Healthy Make-Ahead Christmas Recipes

Planning a holiday meal is no easy feat, but make head recipes makes it a whole lot easier. From make ahead Christmas appetizers to make ahead desserts, these recipes are everything you need so you can get your holiday meal on the table with ease.

Staff Picks

Peppermint-Chocolate Greek Yogurt Bark

Rating: Unrated
4
This eye-catching frozen peppermint-chocolate bark was inspired by Williams Sonoma's Original Peppermint Bark--our loose interpretation of the treat is frozen and made with Greek yogurt, chocolate and crushed candy canes. For the creamiest bark, be sure to use full-fat yogurt, as fat-free yogurt can get icy when frozen. Serve this healthy dessert when you want all those festive holiday flavors in a lightened-up--and totally delicious--package. Just don't stuff your Christmas stockings with this bark because it melts quickly.

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

Rating: Unrated
1
Now everyone can enjoy classic Thanksgiving favorites, like this dairy-free green bean casserole. We make a homemade vegan cream of mushroom soup using almond milk for the creamy base that's combined with fresh green beans. Top it off with classic french-fried onions (we have a vegan recipe for that, too!) for a side dish everyone will devour.

No-Sugar-Added Cranberry Sauce

Rating: Unrated
1
Most cranberry sauce recipes add tons of sugar to mask the tart taste of the cranberries. In this simple cranberry sauce, we lighten things up by skipping the sugar and opting for a healthier combination of dates and apple cider which adds just enough sweetness without overpowering the cranberry flavor.

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

Rating: Unrated
1
These scalloped potatoes are surprisingly rich and creamy even though they're made with no dairy (milk, butter or cheese)--vegan comfort food at its best. We use almond milk, herbs and spices to make a flavorful sauce and finish the dish with a crunchy almond topping. This makes a satisfying side dish if you're cooking for dairy-free or vegan diets.

Morning Glory Muffins

Rating: Unrated
6
These Morning Glory muffins are full of everything you'd expect in the bakery favorite-carrots, apple and raisins, topped with nuts and toasted wheat germ. If raisins aren't your favorite, substitute an equal amount of the dried fruit of your choice.

Lemon-Raspberry Muffins

Rating: Unrated
13
The secret to the sparkling flavor of these delicately crumbed muffins is the strips of lemon zest finely ground into the sugar. Enjoy the muffins warm right from the oven.

Quinoa & Chia Oatmeal Mix

Rating: Unrated
5
Make your own hot cereal mix with this healthy recipe. Keep it on hand and just cook up the amount you need when you're ready for a hot breakfast. One serving of the warm cereal contains 6 grams of fiber--almost a quarter of your daily quota-which helps stave off hunger throughout the morning.

Nonna's Spaghetti & Meatballs

Rating: Unrated
5
The meatballs and sauce are cooked in the slow cooker for this traditional Italian spaghetti and meatballs recipe. You could also serve the meatballs over creamy polenta or on a sandwich with melted provolone.

Cauliflower Casserole with Everything Bagel Seasoning

Rating: Unrated
1
The cheesy-seedy crust that tops this healthy cauliflower casserole recipe evokes everything bagels. Serve for the holidays or as a hearty side dish with roast chicken.

Nutty Pimiento Cheese Balls

Rating: Unrated
1
These bite-size pimiento cheese balls from Jamie and Bobby Deen are a huge hit with kids (of all ages). They're the perfect appetizer to bring to a summer picnic. Jamie and Bobby share a passion for great home-cooked food with a Southern flair with their celebrity-chef mom, Paula Deen. These brothers are following in their mom's footsteps with their own TV shows, books and website. Our favorite part of what they're up to: healthy makeovers of some of Paula's recipes! Recipe adapted from The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up, by Jamie & Bobby Deen and Melissa Clark (Ballantine Books, 2011).

Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Rating: Unrated
12
In this easy vegetable side dish recipe, sweet potatoes are tossed with maple syrup, butter and lemon juice and are roasted until tender and golden brown. The delicious glaze that forms on these maple-roasted sweet potatoes transform this ultra-simple dish into something sublime.

Lemon-Garlic Marinated Shrimp

Rating: Unrated
3
Marinating precooked shrimp in garlic- and lemon-infused oil is a simple yet elegant appetizer.

Inspiration and Ideas

A Traditional Christmas Dinner Menu

Sticking to Christmas tradition, this classic dinner menu features holiday favorites. Many of these recipes can be made ahead of time, so you can spend your evening with family and friends.

Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes with Spinach

Classic scalloped potatoes get a burst of color, heartier texture and a healthy update with the addition of chopped spinach.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions

Rating: Unrated
6

Fresh herbs, onion and bacon sauté alongside Brussels sprouts in this easy vegetable side dish recipe. This savory dish is delicious in the fall and winter months, when Brussels sprouts are in season. If you can find them still attached to the stalk, don't be intimidated--buy them, as they're likely more fresh. Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.