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

End 2023 on a delicious note

december meals 2023: firecracker chicken, turkey roulade and sausage-broccoli rabe gnocchi, side by side
Liz Andrew/Quentin Bacon/Liz Andrew

It’s indeed the most wonderful time of the year. Of course, that means we have countless gifts to wrap, approximately eight million cookies to decorate and Uncle Bob’s mid-pumpkin pie political rant to endure. In an effort to make everyone’s December a little less stressful, we’ve planned an entire month’s worth of dinners that are easy to make, impressive, seasonal and festive. Think cozy soups, simple skillet dishes and slow cooker staples. See ya in 2024, friends.

december meals 2023: pot of curried butternut squash soup
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 to pulverize the produce for minimal mess?

december meals 2023: sweet potato gluten free quiche
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 meals 2023: three-cheese pumpkin pasta
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 that even picky eaters won't be able to resist.

december meals 2023: crispy tofu steaks with broccoli rabe and romesco
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 the shatteringly crisp tofu is pressing as much liquid out of it as possible before it hits the pan.

december meals 2023: white coq au vin
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

5. White Wine Coq au Vin

Can you believe this French staple will take you less than an hour to prepare? You have our clever shortcuts to thank for that. Eat your heart out, Julia Child.

december meals 2023: baked chicken and ricotta meatballs
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 meals 2023: tomato soup in grilled cheese bowls
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 fussy kids satisfied (at least for now).

december meals 2023: bowl of three-cup chicken
Yen Wei and Ryan Chen/Made in Taiwan

8. Three-Cup Chicken

Starring a trifecta of pantry staples (soy sauce, black sesame oil and rice wine), this dish comes together in 30 minutes flat. Bone-in chicken is traditional, but you could easily substitute boneless chicken thighs. Just don’t substitute chicken breasts—dark meat is essential to this dish.

december meals 2023: balsamic brown butter tortellini with spinach and hazelnuts
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. Pass the Parm, please.

december meals 2023: 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 (though we're partial to chanterelles).

december meals 2023: instant pot harissa bean stew
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 meals 2023: mashed potato arancini on a plate
Peden + Munk/More Is More

12. Mashed Potato Arancini

You're no stranger to the molten bliss that is arancini. These are just as drool-worthy, only risotto is replaced by fluffy mashed potatoes. Stuffed with olives and mozz, the poppables are a flawless pairing for beer or steak.

december meals 2023: firecracker chicken with white rice
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. Sub cauliflower rice to reduce the carb count.

december meals 2023: chicken and dumplings
Katherine Gillen

14. Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings

We feel warm and fuzzy just looking at this cold-weather masterpiece. Think juicy chicken thigh meat, doughy buttermilk biscuits, soup veggies and fresh thyme. (P.S.: We won't tell if you substitute canned biscuit dough for a shortcut.)

december meals 2023: spicy bucatini amatriciana
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 if you can't find any. We’ll take an extra sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes on ours, per favore.

december meals 2023: bowl of sweet potato miso soup topped with mushrooms
Carolina Rodriguez/The Lula Cafe Cookbook

16. Sweet Potato Miso Soup

It doesn't get more seasonal than this sweet spud-apple bisque, crowned with roasted mushrooms for good measure. Instead of being added at the end of cooking, the miso caramelizes in brown butter, turning it deeply nutty and savory.

december meals 2023: baked chicken mushroom risotto
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 white wine.

december meals 2023: one-pan baked ziti
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

18. Easy One-Pan Baked Ziti

Further proof that a cast iron skillet is an absolute must-have for any newbie cook. We're partial to crumbled Italian sausage, but ground beef or turkey will work here too, if you'd prefer.

december meals 2023: farro tahini salmon bowl
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—we promise you won't want to go back to your usual vinaigrette.

december meals 2023: rotisserie chicken ramen
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 just 35 minutes. Finish your bowl with a runny egg, chile sauce and lots of sliced scallions.

december meals 2023: shrimp and cauliflower grits
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 ground corn, along with keto-friendly add-ins like goat cheese, butter and whole milk.

december meals 2023: roasted vegetable lentil salad with pine nut cream
Aran Goyoaga

22. Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad with Pine Nut Cream

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

december meals 2023: salmon and spinach rice bowl with green tea broth
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 meals 2023: spicy orange honey baked ham
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 Christmas Eve main only calls for eight ingredients (and that's including the ham itself).

december meals 2023: ina garten tuscan turkey roulade
Quentin Bacon/Modern Comfort Food

25. Ina Garten’s Tuscan Turkey Roulade

They’ll think you cooked all day long. (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 meals 2023: croque madame dutch baby in a skillet
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

26. Croque Madame Dutch Baby

Still have leftover baked ham from the 24th? Give it a second life with this savory pancake that's topped with deli ham, eggs, chives and béchamel. Your cast iron skillet guarantees a puffy, pillowy soft pancake with an impeccably crisp exterior.

december meals 2023: immune boosting turmeric daal
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 that are sure to warm the soul.

december meals 2023: skillet gnocchi with sausage and broccoli rabe
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 instead of making it fresh. (Tortellini would work as well.)

december meals 2023: close-up of rarebit mac n greens
Peden + Munk/More Is More

29. Rarebit Mac ‘n’ Greens

This twist is inspired by Welsh rarebit, a dish of toasted bread crowned with cheese sauce. The mac is so oozy with extra-sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmentaler and fontina that even your kids won't mind the two whole bunches of leafy greens inside.

december meals 2023: 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 a Gourmet 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 meals 2023: pomegranate maple glazed lamb chops
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

31. Pomegranate-Maple Glazed Lamb Chops

Let's ring in 2024 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.


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...

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...