What’s in Season – December Produce Guide

What's in season in December? Check out our seasonal December Produce Guide and recipes for lemons, mushrooms, beets, butternut squash, collards, kale, and cauliflower.

December Produce Guide

Hello December and welcome to month 12 of our monthly Seasonal Produce Guides!

We are finishing up the year with an explosion of color, from garnet beets to saffron orange clementines, and purple cauliflower (what will they think of next?) to emerald kiwifruit. Remember to “eat the rainbow” when it comes to produce; the more variety of color, the better for you.

While we can still find pomegranates, apples, and pears in the market, it’s because they store well chilled. Those harvests are mostly over and what are coming in now are the first of the citrus — mandarine oranges. Buy them by the boxful!

This is a great time for brassicas — cauliflower, romanesco broccoli, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards and kale. And of course we couldn’t start winter without root vegetables like turnips and beets, or winter squashes like butternut and kabocha.

Scroll down for recipe ideas of what to make with December produce. Do you have a favorite dish to make with winter fruits or vegetables? Let us know in the comments!

December produce guide

What’s in Season in December?

  • Mandarin Oranges – December is the month for mandarin oranges — satsumas, clementines, and tangerines. Halos and Cuties brands are super sweet seedless clementines. Great for a Vitamin-C packed snack!
  • Meyer Lemons and Buddha’s Hands – Meyer Lemons are more thinly skinned and less tart than regular lemons. Buddha’s Hands look like fingers of lemon peel, use them for zest. You can find both Meyer lemons and Buddha’s hands at farmers markets.
  • Kiwifruit – Make sure a kiwifruit gives a little to the touch before cutting it open. Scoop out the fruit with a spoon. Chop and add to salads or make kiwi salsa!
  • Wild mushrooms – Depending on where you live, you may be able to find fresh porcini, chanterelles, and other wild mushrooms. (They like rain.) Sauté them with a little butter and tarragon or herbes de Provence.
  • Beets – Roast them, pickle them, cook beets into a soup or serve them with salads. Choose golden beets if mixing with other foods so you don’t have to worry about beets staining everything red.
  • Turnips and Rutabagas – By the time December comes around, the baby turnips have grown up. Mature turnips and rutabagas can be on the bitter side, but are great mashed with cream or butter, or cooked into patties. Blanch turnip greens and toss them with pasta, white beans, lemon, and Parmesan.
  • Winter Squash – Spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, and kabocha, these winter squash will last months stored in a cool spot.
  • Collard Greens – The sturdiest of leafy greens, collard greens are considered good luck for the new year. They love being cooked with bacon or ham.
  • Kale – If you’re craving pesto in the winter and there’s no basil to be found, kale pesto is the next best thing.
  • Kohlrabi – Sputnik-shaped kohlrabi come in purple and light green and tastes similar to broccoli stems. You can eat it raw in salads, or steamed, boiled, baked, grilled, or roasted.
  • Cauliflower – Roast cauliflower florets or grate and steam cauliflower to make cauliflower rice.
  • Romanesco – A brassica like cauliflower and broccoli, romanesco look like a 3D math project with fractals. They taste closer to broccoli than cauliflower, cook them the same way or use them in a salad.
  • Brussels Sprouts – To get the freshest Brussels sprouts, buy them on their stalk. Sauté or roast them whole or halved, sprinkle with lemon juice and Parmesan.
  • Chestnuts – Nothing better to remind you of the holiday season than freshly roasted chestnuts (see this guide by Tori Avey). Just make sure you score them first before roasting them, or they’ll explode (this I say from experience). If using in recipes, jarred chestnuts work better than fresh. Look for both fresh and jarred chestnuts in December.

Keep scrolling down for more recipe ideas!

Mandarin Oranges and Meyer Lemons

Lemon Chicken Chickpea Rice Soup

Moroccan inspired lemon chicken soup with chickpeas, rice, turmeric, and cumin. Delicious!

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Tangerine Sorbet

So easy! Tangerine sorbet made from fresh tangerine juice, lemon juice, and sugar.

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Mushrooms

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Creamy wild mushroom soup made with dried wild mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, shallots, garlic, stock, cream, sherry, and herbs.

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Vegetarian Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna to feed a crowd! This one is filled with meaty shiitake and cremini mushrooms, spinach, and ricotta and Mozzarella cheeses. Your vegetarian and meat-eating guests will fight for seconds.

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Stuffed mushroom caps on an appetizer tray

These classic stuffed mushrooms are loaded with shallots, garlic, walnuts, breadcrumbs, and chopped mushroom stems. Sprinkle with Parmesan and pop them in the oven and you've got a great appetizer for the holidays.

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Beets

Pickled Beets

A midwestern classic—pickled beets! Our favorite refrigerator pickled beets, roasted or boiled beets, marinated in a cider vinegar vinaigrette.

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Borscht

Delicious borscht soup made with fresh red beets, beef shank, onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, dill, and sour cream.

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Beet Hummus

Colorful beet hummus made with red beets, tahini, lemon, and garlic. Great with pita chips or veggies!

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Winter Squash

Butternut Squash with Browned Butter and Thyme

Butternut squash cubes, seared in brown butter, tossed with thyme. Easy Thanksgiving stovetop side! The browned butter brings out the most amazing flavor in the butternut squash.

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Butternut Squash Pasta Dish

Butternut Squash Pasta with Parmesan! Pasta served with a homemade butternut squash pasta sauce of roasted butternut squash, shallots, cream, and Parmesan cheese.

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Collard Greens and Kale

Best ever collard greens cooked on the stovetop and served in a bowl

Wondering what to do with collard greens? Here's an easy recipe for a simple side dish! Cook collards on the stovetop with onions and garlic — it's an easy, flavorful way to eat your greens.

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Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup

A hearty winter soup recipe with kale, white beans, and roasted carrots, butternut squash, tomatoes, onions, and garlic.

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto

This Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto is a quick and easy meatless dinner! Make your pesto with cashews for extra creaminess. Blanching the kale also helps keep the pesto green.

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Cauliflower

Curry Roasted Cauliflower

BEST roasted cauliflower is Roasted Curried Cauliflower! With onions, garlic, curry spices. Quick, EASY, healthy!

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This smooth, creamy cauliflower soup with sharp cheddar cheese is absolutely what you want on a chilly day. It's ready in under an hour. Serve with some crusty bread and a side salad!

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Cauliflower Chickpea Curry

Delicious vegan curry with cauliflower, chickpeas, onion, tomato, and cilantro.

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Chestnuts

Braised Red Cabbage with Chestnuts

Sweet and sour red cabbage, cooked with bacon, apples, onions, and roasted chestnuts. Great holiday side!

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Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts

Thinly sliced brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon and onions, then tossed with roasted chestnuts, thyme and a little lemon juice.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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6 Comments

No ImageWhat’s in Season – December Produce Guide

  1. Andrea

    Hi Elise!
    I believe your site is just fantastic! Keep up the great work and we’ll keep usinf so many of your super recipes!
    Andrea & Julie Fantechi

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  2. Lois Carter Crawford

    I love these seasonal guides you do!

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Sue

    Wow, great recipes! I harvested 8 of them, thanks. Two recipes I’d like to share: 1) Beet salad. Combine water cress, cooked chopped beets, small amount of diced onion, dress with orange juice/apple cider vinegar. 2) Kale salad. Raw kale, cut into tiny pieces, halved grapes, chopped celery, tiny pieces of pepperoncini. Dress with balsamic vinaigrette.

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