60 Christmas Eve Dinner Ideas That Take One Hour or Less
When you know you’ll spend Christmas Day whipping up a fabulous feast, it’s easy to fall back on Chinese takeout for dinner on Christmas Eve. You want something tasty, but you’ve also got a million other things to do. Before you pick up the phone, consider one of these 60 Christmas Eve dinner ideas, all of which happen to take one hour or less to make. From main courses, like hearty vegetarian pasta and roasted chicken, to side dishes, like creamy polenta and quinoa salad, there's something on this list to suit the entire family.
1. Jammy Upside-Down Onion Tart (50 minutes)
Pair this easy-yet-elegant tart with a big green salad and you’ll have a vegetarian dinner worthy of any celebration.
2. Strip Steak with Harissa Butter and Parsley Salad (20 minutes)
Skip the steakhouse and make it at home. You’ve got this.
3. Sausage and Fennel Pasta (25 minutes)
You can thank the Italian sausage for infusing the dish with all that flavor in basically no time at all.
4. Baked Ginger and Lemon Chicken (1 hour)
Ooh, this flavor combination is so cozy. Bonus, you can also make it with chicken wings for a more casual meal.
6. Sheet Pan Cashew Chicken (35 minutes)
Consider this a lesson in how to sheet pan: The vegetables are cooked first before adding the chicken, so everything is actually done at the same time. (Plus, it’s so much tastier than takeout.)
7. Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce (30 minutes)
FYI, a deeply flavorful and creamy vodka sauce isn’t difficult to make at home, as long as you have a tube of double-concentrated tomato paste on hand.
9. Sheet Pan Tomato Basil Gnocchi (35 minutes)
When baked on a sheet pan, store-bought gnocchi becomes irresistibly crisp on the outside but stays pillowy soft on the inside (without any boiling).
11. Cacio e Pepe (20 minutes)
A classic Italian recipe that feels fancy (especially if you nail the pronunciation), but it actually requires just four ingredients if you don’t count salt and pepper.
13. Three-Cheese Mac and Cheese (30 minutes)
Our mantra about Christmas Eve? You should be consuming as much cheese as possible.
15. Goat Cheese Pasta with Spinach and Artichokes (25 minutes)
The secret to a creamy, 30-minute pasta dish? Goat cheese. It melts together with the pasta water for the easiest sauce ever.
16. Citrus, Shrimp and Quinoa Salad with Feta (20 minutes)
If you’re anticipating a gut-busting Christmas feast, why not keep things on the lighter side with a bright, briny shrimp salad?
18. Moules-Frites (Steamed Mussels and Fries) (30 minutes)
We don’t know if Parisians eat mussels and fries on the night before Christmas, but Santa does.
19. Chrissy Teigen’s Cheesy Chicken Milanese (40 minutes)
Pan-fried chicken stuffed with gooey, melty cheese is our idea of festive. Serve it with thin ribbons of Parmesan for good measure.
21. Whole Roasted Branzino with Shaved Fennel Slaw (20 minutes)
Yes, you can (and should) roast a whole fish at home. Ask the fishmonger at your supermarket to clean the fish, so all you’ll have to do is add citrus and herbs.
22. Firecracker Chicken with Rice (35 minutes)
If you, like us, absolutely *must* eat American Chinese food on Christmas Eve, make it this easy, breezy General Tso’s-esque chicken.
23. One-Pot Cheater’s Bouillabaisse (30 minutes)
This Provençal seafood stew normally takes two hours to make, but we’re proving you can do it in less than half that amount of time (and it tastes just as good).
24. Cheater’s Beef Stroganoff (30 minutes)
By the time you pour yourself a glass of chilled red wine, dinner will already be on the table.
25. Pomegranate-Maple Glazed Lamb Chops (40 minutes)
We promise these lamb chops are as foolproof to cook as chicken. The pomegranate molasses glaze is a sweet-and-sour cherry on top.
27. Ultimate Cheese Plate with Roasted Grapes (30 minutes)
If you can’t serve a cheese platter and call it dinner on Christmas Eve, when can you?
28. Pan-Fried Cod with Orange and Swiss Chard (30 minutes)
From fridge to table in 30 minutes is our new mantra. If you’re not into Swiss chard, try kale or collard greens instead.
29. Pork Scallopini with Lemon, Capers and Radicchio (20 minutes)
A well-stocked pantry is all you really need for this quick-cooking dish. It’s as simple to make as chicken cutlets but feels fancy enough for a celebration.
31. One-Pan Steak with Beets and Crispy Kale (40 minutes)
No fuss and no muss here—just a few juicy, impeccably cooked steaks and practically no cleanup. Merry indeed.
33. Tomato-Poached Cod with Fresh Herbs (25 minutes)
This simple-yet-elegant dish relies on canned tomatoes, so it can be made any time of year. (We heard the big man up north loves it.)
34. Sheet Pan Honey Tahini Salmon with Chickpeas and Couscous (25 minutes)
For a dinner to be truly foolproof, it should require minimal prep, little cooking time and almost zero cleanup once it’s been devoured. This checks all the boxes quite nicely.
35. Spicy Bucatini Amatriciana (40 minutes)
There’s nothing like a heaping plate of spicy pasta to lull you into a long winter’s nap.
36. Buckwheat Gnocchi with Cabbage, Potatoes and Fontina (40 minutes)
This is based on a traditional northern Italian dish made with buckwheat pasta, but since it can be hard to find stateside, we suggest you make your own. (It’s easy, promise.)
37. Bacon-Wrapped Black Cod with Spinach and Capers (40 minutes)
You’ve got gifts wrapped in festive paper under the tree and in crispy bacon on your plate.
39. Pasta Florentine with Grilled Chicken (40 minutes)
If you don’t have a grill pan, you can just as easily sauté the chicken until crisp and golden brown.
40. Shrimp and Pasta Stew (45 minutes)
The shrimp and pasta both absorb lots of flavor and cook in a flash, and the addition of tomato, parsley and lemon brighten up this otherwise hearty dish.
41. Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Bacon (50 minutes)
It’s creamy, filling and best of all, easier to make than you think.
43. Salmon and Fennel Dinner Salad (55 minutes)
Salad? On Christmas Eve? You bet. This one is packed with rich salmon and a creamy yogurt dressing, so it’s anything but bland.
44. Chicken Gnocchi Soup (40 minutes)
It’s nostalgic, comforting and low-effort, aka everything we want in a Christmas Eve dinner.
45. Dijon-Maple Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash (55 minutes)
It looks like a fancy-pants dinner, but don’t tell anyone it took a measly ten minutes to prepare. (The oven does all the hard work for you.)
46. Chicken Thighs with Pancetta and Green Olives (50 minutes)
The trick to the crispiest chicken thighs is to start with a cold skillet and go low and slow, like bacon. File this one under “genius.”
47. Cheater’s Sicilian-Style Pizza with Jalapeños and Honey (30 minutes)
Pizza and presents has a nice ring to it, especially when the pie is homemade.
48. Easy One-Pan Baked Ziti (1 hour)
“One-pan” is our middle name. (Or is it “cheese pull”? We forget. Either way, this dish is calling us.)
50. Balsamic Brown Butter Tortellini with Spinach and Hazelnuts (20 minutes)
Store-bought cheese tortellini takes almost zero effort to dress up and tastes like you spent all day making it. But instead of pairing the pasta with jarred marinara, try this (just as easy) balsamic brown butter sauce with spinach and hazelnuts.
51. Crispy Tofu Steaks with Broccoli Rabe and Romesco (50 Minutes)
Need a break from all the meat you plan to eat on Christmas Day? This recipe for crispy tofu steaks is a good place to start.
53. One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone (15 minutes)
Consider this one-pot, 15-minute pasta dinner in your back pocket: You likely have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already, and it comes together in practically no time. (Plus, it tastes like a restaurant dish.)
54. Sheet-Pan Chicken Shawarma with Lemon-Tahini Drizzle (45 minutes)
Here’s a light dinner recipe before you dig in on Christmas Day. And in case you were wondering, it’s also paleo friendly and gluten, dairy and grain free. If you ask us, it was love at lemon-tahini drizzle.
55. Cheater’s White Wine Coq au Vin (55 minutes)
This recipe calls for two cups of wine, and a bottle contains about three. The chef gets to decide what to do with that final cup…just saying.
56. Broccoli Pesto Pasta (23 minutes)
Consider this secretly nutritious dish the calm before the cookie storm.
57. Polenta and Meatballs (1 hour 5 minutes)
OK, technically this takes more than an hour to make…but you won’t complain about five minutes once you taste the meatballs.
58. Salmon with Pesto and Blistered Tomatoes (35 minutes)
This one looks really elegant but calls for only five ingredients (and it can be assembled ahead of time).
60. Cast-Iron Pork Chops with Cacao-Spiced Rub (1 hour)
Serve this with a simple green salad and admire your work.