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18 Easy Side Dishes for the Holidays and Beyond

Try a new recipe during the holidays this year. Who knows, these easy side dishes could start a new family tradition that you’ll want to make all year.

Many families have food traditions around the holidays, and it comforts us to bring those traditions forward for the next generations. Often, we find that side dish servings are the best part of our meal and these special recipes are also the most replicated from year to year, and generation to generation. These easy side dishes I’m sharing with you today just might become one of those special ones that you make year after year.

Easy Side Dishes for more than just the holiday season

In my mother’s house, Thanksgiving dinner consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and candied sweet potatoes. We have the same thing, every year without variation. I have fond memories of standing by as my grandfather smashed the mashed potatoes by hand. He made the creamiest, melt in your mouth potatoes and we have not been able to replicate them since he passed away.

Now that I no longer live near my parents and cannot get home for the holidays, I have the freedom to choose new food traditions for my family. We’re branching out, taking some of the old recipes and adding a dose of fresh to the mix. This is easily done with side dishes, which can be adapted to any taste.

Most people think of side dishes like potatoes and pasta. Recipes abound on Pinterest for these items, so we won’t be sharing many of them here. Not in the traditional sense anyway.

Instead, we’ll incorporate recipes with fresh ingredients and other pantry items that you are likely to have on hand.

These holiday side dishes are easy!

They can be:

  • made ahead, refrigerated, and reheated the day of the event.
  • made ahead, frozen, and then cooked.
  • cooked in a pot off the stove or out of the oven.
  • and some can even be made in 20 minutes or less so they are quick and easy.

You’ll find that these recipes are so good they will be used for holiday gatherings any time of year. Whether for the holidays or not, planning out your meals will greatly help alleviate stress!

A white bowl full of harvest salad with a napkin and fork to the right, a small pitcher of dressing behind it with a wicker cornucopia.

Dishes to make ahead and refrigerate or freeze

We all look for shortcuts during the rush of the holidays. Easy side dishes that can be made ahead and refrigerated can alleviate much of the stress. You’ll find that while these tasty recipes may use traditional fall and winter ingredients, they have been combined in a new way.

If you are looking for the ultimate no stress holiday gathering, make your easy side dishes far in advance and freeze them. Many of the recipes from the make ahead and refrigerate category will also work well in the freezer. You can safely freeze these for up to 30 days without any loss of texture. This works even better when you can make the dish in a freezer safe container.

Need some dessert ideas or a hostess gift? Try our 35 Holiday Cookie Recipes!

Easy Side Dishes to cook off the stove

Is there ever enough cooking area? Unless you have a professional kitchen, probably not. This year why not utilize your slow cooker, instant pot, or skillet and free up the oven and stove top.

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Why not try a new recipe during the holidays this year? Who knows, maybe you’ll start a new tradition and find an easy side dish that your family will want to eat all year long. Incorporate a mix of crock pot, pressure cookers,  and freezer meals, to the make ahead mix and you’ll save even more time. What is your favorite holiday side dish?

Easy Side Dishes

These easy side dishes will help you breeze through the Holidays and beyond!

Easy Side Dishes pin


Thanks for sharing!


Friday 3rd of November 2017

I can vouch for how good Kathie's recipe for butternut squash grits is--they turn out amazing (and they go really well with grilled shrimp!). :)