What's for Dinner? 23 Must-Make Recipes Just Right for Weeknights in December

pepper-crusted lamb with roasted vegetables
Chris Simpson

You're busy baking gingerbread cookies and making chocolate fudge when a thought crosses your mind: "What should I make for dinner?" The answer to that eternal question? Comfort foods that will help you stay warm as the temperatures drop, such as the Pepper-Crusted Lamb with Roasted Vegetables that's pictured here. It's simple enough to prepare any night of the week, but special enough for a holiday gathering; simply put, it's the back-pocket recipe you need during a busy month like December. Like the rest of the recipes we're sharing here, it serves at least four people and comes together in less than one hour. And, as always, Mondays are meatless.

December is a jam-packed month. You're likely shopping for gifts, entertaining, attending cookie swaps, taking kids to holiday events, and so much more. Time is extra tight for meal prep during this time of year, which is why we've saved some of our fastest, least fussy weeknight dinner recipes for this collection. With holiday parties happening practically every weekend, we also have several healthy feel-good meals to balance things out during the week, like our easy Roasted-Vegetable Couscous Bowl which is cooked on a sheet pan (always a fan-favorite method!).

Of course, there are plenty of classic, hearty dinner recipes in the mix, too. Our Instant Pot Turkey Chili is simple to prepare and makes great leftovers; we bet you'll love it so much that you'll also want to make it for football Sunday. Another winner is our Lemon-and-Parsley Risotto, which is the perfect foundational recipe perfect for those who have never tried their hand at risotto before (and even if you have, its simplicity is charming as always).

So, what are you waiting for? Make these family-friendly dinner recipes your go-to menu for December and you'll be eating deliciously (and simply!) all month long.

01 of 23

Roasted Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Apples

James Ransom

From the seasonal fruit and vegetable pairings to the roasted pork chops, everything about this meal is perfect for cold weather. Searing the pork chops before roasting them creates a golden brown, savory crust.

02 of 23

Chicken Bolognese with Tagliatelle

Sharon Radisch

Here's a flavorful sauce for pasta that comes together in 45 minutes, which is quicker than a traditional Bolognese yet just as tasty. The secret? Using both ground white and dark meat.

03 of 23

Broccoli, Lemon, and Gouda Pizzas

Broccoli, Lemon, and Gouda Pizzas recipe
Yuki Sugiura

This fragrant pizza is the perfect handheld dinner for Friday night. Broccoli is brightened up with thin slices of lemon and fresh rosemary, and gouda is a wonderful alternative to the usual mozzarella.

04 of 23

Tofu-Tomatillo Stew

tofu tomatillo stew
Con Poulos

Tomatillos, fresh cilantro, and jalapeño peppers bring an intense green hue to this tasty vegan stew. White hominy and extra-firm tofu complete this dinner, which is perfect for meatless Monday.

05 of 23

Lemon Chicken with Potatoes and Escarole

lemon chicken with potatoes and escarole
Nico Schinco

By now you know how much we love an easy sheet-pan dinner; easy to prep, hands-off cooking, and just one sheet pan to wash after dinner. Here, juicy roasted chicken thighs, crispy potatoes, and wilted escarole make a cozy, delicious meal.

06 of 23

Rice-and-Bean Salad Bowl with Tahini Sauce

rice and bean salad bowl
Johnny Miller

Grain bowls are popular for good reason. They're an easy way to serve up a variety of colorful, nutritious vegetables, legumes, and herbs. In the midst of heavy Christmas cookie consumption this healthy dinner recipe is just what you need.

07 of 23

Salmon-Spinach Burgers

Salmon-Spinach Burgers
Frank Frances

Burger night, but make it different, delicious, and healthy, too. This recipe hits all those bases. Salmon fillet is mixed with goat cheese and baby spinach for delectably moist patties that pair wonderfully with your favorite flatbread.

08 of 23

Instant Pot Turkey Chili

instant-pot turkey chili and add-ins
Bryan Gardner

A big pot of chili is filling, warm, and perfect for feeding the family when the weather is cold. Using ground turkey makes it healthier than the traditional beef version, and using the Instant Pot makes it faster.

09 of 23

Lemon-and-Parsley Risotto

lemon parsley risotto
Sidney Bensimon

Want to become a better home cook? Master an essential dish, such as this simple risotto recipe made with lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley. It's the perfect dish for a cool Monday evening.

10 of 23

Spicy Shrimp Fajitas with Grilled Pineapple Pico

spicy shrimp fajitas with grilled pineapple pico
Armando Rafael

It's taco Tuesday! Filled with chipotle shrimp, grilled pineapple, and avocado slices, this tropical dinner is welcome on a cold December night.

11 of 23

Pork-Meatball Skillet Bake

Pork-Meatball Skillet Bake
Justin Walker

A one-skillet dinner not only makes for easy clean-up, but simple prep and presentation, too. Pork meatballs are hand-rolled, then baked with peppers, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and crusty Italian bread.

12 of 23

Beef and Broccoli with Black-Bean Garlic Sauce

Beef and Broccoli with Black-Bean Garlic Sauce recipe
Yuki Sugiura

For an easy, breezy weeknight meal (this one comes together in just 30 minutes), make this beef and broccoli stir-fry. We love using skirt steak, it's an inexpensive cut that's easy to cook and super flavorful.

13 of 23

Chicken Schnitzel with Dill and Sesame

Chicken Schnitzel with Dill and Sesame
David Malosh

When you feel like fried chicken but don't have the time, turn to this crunchy, irresistible chicken dinner made with boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves or chicken cutlets. The meat is coated in seasoned panko and cooks quickly on the stovetop.

14 of 23

Vegetable and Black-Bean Fried Rice

vegetable and black bean fried rice
Con Poulos

Rice and beans are an old favorite. Here, they're amped up with cremini mushrooms, bell pepper, scallions, and hot sauce for a spectacular meatless meal.

15 of 23

Sausages with Acorn Squash and Onions

Johnny Miller

After just 10 minutes of prep and 20 minutes in the oven, you'll get to enjoy a hearty, crowd-pleasing dinner. Who wouldn't love sweet Italian sausages with slices of acorn squash and red onion, finished with Asiago cheese and dried cherries? We like to serve this entrée over polenta or rice.

16 of 23

Stracciatella Soup with Kale and Lemon

stracciatella soup with kale and lemon served in grey bowl with bread and lemon on the side
Lennart Weibull

Rich and comforting, this soup starts with store-bought chicken broth. The kale cooks in the broth, the egg whites are added, and then the yolks and Parmesan or Pecorino cheese are whisked in along with nutmeg and lemon juice.

17 of 23

Chicken-and-Polenta Puttanesca Melts

Chicken-and-Polenta Puttanesca Melts
Kate Sears

We're keeping it easy—and delicious—tonight with this hearty yet quick meal that starts with chicken cutlets, store-bought polenta, and jarred marinara sauce.

18 of 23

One-Pot Seafood Orzo Risotto

Marcus Nilsson

In honor of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, traditionally celebrated by Italians on Christmas Eve, we're serving this seafood risotto. Squid, halibut, small clams, and shrimp combine with orzo in this easy-to-make yet celebratory entrée.

19 of 23

Roasted-Vegetable Couscous Bowl

roasted vegetable couscous bowl
Justin Walker

A vegetarian sheet-pan dinner with couscous, cauliflower, carrots, chickpeas, and feta is just what you need for dinner after all those holiday feasts.

20 of 23

Crispy Baked Chicken Flautas

Crispy Baked Chicken Flautas
Justin Walker

Need something crispy and tempting but also easy to make for dinner tonight? These baked chicken flautas feature ground chicken and plenty of ooey, gooey cheese. What's not to like?

21 of 23

Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

Yunhee Kim

This five-ingredient dinner is a genius crowd pleaser that turns a favorite side dish—caramelized Brussels sprouts and bacon—into the main course.

22 of 23

Eggplant, Pistachio, and Pomegranate Pizza

Eggplant, Pistachio, and Pomegranate Pizza
Roland Bello

Everything about this vegetarian pizza says holiday. From the contrasting green pistachios and red pomegranate arils, it's a delicious and fun meal to serve between Christmas and New Year's.

23 of 23

Fish Stew with Herbed Toasts

Fish Stew with Herbed Toasts
James Ransom

If you're having a quiet dinner in on New Year's Eve, this simple stew made with your favorite white fish is a fabulous option. The best part is it that comes together in just half an hour, so there's plenty of time for dinner and celebrations before the ball drops.

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