Women setting table for a party


Make-Ahead Dishes That Will Make Holiday Parties a Breeze

These will serve you and any crowd well.

Whether you’re hosting or attending holiday festivities, planning what to bring and when to make it can be a tricky task. If hosting, making things ahead of time can be a life-saver when you’re short on kitchen space and want to enjoy entertaining guests. In the same vein, if you’re attending a party, these recipes will serve you well because you won’t need to take up space in the host’s fridge or oven. The following recipes all serve a crowd, and cover 3 distinct holiday categories: appetizer, side, and dessert.

Appetizer: Caramelized Onion Dip


1 cup Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons Cream Cheese

2 yellow onions

2 tablespoons olive oil

.5 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons soy sauce

Vegetables for dipping (carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.)


  1. Prepare ingredients. Peel onions and cut into small dice. Allow cream cheese to soften at room temperature.

  2. Make caramelized onions. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add onions and .5 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until light brown and softened, 7-10 minutes. Add .5 cup water to pan; cook, stirring, until onion is golden and water has evaporated, 4-5 minutes more. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

  3. Make dip. In a large bowl, stir together Greek yogurt, cream cheese, soy sauce, caramelized onions, and black pepper as desired. Stir until fully combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Make the dip no more than 2 days in advance.

  4. Serve dip. When ready to serve, allow dip to come to room temperature. Drizzle dip with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and more black pepper, if desired. Serve with chopped vegetables or small pieces of toast.

Side: Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples, Pecans, and Cider Dressing


4 cups shaved brussels sprouts

1 gala apple

.5 cup pecans

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

.5 teaspoon honey

4 tablespoons olive oil

.5 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Prepare ingredients. Rinse brussels sprouts and apples. If Brussels sprouts arrived whole, thinly slice enough to yield 4 cups. Thinly slice apple, discarding core and stem. Roughly chop pecans.

  2. Make dressing. In a medium tupperware container, whisk together dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt, and black pepper as desired. Seal container and transfer to refrigerator until ready to use.

  3. Make salad. In a large bowl, combine sliced Brussels sprouts, apples, and pecans. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Make salad no more than 2 days in advance.

  4. When ready to serve. Allow salad mixture and dressing to come to room temperature. Pour dressing over salad and gently toss to combine. Salad can sit out at room temperature for up to 1 hour before serving.

Dessert: Olive Oil Cake


2 cups all-purpose flour

1.75 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

.5 teaspoon baking soda

.5 teaspoon baking powder

1.25 cups extra virgin olive oil

1.25 cups whole milk

3 eggs

1-2 oranges (or enough to yield 1.5 tablespoons zest and 1/3 cup juice)


  1. Prepare ingredients. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. Rinse oranges and zest enough to yield 1.5 tablespoons and ⅓ cup juice.

  2. Make batter. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, milk, eggs, orange juice, and orange zest. Whisk until very combined. Pour flour mixture into olive oil mixture and stir until combined.

  3. Bake cake. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before storing. Cake can be made up to 2 days in advance, and can be frozen for up to 2 months. 

  4. Finish cake. If cake is refrigerated or frozen, allow to come to room temperature before serving. Serve cake with fresh berries, or a bit of whipped cream if desired.