings thrown in. My kids hate it, but I don’t care. I love having it with my holiday turkey and Mom always took leftovers home with her. Check out this Cranberry Compote and you’ll see why.

And finally, if you like having a salad along with your holiday dinner, here are two that are suitable for winter festivities: Parsley & Kale Salad with Pomegranate and Brussels Sprouts Salad.


  1. thank you for your lovely post. You are right, the side dishes are so important. When I have turkey, my favourite part is the mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry when they casually all mix together on my plate. 🙂 So delicious!

    • Thank you! You’ve raised an important issue … to mix or not to mix your food? My Dad always used to put a bit of everything on his fork for one delicious bite, but my brother kept everything strictly separate … there was trouble if his food touched!

      • Hmm yes this is a tricky one. It depends on what it is. If I have salad on my plate, I definitely don’t want the gravy touching. But somethings, mixing works so naturally and wonderfully! 🙂

    • Lol, if it were illegal I could probably get rich from it! Thank you! As I recall, you used to take leftovers home too.

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