Every recipe you need for Christmas dinner

Rachel Walker 

Recipes, tips and tricks—plus the best shop-bought picks—to create a delicious (and stress-free) festive season. Here's everything you need to know. 

Sausage roll garland

sausage roll garland

Did you think that a garland was for the yuletide door knocker? Think again! Twist an oblong sausage roll into a circular, garland shape to make a buffet centrepiece.

Make sure the puff pastry behaves itself by ensuring the oven is up to temperature—and don’t open the door while it’s cooking!

Serves 12–15 (as a canapé)


  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 450g good sausages
  • 2 tbsps grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 375g ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsps poppy seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Heat the olive oil and sweat the diced onions until soft. Add the fennel seeds and cook for 1 more minute, until fragrant. Leave to cool.
  3. Squeeze the sausage meat out of their casings into a mixing bowl. Use your hands to combine the sausage meat with the diced onions fennel seeds, mustard and pepper.
  4. Unfurl the puff pastry onto a board. Trim one 5cm length, cut out star shapes and put to one side. Next, cut the remaining pastry in half—lengthways—into two long oblongs. Put a line of sausage meat down the middle and scrimp shut. 
  5. Move both rolls onto a lined baking tray, curl them into a wreath shape and scrimp both ends together. Decorate with the stars, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cook for 25 minutes and serve hot.

No time to cook?

  • Sainsbury’s Turkey & Sausage Garland, £7
  • Aldi Specially Selected Sausage Roll Garland, £3.29


Prawn cocktail

This retro starter is making a comeback. Great news! Not only because it’s a delicious dish, but also because it’s easy-peasy. Make the sauce the day before and keep it in an airtight container—so all you need to do on the big day is put together a simple salad and assemble the prawn cocktails.

Pop some cracked black pepper and freshly chopped chives into little bowls on the table so people can add their own

Serves 6


For the Marie Rose sauce

  • 6tbsps tomato ketchup
  • 6tbsps mayonnaise
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Optional: pinch of cayenne pepper, dash of Tabasco sauce

For the cocktail

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 avocados, roughly diced
  • 8–10 baby radishes, roughly diced
  • 2 baby gem lettuces, washed, halved and thinly sliced
  • 300g cooked and peeled prawns
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges, to garnish


  1. First, make the Marie Rose sauce by mixing together the tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste with the cayenne pepper and Tabasco sauce. If making in advance, store in an airtight jar in the fridge
  2. Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl and add the avocado as you dice it to stop it from turning brown. Add the diced radishes and finely slice the lettuce.
  3. Assemble the prawn cocktail by dividing half the drained avocado and radishes between six glasses. Top with a pinch of baby gem lettuces, a tablespoon of the Marie Rose sauce and half the prawns. Repeat the layers and garnish with lemon wedge.

No time to cook?

  • Morrisons The Best Prawn Cocktail, £2.50
  • Marks & Spencer Shellfish Knickerbocker Glory, £8


Main course

White meat or brown meat? It divides opinion. If you’re part of a family with a united preference, then consider buying a joint instead.

A large turkey crown will feed a group of white-meat lovers, while a couple of turkey thighs will cater for a family that prefers brown meat. Roast a 2kg turkey crown for 110 minutes, or a 2.5kg turkey crown for 120 minutes. A meat probe helps tell when a turkey is cooked. Poke it in the thickest part and check it reads 75–80C.


Turkey crown

The turkey crown is the whole bird—just without the wings or legs. It means that the joint is easier to carve and it minimises leftovers.

The only thing to watch out for is that white meat has a tendency to dry out. Counter this by basting the bird with juices from the pan several times during cooking, and halfway through cover it with back bacon or a bacon lattice to help keep in the moisture.

As with cooking the whole bird, allow 70 minutes, plus an extra 20 minutes for every kilogram, at 180C.


Turkey leg

Turkey legs should be slow-cooked, so the brown meat can be easily lifted from the bone. They work well with robust flavours—such as roasted shallots or garlic—and are good in a tray bake.For an easy dish, rub olive oil, salt and pepper into the turkey leg and then cook for 90 minutes at 180C, basting halfway through.

Consider adding other roast vegetables—carrots, celeriac or parsnips—to the pan half-way through cooking, to save on the washing-up!


Buy it in

  • Crown Marks & Spencer Pork & Cranberry Oakham Turkey with Maple Bacon Crown 2kg (serves 6–8), £35
  • Leg Morrisons Whole Turkey Leg 1.6kg, £4.50
  • The whole bird Asda Extra Special Corn-Fed Bronze Dry Plucked & Aged Turkey, £17


Spice up your sides

  • Carrots and cumin
    Toss 1kg of peeled and halved carrots with 2 tbsps of olive oil and 1tbsp of dried cumin seeds.
  • Cranberry sauce and allspice
    Heat 250ml of orange juice and stir in 150g of sugar to make a syrup. Simmer 500g of cranberries for 10 minutes until they burst, and add a dash of allspice to taste.
  • Brussels and bacon
    Halve 500g of Brussel sprouts and simmer for 2–3 minutes while frying 200g smoked lardons. Drain, add the Brussel sprouts to the frying pan with the lardons and cook for 5 more minutes. Garnish with torn sage leaves.


Chocolate pots

By the end of Christmas lunch, there’s no need for a hulking big pudding. Little chocolate pots are an elegant way to wind down proceedings.

These are extra super-quick to prepare and ideally should be made the night before—so there’s even less to think about on Christmas Day.

For a twist, put a tablespoon of dulce de leche at the bottom of each glass. Chill before spooning the chocolate on top.

Serves 6


  • 150ml cream
  • 50ml milk
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 3 egg yolks


  1. Pour the cream and milk into a pan and heat gently until it’s close to simmering—but not quite bubbling yet. 
  2. Before opening the chocolate, bang it on the work surface and then break up the pieces straight into the pan of hot milk. Continue cooking on a very low heat, while stirring constantly until all the chocolate melts. 
  3. Take the chocolate mixture off the heat and add the egg yolks straight away. Stir for another two minutes on a gentle heat so the eggs thicken the hot liquid. Tip into a jug and then pour into four espresso cups or ramekins. Chill for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

No time to cook?

  • Marks & Spencer Chocolate Pine Cones, £12 
  • Pots & Co Salted Caramel and chocolate Pot, Ocado, £2 per pot



"Have you ever tried pairing stilton with Tokaji?" I was asked at the Sainsbury’s Christmas show earlier this year. I hadn’t. But in the name of research, I thought I’d better. The honey-golden dessert wine from north-east Hungary (pronounced so that it rhymes with “och-aye”) isn’t a regular sight in supermarkets after all. Or so I thought. But there it was again at the Aldi Christmas show, and again at Marks & Spencer.

It might seem like the new kid on the block, but Tokaji is a historic wine, with intact bottles dating back to 1680. King Louis XIV allegedly gave Madame de Pompadour a glass, declaring: “Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum” (“Wine of Kings, King of Wines”), and it’s thought that Rasputin was handed spiked Tokaji—the Tsars’ favourite tipple—during an assassination attempt.

The wine is made from late-harvest grapes that are left to linger on the vines, encouraging the approach of a fungus called noble rot. This causes the grapes to shrivel, concentrating their sweetness. It was among the most in-demand wine for centuries. Hungarian vineyards suffered under the communist regime though, and it fell off the radar—until this year’s Christmas shows, it seems.

Tokaji is usually served slightly chilled (11–14C) and is traditionally enjoyed as a dessert wine. I doff my cap to the supermarkets that brought it to my attention—and can confirm that it’s a revelation when sipped alongside a lump of Stilton.

Tokaji to try

  • Taste the Difference Late Harvest Tokaji 2015, £12, Sainsbury’s 
  • St Stephen’s Crown Tokaji Aszu 5* 2013,£19.99, Aldi 
  • Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, £25, Marks & Spencer


Top three cheese boards

I'm not big on whopping wicker hampers but I can’t think of a better parcel to arrive on my doorstep than a box of cheese to take me through the festive season. The advantage of buying online is the access to enormous variety—a cracking Christmas treat for anyone not lucky enough to live near a good, old-fashioned cheesemonger. 

  • Gongs
    The Fine Cheese Company, £33/750g parcel. A selection of award-winning cheeses from this Bath-based company. Browse the condiment selection before checking out, and pop some slow-baked Dottato figs (£5.76) in your basket.
  • British cheese awards selection 
    The Courtyard Dairy, £29.50/1kg parcel. Four British cheeses—one sheep, one goat, as well as unpasteurised and pasteurised cow’s milk cheese—from this family-owned Yorkshire cheesemonger. 
  • Christmas extravaganza box
    Pong Cheese, £49.95/1.5kg parcel. Five delicious cheeses to take you through Christmas—from cave-aged Wookey Hole Cheddar to soft, nutty Reblochon. Vegetarian boxes also available with rennet-free cheeses.

Read more: How to create the perfect cheeseboard

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