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13 Side Dishes That Will Take Center Stage at Your Holiday Meals

From Christmas to Hanukkah and beyond, any seasonal meal deserves some of these star sides.
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The holiday season means relaxing vacations from work, big family get-togethers, and some of the biggest meals of the year. On paper, this all sounds like a great time, but the pressure can easily start mounting. If you need to entertain huge groups of loved ones, planning and cooking the best holiday feast around can make anyone feel stressed. Trying to make a menu that can feed the pickiest eaters feels tough on the best of days, but when you need to whip up a menu with both mouth-watering mains and side dishes, making a holiday meal can seem next to impossible.

However, things will be more manageable if you start by picking a crowd-pleasing main dish. Then, figure out what tried-and-true side dishes you need to break out to pair with it. While deciding on what side dishes can please everyone as well as compliment your holiday ham or roast chicken may seem like a struggle, with a bit of inspiration and some solid recipes, anything is possible. (That's where we come in!)

If you need some inspiration this holiday season or just want side dishes that can steal the show, dig into any of these recipes for an amazing holiday feast to remember. While these recipes have the power to upstage any main dish, you can keep your entire meal from turning into a disaster by avoiding cooking pitfalls, like 5 Things You're Doing Wrong When Cooking a Steak, According to Chefs.

Honey Roasted Carrots

Vegetarian honey roasted carrots
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Trying to get excited about vegetables feels tough, especially around the holidays. Luckily, this vegetable recipe makes for a fun way to enjoy carrots that perfectly fits with the season. This sweet take on roasted carrots feels perfect for cold winter days and can get anyone eating their required serving of vegetables in one sitting.

Get our recipe for Honey Roasted Carrots.

Green Bean Casserole

Vegetarian green bean casserole
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

No holiday meal is complete without a green bean casserole. While this side has found fans for good reason, tracking down solid recipes that stand up to the times can prove challenging. If you need a good take on this classic casserole that makes your guests remember why it became a standard to begin with, look no further than this iconic and easy take on the dish.

Get our recipe for Green Bean Casserole.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Almonds

Healthy brussels and bacon
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Brussels sprouts have seen a massive revival in recent years, and the holidays are the perfect time to show off this vegetable. By pairing crispy Brussels sprouts with bacon and almonds, this side dish goes above and beyond, ranking as a side that can outdo many types of mains you can throw at it.

Get our recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Almonds.

Pumpkin-Potato Mash

Pumpkin potato mash in a large bowl with chives, oil, and salt.
Blaine Moats

If you love the idea of serving up a mashed vegetable but want to explore some seasonal flavors, you can't go wrong with a pumpkin-potato mash. This perfect blend of seasonal vegetables can make any get-together feel that much more festive and it works perfectly as a holiday treat guests will be sure to look forward to next year.

Get our recipe for Pumpkin-Potato Mash.

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Macaroni and cheese easily finds its place on tables, no matter what time of the year. The holidays are the perfect time to take this side to the next level and this spicy version has what it takes to get your family and friends talking. You can also adjust the spice levels if you need to make a batch for anyone who can't take the heat, making it a solid side that you can break out year after year.

Get our recipe for Spicy Macaroni and Cheese.

Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Gratin

Vegetarian yukon gold & sweet potato gratin
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

A hearty potato gratin always proves popular at big holiday dinners, but finding ways to make this dish feel seasonally appropriate can sometimes feel tough. This take on a gratin throws in seasonal sweet potatoes that easily makes your holiday spread feel that much more festive while still serving up some seasonal cheer.

Get our recipe for Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Gratin.

Butternut Squash Hash

bowl of butternut squash hash with celery
Posie Brien/Eat This, Not That!

Few vegetable sides evoke the feelings of the holidays like squash, but making this vegetable taste good can prove tougher than you might imagine. This butternut squash hash guarantees that you won't end up with a flavorless mushy squash—this crispy hash has the staying power to completely replace your main dish thanks to its combo of garlic, sausage, fennel, and much more.

Get our recipe for Butternut Squash Hash.

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Gluten-Free Crispy Rosemary Potatoes

Gluten-free crispy rosemary potatoes
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Roasted potatoes can win anyone over, and if you get them just crispy enough with just the right amount of flavor, this side shines brighter than any other dish. With a touch of rosemary, these crispy potatoes complement practically anything you throw at them and should easily have your guests coming back for seconds and thirds.

Get our recipe for Crispy Rosemary Potatoes.

Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

Asparagus with cheese and lemon and pine nuts

No holiday spread comes complete without some seasonal vegetables, and fresh asparagus makes a splash like no other. By topping this seasonal veggie with parmesan, the side dish's bright flavor has the power to please anyone, even those who don't usually go straight for the side vegetable at a holiday dinner.

Get our recipe for Roasted Parmesan Asparagus.

Apple Sausage Stuffing

Healthy apple-sausage stuffing
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

The holidays offer up the perfect time to dish out hearty sides, and nothing wraps up the flavors of the season like an apple sausage stuffing. While you might not normally put all of these ingredients into a stuffing, one bite can convert you and your guests. This recipe has some serious staying power and might just replace your go-to seasonal stuffing recipe for years to come.

Get our recipe for Apple Sausage Stuffing.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Vegetarian stuffed tomatoes
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Stuffed vegetables have the power to compete with any main dish, but nothing can take center stage like stuffed tomatoes. This easy, vegetarian-friendly recipe loads beefsteak tomatoes with garlic, cheese, bread crumbs, and more for a flavor explosion that guarantees to keep your guests talking about it for years to come.

Get our recipe for Stuffed Tomatoes.

Smashed Potatoes

Vegan smashed potatoes
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Mashed potatoes have always found their way to holiday meals. While this standard has found a ton of fans over the years, some have grown tired of this beloved staple. Anyone who needs to spice up their potato sides while not breaking the mold needs to try crispy smashed potatoes. These spuds get boiled whole, smashed, and fried to form the perfect middle ground between mashed potatoes and roasted potatoes that will have your guests demanding more.

Get our recipe for Smashed Potatoes.

Air Fryer Hasselback Potatoes

baby hasselback potatoes
Carlene Thomas/Eat This, Not That!

Crispy potatoes have the potential to win over any houseguest, and decadent Hasselback potatoes effortlessly fit the bill. This dish features potatoes that get scored lengthwise and air fried, resulting in a beautiful and delicious side that looks like it took a ton of effort and skill to make. Luckily, these potatoes couldn't prove easier to make and will have your holiday guests clamoring for more.

Get our recipe for Air Fryer Hasselback Potatoes.

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Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich