How To Have Christmas Entirely By Can

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Christmas time is here again, but you already knew that, didn't you? Of course you did. Even The Beatles knew when the holiday season had arrived (mainly because it hadn't "been 'round" since the year before). In fact, we'd bet good money that once Thanksgiving has officially passed, there's nary a soul unaware that Christmas time is upon us. If we're sounding a bit, well, bah humbug about the whole endeavor, it's not intentional. At least, not entirely. After all, we're fairly loath to complain about the most wonderful time of the year. Yet given the stress of the season, our inner Scrooge can't help but creep to the surface on occasion — and we know we're not alone. 

Frankly, the pressure to deliver an absolutely perfect Christmas is enough to dampen anyone's yuletide exuberance, so it's worth considering anything that might simplify your holiday preparations — like assembling your entire Christmas menu with canned food items. And since having your Thanksgiving entirely by can is eminently doable, well, there's no reason the canned-good-exclusive route can't be achieved for Christmas, too.

While a number of our canned turkey day recommendations are easily applicable to Christmas meals, we weren't interested in simply rehashing what we've already written. With that in mind, we've compiled an entirely new set of holiday food items to consider for your December-based celebrations. Without further ado, here's our guide on how to have Christmas entirely by can.

Mini crescent dogs (with Vienna sausages)

By and large, crafting a Christmas smorgasbord with only cans was a bit easier than doing so for Thanksgiving. We can't say precisely why, but perhaps we simply felt less beholden to a single, massive meal for this holiday. After all, Christmas gatherings — both casual and formal — tend to occur throughout the entire month rather than on one particular day. Consequently, we wanted to provide a canned appetizer option for a more laidback get-together, and few finger foods are more crowd-pleasing than mini crescent dogs. But instead of the usual cocktail wieners, consider making this classic appetizer with a can of Vienna sausages by Libby's (available on Amazon).

For one thing, miniature crescent dogs translate to a group snack setting better than most other foods. Additionally, Vienna sausages' flavor profile is immensely similar to hot dogs, meaning this simple swap ensures you've got a delightful Christmas app without violating our canned goods restriction.

As for the crescent component of this dish, there's likely any number of off-brand varieties at most supermarkets. But for our money, you can't beat the classic can from Pillsbury – and since it's Christmas, you might as well splurge on the name brand.

Pickled herring with crackers

Our great melting pot of a nation consists of immigrants from all corners of the globe, so it's worth considering the world beyond our borders whenever possible. After all, pondering the whole wide world lends us some interesting pathways when compiling a Christmas menu with exclusively canned items. Case in point: Canned pickled herring (sold by MW Polar on Amazon), which, according to OnMilwaukee, is traditionally eaten in many parts of Europe (and Wisconsin) on Christmas Eve.

As Kim Wall, the owner of Ma Baensch Herring in Wisconsin, told WISN in 2019, pickled herring is a popular holiday dish in the Badger state with immigrants from Germany, Netherlands, and Scandinavia. While pickled herring can be eaten as is, the preserved fish product seems to be best enjoyed when paired with crackers.

Luckily, the canned item requirement doesn't remove all cracker options from the table. In fact, Keebler sells canisters of soda crackers (available at Target), allowing you to maintain the can theme while snacking the night before Christmas.

Baked stuffed shrimp casserole

Obviously, Christmas day itself is considered the peak of the season in the U.S. But for many families throughout the country (this writer included), Christmas Eve tends to be just as important as the actual holiday. This can be seen in many families of Eastern European descent, particularly Polish-Americans. After all, Christmas Eve features the meatless meal called Wigilia (via Culture.PL), which leads to our first main course dish in a baked stuffed shrimp casserole.

Now, if you find yourself scoffing at the notion of creating a baked stuffed shrimp casserole entirely with canned items, it's actually far simpler than you'd imagine. For one thing, the existence of canned butter from Red Feather (available on Amazon) makes the entire endeavor far more feasible, since canned shrimp and breadcrumbs are both fairly common sights at the grocery store.

While the medium shrimp from Bumble Bee (sold by Walmart) may not be as large as you'd ideally want for baked stuffed shrimp, it'll certainly work in a pinch. Toss in a canister of breadcrumbs from Progresso (available at Target), and this rich, comforting, entirely canned casserole may make you wonder whether fresh ingredients are necessary at all.

Roast beef

Any number of proteins can credibly anchor a Christmas meal, including (but not limited to) turkey, ham, and beef. And while we'd love to include every possible (canned) main course on our Christmas table, that decision may leave you overwhelmed — thereby defeating the entire purpose of using canned foods for Christmas dinner in the first place. Of course, while canned hams are a dime a dozen, and cooked canned turkey meat is available from Keystone (sold by Amazon), we're singling out our personal favorite Christmas day meat with fully-cooked, canned roast beef from Kirkland (sold by Amazon).

Perhaps we're just massive fans of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" cartoon, but roast beef — or "roast beast," as it's known in Whoville — has always resonated more than other Christmas-centric foods. To be sure, a canned beef option won't provide the same aesthetic eye candy offered by a whole standing prime rib roast, but it'll get the job done.

Since serving an entire roast beef isn't feasible with canned items, you may want to consider serving it over a bed of vegetables (as seen in this unique roast beef recipe). This allows you to retain some visual appeal without resorting to non-canned foods.

Roasted potatoes

We're not oblivious to the fact that mashed potatoes may be a bigger draw for Christmas diners than its roasted derivative. Frankly, our readers flat-out told us as much, ranking mashed potatoes above all other traditional Christmas side dishes in a 2021 survey. But seeing as we already included mashed potatoes on our Thanksgiving-by-can menu, we'll go with the far healthier — but no less decadent — option in roasted potatoes.

Actually, cooking roasted potatoes with canned products may be even easier to execute than mashed potatoes. Walmart sells pre-cooked, pre-diced potatoes, after all, which eliminates the need to peel or chop your potatoes and reduces the overall cooking time. Since a number of canned olive oil containers are available, as well — including one from Filippo Berio (available at Walmart) — you'll be able to toss and coat your potatoes in the necessary oil before they enter the oven.

Of course, many canned vegetables are notoriously high in sodium (via South Florida Sun Sentinel). In other words, unless you're purchasing a no-salt-added variety of canned potatoes — or willing to rinse the potatoes beforehand — you'll want to be cautious about any additional salt you might add.

Roasted sweet potatoes and carrots

We didn't intend to create a roasted food theme when compiling this list of Christmas-by-can dinner choices. But seeing as our Christmas table already features roast beef and roasted (non-sweet) potatoes, we might as well keep that party going. And since sweet potatoes are a must-have for the holiday, we're turning to a canned variety to create a roasted dish — while adding some baby carrots to diversify the menu. 

The combination of carrots and sweet potatoes is a match made in heaven, particularly when the pair is roasted together. After all, the two share a similar flavor profile, according to American Sweet Potato, and the two vegetables' comparable texture ensures they cook fairly evenly.

Since the basic components for oven roasted sweet potatoes include potatoes, sugar, and olive oil, a can of cut sweet potatoes in syrup by Princella (sold by Walmart) gives you the first two ingredients in one. Add some baby carrots from Le Sueur (also sold by Walmart) to the sweet potatoes, toss the duo in some Filippo Berio canned olive oil (again, from Walmart), and your roasted sweet potato and carrot medley will dazzle any holiday diners — with no one the wiser of its canned origins.

Buttered green beans

We were determined to include some sort of straightforward vegetable option on our Christmas entirely-by-can menu. Of course, if we're being perfectly honest, this wasn't an especially difficult challenge — and we didn't need to strain ourselves to find a decent selection. After all, according to the USDA, more than $7 billion worth of canned vegetables and fruits were sold in 2008 — meaning the options were virtually endless. Still, we had to choose something specific for our canned Christmas, and who can argue with buttered green beans?

Since we didn't want to recommend green bean casserole (given the canned seltzer option we'll get to momentarily), we went with the adjacent, less-processed version. Any canned green bean brand is likely to get the job done without fail (including Green Giant), and Red Feather's canned butter (sold by Amazon) allows you to avoid deviating from the canned Christmas preference.

Obviously, you're more than welcome to go all out with this dish. But we're not suggesting anything beyond opening the two cans, combining the ingredients, and heating them.

Biscuits

A bread component is absolutely essential to a fancy meal, particularly during the holidays. Of course, while any number of folks may be partial to straightforward dinner rolls at their Christmas table, we can only work with what's available — you know, can-wise. As a result, for our Christmas dinner made entirely by can, we decided to go with one of our favorite indulgent canned baked goods from Pillsbury: biscuits.

Actually, the inclusion of Pillsbury's biscuits provides a fair amount of choices for your holiday meal. For instance, if you're partial to sweet Hawaiian rolls, Pillsbury sells a biscuit version in its Grands! line. Prefer a pre-sweetened dough? Go ahead and grab yourself a can of Pillsbury's honey butter biscuits — or follow your sweet tooth all the way, and go with a frosted, chocolate chip-flavored biscuit can.

Whatever your bread preference, you'll be able to scratch that itch with one of Pillsbury's canned biscuit varieties. Frankly, there's a good chance biscuits will be featured at our Christmas dinner this year – even without a canned food requirement.

Fruitcake in a tin can

We have to admit: We're not sure we've ever encountered a single person who genuinely enjoys fruitcake. Now, it's clearly an indisputably important component of the holiday season, and one of the most famous desserts connected to Christmas time — but it's also somewhat of a laughingstock at the holiday dessert table. Of course, maybe the real issue is just the lack of a quality product — which means enjoying Christmas by can may give you the best fruitcake you've ever tasted.

Actually, this may be the only way we'd consider consuming an actual fruitcake at Christmas. We wouldn't have to ponder any mysterious ingredients with the two-pound fruitcake in a tin can sold by Beatrice Bakery Co., for starters. More than that, though, is the fact that we'd be supporting a small business during the holidays — which only helps make our season bright.

We're sure we could have concocted a recipe of sorts with canned items, and guided you through the baking process of your own Christmas fruitcake. But why bother? Take the easy way out with your fruitcake this Christmas, and purchase a canned cake instead.

Popcorn tin (with three flavors)

Few corporate executives could match the sophisticated taste of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) on "30 Rock." We're not saying we'd make any major life decisions based on the character, of course, but we can certainly find some guidance on occasion. And the immense joy Jack derived from receiving a popcorn tin Christmas present during the Season 2 episode "Ludachristmas" — one that featured "all his favorite" flavors – convinced us it belongs on our list of Christmas treats that are prepared entirely by canned foods.

Beyond the delicious clash of cheese, butter, and caramel flavored popcorns in a singular container, the bevy of available popcorn tin options makes it a fantastic Christmas-by-can dessert. At least nine different small businesses across the U.S. were selling gourmet popcorn tins for the holidays as of 2020, according to Thrillist, although a cheaper version is available at Walmart for the financially frugal.

While there's no wrong choice when it comes to a gourmet popcorn tin, we'd likely opt for the nation's (self-proclaimed) No. 1 gourmet popcorn delivery company in Pops Corn. The company has more than 15 different Christmas and holiday-themed popcorn tins for sale as of December 2022, featuring numerous designs and sizes. In other words, there's a popcorn tin that best fits your needs — while always tasting great.

Apple cider and eggnog (hard and non-alcoholic)

The competition between eggnog people and apple cider folks has divided our nation for far too long — something "Boy Meets World" fans on Reddit understand all too well. Of course, the holiday beverage feud had been raging for years before the TGIF sitcom's Season 5 episode "A Very Topanga Christmas." So in the interest of an all-are-welcome holiday celebration (with cans), we're following the lead of Snoopy and the Red Baron and setting aside any differences to offer both eggnog and apple cider this Christmas (entirely by can).

Of course, canned apple cider is a fairly obvious choice, particularly alcoholic cider, with a variety of different hard apple cider brands are for sale as of December 2022 at Total Wine & More. But you can include a non-alcoholic apple cider for the underage or sober attendees at your Christmas gathering, as well, including a 12-pack from Beak & Skiff Orchards in Lafayette, New York (sold on its website).

As for eggnog, we were somewhat surprised at the lack of ready-to-drink canned eggnog drinks. But Java Frost does offer an eggnog drink mix in a can, which you can find on Amazon. Simply add water, and your nog is good to go — and remains within the guidelines of using exclusively canned products.

Green bean casserole seltzer

As you may recall, we didn't include green bean casserole as a potential side, but that doesn't mean the dish should be completely absent from your December-focused meals. Rather than include the food itself, though, we're going with the simplest canned version available in the green bean casserole seltzer from Aura Bora.

Now, the more nitpicky readers out there may wonder why we'd include this green bean casserole seltzer in our guide for having Christmas entirely by can. After all, in our review of the product, we weren't exactly raving about its taste or quality. But what can we say? Time has a way of shifting perspective. And since our main quibble with Aura Bora's seltzer was its lack of truly indulgent flavors, we think it's a perfect fit here as a light, non-alcoholic canned beverage.

Frankly, while we could understand someone calling us hypocritical for this inclusion, we'd have to disagree with that characterization. Christmas is about sharing experiences with your loved ones — and if nothing else, sipping a green bean casserole seltzer is a trip. Maybe it wouldn't be our favorite item at a Christmas meal by way of canned goods, but it's still worth a spot on our list.

Peppermint hot chocolate

We've always been somewhat surprised that Judy the elf's famous hot cocoa from "The Santa Clause" was just straight chocolate. Not to say we'd dismiss an unadulterated hot chocolate beverage in any situation. But given the season — and, well, the candy cane aesthetic of the classic Christmas film's actual North Pole — we'd have expected a peppermint cocoa being offered instead. Of course, we're not restricted to a nearly three-decade-old film's recipe, and if you're aiming for that peppermint chocolate flavor from a can during the season, Starbucks has you covered.

It's not exactly shocking that Starbucks offers a fantastic make-at-home peppermint cocoa option (sold on Amazon). After all, the coffee chain is so well-known for its holiday-themed beverages that there's an entire secret menu offering Christmas flavors outside the season. Beyond the expected quality, though, is the fact it doesn't get much easier than adding several scoops of peppermint cocoa mix to a mug of steaming hot milk.

And, at the end of the day, that's what this is all about, right? Discovering ways to relieve some of the Christmas season's inherent stress without diminishing your overall enjoyment of the season is the name of the game. Thankfully, if you want some (canned) chocolatey, pepperminty goodness this Christmas, there's a delicious and simple solution at your disposal.