Christmas lunch is all about the side dishes. These festive trimmings recipes will delight your guests and usher in the inevitable food coma in the most pleasurable way possible.

For carnivorous Christmas revellers, the quality of the bird you buy for the biggest blow-out meal of the year is half the battle in mitigating against much-levelled accusations of dryness or blandness. Its size, how you cook it and how it was reared are all factors to consider when trying to ensure you serve up tender meat with a nicely browned, crispy skin.

And yet, however brilliant your bird may be, most will agree that it is the trimmings that really make the festive meal. The true stars of the Christmas lunch show are, surely, the crispy-on-the-outside-pillowy-on-the-inside roast potatoes; the perfectly clove-infused bread sauce; the juicy pigs-in-blankets; or – whisper it – the nutmeg-adorned buttery brussels sprouts (divisive they may be but it is inescapable that you must eat at least a handful of sprouts on Christmas Day). In that spirit, we round up some old favourites that are traditionally served at Christmas, as well as a few leftfield but utterly delicious trimmings that will help make this year’s festive repast go down as one for the ages.

Main image: The Happy Foodie

Bacon-Wrapped Dates With Quince Marmalade


Olive Magazine


Some of the very best Christmas trimmings are versatile enough to work as canapés as well as accompaniment to the main dish. This is one such. Though it may sound fiddly, this recipe is one of those rare but happy occurrences of something actually being easier than it looks. The sticky sweetness of the medjool dates works to perfection with the saltiness of the streaky bacon and the Christmassy flavours of cooked chestnuts with manchego and chorizo. Plus, if you’re not feeling too against the clock, pitting dates and then stuffing them – ideally to the soundtrack of a Christmas play on Radio 4 – can be exactly the therapeutic thing we need in the midst of the merry mayhem. Find the recipe here.


Triple Pigs In Blankets


BBC Good Food


What’s better than a pig in a blanket on Christmas Day? Why, three piglets wrapped tight together in a blanket of smoked streaky bacon, of course. Simple, delicious and – provided your guests are carnivores – never not a welcome morsel, on its own or on the side of the main lunch plate as a vehicle for bread sauce. Find the recipe here.


Roast Potatoes With Polenta, Balsamic And Thyme


Delicious Magazine


Crispy potatoes with fluffy insides and flecked with crunchy crystals of sea salt: is there anything more delicious in this world? As it turns out, there is: crispy potatoes with fluffy insides and flecked with crunchy crystals of sea salt AND polenta, balsamic and thyme, for added crunch and texture, as well as punch of flavour. We could eat these dipped in cranberry sauce every day of the year. Find the recipe here.


Christmas Butter


Olive Magazine


When it comes to cooking a meal with so many component parts as the traditional Christmas feast, it pays to pay attention to the basics. As any veteran in the festive kitchen will know, lashings of butter are imperative to pulling off a turkey that doesn’t dry out. But what about making something of the butter itself? We love this simple recipe for making a festive feature of everyone’s most-used ingredient, by jazzing it up with the festive flavours of dried cranberries, orange zest, brandy and mixed spice. Perfect for putting under the turkey’s skin – and, even better, you can make it well ahead of time, which we are all for. Find the recipe here.


Roast Sprouts, Cranberries And Kale


Delicious Magazine


Do you have sprout objectors in your midst? Our usual standard for turning even the most staunch loathers of the divisive vegetable involves butter, nutmeg and pancetta. However, this vegan take will do the job with just as much panache, the sweetness of the maple syrup cutting through the sprouts and kale, the balsamic complementing it perfectly, and the pecans adding crunch to the whole affair. Find the recipe here.


Traditional Bread Sauce


Delia


No one know Christmas lunch like Delia knows Christmas lunch. Year upon year, her perfectly timed schedule guides millions of cooks through the day, every time delivering them out the other side like the pro that she is. So, when it comes to bread sauce – in our book, one of the most vital components of the Christmas lunch – it is to the maestro that we turn. No twists, no flourishes: just reliably excellent, onion-, bay-, peppercorn- and clove-infused creamy, classic and beautiful bread sauce. Delia cannot and never will be beaten on this one. Do yourself a favour and follow her recipe to the letter. Find the recipe here.


Creamed Spinach Polenta


Taste


Christmas lunch for vegetarians can, for some, be a little less than thrilling. Why not, then, rustle up some more unusual meat-forgoing sides that will be warm, comforting and pack in plenty of flavour? This creamed spinach polenta does that job beautifully – and is a recipe that will doubtless delight us on Christmas Day and far beyond. Find the recipe here.


Cranberry, Port and Orange Sauce


The Happy Foodie


There is nothing quite like the ruby-red of the cranberry sauce to make the Christmas table look really festive. The jewel colours alone make the effort worth it; but the taste will doubtless convince any sceptics that homemade really does blow shop-bought cranberry sauce out of the water. As the Happy Foodie says, it is ‘fresh, tart and boozy’ – and easy to make too. The taste of Christmas in a bowl. Find the recipe here.


Fried Stuffing Balls


Alyn Williams/ Great British Chefs


Whether you serve these perfect little balls of festive flavour on your Christmas lunch plate or as a canapé to be dipped in cranberry sauce is up to you. Whichever way, the sausage and turkey mince with sage beauties will doubtless be heartily devoured at any hour of day. A fun take on a Christmas classic. Find the recipe here.


Goose And Chestnut Chipolatas


Simon Rogan/ Great British Chefs


The Italians always have and always will seduce us with their cuisine. And their Christmas fare is no different. As Great British Chefs write, ‘These light, poached goose sausages are packed with flavour, with the bilberries and chestnuts adding an exciting depth to the fantastic goose meat. If you are unable to get hold of bilberries, blueberries will suffice. Simon Rogan has created an excellent sausage recipe to make for the Christmas party season for canapés, as seen here, but feel free to save these goosey sausages for yourself for a decadent sausage and mash.’ Amen to that. Find the recipe here.


By Nancy Alsop
December 2021

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