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Save money (to use for holiday shopping!) and enjoy more flavorful winter meals by shopping seasonally. The best December fruits and vegetables, including cruciferous veggies, citrus, and so much more. Discover the winter fruits and veggies that are at their freshest and most affordable, plus how to use them in colorful winter recipes.
While fall harvest season has wrapped up, December delivers its own cast of seasonal produce. It’s like an early holiday gift from Mother Nature! Whether you’re hosting a bowl game-viewing tailgate party, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas dinner, New Year’s Eve or simply dinner for one, several produce picks are at their prime in December.
So what’s in season in December? Zippy citrus, colorful tropical fruits, cruciferous and root veggies, hearty greens, and beyond.
Save money and add more flavor to your recipes by investing wisely in seasonal winter fruits and vegetables, like those listed below in my guide to what’s in season in December. Compared to produce that’s shipped to your grocery store from thousands of miles away, in-season fruits and vegetables tend to be much fresher and budget-friendly.
Consider adding these December fruits and vegetables to your grocery shopping list. Then read on for inspiration for how to put them to good use in a wide variety of weekday and holiday-worthy recipe ideas.
Table of Contents
What’s in Season in December?
- Tropical and citrus fruits: There’s a very good reason boxes of citrus are one of the signature gifts of the holidays. Clementines, oranges, tangerines, tangelos, grapefruit, and lemons make up one of the largest categories of what’s in season in December. For a little preview of spring break flavors, tropical fruits like kiwi, papayas, and pomegranates are ready to party…and ready to use in cocktails, smoothies, fruit salads, marinades, and more.
- Winter berries and rose family fruits: Stick with frozen if you’re in the mood for spring and summer berries like strawberries and blueberries. But cranberries? Dive in; they’re at their freshest and best in winter, just in time to make all of your cranberry sauce, cookie, pie, tarts and muffin dreams a reality. Also ideal for tarts, pies, and muffins, you’ll find a bounty of apples and pears in December. For baking, snacking, or saucing, you can’t go wrong.
- Winter squash and root vegetables: I totally dig root veggies this time of year (literally and figuratively!). Parsnips, rutabagas, beets, turnips and sweet potatoes are ready for harvesting and putting to work in mashes, soups, salads, or casseroles. Winter squash varieties like acorn, pumpkin, butternut, delicata, and spaghetti squash have a long shelf life and loads of naturally-sweet yet earthy flavor in winter. Try any or all of the above roasted. And for the non-spaghetti styles, mash, stew, or blend into dips or pie filling.
- Brassicas: Just like we can’t get enough Christmas Crack and Eggnog this time of year, my family goes on a big brassica (aka cruciferous vegetable) kick in December. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are all in season in December, and ready for all of the trendy creations you may have seen on TikTok and Instagram. Transform them steaks, gnocchi, or pizza crusts, use them as a sub for mashed “potatoes” or rice, or, you know, let them shine in their original glory as part of salads and roasts. Sprouts, kale, and cabbage are stellar in salads, soups, stews, sheet pan dinners, and stir-fries.
The Best Fruits and Vegetables to Eat in December
Tropical and Citrus Fruit Recipes
Sweet-tart citrus, including clementines, oranges tangelos, tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit are prime candidates for juicing. But that’s only the beginning! Feature their bright flavor in homemade salad dressings, cocktails, smoothies, jams, and salads. Try papayas, persimmons, pomegranates, and kiwi on fruit pizza, in salads, in drink recipes, or eaten freshly-washed; tropical fruits are such a treat as a snack.
Winter Berries and Rose Family Fruit Recipes
Isn’t it lovely how prime baking season aligns with the prime time for winter seasonal fruits like cranberries, apples, and pears? Besides in muffins, pies, quick breads, galettes, and strudels, these December fruits can steal the show in condiments like cranberry sauce or applesauce, or slow-cook them into fruit butter.
Winter Squash and Root Vegetable Recipes
From acorn and butternut to pumpkins and spaghetti, sturdy winter squash are among my go-to winter menu MVPs. Beyond being a hearty, vitamin-rich source of carbohydrates, they’re uber-versatile. Give them a shot in soups, stews, or salads, and to make them a main dish, stuff it! Similar in texture and recipe options, tubers like beets, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, and turnips make stellar stand-ins for regular potatoes (although potatoes certainly still have a spot on my plate!).
Brassica Vegetable Recipes
Load up your crisper drawer with sturdy winter greens, including kale and cabbage, for salads, stir-fries and rolls (stuffed cabbage for the win!). Just save enough room for their cousins, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, which I adore in grain bowls, pasta tosses, side dishes, and more.
Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.