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BestReviews baking expert offers advice on Easter main and side dishes

Expertly reviewed by Andrea Boudewijn

Easter dinner will be delicious with these pro recommendations

Ham isn’t the only dish to look forward to indulging in during Easter dinner. From alternative main courses to flavorful side dishes, putting together a complete holiday meal requires some careful thought. That’s why we asked BestReviews baking expert Andrea Boudewijn for her input on planning an Easter meal.

Boudewijn offered tips and suggestions for making your Easter recipes special and delicious. She also included vegetarian options, product suggestions and her Aunt Pansy's sweet potato casserole that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.   

In this article: Instant Pot Duo Crisp Multicooker, KitchenAid Artisan Series Stand Mixer and Delling Serving Platter Set

Choosing an Easter main course

Whether you plan to prepare ham, another type of meat, or a vegetarian option, Boudewijn said that “the sky’s the limit” when it comes to deciding on the main course. However, she advised keeping your guests in mind when making your selection. “Do they have dietary restrictions? Ask them, and respect their choices by creating a few dishes they can have,” she said.

Boudewijn’s tips to up your Easter ham game

“Whether you buy a cooked ham or bake your own, you can make it delicious and amazing,” Boudewijn said. She then shared the following tips for handling ham at Easter:

  • The key to a flavorful ham that’s tender and juicy is all about the way it’s prepared. “If you're baking from scratch, I'd recommend keeping all the fat on the piece of ham you're cooking — don't trim it off. Fat is flavor,” she said.
  • The cooking method matters. “Cook any ham low and slow for the best, most fall-apart ham on the planet,” Boudewijn said. “Try a slow cooker or Instant Pot for a super-moist option that's easy to prep and cook.”
  • A precooked ham is still a delicious, simple option that you can customize. Because it’s easier to make a precooked ham, many home cooks prefer this simpler option. Boudewijn said she often makes this type of ham and offered recommendations for bringing out awesome flavors. “Mix some honey with brown sugar to make a glaze and pour it over your cold or room-temp ham and set it in a roasting pan. Place it in the oven and warm it at 200 to 250 degrees for about an hour to have warm, fresh ham ready for serving.”

Alternatives to ham

Not everyone likes or can eat ham. Fortunately, there are many other options for the main course. Boudewijn suggested turkey, duck, pheasant, venison, goose, or crown roast in place of ham. 

Vegetarians have options, too, she said. “Tofurky brand makes a ham-shaped tofu that can be cooked similarly to a pork ham. You can also make Impossible taco meat and have Easter tacos — no need to stick to tradition.” 

Sides for an Easter meal

Regardless of the main dish you decide to make for Easter, you’ll need to pair it with sides for a complete meal. There are no rules about what to serve for this springtime holiday, so you can’t go wrong with a special recipe or a classic favorite. Boudewijn offered advice — and a family recipe — for preparing her favorite side dishes. 

  • The Easter Bunny likes carrots and so do guests. Roast a side of carrots with a brown sugar glaze to add a pop of orange to the table. 
  • Mashed potatoes are a perennial favorite. Consider making yours interesting with the addition of garlic. “I love to use Yukon Gold potatoes and leave the soft skins on, mixing them in for a nice toothsome texture,” she said. 
  • Consider a delicious kale salad to add some green to the mixture.
  • Enjoy a sweet potato mash roasted with a pecan/butter/brown sugar streusel. It's like dessert with dinner!

Aunt Pansy’s sweet potato casserole recipe

Boudewijn said that there are two sets of ingredients used to fill a pie plate (or casserole pan) for this casserole — the sweet potato base and the topping. The results, she added, are “amazing.”

Sweet potato mixture:

3 cups cooked mashed sweet potato

2 eggs

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Dash of cinnamon

Topping mixture:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup (8 tablespoons or one stick) melted butter


  • Mix together the first six ingredients (up to cinnamon) and pour into a pie pan
  • Mix together the streusel topping and make a layer over the mashed sweet potato mixture.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, then serve.

Best products for preparing Easter dinner, according to Boudewijn 

Instant Pot Duo Crisp Multicooker

There are many dishes you can make in this Instant Pot thanks to its 11 functions, which include air frying, roasting and baking. You can also use it to make enough food for a group, as it boasts a generous 8-quart capacity. 

Sold by Amazon, Wayfair and Home Depot

Wusthof Classic 9-inch Hollow Edge Carving Knife

With a durable German steel blade and contoured handle, this well-made knife is ready to carve the Easter ham or any other delicacy that requires slicing to serve it to guests. 

Sold by Amazon 

Baltique Marrakesh Wooden Salad Serving Utensil Set

Not only will this pair of utensils come in handy for serving salad, pasta and more, but it will also look great on your Easter table. It includes two servers that are made of eye-catching colored birchwood. 

Sold by Amazon

KitchenAid Artisan Series Stand Mixer

Whether you’re making Easter dinner or a standard weeknight meal, you can’t go wrong with a stand mixer by KitchenAid. This beloved kitchen tool offers multiple speeds, a 5-quart stainless steel bowl and a tilt-head design that make it easy to mix ingredients for some of your favorite recipes. 

Sold by Amazon, Wayfair and Home Depot

Delling Serving Platter Set

These ceramic serving plates feature a simplistic design that won’t clash with your Easter table decor. The set includes three platters in different sizes for serving everything from the main course to a side of veggies. 

Sold by Amazon   

Other top BestReviews picks

All-Clad Programmable Slow Cooker

You’ll have more time to spend with your guests this easter when you use a slow cooker to prepare the main course or a tasty side dish. Simply put your food in the insert, set the programmable timer and let the appliance do most of the work for you. 

Sold by Amazon

Farberware Nonstick Steel Roaster

From roasted vegetables to the Easter ham, this durable steel roaster with a chrome-plated drip rack produces outstanding results for many types of food you’ll be putting on your holiday table. 

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Accmor 11-piece Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons/Cups Set

You’ll need the pieces in this measuring spoons and cups set when you make Aunt Pansy’s mouthwatering sweet potato casserole. It includes six spoons and five cups with clear measurement markings on their handles. 

Sold by Amazon   

Nepnuser Linen Happy Easter Table Runner

This table runner will give your table an Easter theme, as it has Easter egg graphics and springtime colors. You can choose from three different lengths. 

Sold by Amazon

Lenox 65-piece Portola Flatware Set

A new flatware set will make your Easter meal that much more special. With 12 place settings and a classy design, you’ll enjoy this Lenox set this Easter and at every holiday dinner all year long. 

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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