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36 Christmas Mains That Aren’t Ham

Your Christmas main course doesn't have to be routine, so pull out the stops with an unexpected twist on a holiday meal. Whether your family loves meat, poultry—or no meat at all!—set a truly dazzling dish in the center of the table this year.

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Duck with Orange Hazelnut Stuffing

For over 60 years, this elegant entree has graced my family’s holiday table. The zesty stuffing with its nice nutty crunch complements the slices of moist duck, while the hint of orange in the gravy sets it apart. —Donna Smith, Fairport, New York
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Crown Roast with Apricot Dressing

I have been making crown roasts for many years but was only satisfied with the results when I combined a few recipes to come up with this guest-pleasing version. It’s beautifully roasted with an apricot glaze and a nicely browned stuffing. —Isabell Cooper, Cambridge, Nova Scotia
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Slow-Cooker Lamb Chops

These slow cooker lamb chops are, without a doubt, the lamb dish we like best. I usually simmer them on low for hours. The aroma is irresistible, and they come out so tender, they practically melt in your mouth! —Sandy McKenzie, Braham, Minnesota
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Grilled Lobster Tails

I had never made lobster at home until I tried this convenient and deliciously different recipe. It turned out amazing, and has left me with little reason to ever order lobster at a restaurant again. If it’s too cold to grill, place the marinated lobster tails on a foil-lined 15x10x1-in. pan, and broil 5-6 in. from heat until meat is opaque, 5-8 minutes. This makes a great “surf” portion of a “Surf & Turf” dinner! —Katie Rush, Kansas City, Missouri
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Horseradish-Encrusted Beef Tenderloin

For the second half of your “surf & turf” holiday extravaganza, wow friends and family with this tender beef in a golden horseradish crust. Roasted garlic boosts the robust flavor even more. —Laura Bagozzi, Dublin, Ohio
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Juicy Herb-Roasted Turkey

Add wonderful flavor to your big dinner with this juicy herb-roasted turkey. Make sure you use the drippings for a delicious gravy! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Greendale, Wisconsin
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Mint-Pesto Lamb Chops

I adore the taste and richness of lamb. But it takes bold flavors to complement the lamb, and this recipe definitely does that. The simple mint-cilantro pesto marries well with the lamb flavor, while the pomegranate-balsamic reduction adds the perfect balance to finish off the dish. This easy-to-prepare entree is delicious and gourmet, and is sure to impress.—Melanie Stevenson, Reading, Pennsylvania
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Roasted Veggie Strudel

If you’re cooking for vegetarians this holiday, why not pull out the stops with this gorgeous main? Roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes go so well with bacon and Brie in my shortcut strudel. I leave the potato skin on for extra flavor and texture. —Carole Holt, Mendota Heights, Minnesota
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Orange Pomegranate Salmon

Orange Pomegranate Salmon

A colorful, festive salmon dish makes an impressive addition to your holiday table—and it is as delicious as it is beautiful. What will no one guess? How easy it is to cook. I serve this with roasted baby potatoes and asparagus for a showstopping meal that is wonderful for special occasions. —Thomas Faglon, Somerset, New Jersey
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Apple & Herb Roasted Turkey

My daughter loves to help me make this moist apple turkey. Her job is to hand Mommy the ingredients—if she doesn't eat them first! —Kimberly Jackson, Gay, Georgia
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Coriander-Crusted Beef with Spicy Cranberry Relish

Jalapeno gives cranberries an extra jolt in this rich, savory roast—and the bright red color of the relish gives the whole dish just the right festive flair! —Donna Thomas, Dallas, Texas
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Wild Rice-Stuffed Pork Loin

If you’re looking for a beautiful, show-stopping main course, it doesn’t get much more impressive that this recipe, which features wild rice and apricot stuffing tucked inside a tender pork roast. Watch the eyes go wide when you bring it to the table! —Kim Rubner, Worthington, Iowa
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Eggplant Rollatini

These authentic eggplant roll-ups take some time to prepare, but the end result is restaurant-quality and perfect for a special occasion. Your family will request this dish time and again. —Nancy Sousley, Lafayette, Indiana
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Mushroom-Stuffed Flank Steak Roll

My daughter and her family, who live in Hong Kong, love to make my flank steak because it reminds them of home. The classic combination of beef and mushrooms, topped with a rich sauce, make this a lovely meal for company. —Ethel Klyasheff, Granite City, Illinois
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White Seafood Lasagna

We make lasagna with shrimp and scallops as part of the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes. Every bite delivers a tasty “jewel” from the sea. —Joe Colamonico, North Charleston, South Carolina
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Chicken Cordon Bleu

The addition of bacon in this version of cordon bleu makes it one of my favorite comforting recipes. I've made it for both friends and family, and everyone's a fan. —Jim Wick, Orlando, Florida
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Veggie Lasagna

This pull-out-the-stops lasagna is an amazing main course for a meatless holiday meal. No one will even miss the meat when you serve this hearty, vegetable-rich lasagna with its fresh, full-bodied flavor. To save time, prepare the carrot and spinach layers in advance. —Mary Jane Jones, Williamstown, West Virginia
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Herb-Brined Cornish Game Hens

Instead of a turkey or a big roast, why not serve individual Cornish game hens for the holidays? They cook in a fraction of the time and they're guaranteed to impress all your guests. —Shannon Roum, Cudahy, Wisconsin
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Seafood-Stuffed Salmon Fillets

You could get stuffed salmon from a big-box store, but my fillets are loaded with flavor from crab, cream cheese and savory herbs. We love them. —Mary Cokenour, Monticello, Utah
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Beef Tenderloin with Pomegranate Chutney

When I want to show family and friends some culinary love, I roast a tenderloin and serve it with a sweet-tart pomegranate and apple chutney. —Devon Delaney, Westport, Connecticut
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Herb-Stuffed Pork Loin

This stunning pork roast is one of my favorite recipes when I’m entertaining company. It’s especially good with garden-fresh herbs, but dried ones work nicely as well. —Michele Montgomery, Lethbridge, Alberta
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Cranberry-Orange Roast Ducklings

I came up with this recipe few years ago. The first time I served it, there wasn't a speck of food left on the platter and I knew I had a winning recipe. —Gloria Warczak, Cedarburg, Wisconsin
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Flounder with Shrimp Stuffing

The delicious shrimp-herb stuffing makes this fish recipe special enough for company. But it really isn’t hard to make, and since our family enjoys fish, we eat it often. —Marie Forte, Raritan, New Jersey
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Plum-Glazed Lamb

Fruity and flavorful, this wonderful glaze is simple to prepare, and its hint of garlic really complements the lamb. The recipe makes enough glaze to baste the lamb during roasting and leaves plenty to pass when serving. —Ann Eastman Greenville, California
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Crab-Topped Fish Fillets

Elegant but truly no bother, this recipe is perfect for company. Toasting the almonds gives them a little more crunch, which is a delightful way to top the fish fillets. This special dish is one of my husband’s favorites. —Mary Tuthill, Ft. Myers Beach, Florida
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Roast Chicken with Creole Stuffing

I've used this recipe ever since I roasted my first chicken. Our whole family looks forward to it. The combination of shrimp, sausage, ham, vegetables and seasonings makes the stuffing unique and delicious.
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Ricotta Gnocchi with Spinach & Gorgonzola

Gnocchi are thick, soft dumplinglike pasta made from potatoes. You can get them from the freezer section, sure—but for special occasions, there’s nothing like homemade. In this special dish, the tender pillows of pasta are treated to a rich sauce made with butternut squash, spinach and Gorgonzola cheese. —Brud Holland, Watkins Glen, New York
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Holiday Beef Bourguignon

When we married four decades ago, I found this bourguignon recipe in a French cookbook. My husband and I still serve it for very special occasions. —Lyn Robitaille, East Hartland, Connecticut
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Pepper-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Spicy stuffing balances the delicate flavor of pork in this dish that looks great on the plate—and tastes even better! Our holiday traditions always include this simple, elegant main course. —Margaret Allen, Abingdon, Virginia
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Mustard-Crusted Prime Rib with Madeira Glaze

This juicy prime rib is spectacular on its own, but the rich Madeira glaze takes it up a notch to wow at special dinners. What's even better is that it roasts with a bed of tender veggies, so you have the whole holiday meal covered in one pan. —Kathryn Conrad, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Spicy Seafood Stew

A seafood stew for Christmas dinner? Why not! Fish dishes are traditional in many families, especially those with Italian or another Mediterranean heritage. This recipe isn’t hard to make—it’s the ingredients and the amazing rich flavor that make it special. —Bonnie Marlow, Ottoville, Ohio
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Stuffed Turkey with Mojo Sauce

I love Latin food so I created this recipe that combines wonderful spices and fresh ingredients. This is a traditional turkey recipe with a healthier twist because it uses chicken sausage instead of chorizo. —Melissa Lauer, San Antonio, Texas
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Sweet Potato Tortellini with Hazelnut Sauce

For more formal dinners, this is an impressive vegetarian entree. Using wonton wrappers instead of fresh pasta dough makes homemade tortellini easier to prepare. —Charlene Chambers, Ormond Beach, Florida
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Shrimp & Crab Casserole

This quick, easy recipe is truly delicious. The succulent, melt-in-your-mouth seafood flavors and textures make for elegant comfort food. To make ahead, just assemble, cover and refrigerate, then bake when ready. —Jan Bartley, Evergreen, North Carolina
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Turkey-Stuffed Acorn Squash

For something a little different, why not present each guest with their own beautifully prepared squash, stuffed with all the flavors that make the holidays bright—turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce. This recipe makes it easy to make just as many servings as you need. —Cindy Romberg, Mississauga, Ontario
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Tomato-Poached Halibut

Halibut can be a pricey fish, so it makes sense to save it for special occasions. This simple and elegant preparation with a burst of lemon comes together in one pan. For a delicious and unusual holiday meal, pair it with polenta, angel hair pasta or crusty bread—and break out the good wine! —Danna Rogers, Westport, Connecticut

Hazel Wheaton
Hazel is a writer and editor who has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years in the fields of travel, jewelry arts and food. As the editor of the Taste of Home Christmas Annual (among other titles), she's in the holiday spirit all year round. An enthusiastic baker, she's known for her cookies, cakes and other baked goods. And she still wishes she could cook like her mother.