45 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 40 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. 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.
2. One-Pan Roasted Salmon with Potatoes and Romaine (40 minutes)
The main course and side dishes all come together on the same pan, so you can wrap last-minute gifts instead of cleaning up after dinner.
3. Three-Cheese Mac and Cheese (30 minutes)
Our mantra about Christmas Eve? You should be consuming as much cheese as possible.
4. Alison Roman’s Swordfish with Crushed Olives and Oregano (30 minutes)
Presenting the easiest way to cook fish at home: This stunner calls for fewer than ten ingredients and the most difficult thing you have to do is toss together the sauce.
5. 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.
6. 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?
7. Pan-Seared Scallops with Citrusy Corn Succotash (40 minutes)
Something about scallops screams special occasion, so it’s a pleasant surprise that they require only two minutes of cooking per side (and are actually pretty nutritious).
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Greek Chicken and Rice Skillet (40 minutes)
Easy, gorgeous and delicious are our three favorite food groups. Plus, there’s feta—need we say more?
11. 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.
12. Firecracker Chicken with Rice (35 minutes)
If you absolutely must eat Chinese food on Christmas Eve, make it this easy, breezy General Tso’s-esque chicken.
13. 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).
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. Pistachio-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Escarole Salad (40 minutes)
If you’re used to dry, boring pork tenderloin, you’re in for a treat. This one is buttery and tender, and best of all, the entire meal is cooked on a single baking sheet.
17. 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?
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. Homemade Swedish Meatballs (40 minutes)
Hearty, comforting meatballs are always a good idea. These are best served on a bed of buttery mashed potatoes.
21. 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.
23. 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.)
24. 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.
25. Spicy Bucatini Amatriciana (40 minutes)
There’s nothing like a heaping plate of spicy pasta to lull you into a long winter’s nap.
26. 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.)
27. 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.
28. Baked Chicken and Mushroom Risotto (45 minutes)
It’s just as creamy as the original, but without all the stirring and standing at the stove.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Bacon (50 minutes)
It’s creamy, filling and best of all, easier to make than you think.
33. 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 ascetic.
34. Chicken Gnocchi Soup (40 minutes)
It’s nostalgic, comforting and low-effort, aka everything we want in a Christmas Eve dinner.
35. 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.)
36. 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.”
37. 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.
38. 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.)
39. Honey Mustard Sheet-Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts (50 minutes)
Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs have all the flavor and juiciness of a whole bird, but they cook in much less time. And the cleanup? It’s already done.
40. 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.
41. 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.
42. Pomegranate-Sumac Chicken with Roasted Carrots (1 hour)
The chicken is brined in buttermilk for extra tenderness and a golden-brown crust. Sheet-pan dinner for Christmas Eve dinner? You bet.
43. One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone (15 Minutes)
This one-pot, 15-minute pasta limone is like dinner in your back pocket: You likely have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already, and it comes together in practically no time.
44. Sheet-Pan Chicken Shawarma with Lemon-Tahini Drizzle (45 minutes)
Here's a light dinner recipe before you veg out on Christmas day. Oh, 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.
45. Balsamic Brown Butter Tortellini with Spinach and Hazelnuts (20 Minutes)
Are you familiar with the magic of store-bought cheese tortellini? It 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 balsamic brown butter tortellini with spinach and hazelnuts.