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Bring These Dishes to Wow Your Holiday Host

woman bringing a dish to pass at the holidays

You’re not hosting Thanksgiving this year, but that doesn’t mean you’re totally off the hook because showing up empty-handed in most cases is a faux pas. Here are ten dishes that travel well and make an impression too.

Cranberry Sauce, Chutney or Relish

A mini mason jar filled with cranberry sauce, with fresh cranberries and a cinnamon stick next to the jar.
Practical Self Reliance

Showing up with a 99 cent can of gelatinous cranberry sauce is probably worse than arriving without anything at all. Making it homemade can be so easy, and most recipes only require a few ingredients.

If you’ve made it your duty to bring in some of this tart and tangy side sauce, then here are three great recipes that offer a wow factor.  Place your prepared sauce in a modest white bowl to allow for the vibrant and deep shade of red to pop, or place it in a mason jar for a rustic look.

Mason Jar Cranberry Sauce: Learn how to can your cranberry sauce following these simple instructions. Whether you decide to make jellied or whole berry sauce, this recipe has guidelines for you.

With only three ingredients (and two optional ingredients), you’ll love preparing this recipe ahead of time. The ingredients begin to marry as time passes, so get yourself some fresh cranberries and enjoy making this one.

Get the Recipe: Practical Self Reliance

Fresh Cranberry Chutney: Here’s another delightful thanksgiving condiment that you can slather over your turkey and other dishes. Chutney and relish are two words that are often used interchangeably, but the definitions of these two sides sauces differ.

The main differences are that chutney is made of mostly fruit and is mainly sweet, and relish is made primarily of vegetables and usually pickled. As far as the holidays go, most people will call this sweet cranberry condiment either name.

In this recipe, you’ll get to enjoy all the tart flavors that cranberries and apples offer, but with a savory bite. The addition of onion and celery, as well as minced ginger root, provide a mouthful a crunchy satisfaction.

Get the Recipe: Mels Kitchen Cafe

Cranberry Relish: Relish the experience of biting into this tangy fresh side even though some would disagree with the name. So call it what you will, but the author has named it “relish,” and that’s what we’ll stick to as well.

You’ll love the bright and refreshing juice that the orange fruit has to offer, but also enjoy the bitter zest from the peel. Heck, why not show up to your dinner party with a sauce, chutney, and relish as a festive trio.

Get the Recipe: Simply Recipes

Sweet or Savory Pies

A slice of freshly made French-Canadian meat pie.
Grow a Good Life

Pie is quintessentially paired with Thanksgiving feasts and other holiday meals, and you can make them in advance to save on precious day-of time. Here are three recipes that travel well and will surely excite the host, mainly because he or she will have one less thing to make.

Pumpkin Pie: Okay, so pumpkin pie is as traditional as it gets, and so Is this recipe. However, you can spruce this one up by making a homemade cinnamon maple whipped cream that will taste lovely with it. Or try making mini pumpkin pies for fun bite-size delights.

Get the Recipe: Betty Crocker

Spiced Pear and Apple Pie: Apple pie is another one of those popular desserts that you almost always get to enjoy after awaking from your food comas. This year, add in pears for more autumn essence.

This standard recipe takes you through multiple straightforward steps and has won the hearts of many. Some even swear by throwing in a handful of cranberries too.

Get the Recipe: All Recipes

Tourtière (Aka Canadian Meat Pie): This one may not always hit your thanksgiving table, and some of you may even be wondering how someone could fathom making a pie with meat. We get it, but its actually a thing, and it’s delicious.

The Canadian meat pie is a great way to incorporate another meat dish if you’d like more than just turkey. This classic recipe uses potatoes, ground pork and beef, and many delicious spices. Add in a few tablespoons of beef bouillon for extra flavor while the meat mixture is cooking.

Get the Recipe: Grow a Good Life

Basically Any Casserole

A casserole dish filled with broccoli and cheese casserole, with a scoop being taken out.
Dinner at the Zoo

Casseroles blend right in on Holiday tables. They are cozy and comforting, and the very fact that they can be made in advance offers quite an appeal.

Any of these make-ahead meals will travel nicely, as long as you follow guidelines for cooking, cooling, and reheating foods. The last thing you need to do is make a meal too far in advance and food poison your family.

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole: There’s obviously no replacing green bean casserole in case that’s what you were wondering. This one is simply an addition or accompaniment to the famous side dish.

This rich and flavorful side is filled with cheese, broccoli, and rice and of course, finished with a buttery and crunchy cracker topping.

Get the Recipe: Dinner at the Zoo

Old School Squash Casserole: This southern classic is usually paired with fried chicken, but no one ever said it didn’t go great with a roasted or fried turkey.

You’ll love the aroma of freshly sautéed onion and squash cooked in butter, then mixed into a cheesy concoction. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, you should certainly try this one.

Get the Recipe: Southern Living

Cheesy Tex Mex Mashed Potato Bake: There’s no need to abolish regular ol’ mashed potatoes either, but if you’d like to offer a fun mashed tater recipe with flair, here it is.

The green chiles, pepper jack cheese, and chorizo make for a piquant kick, so if you are into a little spice, then offer these to your host.

Get the Recipe: My Recipes

Bacon Mac and Cheese Casserole: Here’s another spicy option for those who love an excellent tongue-tingling bite. This mac and cheese casserole uses franks red hot sauce, a smidge of Dijon, and of course, crumbled bacon.

The rich flavors of the sauce made with cheddar, mozzarella, and cream cheese go perfect with just about any turkey day dish.

Get the Recipe: Kevin is Cooking

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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