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Holiday Breads and Extras

Holiday Breads and Extras

Complete your healthy holiday dinner with these indispensable condiments and baked goods. The stars of the holiday feast may be the turkey and sides, but we'd argue the breads and little extras are where home cooks can really make their holiday spread shine. From cranberry sauces and relishes to rolls and baked breads, this collection of recipes is a great place to start when you're finishing your holiday menu planning. We've even included a few sweets that are great gifts for dinner guests to take with them when they leave.

Savory Fig, Olive, And Pistachio Fruitcake

Forget the syrupy-sweet doorstopper of fruitcakes past and try this savory version instead. Add to a cheese board for spreading creamier cheeses, toast and top with salted butter for a snack, or enjoy on its own with a glass of wine. If you don't have cream sherry, add 2 teaspoons brown sugar to dry sherry before pouring over the fig mixture. You'll find pitted Castelvetrano olives at the olive bar of most specialty grocery stores.

Herbed Whole-Grain Yeast Rolls

Golden whole-grain yeast rolls get a fresh, fragrant hit from a whole host of seasonal herbs, including fresh sage, rosemary, and chives. Make ahead and freeze up to 1 month, saving the butter and herb coat for after reheating. The yeast should begin to foam after 5 minutes in the warm milk; if it doesn’t, it may be a sign that your yeast is no longer active and should be replaced. Use leftover rolls for tomorrow’s breakfast, or make turkey sliders with split toasted rolls, cranberry sauce, and sliced turkey.

Cranberry-Beet Chutney

For a twist on cranberry sauce this year, try this sweet, tart, and earthy beet-and-cranberry condiment. Toasted whole coriander and brown mustard seeds add warmth and take the chutney into savory territory. The chunky texture is part of the charm here, a great contrast to the mashes and casseroles on the table.

Balsamic Cranberry-Onion Jam

This jam is an excellent, refined sugar-free alternative to the traditional, often too-sweet sauce, and tastes even better a day or two after it’s made. Because fresh cranberries are so tart on their own, be sure to use a sweet onion such as Vidalia in the jam. Pair this condiment with your Thanksgiving plate, then use as a sandwich spread for holiday leftovers.

Honey Whole-Wheat Pull-Apart Rolls

These light and tender whole-grain rolls are everything we love about holiday breads: warm, nutty, and just barely sweetened with honey. Bake these light and tender whole-grain rolls ahead and freeze up to 1 month, or make the dough ahead and bake on the day: Punch down the risen dough to form a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill 8 hours or overnight. Return to a bowl and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours before shaping.

Hazelnut Rye Rolls

Rye flour and hazelnuts have a distinct rich flavor that makes these rolls anything but an afterthought. Make ahead, and freeze up to 1 month.

Whole-Grain Spelt and Cornmeal Biscuits

Gently pat the dough flat instead of rolling with a rolling pin. Patting preserves all the pockets of fat needed for flaky biscuits, whereas rolling pancakes them into small, dense pucks. Cut the biscuits into squares to avoid any leftover scraps. This will also help you avoid the twisting motion of using a cutter that can also lead to flat biscuits. Spelt flour adds a deep nutty flavor, but you can use white whole-wheat flour if you can't find spelt.

Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce

What makes this sauce extraordinary isn’t the orange liqueur, though it rounds out the tart and sweet flavors beautifully. It’s the whole fresh cranberries reserved before cooking and stirred in just before serving. You might think the fresh berries would be too tart without simmering—we did too—but the result is simply outstanding. This jammy sauce is punctuated by pops of whole cranberries. You can sub fresh orange juice for the orange liqueur if you like. Double the batch and use as a breakfast jam or sandwich spread, or spoon warm sauce over frozen yogurt.

Rosemary-Asiago Rolls

Modify the recipe for our Honey Whole-Wheat Pull-Apart Rolls by stirring in Asiago cheese and chopped rosemary. Substitute 1 tablespoon sugar for honey and reducing butter to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Add 1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary to milk mixture with butter, sugar, and eggs in step 1. Sprinkle 1 tablespoons grated Asiago over rolls before baking.

Classic Turkey Gravy

Slow-roasted turkey juices reduce and intensify for a divine sauce. It gives the meat a little extra moisture and richness and rounds out the rest of the plate. Use any reserved giblets here. If you didn't roast the neck, sauté it for 8 minutes. Remove and discard the neck once the gravy is done. For a sweet twist, try our Maple-Pepper Gravy or Gravy Bordelaise with sliced shallots and dry red wine.

Spiced Apple-Cranberry Sauce

A trio of warm spices takes this holiday staple out of candy-sweet territory and into the world of robust holiday condiments. The sauce is equally delicious with roast turkey and roast pork, an easy way to top off your holiday protein for the rest of the season. Apples counter the tartness of the cranberries and help the sauce thicken. No fine dice on the apples here; the rustic chunky look of the two fruits is what makes the sauce beautiful and enticing. If you’re feeling extra generous, double the batch and spoon into small jars for guests to take home. Omit the water and orange liqueur from the master recipe. Sub 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar for granulated sugar, and follow the remaining steps using apple cider, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg.

Whole-Wheat Seeded Breadsticks

Just a couple of turns of the wrist transforms ordinary breadsticks into lovely holiday twists. The key is to twist the dough no more than three times, otherwise the breadsticks will become too tightly wound and lose their subtle corkscrew shape. Gently score the rectangle of dough to measure out the strips before cutting them (a 12-inch ruler is especially helpful here). We love an “everything” mix of seeds, but you can use any combination you like. You can also substitute chopped fresh herbs, grated fresh orange rind, or freshly cracked black pepper.

Orange-Sage Rolls

Amplify our Honey Whole-Wheat Pull-Apart Rolls with stir-ins like grated fresh orange rind or chopped fresh sage. Add 3 tablespoons chopped sage and 1 tablespoon orange zest to milk mixture with butter, honey, and eggs in step 1.

White Balsamic and Rosemary Cranberry Sauce

If you’re looking for a way to amp up your traditional sauce, this is it. Fresh rosemary gives the sauce a light herbal flavor (the berries are robust enough to stand up to the piny herb). White balsamic vinegar balances the sweet and adds a dimension of fruity tang to the tart cranberries. If you don’t have white balsamic, use white wine vinegar or cider vinegar—regular balsamic is a bit too strong and would darken the finished sauce. Beyond your holiday plate (and inevitable holiday leftovers), add to a cheese plate or sandwich buffet. Omit the orange liqueur from the master recipe. Simmer cranberries with rosemary sprigs, sugar, water, and cranberries. Stir in balsamic vinegar.

Cloverleaf Rolls

If the yeast doesn't bubble, it may have expired; start over to avoid wasting time and ingredients. The bread basket is at its best when the contents are warm. Right before serving, wrap breads in foil; heat in a 350° oven for about 5 minutes for fresh-from-the-oven perfection.

Roasted Cranberries and Grapes with Rosemary

Your relish is going to get a much needed revamp with the addition of grapes and rosemary. Black grapes have thicker skins than red grapes, and they'll hold up better under the broiler.

Whole-Grain Corn Bread

Cornbread is the color of gold, and fits into our Southern-themed menu, so of course it belongs on your New Year’s Day table. This classic version gets a whole-grain spin with white whole-wheat flour. Buttermilk ensures a tender crumb. We love the simplicity of this version, but you could stir in cooked crumbled bacon, chopped green onion, or a dash of ground red pepper to kick up the heat. A cast-iron skillet is essential here: it gives the cornbread a gorgeous crust.

Nana's Rosemary Biscuits with Cranberries

When punching out dough rounds, avoid twisting the biscuit cutter, which will seal the edges and interfere with rising.

Cran-Blueberry Sauce with Candied Ginger

Make this sauce a couple of days ahead, and refrigerate in an airtight container. Reheat in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, adding water—a tablespoon or two—to thin it.

Old-Fashioned Mustard Pickles

Traditionally, the vegetables are salted and left to soften. Instead, we blanched them to tenderize before pickling.

Pecan-Pumpkin Drops

Take canned pumpkin out of the pie shell realm and stir into tender drop biscuits. Making turkey soup after Thanksgiving? You can serve these alongside, spread with a little honey butter.

Spiced Cranberry-Mango Chutney

Instead of a traditional cranberry sauce, go bold with a chile-spiced chutney made with fresh fruit and golden raisins.

Cherry-Port Cranberry Sauce

Port adds a grown-up twist, but you can sub unsweetened cherry or pomegranate juice, if you like.

Browned-Butter Rolls

Use store-bought refrigerated bread dough to make pretty ­knotted rolls that you can gussy up with your favorite toppings.

Corn Bread Stuffing Muffins

Here is a great shortcut to this favorite Thanksgiving side dish. It just may convince you to make stuffing more than once a year.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

In place of traditional cranberry sauce, try a faster relish. The flavor is bright, crisp, not too sweet, and ideal with turkey and trimmings. Make up to 3 days ahead.

Three-Ingredient Cranberry Sauce

You can "spike" your cranberry sauce by stirring in 1 to 2 tablespoons orange or black currant liqueur at the end. If you like it spiced, stir in ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon ground allspice.

Cinnamon-Date-Pecan Rolls with Maple Glaze

There's nothing about these sweet treats that's not absolutely wonderful. From the chewy dates and crunchy pecans inside to the buttery and yeasty dough to the maple glaze on top, they make a delicious breakfast with a hot cup of coffee. They're a worthy splurge, with just 226 calories and less than 5 grams of fat apiece.

Sweet Challah

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

This beautifully braided, chewy egg bread is a mainstay of the Jewish Sabbath table, but few have time to make one from scratch every week. The holidays are a great time to put in the extra effort and give this wonderful recipe a try―you won't regret it. It's a large loaf, but don't worry; leftovers make some of the best French toast you've ever had.

Apple-Sage Stuffing Cups

The muffin cups give you crispy edges and a tender interior in half the time, though the stuffing won't hold its shape like a traditional muffin. Presliced bread and prechopped onion and celery save time.

Classic Cranberry Sauce

That gelatinous stuff that comes from a can? It should be banned, when real cranberry sauce is this easy to make from scratch. Sugar, orange juice, cranberries, spices, and 12 minutes are all it takes. Try adding a dash of cayenne, too: It won't make the sauce spicy per se but it adds a subtle kick that's very tasty.

Mini Cranberry Panettones

If you've been to a traditional Italian-style bakery at Christmastime, you may already know the joy of these beloved fruit-and-nut studded sweet breads. Our version uses muffin cups to make panettones that are the perfect size to give as gifts. This is an easy recipe to experiment with, too―try substituting other nuts and dried fruits to make your own creations.

Cheese and Chive Challah

The traditional yeasted egg bread is enriched even more by adding cheese to the dough. We love the flavor of fontina, but Gruyère or another Swiss cheese would also work.

Framboise Cranberry Sauce

Belgian Framboise Lambic beer—a frothy, berry-colored beverage—adds an underlying sweetness that complements the cranberries.

Christmas Stollen

Order candied citron from, or omit it and add extra dried apricots and increase lemon rind to 1 tablespoon. Wrap this fruited bread in a tea towel and tie with a pretty ribbon for a lovely homemade gift.

Orange-Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

Citrusy sweet, these rolls won't take away from the main show, but they sure will add to it! Pull them from the oven just a few minutes before you serve to allow them to cool slighly.

Spiced Persimmon and Pecan Muffins

Traditional spiced muffins suddenly seem stylish when made with seasonal persimmons. There are two distinct types: Creamy-fleshed Hachiya is mashed to keep the muffins moist, while firmer Fuyu is diced for fruity bits with some bite.

Ginger-Pear Preserves

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Fruit preserves make a great gift because they let your loved ones enjoy the flavor of fresh fruit long after the holidays are over. This particular recipe, which adds spice and tart lemon to the fall fruit favorite, will keep up to six weeks in the fridge.

Toasted Almond and Cherry Scones

This bread comes together in less than 30 minutes and is best served warm from the oven. Substitute an equal amount of chopped pistachios or walnuts for the almonds, if you prefer.

Spicy Pickled Green Beans

Pleasantly sharp and vibrantly green—with just a few bright red peppers—these are a choice garnish for a cocktail buffet. If you’re making the recipe for a gift, the beans look gorgeous in tall glass jars.

Cranberry, Apple, and Walnut Sauce

Have this deep red sauce ready to pair with your roast before the guests begin rolling into town by making it up to two weeks ahead. If you prefer, frozen cranberries also work in this recipe.

Spiced Apricot Chutney

This tangy chutney is delicious on flatbreads or savored with leftover turkey or ham. We also recommend trying it on sandwiches or scones.

Fresh Cranberry-Orange Relish

Allow at least one day in the refrigerator to marry the bright, fresh flavors and you will see it is well worth the wait. Make up to three days ahead.

Walnut Bread

This recipe yields two loaves, which means you can make one for yourself and give one away with preserves as a tasty gift. Serve any leftovers toasted with a spot of butter and jam.

Fig-Walnut Sticky Buns

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

These sweet rolls start with or all-purpose Bakery Dinnner Rolls dough. They're delicious enough to garner our highest rating for taste.

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

A light hand with the dough will help to ensure tender biscuits. This method of folding the dough creates irresistible flaky layers. To maximize the number of biscuits you get from the recipe, gather the dough scraps after cutting and gently pat or reroll to a 3/4-inch thinkness. This dough can also be used as a base for Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits, Parmesan-Pepper Biscuits, Pistachio-Cranberry Scones.

Jezebel Sauce

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

With its sweet apricot and pineapple flavors and pepper-jelly kick, this spicy Southern condiment pairs marvelously with cheese and crackers or roasted meats. It's a snap to make, so keep its simple ingredients on hand just in case unexpected company arrives.

Potato-Sour Cream Biscuits

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Mashed potatoes give these unique biscuits density and body, but they're still crisp and buttery. Their texture and tangy flavor makes them a great choice for your holiday table―or for making a leftover-turkey-and-cranberry sauce sandwich.

Sun-Dried Tomato Jam

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Though it's called jam and is full of onion and tomato sweetness, this spread is not just for breakfast toast. Try it with goat cheese, as a main-dish sauce, or on pizza. The recipe makes four cups, so keep half and give the rest as a gift, or double the recipe and bring cheer to lots of coworkers and friends.

Basic Beer-Cheese Bread

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Drizzling butter over top of this quick bread twice during baking gives it a wonderfully brown and crisp crust, and a great rich flavor, accentuating the cheese spread throughout the loaf. The bread is endlessly variable; by changing the type of beer, cheese, and extra ingredients you can make a whole new dish. Check the recipe for apple-cheddar, manchego-jalapeño, and sopressata-asiago variations.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Most holiday recipes are made for dinner, but these playful muffins are perfect for a breakfast or brunch. Bite into an enchantingly peanutty whole wheat muffin and you'll find a pocket of sweet, fruity jam hiding inside. They're great warm or cool.

Cranberry Sauce with Cassis and Dried Cherries

This essential trimming can be made up to a week ahead. Cassis is black currant–flavored liqueur. If you can’t find it, substitute orange liqueur.

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