If you have been making the same side dishes year after year for the holidays it’s easy to get tired of them. Try updating your favorite standbys with a few tips to make the old new again.
1. Mashed Potatoes
A traditional side dish for many holiday tables is mashed potatoes, but instead of serving up the same old potatoes with butter try adding some pizzazz with non-traditional extras.
For example, mixing in just about any kind of cheese gives instant flavor, blue cheese crumbles, grated Cheddar cheese, or Parmesan cheese are proven crowd pleasers.
Also, you can add a variety of herbs and spices, like rosemary, thyme, or a few pinches of cayenne pepper for some kick.
Roasted garlic is usually a favorite as are caramelized onions. To make them extra creamy sour cream or buttermilk work well or for extra flavor use chicken or vegetable stock or flavored oils (truffle, lemon, pepper, etc).
You can even add in steamed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, or corn or use a different type of potato (like sweet or purple potatoes).
Finally, try making a mashed potato casserole. You get the creaminess of mashed potatoes plus a crispy brown crust on top and you can even prep this in advance and simply bake the day you need it.
Stuffing can get pretty boring sometimes to give it a creative spin by adding lots of texture.
Fruit and nuts are great choices or a variety of vegetables besides the normal carrots, onions, and celery. Apples and pears give stuffing a sweet bite along with adding walnuts or pecans.
Mushrooms, leeks, or fennel also add a tasty flavor. Try adding fresh herbs and spices like sage, cumin, coriander, and tarragon or even lemon or lime zest. You can also mix in meat like bacon, turkey pieces, or ground beef. But if you want something totally unique then substitute bread for wild or whole grain rice or cornbread.
3. Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casserole has been a holiday favorite for years but of course it can use an update.
The typical recipe includes cream of mushroom soup, cut green beans, and fried onions but you can substitute all of these ingredients for a different take on a classic.
In place of cream of mushroom soup, you can use just about any other creamy soup, like cream of asparagus, cream of broccoli, cream of celery, or even cream of chicken. Simply use your favorite soup in place of cream of mushroom. Or if you don’t want to use soup at all you can make your own base using sour cream and your choice of vegetable.
Even the green beans can be changed up. Corn, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, or sweet potatoes all make great creamy casseroles. Finally, instead of using fried onions, try using cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, or grated cheese to top it off.
If you want to keep this dish somewhat classic only substitute out one of the ingredients, but if you want something completely different you can switch up all the ingredients.
4. Candied Carrots
Serving candied carrots might be the only way you get your kids to eat vegetables but you can even make these more fun and tasty.
First, you can candy just about any vegetable from broccoli to cauliflower to squash to sweet potatoes so try using a variety of vegetables. As for the glaze, you don’t have to use the traditional brown sugar. You can go with honey, molasses, maple syrup, or even soy sauce. You can also flavor the glaze with citrus like orange or lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, apple cider, or jams like apricot.
You can even use alcohol for flavor like whisky, rum, wine, or champagne however to make a very rich sauce you can simply glaze your vegetables with butter and spices.
5. Sweet Potato Pie
Whether you eat this as a side dish or as dessert, sweet potato pie can get boring sometimes.
Instead of the traditional pie topped with marshmallows try topping it with a walnut or pecan crumble or adding nuts to the crust. If you typically make a pie make a casserole instead with no crust and a crunchy cinnamon-spiced pecan topping.
Another way to be creative with sweet potato pie is to make individual casseroles in soufflé dishes for each guest to enjoy on their own or try making a sweet potato tart baked in puff pastry dough.
You can even make a more savory sweet potato pie by adding caramelized onions, peppers, bacon, and fresh herbs-just be sure to leave off the marshmallow topping.