31 Warm and Cozy Dinner Recipes to Make Each Night in December

december dinner ideas
Liz Andrew/Quentin Bacon/Liz Andrew

It’s *finally* the most wonderful time of the year. Of course, that time also means we have countless gifts to wrap, approximately eight million cookies to decorate and Uncle Bob’s mid-pumpkin pie political rant to endure. So, in an effort to make everyone’s December a little easier, we’ve planned an entire month’s worth of dinners that are easy to make, seasonal and festive. Think cozy soups, simple skillet dishes and slow cooker staples. See ya in 2023, friends.

december dinner recipes sheet pan curried butternut squash soup recipe1
Katherine Gillen

1. Sheet Pan Curried Butternut Squash Soup

The key to this fall stunner's flavor is roasting all the veggies before pureeing them. (Might we suggest using an immersion blender for minimal mess?)

december dinner ideas sweet potato crustless quiche recipe 501
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

2. Quiche with Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Crust

The ultimate trifecta: healthy, tasty and beautiful. We use paper-thin slices of sweet potato to create the crust instead of pie dough, so your wheat-sensitive roomies can dig in to their hearts' content.

december dinners 3 cheese pumpkin pasta casserole recipe
Katherine Gillen

3. 3-Cheese Pumpkin Pasta Casserole with Spinach

We have *big* plans for that leftover can of pumpkin puree in your pantry. Combined with heavy cream and pasta water, it creates an unbelievably rich sauce.

december dinner ideas crispy tofu steaks with broccoli rabe and romesco recipe
Linda Pugliese/Help Yourself

4. Crispy Tofu Steaks with Broccoli Rabe and Romesco

This dish just might turn you into a vegetarian. The key to crisp tofu is pressing as much liquid out of it as possible before it hits the pan.

december dinner ideas cheaters white wine coq au vin december recipe 501
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

5. White Wine Coq au Vin

Can you believe it'll take you less than an hour to make? You have our clever shortcuts to thank for that. Eat your heart out, Julia Child.

december dinner ideas baked chicken and ricotta meatballs recipe
Patricia Niven/Keeping It Simple

6. Baked Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs

Ready in just 35 minutes—call it a Christmas miracle. Feel free to swap broccolini out for broccoli, asparagus or even Brussels sprouts. Serve the meatballs with pasta, salad or rice.

december dinner ideas tomato soup grilled cheese bread bowl recipe 501
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

7. Tomato Soup in Grilled Cheese Bread Bowls

C'mon, a built-in grilled cheese sammy for a lid? That's pretty ingenious, if we do say so ourselves. Consider your picky kids satisfied (for once).

december dinner ideas honey mustard sheet pan chicken with brussels sprouts recipe
Colin Price/Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook

8. Honey Mustard Sheet Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

Crisp, juicy chicken thighs. Charred, tender sprouts. A zingy, sweet glaze that's bound to impress. What's not to like? (The answer is nothing, but our favorite thing about this meal is that it'll leave you with minimal dirty dishes.)

december dinner ideas balsamic brown butter tortellini with spinach and hazelnuts recipe
Kristin Teig/Mediterranean Every Day

9. Balsamic Brown Butter Tortellini with Spinach and Hazelnuts

’Tis the season for pasta doused in nutty brown butter sauce, aka liquid gold. Even better, this soul-soother only takes 20 minutes to prepare from start to finish.

december dinners wild mushroom tart
Melina Hammer/A Year at Catbird Cottage

10. Wild Mushroom, Potato and Onion Tart

Oh, you fancy, huh? Store-bought puff pastry makes this dish look way more complicated than it actually is. Choose any wild mushrooms you'd like (we're partial to chanterelles).

december dinner ideas instant pot harissa bean stew recipe
Ghazelle Badiozamani/Instant Pot Miracle Vegetarian Cookbook

11. Instant Pot Harissa Bean Stew

Come winter, consider the pressure cooker your best friend. (It's the only way you can pull off from-scratch bean stew in just over an hour.) Bookmark this protein-packed dish for blustery days to come.

december dinners halloumi and caramelized mushroom tacos recipe
Katherine Gillen

12. Halloumi and Caramelized Mushroom Tacos

Twenty-minute vegetarian tacos, coming right up. These six-ingredient stunners prove that halloumi cheese is, in fact, the new burrata. Spread the word.

december dinner ideas firecracker chicken with rice recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

13. Firecracker Chicken with Rice

Takeout wishes it could taste this good. Not only is the sweet-and-spicy chicken easy to prepare, but it's also pan fried instead of deep fried for minimal mess.

december dinners instant pot chicken and dumplings recipe
Katherine Gillen

14. Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings

We feel warm and fuzzy just looking at this cozy masterpiece. Think juicy chicken thigh meat, doughy buttermilk biscuits, soup veggies and fresh thyme.

december dinner ideas spicy bucatini amatriciana recipe
Photo: Mark Weinberg/Styling: Erin McDowell

15. Spicy Bucatini Amatriciana

The recipe calls for traditional guanciale (that's Italian salt-cured pork jowl), but feel free to use pancetta or bacon in a pinch. We’ll take an extra sprinkle of Parm on ours, please.

december dinner ideas slow cooker pasta e fagioli soup recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

16. Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli

Who knew five minutes of prep and the push of a button could take you to Tuscany? The Crockpot basically does all the work for you, so you have more time to wrap presents, bake cookies or take a much deserved nap.

december dinner ideas baked chicken mushroom risotto recipe 501
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

17. Baked Chicken and Mushroom Risotto

You know that endless stirring thing? You won’t need to do that here. Instead, the risotto bakes to decadent perfection in the oven. We'll bring the wine.

december dinner ideas one pan baked ziti recipe 501
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

18. Easy One-Pan Baked Ziti

Further proof that a cast iron skillet is an absolute must-have in any kitchen. We're partial to crumbled Italian sausage, but ground beef or turkey will work here, too.

december dinner ideas farro tahini salmon bowl recipe 501
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

19. Salmon Bowl with Farro, Black Beans and Tahini Dressing

Save the leftovers for lunch and boom: You're the envy of the break room. Make double of the turmeric-tahini dressing—you won't want to go back to your usual vinaigrette.

december dinner ideas rotisserie chicken ramen recipe 5011
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

20. Rotisserie Chicken Ramen

Shredded rotisserie chicken is the world's smartest shortcut, and it's the reason this protein-packed soup can be on the table in 35 minutes flat.

december dinner ideas shrimp and cauliflower grits recipe 501
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

21. Shrimp with Cauliflower ‘Grits’ and Arugula

Tons of flavor, minimal carbs. Chalk it up to using riced cauliflower in the grits instead of standard corn, along with keto-friendly add-ins like goat cheese, butter and whole milk.

december dinner recipes fall roasted vegetable and lentil salad with pine nut cream recipe aran goyoaga
Aran Goyoaga

22. Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad with Pine Nut Cream

Delicata season isn't over 'til we say it is. Don't bother peeling the squash—its striped skin is totally edible and easy on the eyes.

december dinner recipes salmon and spinach rice bowl with green tea broth recipe
Paul Brissman/Antoni: Let's Do Dinner

23. Antoni Porowski's Salmon and Spinach Rice Bowl with Green Tea Broth

It's inspired by the Japanese dish ochazuke, which is made by pouring hot green tea over rice. Top your bowl with broiled salmon or arctic char, plus a few dashes of sesame oil.

december dinner ideas spicy orange honey baked ham recipe 501
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

24. Spicy Orange Honey Baked Ham

Let’s take the traditional route this year, only with a fun citrus twist. Despite its fancy appearance, this main only calls for eight ingredients (and that's including the ham itself).

december dinner ideas ina garten tuscan turkey roulade recipe
Quentin Bacon/Modern Comfort Food

25. Ina Garten’s Tuscan Turkey Roulade

They’ll think you cooked all day. (Spoiler: You didn’t.) Leave it to the Barefoot Contessa to craft a Christmas main that feeds ten guests and requires only 15 minutes of prep.

december dinner ideas mac and cheese with crispy parmesan phyllo crust recipe
Photo: Nico Schinco/Styling: Erin McDowell

26. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust

Comfort food at its finest, folks. We suggest going the extra mile by rolling the phyllo dough topper into pretty rosettes, but you can save time by simply laying it atop the mac instead.

december dinner ideas immune boosting turmeric golden mylk dal recipe
Liz Moody/Healthier Together

27. Immune-Boosting Turmeric Daal

Bring on the anti-inflammatory properties and vegan deliciousness. This thick, fragrant lentil stew is packed with spices like ginger, curry powder, fenugreek and turmeric.

december dinner ideas skillet gnocchi sausage broccoli rabe recipe 501
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

28. Skillet Gnocchi with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Our go-to skillet meal is only 30 minutes away. It'll come together even faster if you use leftover gnocchi. (Tortellini would work as well, if you'd prefer.)

december dinner ideas potato chip crusted chicken recipe
Aubrie Pick/Kitchen Remix

29. Potato Chip-Crusted Chicken with Arugula Pesto

All the crunch of traditional chicken cutlets, minus the spitting pot of oil. That's the magic of using crushed kettle-cooked potato chips as breading.

december dinners garlicky spinach and chickpea soup
Caitlin Bensel/The Mediterranean Dish

30. Garlicky Spinach and Chickpea Soup with Lemon and Pecorino Romano

File this one under "How to Make Dinner Out of Pantry Staples." Go wild with the Pecorino Romano on top—it rounds out the intensity of the citrus and spices just right.

december dinner ideas pomegranate maple glazed lamb chops recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

31. Pomegranate-Maple Glazed Lamb Chops

Let's ring in 2023 in style, shall we? Your New Year's Eve guests will absolutely gush over these classy chops. Be sure to use a grill pan for drool-worthy char marks.

Katherine Gillen

Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...
read full bio

taryn pire
Taryn Pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...
read full bio