Everyone has different elements of the holiday season that they absolutely love. Some people really enjoy getting outdoors and enjoying the elements, building snowmen and ice skating and sipping hot chocolate on a chilly wintery walk. Others prefer the indoor festivities — trimming the tree, hanging the stockings with care, and basically just transforming your home into a holiday haven. However, regardless of how you enjoy celebrating the holidays, most people have one thing in common — food is involved in some way.
Whether you enjoy the big Christmas dinner or really just love baking sweet treats for all the guests that stop by, food is a huge part of the holiday season. And, for many, it's the one chance to enjoy certain foods that you really only enjoy during the holidays, like eggnog or gingerbread. After all, you can have chocolate chip cookies any day of the year — seasonal flavours are entirely different. Even if you theoretically could whip up gingerbread men during the summer, there's just something about creating all your favourite dishes during the holiday season. It's tradition!
However, don't let tradition stop you from experimenting a little bit. While you absolutely should make the dishes you make every year, there's also nothing wrong with trying out a few new recipes to impress your guests. And, these 20 recipes are so festive, even Scrooge would find himself filled with holiday spirit after consuming them.
20 Peppermint Bark
Peppermint is a classic flavour during the holiday season, and there are so many ways to enjoy it beyond just a candy cane from time to time. One super easy recipe that just about anyone can master is peppermint bark. It basically involves just melting two different types of chocolate, adding a bit of peppermint extract if you want a true dose of that minty flavour, and sprinkling the top with crushed up candy cane pieces. Tidy Mom has a great recipe, although you can easily customize your bark to include whatever festive toppings you want. As an added bonus, this treat is so stunning it would make a great gift too.
19 Pomegranate Goat Cheese Bites
Pomegranates are one of those ingredients that many people love the appearance of — they're just such stunning, colourful little jewels — but don't really know how to incorporate in a dish. These pomegranate goat cheese bites from Fox and Briar are the perfect way to kick off any party and truly impress your guests. And, it literally couldn't be simpler. You just take frozen phyllo shells, add some goat cheese, honey and thyme, and them top it all with a sprinkle of pomegranate. The result is rich and creamy yet tart and fresh — the perfect balance of flavours to pair with just about any holiday beverage.
18 Christmas Tree Cheese Ball
This recipe from Inspired by Charm is so festive, we can barely handle it. Cheese is a staple at any holiday party because, well, everyone loves it as an appetizer option. You can choose the varieties that you think your guests will love, pair it with whatever crackers or crunchy option you want to serve, and it's a total crowd pleaser. If you're looking to take your cheese plate to the next level, though, consider crafting this festive cheese ball — or, should we say, cheese tree. You basically just combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and a variety of seasonings and mix-ins, shape it into a cone, and then decorate it. Simple!
17 Gingerbread Cheesecake Dip
If you're only consuming gingerbread in cookie form, you're missing out in a major way — the earthy, slightly spicy flavour works in a ton of dishes. If you're not much of a baker, this cheesecake dip courtesy of Food Folks and Fun just might be your new favourite recipe. It combines all the classic gingerbread flavours — molasses, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg — and blends them into a deliciously decadent dip made with whipped cream, cream cheese, brown sugar and powdered sugar. They're served with graham crackers here, but you could easily serve this dip with just about anything for a fun, festive treat.
16 Christmas Cranberry Poundcake
If the only time you eat cranberries during the holiday season is as a saucy accompaniment to your turkey, you're missing out — the tart seasonal staple is a great addition to any dish, including a pound cake. This recipe from OMG Chocolate Desserts is jam packed with cranberries and white chocolate chunks, and then the entire pound cake is covered with a cream cheese frosting that makes it look like the loaf has been dusted with snow. Add even more dried cranberries on top for a little more colour and you've got a stunning seasonal treat you won't be able to get enough of.
15 Christmas Pudding Protein Balls
For those looking to eat healthy, the holidays can be a tough time. There are so many indulgent dishes circulating during the season, and it can be tough to resist, especially if you have a sweet tooth. However, these Christmas pudding protein balls are a great solution if you want to have a few holiday treats but still stick to your eating goals. The recipe from That Protein couldn't be simpler — you basically combine gooey dates, raisins, protein powder, and almonds with a variety of mix-ins, including orange juice, cinnamon and allspice. You create little protein balls, which are topped with white chocolate, pumpkin seeds and cranberries made to look like sprigs of holly. So cute!
14 Slow Cooker Christmas Drink
A large batch drink can be an absolute lifesaver when it comes to holiday parties. After all, you don't want to spend the entire evening mixing up different drinks in the kitchen — you're a hostess, not a bartender! That's where something like this slow cooker drink comes in. This simple recipe from Inspired by Charm involves filling your crockpot with wine, cranberry juice, simple syrup, orange slices, cranberries, cinnamon sticks and peppercorns. You can tweak the spices to fit your preferred flavour profile, but the point is, you'll have a steaming hot beverage ready to go for your guests. And, as an added bonus, your house will smell incredible!
13 Mini Gingerbread Houses
If you absolutely love indulging in hot chocolate during the holiday season, this recipe will take your treat to an entirely different level. I mean, how cute are these little mini gingerbread houses? The recipe from Garden and Table walks you through exactly how to make these, and while it's likely not something you'll whip up every single time you want a mug of hot cocoa, it could be the perfect thing to take your treat to the next level if you're entertaining or even just having a group of girlfriends over for a fun night in watching movies. Plus, who doesn't love a little treat with their drink?
12 Caprese Christmas Wreath
Festive foods don't always need to be super involved and complicated — sometimes, it's just a matter of presenting a simple dish in a slightly more elevated way, like with this caprese wreath recipe from Cafe Delites. Caprese skewers are a super simple and delicious appetizer to serve to a crowd, and having a balsamic dip just takes things to a whole new level. The thing that makes this dish festive is just the way it's been arranged on the plate — thanks to the round shape and the stunning colours of the dish, it absolutely screams Christmas. We especially love the way the basil is arranged along the exterior and made to look like greenery on an actual wreath.
11 Pomegranate Pistachio Crostini
One of the easiest ways to make a dish seem festive without having to actually incorporate certain flavours is to play around with the colours in the dish. And, luckily, traditional Christmas colours are red and green, two shades that are found in countless ingredients. If you're sick of serving the same old appetizers, give these pomegranate pistachio crostini a try. The recipe from Taste of Home is more like a dessert, but could also be a great option if you're looking for a sweeter appetizer. It involves spreading perfectly crisp French bread slices with a sweet cream cheese mixture, and then topping it all off with pomegranate seeds, pistachios and dark chocolate shavings.
10 Christmas Star Twisted Bread
For many people, the holidays are all about indulging in carbs, from cookies to pies to mashed potatoes. However, if you're looking for a carb-filled treat that's also absolutely stunning, this Christmas Star twisted bread from Taste of Home is a dream come true. It basically involves making a fairly simple bread dough, covering it with a layer of jam, and then slicing and folding it into the right shape to yield an absolutely stunning loaf of bread. I mean, this would be the star of any brunch you brought it to, no doubt about it. Plus, you could use just about any flavour of jam you wanted.
9 Candy Cane Pie
Okay, this candy cane pie recipe from OMG Chocolate Desserts looks like it came straight out of a cartoon — it's so festive it's ridiculous! The pie itself has an Oreo cookie crust, which delivers a deliciously chocolatey alternative to the traditional crust. Then, it's filled with a creamy, cream cheese-filled, pudding mixture that contains crushed candy cane pieces and mini chocolate chips. It sounds a bit strange, but trust us, the end result is absolutely delicious — rich, minty, chocolatey, perfection. Bonus points if you manage to create the perfect chocolate drizzle on top — after all, presentation is key to a great dessert!
8 Red Velvet Banana Bread
Red velvet may not be the first flavour that comes to mind when you're thinking of festive treats, but come on — how festive does that look? The bright red hue of red velvet lends itself perfectly to seasonal treats, especially if you add a layer of frosting with some festive sprinkles. This particular recipe from Mom Loves Baking is the perfect mixture of banana bread and red velvet cake. The result is a super rich, moist loaf cake that's so good you'll almost be hesitant to share. This would be the perfect treat for when you invite someone over for a cup of coffee to catch up.
7 Eggnog Cheesecake Cookie Cups
True eggnog lovers are always looking for ways to incorporate their favourite seasonal beverage into their holiday meals, and these cheesecake cookie cups are the perfect solution. The recipe from Liv For Cake starts with gingersnap cookies — the perfect base for the spiced eggnog filling. Then, the cups are filled with an eggnog cheesecake mixture that's made a little bit more light and fluffy with the addition of some whipped cream. The end result is a totally decadent treat that's a complete showstopper. Heck, if you're truly eggnog obsessed, you could even enjoy them with an ice cold glass of eggnog on the side.
6 Homemade Seasonal Gumdrops
For many people, the holidays are one time of year where you're content to just putter around the kitchen, trying different recipes and just enjoying the cooking process. So, while you could definitely just buy a bag of gum drops, why not have some fun and make your own seasonal version of the sweet treats? This recipe from Mom on Timeout walks you through the entire process. And, as an added bonus, they don't have any of the crazy chemicals you'll often find in regular candy. It's just a mixture of sugar, applesauce, jello, gelatin and lemon juice. So simple and easy!
5 Mulled Christmas Drinks
This spicy staple just captures all the flavours of the season so perfectly — and it's a great way to warm up from the inside out. This version from Tablespoon includes pomegranate or cranberry juice for a super red, juicy drink, some apple cider and brandy for a little extra kick, as well as fresh fruits in the form of pomegranate seeds, cranberries and chopped pear. This is a crowd pleaser during the hot summer months, and it's just as delicious as an alternative to the season's traditional mulled wine.
4 Gingerbread Cheesecake
There are plenty of people who absolutely adore cheesecake, and this seasonal variation from The Suburban Soapbox is absolutely mouthwatering. The cheesecake base itself has plenty of gingerbread flavours, from molasses to the blend of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and clothes. And, to really amp up that gingerbread flavour, the typical graham cracker crust you see in cheesecake is swapped for a crust made from gingersnap cookie crumbs. The end result is a dish that's creamy and decadent, yet with a hint of spicy flavour thanks to all the gingerbread spices. What's not to love? It's a great seasonal alternative to the typical berry-topped summer cheesecakes.
3 Salted Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee
Many talented bakers get intimidated by the idea of creating caramel or toffee, but really, it's not all that complicated — it's just a matter of watching your mixture to make sure it reaches the correct temperature and doesn't burn. This variation of toffee includes a slab of the classic treat, topped with dark chocolate, sea salt, and whole almonds. The end result is a treat that's absolutely bursting with flavour, from the creaminess of the chocolate to the crunch of the almonds to the buttery toffee on the inside. This recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction is also one that would make a great gift, if you can bear to part with it!
2 White Chocolate Candy Cane Cake
Candy canes are a seasonal staple for a reason — there's just something so festive about the minty treat. And, the flavours and colours are so fun to play around with. This cake from Liv For Cake starts out with a white chocolate peppermint cake base — the perfect subtle flavour combination. Then, there's a silky smooth Swiss meringue buttercream on the inside. And, the addition of red food colouring to a portion of the buttercream allows you to play around with the trademark candy cane strips while decorating the cake. It's definitely a step up from your traditional white cakes, and you really can get as creative as you want with the presentation and decoration.
1 Grinch Crinkle Cookies
Okay, if the Grinch is your absolute favourite holiday character, you definitely need to try these festive crinkle cookies that are dyed green to mimic the Grinch's fur. The cookies themselves are fairly mild, with a blend of vanilla and mint extracts to create a delicious cookie. The thing we love most about this recipe from Stress Baking is the addition of the little red heart-shaped sprinkles, placed to reference the moment where the Grinch's heart grows a few sizes after observing the holiday festivities in Whoville. Not everyone wants a bright green cookie, but for Grinch fans or children, this just might be the perfect holiday recipe.