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Whether you’re worried about finding a turkey or burnt out on traditional holiday fare, it may be time to spice up the menu when hosting this holiday season. Give yourself the freedom to think outside the turkey-or-ham box and serve your guests something deliciously unexpected. There’s no shame in branching out from the holiday classics—that’s how new traditions are born!

Unique holiday dinner ideas

Here are six non-traditional dinner alternatives (vegetarian and meat) that you can swap out for turkey or ham this holiday season.


Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington: The Showstopper

Rich and indulgent, beef Wellington is an impressive centerpiece for any holiday dinner. It’s a beef tenderloin wrapped in mushrooms, prosciutto, and puff pastry (in that order). This layered dish looks complex, but it can be pretty easy to make—especially if you partially prepare it the day before. Beef Wellington pairs well with potatoes, roasted root vegetables, wild rice, and rosemary.


Roasted duck surrounded by orange slices and rosemary

Christmas Roast Duck: The Twist on a Classic

If you’re tired of pretending to like dry turkey year after year, this is your sign to branch out and try cooking duck. Its higher fat content keeps it from drying out as easily as turkey. Plus, you can amp up the flavor in your sides by cooking your vegetables and potatoes in the duck fat. Duck pairs well with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, orange, and sage.


Vegetarian enchiladas in a white dish

Vegetarian Enchiladas: The Surprise Favorite

Nothing brings people together like sharing a plate of warm comfort food—and homemade enchiladas bubbling with flavorful sauce and crispy cheese definitely qualify. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your fillings. Black beans, spinach, poblano and bell peppers, onion, jalapenos, corn, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini are all fair game. Enchilada-friendly sides include guacamole, roasted cauliflower, Mexican street corn salad, beans, and rice.


Roasted lamb surrounded by roasted vegetables in a dish

Roast Lamb: The Savory Star

While you may associate lamb with Easter more than Christmas, it’s actually the perfect meat to enjoy during the chilly winter months. This rich, decadent protein pairs well with the hearty seasonal sides and flavors you’d find in a holiday dinner spread, including potatoes, root vegetables, pomegranate, garlic, harissa, and mint. It’s not too tricky to cook either—a definite plus.


Stuffed and roasted acorn squash

Stuffed Acorn Squash: The Festive & Flavorful

Yes, squash makes a yummy holiday side dish, but it can be so much more. Simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, fill with the ingredients of your choice, and roast to perfection. Some flavorful and filling options that taste great with squash include lentils, quinoa, rice, leeks, mushrooms, apples, cranberries, pecans, parmesan cheese, thyme, and sage.


Sliced prime rib on a plate with stuffed mushrooms and chutney

Prime Rib Roast: The Hearty Hero

If beef Wellington isn’t your cup of tea, you can still serve up a hearty plate of beef this holiday season with a juicy prime rib roast. Prime rib is a special-occasion dinner star in its own right, and this tender cut of meat is perfect for any elegant holiday gathering. Try including some of these all-star flavors: garlic, mushrooms, horseradish, Dijon mustard, rosemary, or red wine.


No matter which main dish you choose, your kitchen will surely be filled with mouthwatering smells this holiday season. So, go for it! Switch things up and create a holiday dinner that your friends and family will be talking about for years to come.

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