27 Christmas Casseroles That Will Wow a Crowd

27 Christmas Casseroles That Will Wow a Crowd - PureWow
Nico Schinco/Styling: Erin McDowell

Whether you’re hosting the holiday feast this year or going over to your mother-in-law’s for an extended family celebration, you need a casserole or two up your sleeve. Why? Because these one-pan beauties feed a crowd (or leave you with lunch leftovers), freeze well, and usually require minimal prep before simply popping into the oven until ready to serve. As such, we suggest you dive right into our roundup of the very best Christmas casseroles, which features French toast casserole as an easy breakfast dish, an elegant kale and leek strata that can be served for brunch or dinner, and even a vegan-friendly lentil and roasted vegetable bake that does double duty as a standalone vegetarian dinner and delicious side dish for a roast. Without further ado, read on and let the menu planning begin.

50 Christmas Side Dishes You Can Make in 40 Minutes or Less

1. Spiralized Winter Vegetable Gratin

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, vegetarian 

Festive winter favorites like butternut squash and sweet potato make a fine stand in for spuds in this slightly healthier (but still sinfully cheesy) twist on potatoes au gratin.

2. Ravioli Lasagna

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: High protein, crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly 

This non-traditional Christmas casserole relies on frozen ravioli and hearty meat sauce to make a flavorful, lasagna-inspired dish that delivers holiday comfort the whole family will enjoy. 

3. Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, kid-friendly, high protein 

You might be thinking, “Oh, look, cauliflower is pretending to be pasta again.” Nope. Here, the versatile veggie is just a satisfying add-on to the classic combo of macaroni noodles and cheesy, nutmeg-spiked sauce. The end result tastes just like your favorite baked mac n’ cheese…only better.

4. Shepherd's Pie

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, high protein, kid-friendly, special occasion-worthy 

Make it an Irish Christmas by serving up some shepherd’s pie—a mouthwatering dish, featuring richly flavored beef stew under a layer of creamy mashed potatoes that are broiled until golden-crisp on top. This casserole is comfort food at its finest, and because it’s basically a main meal and a classic side dish in one, all you need to worry about is what veggies to serve with it. (Hint: You can’t go wrong with brussels sprouts or green beans.)

5. Leek, Kale, and Goat Cheese Strata

  • Time Commitment: 8 hours 35 minutes  
  • Why We Love It: High protein, crowd-pleaser, make ahead 

Here, melty leeks, crusty bread and hearty kale mingle in a goat cheese and Dijon cream sauce to make a savory bread pudding that’s decidedly more sophisticated than your standard holiday stuffing (and vegetarian-friendly, to boot). 

6. Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, beginner-friendly 

We love a good gratin. (Who doesn’t?) This Christmas, make yours with two different cruciferous veggies and you’ll be rewarded with a dish that has more visual appeal (i.e., it’s not monochromatic) and a more complex flavor profile than your go-to gratin.

7. Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: slow cooker recipe, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly  

It’s not all about Christmas dinner, friends: Once the gift opening mayhem dies down and stomachs start rumbling, you will be grateful to have this cheesy hash brown, bacon and egg casserole at the ready. Best of all, it requires almost no prep work and takes only three hours to make in a slow cooker, so you can set it and forget it until the brunch guests arrive (or the kids realize Santa didn’t bring breakfast).

8. 3-Cheese Pumpkin Pasta Casserole with Spinach

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, high protein, special occasion-worthy 

Canned pumpkin is the star of the creamy and oh-so festive pasta casserole, which gets an extra flavor boost from a pinch of red pepper flake, copious amounts of gruyere, dollops of ricotta and some spinach, too (you know, for health). It also freezes beautifully—though it’s unlikely there will be any leftovers to store. 

9. Baked Zucchini ‘Ziti’ Spirals with Mozzarella

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <500 calories, low carbs 

Healthier than baked ziti and prettier, too—this low carb twist on the classic baked pasta dish boasts the same, beloved mozz-and-tomato flavor combo, plus an undeniably festive presentation featuring red and green rosettes.

10. Acorn Squash Breakfast Pudding

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours? estimate
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, special occasion-worthy 

Acorn squash, stale baguette and cheddar are the key ingredients in this savory bread pudding. Serve it at Christmas brunch or dinner for a swoon-worthy and oh-so decadent, seasonal side dish that’s more than the sum of its parts.

11. French Toast Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <500 calories, kid-friendly, make ahead 

Christmas morning can be chaotic, particularly if you have kids, which is why we suggest you get a leg up on the festivities with an easy-breezy breakfast casserole that requires only ten minutes of active cooking time and yields eight servings of fluffy french toast. In other words, all you have to do is remove it from the oven and watch it disappear. 

12. Eggs Baked with Stuffing

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, special occasion-worthy, baking sheet recipe 

If you serve up a Thanksgiving-style stuffing on Christmas Eve—and we recommend you do—you can turn the leftovers into the star of your Christmas morning brunch by simply adding a baked egg. Just be sure to watch the eggs very carefully and remove them slightly before you think they are ready, as they will continue to cook from the residual heat and a runny yolk is absolutely key. 

13. Spaghetti Squash Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <500 calories, low carbs, high protein 

Spaghetti squash, ground turkey, bell peppers and cheese get a flavor boost from both fresh and dried herbs in this perfectly festive one-pan meal. If you prefer a casual Christmas dinner to a laborious ten-course feast, this one fits the bill. 

14. Polenta Ragu Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, high protein, special-occasion worthy 

Decadent, comforting and less fussy than lasagna—this polenta ragu checks all the boxes. Serve it as a main dish with some simple veggie sides for an easy Christmas dinner, or go whole hog (or cow, as it were) and make it an accompaniment to a juicy prime rib roast for a meal that will win the hearts of every carnivore at the table.

15. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly 

Mac and cheese is one of those cold weather dishes that can be enjoyed any (or every) day and still make an impression on a special occasion. If you need proof, look no further than this show-stopping recipe, which features the beloved comfort food under a blanket of gorgeous phyllo rosettes. (We know you’re tempted to reach for the breadcrumbs instead, but don’t be intimidated by beauty: This topping is far tastier and the impressive presentation is surprisingly easy to pull off.) 

16. Baked Gnocchi Casserole in Creamy Tomato Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 42 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, <500 calories, special occasion-worthy 

Pillowy, store-bought gnocchi and a silky tomato cream sauce combine to make a hearty side dish that’s bursting with flavor. The cooking process is a breeze and the finished dish pairs beautifully with pork, chicken and beef roasts. 

17. Overnight Cinnamon Roll Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make-ahead, kid-friendly 

Give yourself a break on Christmas morning—you deserve it—and whip up this crowd-pleaser the night before. Everyone’s sweet tooth will be satisfied and your (minimal) effort rewarded with, well, just what you’d expect from a cinnamon roll breakfast—namely, sugar, spice and everything nice.

18. Ham and Cheese Bread Pudding

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients 

This savory bread pudding has the light and fluffy texture of a souffle, and you don’t need to be a French culinary master to get it right. It’s also packed with ham and Swiss and enhanced by aromatic thyme (the recipe calls for dried, but we think fresh is always best). Bottom line: When it comes to beginner-friendly casseroles, this one is a shoo-in for Christmas brunch that’s easy to customize to your liking.

19. Christmas Morning Wife Saver

  • Time Commitment: 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make-ahead, beginner-friendly, high protein 

At first glance this recipe looks a lot like the ham and cheese bread pudding described above. Take a closer look and you’ll see that this dish—featuring a combination of bell peppers, cheddar and Canadian bacon—has a totally distinct flavor profile. Our suggestion? Test ‘em both and pick your poison. (And definitely keep that crunchy cornflake topping in the back of your mind for other casserole dishes, too.) 

20. Spinach, Onion & Cheese Breakfast Strata

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <500 calories, vegetarian, special occasion-worthy 

Yet another breakfast casserole (or strata, if you’re fancy) that has earned its place on our list. Here, the bright acidity of cherry tomatoes harmonizes beautifully with sweet onion, whilst providing a welcome counterpoint to the richness of cream-soaked bread and gruyere. Plus, there’s even a healthy serving of greens for a slightly less guilty pleasure.

21. Spinach Artichoke Egg Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, <500 calories, low carb, one pan 

Essentially a frittata in a casserole dish—this spinach and artichoke number includes a splash of almond milk for a lighter finished dish that allows the veggies to shine. Serve this one-pan wonder up on Christmas morning and everyone will be scrambling (pun intended) for seconds. 

22. Creamy Baked Carbonara Mac and Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, <500 calories 

OK, this is not exactly a carbonara…but it does riff on the classic Italian sauce by calling for eggs to be added to a crispy bacon and pea mixture and poured over the cheesy bechamel mac after baking. Call it what you want, but know that this extra rich and decadent twist on a classic will have you weak in the knees.

23. Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Slow cooker recipe, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser 

The last time you made potatoes au gratin, the spuds were hard and the cheese was black, oops. Enter: This fool-proof way to make the famous creamy potato dish. Just nix the oven method, bust out the Crock-Pot and pat yourself on the back because those cheesy, scalloped potatoes will be perfectly cooked.

24. White Pesto Spinach Lasagna

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, beginner-friendly 

Let’s be honest, the classic sides (mashed potatoes, roasted winter vegetables, etc.) are as overplayed as Christmas carols at this point. If you agree, we suggest freshening up the holiday menu with a white lasagna that pairs the bright flavor of basil pesto with the umami-forward profile of wild mushrooms and the rich comfort of bechamel.  

25. Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly 

This all-American side dish featuring creamy condensed soups, cheese, rice and broccoli florets might not be the most elegant thing on your holiday menu, but it has stood the test of time for a reason. Namely because we can guarantee that every guest will be vying for the last serving.  

26. The Best Green Bean Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: Crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, special occasion-worthy  

Another classic American holiday feature—this green bean casserole gets a major boost from replacing canned soup with homemade mushroom alfredo sauce. Yes, there’s more work involved, but mushroom sauce is a heavy lifter in green bean casserole, so we think that a freshly-cooked variation is well worth the effort. 

27. Creamy Vegan Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Bake

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, crowd-pleaser, <500 calories 

Thanks to a hearty combination of lentils, pine nuts and roasted, seasonal vegetables, this vegan-friendly casserole is filling enough to be a main dish for the non-meat eaters at your holiday feast and boasts the added benefit of harmonizing wonderfully with all manner of roasts. 

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...