When I was growing up, we had ham for Easter dinner every...single...year. So, I've decided to post about Easter Dinner ideas that aren't ham. Plus, our complete recipe for an Easter menu of Prime Rib, Au Jus, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, and Brussels Sprouts.
I grew up eating ham for Easter - Always.
My mom liked to order a ham from Honeybaked Hams for the holiday.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against ham. I have an orange bourbon glazed ham recipe that is out of this world if you want ham. And the leftovers make for some incredible ham and bean soup, too.
But sometimes you want something different. For that reason, I have put together some of our favorite ham alternative recipes below.
You'll also get great ideas for appetizers, side-dishes, and even using up leftovers!
Finally, I share a sample menu with start-to-finish instructions for delivering one of our favorite alternatives to ham for Easter Dinner: Prime Rib with Au Jus, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, and Brussels Sprouts.
My Favorite Easter Dinner Ideas: main dishes
An impressive standing rib roast (a.k.a. prime rib) makes for a show-stopping Easter Dinner. It's real crowd pleaser. You'll just love the garlic-rosemary rub we use—and don't forget about the au jus! I show you how to capture all that flavorful broth.
Plus, the leftovers make the most awesome prime rib sandwiches you ever tasted!
This easy beef tenderloin recipe is in tight competition with the prime rib roast.
The presentation of a whole beef tenderloin roast at Easter dinner is truly impressive. The meat tastes fabulous paired with the creamy, delectable green peppercorn sauce.
"I don't want filet mignon for Easter!" Said nobody, ever.
The key to this recipe is the reverse sear. This easy cooking process delivers perfectly cooked, pink meat all the way to the edges of your steak.
Once you've learned this reverse sear process, you'll never cook thick steaks any other way!
Rack of pork is a fantastic alternative for Easter dinner. Not only is it an impressive roast to bring to the table, but it's:
- enough to feed a large family
- virtually impossible to mess up
- always juicy and delicious
Cut the bones off or serve as gigantic pork chops. Your guests win either way!
Time to pull out your smoker or charcoal grill and get smoking!
This smoked pork butt recipe will feed an army on a small budget. Serve it as sandwiches or simply fork tender meat with a few sides (those are coming up later in the post!).
Luscious, herb-roasted Cornish Game Hens, cooked in the same pot with a delicious, double-mushroom barley pilaf.
This dish is easily scalable from 2 to 6 people. Yet another impressive Easter dinner presentation! What's not to love?
This basic recipe makes a super-easy, delicious Easter meal for two. However, you can easily scale this up to as many as eight.
Roasting the potatoes in the same tray allows the juices from the lamb to infuse the potatoes, enhancing the flavor even more. Using one tray also makes clean-up a breeze!
Roast lamb is an extremely common Easter dinner entree in the UK—in fact, the Brits almost need a roundup like this one, but named "Easter Dinner Ideas that aren't LAMB."
The same is not true here in the U.S.
This roast leg of lamb is an incredibly easy, yet impressive and is a delicious choice for your Easter dinner.
And the bone-in leg makes for a fantastic presentation at the table.
This is my family's favorite meal for special-occasions. It has citrus notes and wonderful, savory flavors. The roasting chicken infuses the rice with its juices, and the end result is nothing short of amazing.
Plus, everything cooks in one pan, making cleanup a cinch.
This delicious duck is perfumed with herbs from the in!ide and finished with a tangy sauce. Perfect for feeding a small gathering.
Not sure what to do with the duck carcass? Make Slow-Cooker Duck Pho.
This turkey recipe turns out perfectly juicy every time thanks to a wine-and-butter-soaked cheesecloth that keeps the turkey from drying out as it roasts.
Although this is a no-brainer for Thanksgiving, it's also a perfect, non-ham option for Easter dinner.
If you have leftovers, you must make Creamy Green Chile Turkey Enchiladas.
Easter side dishes and appetizers
Regardless of your main course on Easter, you'll need some soft dinner rolls. And how awesome would it be to serve them fresh from the oven rather than store-bought?
Don't be intimidated. Anyone can make these—and they taste better than anything you'd find at the store.
What is Easter without deviled eggs? It's the addition of sweet pickle relish that raises the bar on this appetizer.
Are you coloring easter eggs this year? Make sure to check out my Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs - Every time! recipe. It will not let you down.
We save this homemade cream-of-mushroom soup for holidays and special occasions. It's so rich and creamy— making Easter the perfect time to indulge!
This pasta salad is always a favorite for any occasion, including Easter. It's my tangy, sweet dressing—with just the right amount of herbs—that differentiates this pasta salad from all the others.
I like to add chunks of cheese and pepperoni, too!
Nobody will see this coming! Chimichurri pasta salad is just amazing, with its robust, herby flavor. If you like chimichurri sauce, you need to make this pasta salad.
Even if you haven't made chimichurri sauce, you need to make this pasta salad.
This is a flavorful vibrant salad that makes for a beautiful presentation at Easter. Simple to make and always a hit.
This is served with thin-sliced red onion, blue cheese crumbles, and balsamic vinaigrette.
It’s wonderful as an accompaniment for roasted meat and steaks—or on its own for a light lunch.
This is a classic for any holiday meal. My recipe uses homemade cream of mushroom soup and fresh green beans.
Macaroni and cheese is a staple side dish at Easter time in our household.
This version is done all in one pot in about 15 minutes flat. It's creamy and decadent, with far less cleanup than traditional mac and cheese.
This recipe makes a lovely side dish for any spring meal, or a light meal by itself. Vibrant and fresh, the dish is done in less than 30 minutes.
This is made with orzo (risoni) pasta instead of the barley used for authentic orzotto, so it's much faster to make! It makes an unusual, attention-grabbing side that's perfect for your Easter dinner!
Perfect for Easter dinner where you want to work ahead as much as possible.
Peeling and pre-soaking ahead of time removes a lot of the hands-on work from go-time.
This our absolute must-have side-dish for Date Night Prime Rib Roast. The subtle horseradish perfectly accents the richness of the beef.
Creamy and delicious, but with more texture and color than standard mashed potatoes.
This is a vintage recipe is a fixture for all holiday meals, including Easter. It pairs perfectly with any meat entree we are serving, but our favorites are Classic Roast Turkey and Herb-Roasted Rack of Pork.
A delicious spin on the traditional mayo-based potato salad recipe, complete with flavoring hacks to make sure that the potatoes are well-seasoned. This side-dish is a staple for any holiday dinner or potluck!
Using up Easter leftovers...
My favorite part about holiday dinners may just be what we do with the leftovers. Check out these delicious ideas!
If you DO decide to make ham for Easter, I won't judge you. Make sure to choose a bone-in ham so that you can use the bone and leftover meat to make THIS soup:
Comfort food at its easiest! I always make a huge batch because it freezes really well. This deeply flavorful soup is sure to be a family favorite!
This is my most popular leftover turkey recipe. These enchiladas are creamy, decadent, and irresistible.
Assembling the enchiladas is a fun activity to do with kids, or with your "Friendsgiving" or holiday dinner guests.
An easy enchiladas recipe with even easier chilaquile and casserole-style options.
Enchiladas are such a great way to use up leftover meat. You can also substitute chicken, turkey or pulled pork!
Pure, delicious comfort food. It’s fast, easy, and the perfect way to use up turkey or chicken leftovers.
All made in the same pot for easy clean-up!
A delicious, fun way to use up leftover ham and pork.
These quesadillas are ooey gooey, melty delicious, with a wonderful tang from dill pickle and mustard.
If you made duck for your holiday dinner, make stock with the carcass and any leftover meat for this delicious Vietnamese soup.
Sample Easter Dinner Menu: Prime Rib with Au Jus, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, and Brussels Sprouts
FOR THE PRIME RIB
- 1 8-lb. Prime Rib, bone in (see Recipe Note #1)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 5 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
- 5 cups beef broth, low sodium
- 5 cups water
For the Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
- 4 lb red potatoes, cubed and pre-soaked in cold water (see Recipe Note #2)
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1 ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 ½ tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 2 tablespoon fresh chives, minced (for garnish; optional)
For the Brussels Sprouts
- 2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 1 ½ tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
For the Prime Rib
- Remove the prime rib from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting and thoroughly dry with paper toweling. Remove all but ¼" of the fat cap. Make criss-cross cuts into the fat cap all over the top of the roast.
- Preheat oven to 450º. While the oven preheats, mix the garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil to form a paste. Rub the paste all over the roast, pressing down into the criss-cross cuts you made in the fat cap. Add the beef broth and water to the bottom of a roasting pan, place a roasting rack inside, and set the roast on the rack, fat side up.
- If you have a leave in meat thermometer, place the probe into the center of the roast, avoiding any bone (for bone-in roasts) and place into the pre-heated oven.
- Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325º. Continue roasting until the temperature on the digital thermometer reads 10ºF below your final desired temperature (see Recipe Notes #3 and #5).
- Remove the roast to a cutting board and tent with foil for at least 30 minutes. While the roast rests, make the mashed potatoes, au jus, and Brussels sprouts.
- Slice roast into individual servings. Note that slices from the middle will be more rare than those taken from the ends of the roast.
For the Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
- Drain the potatoes and add to a pot of cold water (potatoes should be covered by at least 1 inch). Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, then remove cover and continue boiling over medium-high heat until potato cubes are easily pierced with a paring knife. (Make the au jus while the potatoes cook!)
- Drain the potatoes well in a colander and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the butter and sour cream: mix with a spoon to allow the butter to melt before you start mixing. Add salt and pepper. (While the butter is melting into the potatoes, begin steaming the Brussels sprouts)
- Set an electric beater on low and mix the potatoes until all large chunks are broken up, about 35 seconds. Add milk and continue mixing until incorporated, about another 30 seconds. Taste to check the texture and seasoning, adjusting as needed. Do not over mix.
- Fold in the horseradish to incorporate.
- Serve, sprinkling each serving with chives (if you like).
For the Au Jus
- Degrease the pan drippings using a fat separator; add to a saucepan over medium heat.
- Reduce for 5 minutes, or until the au jus takes on an intensely beefy flavor (add additional water or beef broth as necessary).
For the Brussels Sprouts
- Steam the Brussels sprouts until just tender, either using a microwave steamer (see Recipe Note #4) or a stovetop steamer. Check the tenderness of the sprouts after 3 minutes of steaming using a paring knife.
- Drain water from the steamer and add the sprouts, butter, salt, and pepper. Stir until the butter is completely melted and the sprouts are coated with the mixture.
- It's perfectly fine to use a boneless prime rib: you'll have even more servings (or leftovers!). Boneless prime ribs also typically take less time to cook, so watch that thermometer!
- We like our mashed potatoes skin-on, but you can peel your potatoes if you prefer. The pre-soak is to remove some of the starch that can make mashed potatoes gummy in texture.
- This can take up to an additional 2.5 hours (total cook time 2 hours, 45 minutes), depending on your oven and the exact size of your roast. Be sure to take temperature readings from a couple of different spots. See chart below for the final internal temperatures (after resting the roast) for various degrees of doneness.
- I explain how to construct a DIY microwave steamer in my Easy Microwave Brussels Sprouts post.
- Prime Rib Roast: see chart below for the final internal temperatures (after resting the roast) for various degrees of doneness.
- Rare: 125 ºF (remove from oven at 115 ºF)
- Medium Rare: 135 ºF (remove from oven at 125 ºF)
- Medium: 145 ºF (remove from oven at 135 ºF)
- Medium Well: 150 ºF (remove from oven at 140 ºF)
- Well Done: 160 ºF (remove from oven at 150 ºF)
To Customize Your Easter Dinner
- Choose your favorite appetizers from the post above based on how many people you plan to serve.
- Choose your main entree from the post above.
- Choose a starchy side dish (mashed potatoes, pasta, rice). Note that Cornish Game Hens with Mushroom Barley Pilaf and Meyer Lemon Chicken and Rice already include a starchy side.
- Choose 2–3 green vegetable sides from the post above.
Be sure to thoroughly read through all of the recipes. Work ahead wherever possible, and write out a "game plan" detailing when you need to start and finish cooking each dish.
About the nutrition information below: this is wildly overestimated because it assumes that every bit of fat on the prime rib roast is consumed, which...EW. Trim that stuff off.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1/10 of the meal for each guest
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1694Total Fat: 126gSaturated Fat: 53gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 59gCholesterol: 356mgSodium: 1401mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 91g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks!
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