Figuring out what to cook for Christmas is always on the stressful side. Every year, I feel like I need to outshine my last.
That’s why I always welcome new Christmas dinner ideas. Does anyone else feel the same way?
Plenty of Christmas dinner ideas
Enjoy the holiday spirit with a gourmet-style meal and easy to makes side dishes. You’ll wish that it was Christmas all year around!
What is served at a traditional Christmas dinner?
This is a very hard question to answer, because every region has its own traditions during Christmas.
In England, a traditional Christmas menu includes roast turkey with stuffing, potatoes, piggies-in-a-blanket, pudding and a smoked salmon starter.
Similarly, in the USA, you would also find gravy, cranberry sauce, a fruit cake, pumpkin pie and more. Some even prefer whole smoked turkey!
A typical French Christmas menu would include caviar, oysters, foie gras, lobster and all sorts of pastries, not to mention a beautiful piece of meat. Of course, served with a bottle of bubbly. Generally, the French go for a 7-course Christmas menu.
In Scandinavia, a traditional Christmas meal comprises roasted goose with baby potatoes and lots of gravy and alcohol. In some homes, you may also find a delicious slow-roasted pork belly, however this is more of an Easter dish. No Christmas in Scandinavia is complete without the classic fish starters such as smoked salmon or herring.
In eastern Europe, fried carp is served with a potato mayo salad. In some regions a cabbage soup is also served with dried plums inside as an omen for good luck and continued prosperity.
What is the most popular food at Christmas?
I would have to say that, from my side, it is the dessert part. Namely the cookies. However, this varies for everyone. Every person has their favourite foods they just love to eat at Christmas.
Sometimes, just catching a whiff of this food can take you straight to Christmas, just like those pumpkin-spiced lattes they start to serve in coffee shops in October. Pumpkin spice and cinnamon take me straight to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If you haven’t found one yet, I am confident that you’ll be able to pick out something from this list.
What is a good meat for Christmas dinner?
Any type of meat which comes out of the oven is a fantastic idea for your main Christmas meal.
Roast venison, turkey, chicken, pork, game, lamb and beef are all classics, often served with mashed potatoes and some roasted vegetables.
You would serve these dishes with sides such as roasted butternut squash or sous vide brussels sprouts. However, the key thing about serving meat during Christmas is how you prepare the meat.
I recommend slow roasting your meat. The longer it takes, the more tender the meat will be. Believe me, the wait is totally worth the melt-in-your-mouth experience.
Otherwise, you can consider using a sous-vide machine and taking your meat to the next level regarding tenderness.
If you go for any of the two above-mentioned preparation methods, your Christmas menu will be a gourmet-style experience.
What do you need for Christmas dinner?
There are a few things you need for your Christmas menu:
- Champagne or other types of aperitifs. How else are you going to toast the holidays? Just make sure you procure enough, the bottles tend to disappear fast from the dinner table.
- A fantastic Christmas starter such as a smoked salmon pâté, oysters or caviar.
- A meaty course – roast turkey, roast beef, venison. If something doesn’t come out of the oven, then something has gone terribly wrong.
- A memorable dessert such as a Christmas pavlova wreath
- Let’s not forget Nutella fudge and those yummy Christmas cookies.
- Don’t forget to pair the booze with your carefully designed Christmas menu. Be it the wine pairing, rum, sherry, cognac and more.
In true Christmas fashion, don’t forget to decorate your dining table and select the appropriate table setting. I recommend opting for a red tablecloth and placing some Christmas ornaments on the table.
The 19 Best Christmas Dinner Ideas
In essence, this list of 19 Christmas recipes will provide you with sufficient Christmas dinner ideas to make your Christmas the best one yet.
You’ll find inspiration for making a delicious festive dish with all sorts of meat. Choose from beef tenderloin, venison, leg of lamb, game, cod, scallops, etc.
Personally, I like to go for the slow roasted red meats and enjoy that melt-in-your-mouth experience with a glass of red wine. Nevertheless, the choice is entirely yours.
Christmas rice is a classic side dish which is full of protein, nuts and other nutrients. Plus, it’s an easy recipe to master.
An excellent feature of this recipe is that you can tweak it to your taste. In addition, it stores really well, so don’t worry about leftovers. They can keep forever.
Handy tip: Double up in portion size and it makes a perfect vegan main dish on your Christmas menu.
Homity pie is a traditional shortcrust pastry pie with a vegetable filling, topped off with cheese. It is one of those comfort dishes that one can eat over and over again.
What’s more, it is made of humble ingredients which completely deliver in terms of flavour. Pair the pie with a carrot and parsnip mash or a garden salad.
Handy tip: To add extra flavour to your homity pie, you can add bacon bits. On the other hand, if you want to make your pie more creamy, don’t be afraid to include a few pieces of brie cheese.
This cod au gratin is an excellent idea for pescatarian eaters. It gives your guests some variety.
This cod au gratin recipe is creamy thanks to the addition of béchamel sauce, or white sauce as we know it. This easy Italian sauce ties all the ingredients of this recipe together.
Pair the cod au gratin with an aged dry or semi-dry white wine.
Handy tip: Be careful when you make the sauce and stir the ingredients constantly. Otherwise, you’ll end up with lumps in your gratin.
This baked cod with a Parmesan parsley crust is an easy seafood dish. It’s one of those recipes which are gourmet-style and can be served all year round. Who doesn’t love recipes like that?
So take this delicate piece of fish and make a sophisticated meal out of it in just under 30 minutes.
Handy tip: Pair the baked cod with a mature dry white wine. It will go hand in hand with the nuttiness of the crust.
This salmon confit is a pescatarian alternative to the traditional duck confit one would find in French restaurants.
Even you won’t be able to resist these succulent flakes of tender salmon.
Handy tip: Pair any salmon recipes with a lovely dry white wine, such as a Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Riesling.
If you are just a small family of two or three, there is no need to smoke an entire turkey. Smoked chicken will do the trick just fine!
Plus, it’s a more budget-friendly alternative. Besides, cooking chicken is easy. We’ve all done it a million times before.
Handy tip: Brine the chicken before you smoke it. Click here to learn how to brine chicken.
A whole smoked turkey is what one would expect to see on the dining table, when cooking for Christmas. In fact, I believe that most English-speaking countries will serve a whole turkey during this holiday, as it is a relatively large bird that feeds many.
Make sure you serve this turkey with gravy and a hearty mash. This holiday wouldn’t be complete without the latter.
Handy tip: If you smoke any type of meat, it is best that you brine it first. Check out my ultimate guide to brining. Believe me, since this type of meat is quite lean, it needs to be brined first.
Otherwise, it will dry out in an instant during the smoking process. Also, add brown sugar into the brine. The brown sugar will give the turkey skin a subtle sweetness.
You can never go wrong with a beef fillet with garlic mustard butter. The best part about this recipe is watching that butter melt on top of your fillet.
Believe it or not, this dish only takes 35 minutes in total to make. So, if you are stressed this Christmas, I recommend this dish.
Handy tip: If you’ve made a large batch of the butter, freeze it and use it for later with other steak or chicken recipes.
Now we’re talking! This is one of the best Christmas dinner recipes in the world, which make anyone’s taste buds tingle. Get ready for the most tender meat in the world which falls completely apart.
This 7-hour slow roast shoulder of lamb does indeed take seven hours, but the wait is totally worthwhile. Besides, you can make another recipe in parallel while you wait in the kitchen.
In general, it is an easy recipe to make. The hard part is waiting while the aromas from the oven flood your kitchen and your house, making your mouth water completely.
Handy tip: Place some rosemary into the oven with the lamb. The rosemary will give it a nice herbal kick.
Serving these precious lamb noisettes with rosemary sauce is the way to go. You wouldn’t believe just how easy it is to replicate this restaurant-style meal.
Yes, this dish turns heads and is perfectly suited for Christmas cooking. Paired with a glass of full-bodied red wine, you’ll turn any lamb sceptic into a lamb addict.
Handy tip: Serve the lamb noisettes with roasted carrots in butter. It makes the perfect side dish.
This is not your traditional lamb recipe. This Indian roast leg of lamb combines authentic Indian spices, taking you on a culinary adventure through the Indian subcontinent. Excellent idea for trying something bold!
Handy tip: Serve the leg of lamb with some pomegranate. This will cleanse your palate and refresh you in an instant.
Making this smoked leg of lamb recipe is a special occasion in itself. It will make one memorable Christmas cook.
Serve the smoked leg of lamb with some seedless blackberry jam to cut through the umami flavours of the meat.
This recipe is easy to master and will definitely be the star of your Christmas menu. Get ready for the best Christmas ever and get rid of this misplaced fear of cooking with a beautiful piece of meat like this one.
Handy tip: Make sure that you use a herb crust. It will give your lamb that extra kick of flavour. Plus, you can use it for another recipe such as rib roast.
There is no need to be intimidated by rack of lamb recipes. This honey glazed rack of lamb is easy to master.
The trick to this dish is the presentation. Make sure you have a sharp knife so you can make stunning, uniform cuts of lamb rack by the bone. French the bones as well!
Handy tip: Pair any lamb recipes with a fruit jam or jelly and a full-bodied mature red wine.
Game pie is perfect if you have a large family to feed. The best part is, that you can make two large batches without any hassle at the same time. So, if you happen to find some meat on offer, you can totally make the most of it.
Honestly, the best part about game pie are the leftovers the next day. In my opinion, something about a pie recipe always makes it taste better the next day.
Handy tip: You can add a hint of red wine into the game pie itself for more complex flavours.
A rich game casserole is an excellent idea for any holiday, especially when game is in season. Enjoy this hearty winter-warming game casserole with a light side dish like this carrot and swede mash. You can make it in a matter of minutes using humble root vegetables.
Handy tip: Game is a lean meat, so be careful not to expose it to too much heat. Otherwise, it will become very dry.
No one can resist a tender venison steak with blackberry sauce.
This sauce is beyond delicious and it wouldn’t surprise me if you reached into the pot with your wooden spoon and started to enjoy it.
Don’t pretend you haven’t done it. We all have. Guilty as charged! So, if you’re looking for the perfect red meat sauce to cook, Christmas is a fantastic opportunity for you to make it.
Handy tip: Serve the venison steak with a heavy full-bodied red wine from France. Usually, they carry notes of dark fruit and will pair fantastically with the sauce and recipes which contain red meat.
This tender slow roast pork belly is a memorable experience in itself. Typically, I associate slow roast pork belly with a Sunday roast dish, however it works just as well for Christmas too.
You can jazz up these types of traditional recipes with a truffle potato mash and some roasted carrots.
Handy tip: Enjoy a slow roast pork belly with a glass of fizzy cider. It’s a match made in heaven!
These bacon wrapped sausages with sweet sticky apple are perfect for any holiday or festive occasion. This is the perfect finger food or starter prior to starting the main meal.
Plus, it belongs to the category of easy-to-make recipes. So easy in fact, that you can also involve your children in the cooking process. I am sure they would love to assemble the components of this easy dish.
This is exactly why I love this holiday. Everyone can contribute to make these recipes a success. You can also serve this dish as a main course.
Handy tip: When you place the sausages in the oven, add a hint of water into the tray. The sausages will cook faster as the water steams off.
As bizarre as this recipe sounds, this ham in Coca Cola is truly delicious. This is one of those bold recipes for families wishing to try something new. It is not your traditional roast turkey.
The Coca Cola adds a stunning glaze to the ham as well as a complex flavour. If you haven’t tried this yet, you must!
Handy tip: Serve the ham with easy side dishes, such as roast potatoes, parsnips, greens and a fruit jelly.
Have any of these Christmas recipes left an impression on you? Which one are you tempted to try on this specific holiday? Let me know what you decide to make in the comments section below! If you are looking to realise some of these ideas, Christmas is the perfect occasion.