No more turkey trauma! These are the books that will guide you seamlessly through Christmas lunch.

Have you secured your delivery slot? Got turkey trauma? If planning Christmas brings you out in cold sweats, it’s time to call on the experts. While this Christmas will be like no other, there’s no excuse to let the side down on the culinary front. From Nigella’s no-nonsense approach to Delia’s plan-ahead philosophy, there is a cookbook out there to help you capture the magic and cook up a festive feast.

Listed here, in no particular order, are the twelve cookbooks of Christmas.

Christmas with Kim-Joy: A Festive Collection Of Edible Cuteness By Kim-Joy, £13.95

Is there anything more joyful than a melted snowman cake pop? Kim-Joy, who made it to the final of the Great British Bake Off 2018, has put together a glorious recipe book full of quirky cookies, cakes and bread to carry you through the festive season. Her white chocolate igloos, penguin bao buns and magical gingerbread village will perk up sugar levels in any house this holiday. Marshmallow seal, anyone?

Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson, £18.25

‘It’s all going to be ok’, is Nigella Lawson’s brilliantly soothing mantra and just what we need to hear when juggling burnt chipolatas and forgotten gravy. Wonderfully reassuring, like a rather dazzling mother hen, Nigella has a no-nonsense approach when faced with Christmas cooking. Her ‘At-a-Glance Christmas Dinner Countdown’ has become something of legend as has her festive ginger-glazed ham and super-juicy roast turkey with allspice gravy.

Fortnum & Mason: Christmas & Other Winter Feasts by Tom Parker Bowles, £30

‘You hope it’s a recipe book that will become battered and beaten and well-used,’ said food writer Tom Parker Bowles, of the cookbook he wrote in collaboration with the chefs at Fortnum & Mason. Tom grew up with traditional Christmas turkey cooked on the Aga (by his mother the Duchess of Cornwall) but actually prefers beef. His book captures over 310 years of Fortnum’s recipes, such as roast venison with celeriac, sharing chocolate fondue and Fortnum’s hot toddy.

Vegan Christmas by Gaz Oakley, £10.48

Vegan? Or got a vegetarian guest descending at Christmas? For those on the hunt for how to create a meat-free festive feast, rush to Gaz Oakley who is synonymous with avant-garde vegan cooking. His book includes every plant-based recipe you might possibly need in December – and beyond. There is an alternative ‘cheese’ board, substitute ‘turkey’, nut roast and no-pigs in blankets. Under his guidance, you can even make fake bacon, dairy-free crème brûlée and vegan fluffy Yorkshire puddings that actually work.

Delia’s Happy Christmas by Delia Smith, £37

Forewarned is forearmed. Delia believes most Christmas food should be prepared in advance which is music to the ears of frazzled hosts. The trick is to start a week ahead and don’t deviate, not for a moment, from her eight-day plan. Delia’s Christmas bible, with its decades-old recipes that your grandparents probably relied upon, is not for those who leave things to the last minute.

Christmas with Dickens by Pen Vogler, £7.89

Charles Dickens was a serious foodie and his writing of Christmas delicacies conjures up wonderful images that stay with us long after putting down his books. Just think of the Cratchits gathered around the crackling fire with their goose, apple and oranges, chestnuts and the ‘speckled cannon ball’ pudding. Food historian Pen Vogler writes books on what and how Charles Dickens and Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy ate. This recipe book recreates classic Victorian dishes and drinks that crop up in the books written by the literary giant.

Gizzie’s Season’s Eatings by Gizzie Erskine, £13.95

If you like hosting, it’s inevitable that you already know all about food writer, chef and television presenter Gizzie Erskine. She is an authority on recipes for crowd-pleasing fare. This book covers everything wintry from Halloween and Christmas to New Year’s Eve with a few twists on the classic recipes. Special mention goes to her Boxing Day turkey mole enchiladas.

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook by Jamie Oliver, £24.18

Trust Jamie. His comprehensive Christmas cookbook covers it all for the big day and beyond, in his trademark simple-to-follow fashion. All the usual suspects are there, turkey, ham, stuffing, traditional desserts and a few quirky additions. Jamie shares tried-and-tested veggie alternatives, edible gifts and inspired recipes for leftovers.

Great British Bake Off: Christmas, £23.25

There’s no space for bah humbug in your kitchen any year, and especially not this one. Inject a little BBC Bake Off joy with this brilliant book. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood buddied up with past Bake Off winners and contestants to unveil the secrets to their classic Christmas dishes. Try out homemade pretzels, Jamaican gingerbread loaf, brioche snowmen, sticky toffee pudding and macarons.

Neven Maguire’s Perfect Irish Christmas, £18.58

How good does a Snowman cake sound? Learn from Ireland’s most trusted chef Neven Maguire how to bake festive cakes to please and how to cook his famous buttermilk turkey and frangipane mince pies with brandy butter. This book includes make-ahead advice, timings for the big day and recipes to hand hold you right through to New Year’s Eve dinner.

Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles, £24.18

Cookbooks make the best bedtime reading, and never has this been truer than Nigel Slater’s book ‘The Christmas Chronicles’. This wonderful collection of festive recipes, thoughts, unusual facts and Christmas memories is written rather like a diary. It includes much-loved classics such as goose and turkey as well as newer takes such as pink grapefruit marmalade, pear and pickled radish salad and rye.

Elizabeth David’s Christmas by Elizabeth David, £14.99

Many of us loyally return to Elizabeth David’s Christmas book year after year. This is a timeless new edition of the most loved festive food book written by Britain’s first lady of food. It includes over 150 classic Christmas recipes and is one to hand down to the next generation. There’s everything you’d expect such as mince pies, stuffings, sauces and – needless to say – the perfect turkey. Reassuringly traditional.

By Annabel Jack
December 2020

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Annabel Jack

Contributing Editor

Annabel is a regular contributor to The GWG, with a taste for finest in food, fashion and interiors.