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Beyond the Bird: 7 Creative Alternatives to the Traditional Holiday Dinner

Posted on December 04 2023

Beyond the Bird


The holiday season will be here before you know it, and that can only mean one thing. All too soon, you will be cooking for a house full of picky children, judgmental relatives, and other assorted friends and family members.


As the big holiday dinner approaches, you could do the same old thing, seeking out the biggest bird and hoping everything will come out the way it should. Or you could shake things up a bit this year, seeking a new set of dishes to grace the holiday table. Here are seven creative alternatives to the traditional holiday dinner.

  1. Seafood Fun - Cooking seafood is a Christmas Eve tradition in many parts of the world, but you can continue the oceanic fun into the big day and beyond. From Cajun crawfish boils to deep-fried shrimp and oysters, a seafood feast is sure to please everyone at the holiday table.
  2. DIY Taco Bar - Everyone loves tacos, especially when they are festively dressed in all their yuletide finery. You can decorate your DIY taco bar with red and green ribbons, deck it out with hearty meats and healthy vegetables and add a dollop of sour cream for the perfect finishing touch.
  3. Baked Yam Casserole - Normally, the candied yams take a back seat, but you can put these healthy vegetables front and center with a delicious baked casserole. The nutritional elements may be overwhelmed by the melting marshmallows, but this bird-free alternative is sure to be a hit.
  4. Super Cheesy Mac and Cheese - This is another side dish that is ready to take its place in the sun. If you have a favorite mac and cheese recipe, making a big batch is a great way to grace the holiday table.
  5. Eggplant Parmesan - Do you have some ardent vegetarians coming for the holidays? If so, you can please their palates, and everyone else's, with tasty eggplant parmesan. Eggplant has the perfect meat-like texture without the ethical quandaries.
  6. Gourmet Pizza - If you are looking for a real alternative to the traditional holiday dinner, you might want to get out your pizza stone and toss some dough. Homemade gourmet pizza with creative toppings is a great holiday alternative, one that just might become an annual tradition.
  7. Turducken - If you absolutely must have a bird for the holidays, why not ramp things up with a trio? A turducken is a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey, so there will be plenty of poultry for bird lovers to enjoy. The fattiness of the duck and the moistness of the chicken infuses the sometimes dry turkey as it bakes, giving you a delicious feast - and plenty of leftovers for days to come.


Cooking holiday dinner for a house full of guests is a rite of passage for any home chef and a daunting task, to say the least. If you are hosting this year, you might want to chart your own path and create your own holiday tradition. Amidst these culinary adventures, consider the benefits of vacuum sealing your festive creations for freshness, extended storage, and easy meal prep, allowing you to savor the holiday delights long after the season has passed.


Going beyond the ordinary is a great way to show your guests you care and a great way to make your mark as the culinary star of the family. The seven creative ideas listed above can all be worthy entrees in their own right, but feel free to add your own unique sides and some delectable desserts along the way.


You might also like: 

5 Alternatives to the Traditional Christmas Dinner

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