By Jackie Freeman

Easy and elegant.

Simple to prepare but festive to serve, these easy Christmas dinner menus will wow your guests while keeping kitchen prep to a minimum. Friends and family will be awed by your holiday meal and you can relax and enjoy the festivities. I'll share five easy main Christmas dishes and simple side dish ideas to go with them. Happy holidays!

1. Chef John's Perfect Prime Rib

The key to a perfect prime rib is not a ton of spices, sauces, or flavors, but how you cook it. Most of the work in this recipe happens during "carry-over cooking" when the oven is turned off! Which means you only need to have the oven on for about 20 minutes, then you let residual heat work its magic. Haiku points out the most important step: The roast must be at room temperature before you put it in the oven.

Side Dish Ideas

Looking for the perfect pairings for your perfect prime rib? Try quick and easy pan-seared Parmesan Brussels Sprouts, topped with butter, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. If you like a bit of kick, add a pinch (or two) of crushed red pepper flakes, like home cook Sarah Jo does.

Since your oven will be occupied, use your stove to make these Holiday Only Mashed Potatoes. Rich with butter and cream, these easy mashers are worth the indulgence for this special occasion.

2. Honey Glazed Ham

Ham is a Christmas tradition, and for good reason: sweet, crackling skin and juicy, tender meat. You can baste the ham as it warms in the oven and while you're working on the rest of your Christmas meal. Recipe contributor Colleen B. Smith buys her ham pre-sliced to make serving even easier.

Photo by annie

Side Dish Ideas

Sweet meets savory when you serve this ham with Simple Roasted Butternut Squash. The naturally sweet squash is given an aromatic flavor when roasted with garlic and olive oil. Jab says that the easiest way to prep butternut squash is to put down the knife and use "a plain old vegetable peeler."

Add a bit of color to the table with simple to prepare Italian Peas. If you want to avoid wrinkly peas, follow this tip from TTV78, who places the frozen peas in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes, drains them well, then adds them to the onion mixture to heat through.

3. Slow Cooker Herbed Turkey Breast

If you don't want to bother with cooking the whole bird and spending hours using the oven, whip out your slow cooker for this easy showstopper turkey recipe. Turkey breast is covered in fresh herbs and a generous splash of white wine, and the slow cooker does the rest of the work. Naples34102's turkey cooked for about 6 ½ hours on low and the pan juices make a delicious gravy.

Photo by naples34102

Side Dish Ideas

Garlic Green Beans, cooked with plenty of garlic and topped with Parmesan cheese, come together in about 10 minutes. If you decide to use fresh green beans instead of canned, Daniel den Hoed steams his in salted water for about 4 minutes first before sautéing.

Brighten up the Christmas table with Candied Sweet Potatoes, a dish that both kids and grown-ups alike will love. TIRGO saves even more time on preparing this dish by chopping the potatoes with the skin on and boiling them quickly until just tender. The skin falls right off and you save time both in peeling and cooking.

4. Simple Savory Pork Roast

A simple combination of fresh and dried herbs and savory spices, this roast may be simple to prepare, but it is a showstopper on the holiday table. For a crunchy crust, TRACYCOOK rubs her roast with a little bit of olive oil before adding the spices, and makes sure the roast is at room temperature before roasting.

Side Dish Ideas

Get the work done early with Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes, so you can enjoy visiting family and friends. A delicious heaping of cream cheese and sour cream are the trick to keeping the potatoes creamy when reheating, so don't skimp! Want to make reheating even easier? Add them to a slow cooker set on Low several hours before serving, just like KRoggenb.

Brightly colored and sweet-tangy Orange Glazed Carrots are the perfect complement to a savory pork roast. Winter Ivy, along with several other reviewers, suggests cooking the sauce and carrots in separate pans, then mixing them together, to keep the glaze nice and thick.

5. Stuffed Acorn Squash

If you're planning a vegetarian dinner for the whole gang or just a few non-meat eater friends, this elegant and colorful dish will wow everyone. Prepared bread stuffing makes it easy to prepare, and make sure to swap out the chicken stock with vegetable broth. For extra savory flavor and a bit of protein, Maggie likes to add feta cheese to the stuffing mix.

Photo by hungryallweighs

Side Dish Ideas

Add a bright green splash of color to the table with Sautéed Kale with Apples. Save time from removing the kale leaves from the tough stems by swapping it out with pre-washed baby kale, like JMANSAVAGE prefers to do.

A dish that practically cooks itself, Roasted Garlic Cauliflower is a perfect side dish. To ensure even roasting, tunatwist makes sure to cut the cauliflower florets as uniform in size as possible.

Related: Find more Christmas recipes for breakfast, brunch, dinner, and dessert.

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