Easy last-minute side dishes for Christmas dinner

It happens every year. After a carefully planned Christmas dinner is already in the works, you find out there’s a last-minute guest. This year, just keep a few staples on hand to add some extra food to the table when necessary.

Roasted vegetables

Did your neighbor down the street decide to take you up on that Christmas dinner invite at the last minute? Don’t sweat it. With these easy tips (and even a few recipes from the SheKnows archives), you’ll be prepared for any last-minute guests. Any ingredients you have to buy can always be used later!

Roast some veggies

Sure, it’s not exactly a traditional Christmas side, but just having some fresh veggies on hand can save you from those soggy microwaved versions with equal simplicity. Just buy some fresh Brussels sprouts, carrots or potatoes (or all three) and have them in the veggie drawer on standby.

When you get the call for extra guests, just clean, trim and chop them into bite-size pieces (if necessary), drop them into a large freezer bag or mixing bowl and toss in a few tablespoons of olive oil, some salt and a bit of pepper (or even some fancy seasoning blend if you have it). Spread it out onto a baking sheet and pop it into a 400 degree F oven for 30 or 45 minutes (shaking the pan every five minutes or so) or until they begin to turn dark brown in places. You can reduce the heat if they don’t feel soft enough, or you’re worried about burning. When they’re done, you may need to add more salt, but do so as soon as they come out of the oven.

Salad saves the day

Salads aren’t often a part of holiday meals because there are so many seasonal favorites everyone wants, but a salad can save you in a pinch. And don’t feel trapped by a traditional garden salad, either. Salads starring spinach or fruits (or both) are just as easy to make and a bit fancier as part of your overall spread.

Festive noodles

Unless you have an Italian heritage, you probably don’t associate noodles with Christmas, but that doesn’t make them a no-no. Keep a bag or two of tricolor pasta on hand. If you need a bit more food, just boil the noodles up according to the package directions, using chicken, beef or vegetable stock instead of water. As an added bonus, this is often a popular side for the kiddos who aren’t quite sure how they feel about those orange things you keep telling them are potatoes.

From the SheKnows archive

Our food writers have concocted a variety of easy and great-tasting sides over the years. Check out these easy ideas.

roasted carrots

3 New vegetable side dishes

Back in November, we recommended three extremely easy side dishes for Thanksgiving. But these spicy glazed baby carrots, roasted green beans and Brussels sprouts with pancetta are just as tasty at Christmas.

Get the recipes >>

Gourmet mashed potatos

Scene-stealing side dishes

A couple of years ago, we recommended dressed-up versions of our favorite holiday sides. These mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, candied carrots and sweet potato pie are even better than the usual recipes you see, but are easy enough to let even a novice home cook get creative.

Get the recipes >>

More Christmas cooking tips

Time-saving cooking tips for holiday feasts
Hints for stress-free Christmas cooking
Keeping Christmas cleanup simple