Healthy Holiday Recipes for a Crowd

wreath made of olives, cheese, rosemary and tomatoes
Photo: Jones

The holiday season is a time for enjoying classic, comforting holiday dishes, ones we look forward to all year long. However, most of those holiday dishes aren't that good for you. Luckily, it's easy to add a creative twist to those classic recipes and turn traditional holiday comfort foods into healthy holiday recipes.

If you're struggling to find healthy holiday recipes to impress a crowd without skimping on the holiday's greatest comfort foods and flavors, don't fret. These recipes range from appetizers and main dishes to sides and desserts, so you've got all the bases covered. Plus, there's nothing better than a dish that's both delicious and healthy, right?

01 of 16

Christmas Tree Appetizers

plate of pita wedges decorated like Christmas tree

These festive "Christmas trees" have fewer carbs thanks to pita and pretzels, but they serve up long-lasting satiating power because of the high-fiber bell peppers and avocado. Avocado also lends healthy fats to protect the heart, while bell peppers contain antioxidants for an additional boost. If you don't like guacamole, hummus works. Look for edamame hummus, which has a natural green tint.

02 of 16

Holiday Apple Side Salad

holiday apple side salad

Swap a slice of apple pie for a fruit side that gets its sweetness from fresh fruit, like apples and grapes. To make this healthy holiday recipe even richer in nutrition and lower in fat, ditch the Miracle Whip for a homemade plain, non-fat Greek yogurt dressing.

03 of 16

Rosemary Roasted Turkey

sliced roasted turkey with herbs
Melissa Goff

This simple healthy holiday recipe is perfect for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner with friends and family, as it's lean but also juicy and satisfying. The herbs add a flavor boost without adding calories, sugar, or fat, which you'd typically find in sauces, gravy, cranberry sauce, or a glaze.

04 of 16

Roast Turkey With Tasty Chestnut Stuffing

Roast Turkey With Tasty Chestnut Stuffing
Milena Zaprianova

Can't say no to classic holiday stuffing? That's OK, as long as you choose one that's a mix of bread crumbs and an array of herbs and seasonings. This way, the rest of the roasted turkey dinner remains healthy and festive for fall and winter. Thyme, rosemary, and black pepper give the bird great flavor, so there's no need to add gravy or cranberry sauce on top.

05 of 16

Festive Olive and Cheese Appetizer

wreath made of olives, cheese, rosemary and tomatoes

Olives and cheese are classic finger foods you can enjoy before any holiday dinner, and you can certainly set them out in bowls. But this healthy holiday recipe brings those two foods together for a super simple and adorable appetizer that you can arrange on a platter in minutes. Anything that saves time in the kitchen is a huge holiday helper, of course!

Instead of mozzarella pearls, try salty cubed feta or Manchego cheese wedges for some nuttiness. Keep things visually interesting with a variety of olives, like Kalamata, Castelvetrano, and Gaeta.

06 of 16

Festive Finger Food with Smoked Salmon and Olives

close up of Festive Finger Food with Smoked Salmon and Olives recipe on a serving dish garnished with parsley
Natalie Titanov

These smoked salmon bites are perfect for mingling and munching during the holiday season, since they don't require utensils and go down fast. Yet, the salmon is a rich source of healthy, satiating fats, so you won't feel the need to go overboard on the snacking prior to the main holiday meal.

07 of 16

Home-Cured Holiday Ham

Home-Cured Holiday Ham
Chef John

If you're willing to start the holiday cooking a few days in advance, make your own cured ham as a main dish to join your other healthy holiday recipes. Since you cure it yourself, you can lower the sodium content and fat, while also incorporating more seasonal herbs and savory elements, rather than sweet ones, like sugary glazes and syrups.

08 of 16

Gluten Free Crustless Pumpkin Pie

crustless pecan pie in a pie dish
Kimberley McNabb

Lower the carbohydrates, fats, and sugar count of traditional pumpkin pie by ditching the classic crust. Instead, go for this gluten-free dessert that has a bit of sweetness and many savory, spicy notes that highlight the holiday season's best flavors. Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, and other delicious seasonings come together in this healthy holiday recipe to end the meal.

09 of 16

Sweet Potato Holiday Cookies

Sweet Potato Holiday Cookies
Linda T

Sweet potato cookies are easily under the healthy holiday recipes category for desserts, as sweet potato is high in fiber and heart-healthy antioxidants, like beta-carotene. You'll feel fuller faster and for longer while also benefiting your heart. Plus, these cookies are a great way to use up sweet potatoes leftover from a festive side dish.

10 of 16

Candied Pecans

a close up view of a bowl full of candied pecans
Danielle K

These candied pecans are simple to make but still delicious and festive. They have a nice blend of sweet and salty along with the healthy fats, fiber, and protein that will help you avoid snacking after your big holiday dinner. Plus, you can make a big batch at once, and keep for a snack or treat for the following week.

11 of 16

Thyme-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fresh Cranberries

Thyme-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fresh Cranberries
France C

Brussels sprouts are a fall and holiday favorite, and this healthy side has both savory and sweet notes, as it combines thyme, maple syrup, and fresh cranberries. (Fresh cranberries is important, as they contain no added or processed sugars.) The best part? It's done in roughly half an hour.

12 of 16

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Cubes of roasted sweet potatoes and onions in a shallow white bowl

Instead of topping sweet potatoes with marshmallows or using them in a rich, sugary-sweet casserole, roast them for a simple but still tasty and festive side dish to complement the other healthy holiday recipes on the table. Balsamic and garlic make the side more savory, which will taste great with other sweet elements, like cranberry sauce or maple syrup-glazed meats or veggies.

13 of 16

Awesome Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

looking down at a large bowl of sausage, apple and cranberry stuffing
Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

A slimmed down classic stuffing, this recipe incorporates fall and holiday flavors but also lowers the typical calorie count of traditional stuffing. Plus, the swap for turkey sausage over pork reduces grams of fat and makes the stuffing leaner and healthier, without compromising its rich protein to fill you up.

14 of 16

Holiday Salad Wreath

Holiday Salad Wreath

A salad is always a good idea before a holiday meal, as it'll help you fill up faster on healthy greens and wholesome toppings that offer both nutrition and flavor. This salad is even shaped as a wreath to really represent the holiday season. A simple lemon thyme vinaigrette or a bit of olive oil and squeezed lemon works nicely in adding moisture.

15 of 16

Pine Cone Cheese Ball

cheese ball shaped like a pine cone with almonds
Chef John

A cheese ball is always a crowd pleaser, but it's especially fun for the holidays when you can serve one shaped like a pine cone. Plus, there are a variety of herbs and spices in this cheese ball, as well as cayenne, to promote heart health. It's quick and easy to make, and you can definitely make extra to keep around the home as leftovers. Use it as a condiment or spread anytime you need a healthy, yet rich and filling snack.

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