17 Festive Kwanzaa Recipe Ideas to Try

Flavored Slow Cooker Corn Bread
Photo: Jason Donnelly

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration that begins on December 26 and typically culminates in a celebratory dinner. Blogger Riche Holmes Grant (The Riche Life) celebrates both Christmas and Kwanzaa with her family. Kwanzaa, she says, "is an African American cultural holiday. It's all about family, community, and being together."

From mains and sides to desserts, these 21 Kwanzaa recipes are bold, colorful, and flavorful. Choose a few for your own Kwanzaa celebration, and incorporate them into your menus throughout the year.

01 of 17

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken on black serving tray
Jason Donnelly

Blogger Riche Holmes Grant puts a Caribbean spin on the menu: Her Jerk Chicken takes on maximum flavor as it marinates overnight in a mixture of chiles, brown sugar, and spices. Serve it with spicy pepper jelly.

02 of 17

Pressure Cooker Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Pressure Cooker Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Andy Lyons

This jazzy chicken and sausage gumbo is a great choice for a Kwanzaa celebration. A deep, coppery-brown roux (that cooks right in your pressure cooker!) and slices of okra are behind the dish's rich flavors. Serve the finished gumbo with hot cooked rice and corn bread muffins.

03 of 17

Black-Eyed Peas

Black-Eyed Peas
Andy Lyons

Fresh pork hocks make this black-eyed pea recipe hearty enough for your Kwanzaa main course. Simply serve it over rice, flavored with fresh oregano. Crushed red pepper adds a dash of heat.

04 of 17

Gluten Free Creole-Style Shrimp and Grits

Gluten Free Creole-Style Shrimp and Grits

Served over creamy homemade grits, this broth-based shrimp stew is rich and flavorful. This easy Kwanzaa recipe comes together in just 35 minutes. You can adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to make this recipe mild to flaming hot.

05 of 17

Maple-Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Maple-Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Andy Lyons

A blend of creamy Yukon gold potatoes and sweet potatoes make the base of this versatile Kwanzaa side dish that's sure to please any holiday crowd. Prepare the dish in your slow cooker ($25, Target) and serve the finished side with a sprinkle of crispy bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.

06 of 17

Savory Collard Greens

Savory Collard Greens
Andy Lyons

Simmered in broth, vinegar and an entire head of garlic, these greens are a delicious, holiday-worthy side. Serve crushed red pepper at the table for those who like a little heat.

Test Kitchen Tip: To remove grit, immerse greens in a clean sink filled with water. Rinse well and drain in a colander.

07 of 17

Sweet Potato Marshmallow Meringue Pie

Sweet Potato Marshmallow Meringue Pie
Carson Downing

Cookbook author (Black Girl Baking), photographer, and blogger (Chocolate for Basil) Jerrelle Guy piles her showstopping sweet potato pie with toasted meringue. Before baking, spoon the filling into a homemade hazelnut flour and chocolate crust. For maximum flavor, toast the hazelnut flour in a skillet until it gives off a popcorn scent.

Buy It: Black Girl Baking ($21, Target)

08 of 17

Bananas Foster Crisp

Bananas Foster Crisp
Carson Downing

If you have a few basic ingredients on hand, you can make Jerrelle's take on bananas Foster any night of the week in less than an hour. "I always have gingersnaps around during the holidays, and bananas are in my produce basket at all times." The buttery brown sugar-rum sauce bubbles bake, so you've got a warm, melty dessert that you didn't have to set on fire.

Test Kitchen Tip: Baking these crisps in shallow au gratin dishes means more of the banana browns and caramelizes. If you don't have au gratin minis, use a deep-dish pie plate instead

09 of 17

Spicy Sausage and Collard Soup

bowls of Spicy Sausage and Collard Soup with parmesan cheese
Carson Downing

Don't toss the rind on your wedge of Parmesan cheese! Use it to flavor this hearty Kwanzaa favorite. To make, simmer Italian sausage, collard greens and sweet bell peppers in the savory broth. Serve each bowl with grated Parmesan cheese and torn fresh basil.

10 of 17

Chicken Chorizo Gumbo

Chicken Chorizo Gumbo

This hearty gumbo is filled with classic flavors like okra, chicken and bell pepper. It simmers low and slow for 45 minutes on your stovetop. Don't skip the orange-herb rice topper—it fills each bite with citrusy fresh flavor.

11 of 17

Best Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Best Four-Cheese Macaroni Cheese
Kritsada Panichgul

Is there anything better than a creamy spoonful of homemade macaroni and cheese? We don't think so! Our four-cheese blend broils to bubbly perfection in just six minutes. Want to try something new for Kwanzaa this year? Whip up one of our tasty variations including truffle mac, bacon-blue cheese, or butternut squash mac.

12 of 17

Classic Peach Cobbler

Classic Peach Cobbler
Helen Norman

Save room for dessert! Top fresh peaches with sugar, cinnamon, and a homemade drop biscuit topper. It's good on its own but a scoop of vanilla ice cream takes this Kwanzaa dessert over the top.

13 of 17

Chicken Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings

Chicken Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings pot with wood spoon
Andy Lyons

Need a quick Kwanzaa recipe? This hearty stew calls for frozen mixed vegetables and pre-cooked chicken (pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for easy prep). Finish the dish with homemade cornmeal dumplings and freshly cracked black pepper.

14 of 17

Cornmeal Griddle Cakes

Cornmeal Griddle Cakes with sour cream

Fresh corn, bacon, buttermilk... these savory griddle cakes are packed with flavor! Prepare the batter and cook the cakes just before serving. We recommend serving them with creme fraiche and fresh chives, but they're equally good with a drizzle of maple syrup.

15 of 17

Red Beans Creole

Red Beans Creole

This year, try something new for Kwanzaa. This take on red beans creole isn't traditional (we've added mushrooms!) but it is filled with delicious flavors like garlic and creole seasoning. Can't get enough spice? Serve the dish with plenty of hot pepper sauce.

16 of 17

Candied Yams

Florence Mama’s Candied Yams
Squire Fox

You're just seven ingredients away from sweet candied yams. One reviewer raves: "My family won't eat yams cooked any other way. Frequently preparing this dish throughout the year." This big-batch recipe makes 10 servings.

17 of 17

Cheesy Grits Bowl

Cheesy Grits Bowl
Blaine Moats

Two kinds of melty cheese mean these grits are loaded with flavor. Top the finished bowl with sauteed mushrooms or try one of our variations like spicy chorizo, or bacon and egg. An extra sprinkle of cheese on top doesn't hurt!

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles