31 Non-Traditional Christmas Dinner Ideas

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Change things up this year for your holiday event! When everyone gets tired of eating turkey and mashed potatoes, serve up these non traditional Christmas dinner ideas instead.

While I love Christmas traditions, sometimes mixing things up a bit is fun. So often, Christmas dinner features the same (sometimes bland) dinner items, when it should also be a fun time for trying unique and tasty food.

Collage of four Non-Traditional Christmas Dinner items.

This roundup features plenty of recipes that you can use for your holiday parties or the big dinner itself with your family. There’s a little something to satisfy every one of your guests, especially when they’ve attended other holiday events serving the same food over and over again!

Whether you want a few new appetizers, a whole new main dish, or sides to add alongside your classic turkey, there are plenty of non traditional Christmas dinner ideas to spark inspiration.

You may just find your family’s next favorite Christmas staple!

What to serve with Christmas dinner

Of course, Christmas dinner will also need some festive drinks to wash down all that food. Here are a few of my go-to drinks for the holidays:

If that’s not enough, you can find a complete guide to my favorite Christmas cocktail recipes HERE.

FAQs about a non traditional Christmas dinner

Since a non traditional dinner is, well, untraditional, I’ve got the answers to some of your most burning questions. Have more? Leave them in the comments below, and I’ll get back to you!

What can I serve on Christmas besides turkey?

While the Christmas turkey is the most classic route to go, you have plenty of other options to serve as the main course. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

There truly is no wrong way to make a Christmas dinner. However, if you do decide to go the turkey route, make sure to brine your turkey before you cook it!

What is an Italian Christmas dinner?

If you want to change it up this year but stick with a common theme, why not try an Italian Christmas dinner? As you can probably guess, this means you’ll serve foods that all have an Italian twist.

A few of my favorite ideas for this are:

Don’t forget to make some white Christmas martinis or grab some Italian wine to round it out!

What are the easiest foods to prep ahead of time?

Appetizers, desserts, and some cold side dishes are the easiest items to make ahead of time. I typically make dips, salads (just hold off on the dressing until serving) and pies a day in advance.

Non-traditional holiday appetizers

Before you serve dinner, whip up these appetizers to satisfy rumbling stomachs while the main meal is still cooking.

Whipped Honey Goat Cheese Spread

In under 5 minutes, you can make this delicious spread to serve before dinner gets started. Add seasonal nuts and fruit to make it a full spread!

whipped honey goat cheese in bowl.

Brown Sugar Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

Seafood is probably the last thing you think of for Christmas, but the second you glaze these shrimp in brown sugar, it feels festive and hits the tastebuds just right.

bacon wrapped shrimp for non traditional christmas dinner ideas

Baked Caramelized Onion Dip

I love making this onion dip for entertaining during the holidays. It’s simple to prep ahead of time and tastes amazing straight out of the oven for your guests and family.

holiday appetizer baked onion dip

Sun-Dried Tomato Spinach Artichoke Dip

Sun-dried tomatoes are perfect for appetizers. Combined with smoked gouda and fontina cheese, you end up with a savory dip for crackers and veggies.

Sun-Dried Tomato Spinach Artichoke Dip - Appetizer Dip Recipe #sundriedtomato #spinach #artichoke #dip #recipe #appetizer

Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

Wrap anything in bacon, and it will be gone within minutes of serving—at least, that’s how it goes here at Bayberry House! These are easy bite-sized finger foods with sweet peppers, cream cheese, and savory bacon.

Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Peppadew Peppers on a plate.

Blue Cheese, Pear, and Honey Crostini

I hope you love blue cheese as much as me! The pear slice and honey drizzle accompany the sharp taste of blue cheese so well on top of these crispy baguettes.

pear and blue cheese crostini for non traditional Christmas dinner ideas

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Shrimp

This appetizer is a favorite year-round, so why not serve it before Christmas dinner? It’s a classy appetizer that is simple to make when you have a whole dinner to prep.

shrimp appetizer

Walnut and Blue Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms

I always turn to nutty flavors in the winter. I often pair them with bite-sized fare like these stuffed mushrooms in fall and winter and enjoy their rich and hearty flavor.

stuffed mushroom appetizer for holidays

Non-traditional Christmas dinner ideas

Make these unique dishes the star of the show! All are hearty meals that will satisfy those looking for a festive and savory meal.

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

While sweet potato casserole may appear at Christmas dinner, the shepherd’s pie version is a unique twist on the classic vegetable.

sweet potato shepherds pie

Skillet Lasagna

When I think of Christmas, I think of hearty meals. So why not put pasta on the menu? Skillet lasagna is always amazing for serving a crowd and appeases even the pickiest eaters.

Skillet Lasagna | Inspired by Charm

Bacon and Goat Cheese Pasta

Goat cheese always elevates any recipe. The flavors are subtle in this cheesy pasta dish, but together create an amazing non-traditional Christmas dinner main dish.

bacon goat cheese pasta for non traditional Christmas dinner ideas

Cranberry Meatballs

Cranberries often are found at the Christmas dinner table, but never in this form! Serve these meatballs on toothpicks as an appetizer or on a platter as part of the main meal.

cranberry meatballs holiday appetizer

One-Pan Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Parmesan Pasta

Cooking Christmas dinner is stressful when you are trying to pull together all the sides for a big and important meal. Make it that much easier with this one-pan favorite.


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sun dried tomato pasta with chicken

Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner

This non-traditional Christmas dinner idea is one of the simplest. You can even utilize leftover veggies from appetizers in this sheet pan meal!

Healthy and Delicious Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner recipe

Non-traditional side dishes for Christmas

These sides are a fun spin on a classic or something new entirely! Even just adding one of these sides will mix things up come dinnertime.

Mashed Butternut Squash

Step aside, potatoes! This mashed butternut squash recipe contains roasted squash, butter, brown sugar, and spices for a seasonal side.

mashed butternut squash side dish for Christmas

Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

This is a favorite in my family for every Thanksgiving and Christmas. The abundance of cheese makes this a tasty side that gets completely gobbled up.

non traditional Christmas dinner ideas - cauliflower gratin

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is traditionally summer food, but it tastes just as good alongside Christmas dinner. I love that you can make this one ahead of time for easy serving!

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad | Inspired by Charm

Zucchini Houdini

Also known as stuffed zucchini, this recipe is crispy and cheese filled. You completely forget you’re eating vegetables!

stuffed zucchini recipe

Radicchio and Blue Cheese Bread Salad

A lot is going on with this non-traditional side dish! It’s a very simple salad to make yet has plenty of bold flavors thanks to the blue cheese, radicchio, and pancetta.

Radicchio and Blue Cheese Bread Salad | Inspired by Charm

Roasted Carrots With Candied Pecans and Goat Cheese

Cooked carrots always get the least attention and enthusiasm at Christmas dinner. Step it up a level with these roasted carrots with delicious toppings!

roasted carrots for non traditional Christmas dinner sides ideas

Baked Delicata Rings

Delicata is a type of squash perfect for this time of year. Dip the crispy delicata in a creamy herb dip for an easy side dish.

baked delicata rings

Non-traditional holiday desserts

You can never forget dessert! These bite-sized desserts are ideal after you’ve eaten a large meal but still hit the sweet tooth spot.

Salted Caramel Coconut Thumbprints

Caramel is meant for the coziest time of the year. This modern twist on the classic cookie will work wonderfully served alongside after-dinner drinks.

Salted Caramel Coconut Thumbprints

Orange-Almond Mushroom Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies aren’t just for the kids! Make these flavor-bursting cookies and decorate them however you see fit for the holidays. I’m partial to this adorable mushroom design!

mushroom cookies for non traditional Christmas cookies after dinner ideas

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

These cookies look seasonal just by their pink and white color. Mix up your shortbread recipe with these soft and chewy Christmas cookies.

white chocolate dipped cherry cookies

Italian Sprinkle Christmas Cookies

Also known as Italian wedding cookies, these are delicious cookies dipped in a sweet glaze and then topped with colorful, festive sprinkles.

italian sprinkle Christmas cookie recipe

Cream Horn Cookies

Wow your guests with these not only delicious but beautiful-looking cookies. Also called Lady Horns, these flaky cookies are filled with buttercream-like icing.

How to make Cream Horn Cookies for the holidays!

Bourbon Balls

If you love bourbon flavor, serve these alongside your hot drinks after dinner. These bite-sized balls sweet, creamy, and filled with flavor.

bourbon ball holiday dessert

Linzer Cookies

These cookies sure can look festive, thanks to their cutouts! A classic in my family, they’re a butter cookie filled with raspberry jam.

serve linzer cookies alongside non traditional Christmas dinner ideas

Apple Cranberry Tart

Yes, cranberries can also be a part of dessert! The sweet apples complement the tart cranberries for a warm, easy-to-serve holiday dessert.

apple cranberry tart close up on a cake stand

Black Walnut Christmas Cake

If you want to serve a crowd, this cake is a unique yet festive dessert. I also can’t get over how stunning it looks, topped with sugared cranberries, rosemary sprigs, and black walnuts.

white iced cake topped with walnuts and candied berries

Cranberry Orange Walnut Tassies

Tassies are a cookie that looks like bite-sized pies in tiny cups. They combine some classic festive flavors for a sweet yet tart bite.

Cranberry Orange Walnut Tassies for the Holiday #christmas #cookies #cranberry #recipes #tassies #orange #walnut

That’s a wrap on non traditional Christmas dinner ideas!

Now you have plenty of inspiration with these non-traditional Christmas dinner ideas. I hope you have fun mixing things up this year. Let me know which recipes you try!

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  1. I hope I’m not the only one who enjoys Christmas food all year round. My husband is totally obsessed with turkey – I made it for him just yesterday! And those cranberry orange walnut tassies you shared the recipe for – they were delicious! Thanks for passing that along, Michael! 🙂

    Cheers, Angela

  2. My husband found this web page when searching for alternative ideas for our Christmas dinner, and passed it along to me (I am the cook). Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner are based on a number of your recipes… thank you so much!

  3. Your suggestions are fantastic, Michael. A special thanks for this insightful and timely contribution. We will most certainly be preparing a Christmas dinner that deviates from the norm. There is a turkey allergy in the family, and another member is a vegan. As this will be the first time in phrazle years that the whole family will be in the same place at the same time, we don’t want to waste the rare opportunity by spending too much time in the kitchen.

  4. Great ideas, Michael! Thank you for a unique and timely post. We’re for sure going to make a non traditional meal for Christmas. One family member is allergic to turkey and another is vegan. We’ll all be together for the first time in years, so we’re planning to simplify the meal, rather than spend all our time in the kitchen and miss out on precious time with our family.