31 Non-Traditional Christmas Dinner IdeasThis Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy
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.
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:
- Caramel Apple Martini
- Really Good Cider Mulled Wine
- Apple Cinnamon Hot Toddy
- Maple Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail
- Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Sangria
- Spiced Pear Gin Cocktail
- Apple Pie Sangria
- Spiced Cranberry Champagne Cocktail
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:
- Shepherd’s pie
- Stir fry
- Sliders or burgers
- Breakfast for dinner (these breakfast pies feel particularly festive)
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:
- Antipasto kabobs
- Mozzarella caprese crostini
- The ultimate sausage pizza dip
- Lemon asparagus pasta
- Tortellini pasta salad
- Chocolate pumpkin tiramisu
- Italian wedding cookies
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Also known as stuffed zucchini, this recipe is crispy and cheese filled. You completely forget you’re eating vegetables!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
If you love bourbon flavor, serve these alongside your hot drinks after dinner. These bite-sized balls sweet, creamy, and filled with flavor.
These cookies sure can look festive, thanks to their cutouts! A classic in my family, they’re a butter cookie filled with raspberry jam.
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.
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.
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.
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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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!
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.
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.