These 35 Recipes Are Ideal If You're Cooking Christmas Dinner For Two

Two's a party as far as we're concerned.

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slow cooker pot roast

Just because your Christmas is on the smaller side this year doesn't mean dinner shouldn't be big on flavor and variety. These holiday dinners for two people will make your loved one feel extra-special even if your squad is small. Best part of all? None of these recipes requires babysitting a whole holiday ham or dealing with a crowded oven. Once you get a bite of our tomato butter roast chicken, let's just say you'll be glad you don't have to fight anyone for the leftovers. 😉

The beauty of cooking for a smaller crowd is you only really have to cook the holiday dishes you care about. Whether you're craving the classics, like slow cooker pot roast and garlic mashed potatoes, or something a bit fancy, like a cast-iron skillet steak and crispy gnocchi with mushrooms, it's your dinner! So we totally support whatever your idea of an ultimate Christmas dinner looks like. Just saying, our mini egg nog cheesecakes go with pretty much everything.

Making a signature cocktail for a smaller crowd is a simple way to make dinner more special. Try some of our new favorite holiday cocktails, like our recipes for peppermint white Russians and Prosecco mint juleps, for the ultimate post-dinner nightcap.

Looking for more Christmas dinner ideas? You can always make a dinner out of amazing apps and desserts! And if you do end up with leftovers, we have plans for those too! Here's all our favorite uses for leftover mashed potatoes, leftover brisket, and leftover ham.

slow cooker pot roast
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Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

When it comes to comfort food, there might be nothing better than warm, fragrant pot roast and potatoes. Some people might be intimidated at the thought of cooking such a large piece of meat, but in reality, pot roast is one of the easiest things you can make—and this recipe takes that simplicity to the next level by utilizing your slow cooker.

Get the Slow-Cooker Pot Roast recipe.

cranberry apple quinoa salad
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Cranberry Apple Quinoa Salad

We don’t believe in boring salads at Delish, and crunchy apples and tart cranberries bring a lot of life to this one. The slightly sweet and lemony dressing is easy to make, and you’ll want to have extra on hand to pour it over everything. Feel free to add some protein to make this more hearty, or leave it as is for a light dinner this Christmas.

Get the Cranberry Apple Quinoa Salad recipe.

roasted garlic mashed potatoes
Erik bernstein
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Garlic Mashed Potatoes

You know what’s great? Mashed potatoes. You know what’s even better? Roasted garlic mashed potatoes! That extra-savory flavor from melty, roasted garlic adds the perfect kick to classic mashed spuds. (We also add a splash of tangy balsamic vinegar to kick them up a notch.)

Get the Garlic Mashed Potatoes recipe.

baked salmon potato skillet with shallots and dill yogurt sauce
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Salmon & Potato Skillet

While the potatoes here cook, the salmon takes a quick bath in an easy marinade that will double as cooking fat in this simple dish. In just 45 minutes, you’ll have a delicious and filling meal that can be customized every time you make it.

Get the Salmon & Potato Skillet recipe.

green beans almondine
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Green Beans Almondine

This classic French recipe turns humble green beans into an easy and impressive side dish you can make all year round. Sautéed with shallots and garlic, tossed with buttery, toasted almonds, and finished with lemon, these green beans are quick enough to serve for a weeknight dinner while also being fancy enough for holiday meals and dinner parties.

Get the Green Beans Almondine recipe.

tomato butter roast chicken
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Tomato-Butter Roast Chicken

Tomato butter works wonders on chicken. Not only does it keep the bird moist, but the healthy dose of tomato paste brings a slightly sweet, umami acidity, which chicken could often use. Plus, there are no better veggies than ones that have been roasted underneath a chicken, collecting all of that flavor-packed schmaltz. This is a great way to add some excitement to a classic roast chicken this Christmas.

Get the Tomato-Butter Roast Chicken recipe.

maple glazed ham steak
Parker Feierbach
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Maple Glazed Ham Steak

Want a holiday ham experience without the commitment to using up those leftovers? Maple ham steaks are just the thing for when you're celebrating with a smaller crowd.

Get the Maple Glazed Ham Steak recipe.

skillet steak
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Cast-Iron Skillet Steak

Think you have to go to a fancy restaurant to eat a really great steak? Nah. You can cook a restaurant-quality steak in 15 minutes (sometimes even less) at home. The key: making sure your skillet is super-hot, and your steak dry and well-seasoned, before the searing starts.

Get the Cast-Iron Skillet Steak recipe.

double lemon chicken with cheat’s preserved lemon
Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things Copyright © 2022 by Yotam Ottolenghi LLP. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Elena Heatherwick. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
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Double-Lemon Chicken With Cheat’s Preserved Lemon

The universally loved crispy chicken is found in multiple corners of the world and is served on multiple tables, from Austrian schnitzel to Korean fried chicken to the highly Westernized “lemon chicken” that you’d get at your local Chinese restaurant. The latter is the inspiration for this dish, in which a sweet lemony sauce coats crispy fried chicken pieces. This version uses a cheat’s preserved lemon paste and plenty of fresh lemon to brighten it all up.

Get the Double-Lemon Chicken With Cheat’s Preserved Lemon recipe.

prosecco mint juleps in highball glasses with fresh mint
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Prosecco Mint Julep

This festive sparkling drink is perfect for a lowkey holiday cocktail hour. A sort of lightened-up mint julep, the addition of a dry sparkling wine provides a pleasant brightness and effervescence that plays well with the rich, caramelized tones of bourbon whiskey.

Get the Prosecco Mint Julep recipe.

crispy gnocchi and mushrooms
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Crispy Gnocchi & Mushrooms

Gnocchi will always hit the spot for a quick, delicious meal. Yes, it’s great on its own as a main, but it also makes for a winning, hearty sidekick to roasted chicken or rosemary pork chops too!

Get the Crispy Gnocchi & Mushrooms recipe.

panettone cookies
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Panettone Cookies

Can't finish a whole panettone? We turned the fluffy, enriched bread into a buttery cookie. Though it might seem preposterous, don’t stop reading! These cookie are the perfect base for the orange peel, currants, dried apricots, chocolate, and almonds you love about the original, with half the work.

Get the Panettone Cookies recipe.

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Garlic & Herb Turkey Roulade

Sometimes, roasting a whole turkey is just too much of an undertaking. A roulade, though? It's surprisingly easy (we swear!), super-flavorful, and much easier to carve. Perfect served with a side of mashed potatoes and some tart cranberry sauce.

Get the Garlic & Herb Turkey Roulade recipe.

bourbon balls
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Bourbon Balls

If you’re looking for a boozy treat post-dinner, these bourbon balls are calling your name. Made with finely chopped pecans, crushed vanilla wafer cookies, and of course, bourbon, these no-bake cookie truffles highlight the flavor of the bourbon while taming its typical burn.

Get the Bourbon Balls recipe.

best ever vegan meatloaf
Andrew Bui
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Vegan Meatloaf

This hearty "meat" loaf is made mostly out of chickpeas and baby bella mushrooms. We're in love! Serve it with a side of vegan mashed potatoes and green beans for the best holiday meal.

Get the Vegan Meatloaf recipe.

holiday roasted vegetables
Parker feierbach
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Holiday Roasted Vegetables

The dried cranberries and balsamic vinegar add some sweetness and tartness, while the pecans add a crunch to these holiday-worthy vegetables. We use Brussels sprouts and carrots, but feel free to add extra vegetables or swap in some of your favorites.

Get the Holiday Roasted Vegetables recipe.

pear salad
Andrew bui
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Pear Salad

This simple yet satisfying wintery salad packs a flavorful punch with slightly smoky seared pears, creamy blue cheese, and ultra-crunchy candied pumpkin seeds. Tied together by a sweet-sour honey vinaigrette, it’s the perfect holiday side (or add some protein to make it a main!).

Get the Pear Salad recipe.

pomegranate martini in a glass with a sanding sugar rim
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Pomegranate Martini

More like a cosmopolitan than a classic martini, this recipe replaces the cosmo’s traditional cranberry juice with pomegranate. Garnish with a sugar rim and a fresh rosemary sprig for the perfect drink to serve at all your holiday gatherings.

Get the Pomegranate Martini recipe.

instant pot pork puttanesca with olives, capers, and shaved cheese over polenta
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Instant Pot Pork Puttanesca

For this dish, we were inspired by classic Italian puttanesca, a tomato-based dish with anchovies, capers, and olives that's traditionally served over pasta. Pork makes it extra hearty, so we served it over creamy polenta, but feel free to sub in pasta, rice, or whatever else you can dream up.

Get the Instant Pot Pork Puttanesca recipe.

chicken and mushroom white lasagna
Andrew bui
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Chicken and Mushroom White Lasagna

Few things are more pleasing than a melty, cheesy square of lasagna. This creamy white version, made extra-luxurious from a cheesy béchamel-type sauce called Mornay, is packed with chopped chicken, spinach, mushroom, and fresh herbs—and a few time-saving secrets. 😉

Get the Chicken and Mushroom White Lasagna recipe.

fish pie with salmon, shrimp and dill
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Fish Pie

Fish pie is usually seafood in a cream sauce topped with mashed potatoes. For this version, we took inspiration from Greek cuisine (specifically avgolemono soup) and added dill and lemon.

Get the Fish Pie recipe.

pink ginger cranberry whiskey sours in coupe glasses garnished with candied ginger
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Ginger-Cranberry Whiskey Sour

This wintery version of a whiskey sour features punchy ginger flavor and tangy cranberry juice. Though it requires minimal ingredients, it’s full of strong, bright flavors that perfectly complement rich holiday hors d'oeuvres like baked brie and bacon-wrapped dates.

Get the Ginger-Cranberry Whiskey Sour recipe.

balsamic steak vertical
John Komar
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Sheet Pan Balsamic Steak & Potatoes

Sometimes all you need is steak and potatoes, and this is the easiest way to get them on your dinner table, fast. This dinner takes less than 25 minutes start to finish!

Get the Sheet Pan Balsamic Steak and Potatoes recipe.

tricolore skillet lasagna
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Tricolore Skillet Lasagna

We love a classic lasagna, but it can be a lot of work. This easy skillet version has everything we love about the original—including the frilly-edged long noodles—but without the confusing layering steps. Instead, you'll toss the cooked noodles in an oniony marinara sauce, dollop with pesto, and top with ample slices of fresh mozzarella and a shower of grated Parmesan.

Get the Tricolore Skillet Lasagna recipe.

vegan mushroom pot pie
Andrew bui
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Vegan Mushroom Pot Pie

When it's cold out, a steaming hot pot pie filled with creamy, flavorful gravy, sweet and tender veggies, and topped with a shatteringly flaky crust is EVERYTHING. Here, mushrooms replace meat and are every bit as satisfying as their meaty counterparts.

Get the Vegan Mushroom Pot Pie recipe.

crispy cheddar pork chops with brussels sprouts and apples
Erik bernstein
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Crispy Cheddar Pork Chops with Brussels and Apples

It’s time for some next-level shake and bake with these crispy, cheddary pork chops served with an easy Brussels sprouts and apple side. Both the panko and the cheddar crisp up on the outside of the chops to form a tasty crust that keeps the pork super-juicy and tender.

Get the Crispy Cheddar Pork Chops with Brussels and Apples recipe.

peppermint white russian
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Peppermint White Russian

Everyone’s favorite boozy coffee drink just got a holiday makeover. With a simple combo of Kahlúa, vodka, and heavy cream, the White Russian is already the king of creamy after-dinner cocktails, but adding a splash of peppermint schnapps makes it perfect for a seasonal celebration. Finish with a pinch of salt and a few peppermint candies, and meet your new favorite nightcap.

Get the Peppermint White Russian recipe.

broccoli cauliflower casserole topped with scallions
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Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

We tenderize the broccoli and cauliflower in no time thanks to the microwave, then toss it with a no-cook sauce made of ranch powder, sweet-tart sun-dried tomatoes, and warming red pepper flakes. Serve this as a side, or feel free to mix in some shredded rotisserie chicken to make this a full meal.

Get the Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole recipe.

creamy cajun stuffed salmon
Photographer: Lucy Schaeffer. Food Styling: Makinze Gore
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Creamy Cajun Stuffed Salmon

Blackened and stuffed, these salmon fillets are packed with Cajun flavor and are quite easy to prepare for a last-minute holiday feast. Hot tip: Ask the fish counter for pieces of salmon from the head side of the fish (opposed to the tail side). These fillets will be thicker, easier to stuff, and will better match the cooking time in our recipe.

Get the Creamy Cajun Stuffed Salmon recipe.

red chili ricotta pasta
Lucy Schaeffer
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Red Chili Ricotta Pasta

This no-effort creamy ricotta pasta is topped with red chili oil and buttery bread crumbs. The extra effort to make your own bread crumbs and chili oil is well worth it for this simple pasta. You might want to top all your dinners with them from now on. 😉

Get the Red Chili Ricotta Pasta recipe.

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