Holiday Meals Made Easy
These cheerful dishes practically cook themselves. Sponsored by Campbell's®.
The holidays are here, and you’d like to make it easy this year. Save yourself crucial time and energy by choosing hands-off, easy dishes that also happen to be crowd-pleasers. Here are options for festive holiday sides, desserts, and mains that require very little hands-on cooking. You can prep them early, let your slow-cooker or oven do most of the work, and keep your holiday spirit intact.
Why mess with tradition when tradition is so delicious — and so easy? With just six ingredients and 10 minutes of hands-on cooking time, it’s no wonder creamy green bean casserole has been a holiday staple for more than 60 years. Guests are probably hoping this classic combination of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and fried onions (plus a few other key ingredients) shows up on the table this year. Simply stir soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans, and onions in a casserole dish, bake for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling, and sprinkle with more onions. Bake for just five minutes more or until the topping is crunchy and golden brown. Easy and delicious.
Cheesy soup makes simple work of these golden brown, dynamite potatoes, which bake in the oven after some quick and easy assembly. Just peel and slice potatoes and onions, add soup, milk, and salt, and bake for up to an hour to get the chewy, savory, cheesy potatoes of your dreams. If guests don’t gobble these up in one sitting, these would pair nicely with fried eggs the next morning.
Full of flavor, including a lot of ingredients that almost nobody can resist: bacon and hash brown potatoes. With a little broccoli included in the mix, you’ve got yourself a real meal. Your prep time is limited to just 15 minutes here, so you can throw together a drool-worthy entrée that works equally well at brunch or dinner without breaking a sweat.
Gravy is a holiday staple but assembling it can take up precious prep time when you’re busy with other things. This delightful recipe, complete with freezing and reheating instructions, ensures your made-in-advance gravy is ready when you are. A savory, thick gravy like this one will boost the tastiness of roast beef, meatloaf, turkey, potatoes, and many other classic holiday side dishes. I recommend lightening your busy holiday schedule by making this workhorse sauce as far ahead as possible and then tossing it in the freezer. If you do tackle it day-of, feel free to enrich this gravy with drippings from whatever meat you’re enjoying.
This comforting, creamy cheater’s risotto uses orzo pasta in place of rice, and eliminates most of the time you’d normally spend stirring at the stove. This can be a decadent side dish for a big holiday spread, or add nutritious peas or mushrooms to make it a complete meal. With butter, Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, and savory onion, cream of mushroom soup ties together the flavors that make risotto shine and transforms it into a 30-minute affair. This dish will seriously up the fanciness of your holidays while also saving you precious time and energy.
Desserts are usually the most time-consuming dishes of all, but they don’t have to be. For example, you can make this incredible cheesecake in your slow cooker and skip any of the normal fussing around with a water bath in your oven. This recipe calls for a 6-inch spring-form pan, which fits nicely in a 6-quart slow-cooker, and makes for a cute, 4-6-serving cake. If you’d like a larger cake and have a bigger slow-cooker, simply adjust the recipe and pan size. Many consider cheesecake to be perfect on its own — creamy, rich, and smooth with a crunchy graham cracker crust — but any fruit you have on hand will pair nicely with it, too.
It doesn’t get simpler — or homier — than rice pudding. Even better, this version doesn’t require stove time, since it bakes beautifully in the oven. Rice pudding is best when cooked gently and for a long time, so the rice slowly absorbs the sweet milk and becomes fluffy and creamy. This soft, hands-free dessert comes together over the course of two hours without you having to stir it once, and is delicious with or without a topping. To make the spiced compote, simply peel and slice pears, cook with sugar and spices, and spoon atop your pudding. If spiced pear compote isn’t your thing, try raisins, or whatever topping you have on hand.