All year round, we look forward to the decadent, delicious food that we see at Christmas time. For 11 months of the year, mince pies are off-limits and sprouts aren’t invited on our plates (can’t say we’re too gutted by their absence though). We love being able to add all different kinds of seasonal treats to our store cupboards, and fill our kitchens with the tantalising smells of traditional winter spices in our bakes, and moist turkey in the oven.
While every family does Christmas grub slightly differently, we’re dedicating this blog post to covering some of the nation’s top must-have food on the Christmas dinner table. This year in particular, with everything that’s been going on, we can’t wait to celebrate the season with plenty of indulgence, and an awful lot of goodies. Come December, we’ll be ready to stuff our little faces with all of our favourite winter food. These guilt-free treats are one of the many things that we love about Christmas.
So, without further ado, in this blog post we’ll be taking you through our mouth-watering list of the top 10 Christmas foods that are absolute staples in a British household. Then, to complete our commitment to indulgence, we’ve got a divine drinks recipe for you - a rich and boozy raspberry hot chocolate. This luxurious drink will make the perfect winter warming drink to treat yourself to on the evenings leading up to the big day.
What foods do you find in a traditional British Christmas dinner?
You’ll find that Christmas dinner plates might look slightly different across the UK, as some areas have their own customs, and indeed, different families all have their own unique idea of the perfect festive feast. However, what you’ll find below is a list of the 10 key Xmas foods that almost all British Christmas dinners will feature.
When asked what food we think of when we hear the words ‘Christmas dinner’, this is most likely the first thing that pops into most of our minds. Turkey is a meat that you rarely see at any other time of year in Britain. But, on Christmas Day, this is the absolute centrepiece of the meal.
Although beef, gammon or lamb are delicious in their own right, they don’t quite fit the brief. Roasting a big old turkey in the oven, then watching it be carved and dished out on the table is an age-old British Christmas tradition.
Christmas foodies all over Britain are obsessed with the fluffy roasties - but everyone has their own perfect way to create the perfect version. Each household has their own technique to make their roast potatoes perfectly fluffy in the middle and a crispy skin on the outside. Some add rosemary, some pick thyme, others go for garlic, and most will add a few twists of black pepper. But, pretty much all of us can agree that a good roast potato needs plenty of butter.
One thing that you can expect from every British household as they gather round the table for Christmas dinner is a fight for the last roasties!
We can take or leave our sprouts. They definitely split Brits down the middle, and that love-our-hate relationship is a big part of sprouts’ traditional place on our dinner tables. However you may feel about them, though, Christmas dinner would not be quite complete without them.
Typically they’re cooked in the steamer. Our favourite way to cook them is with a bit of finely sliced fried bacon mixed in with them. That definitely brings them up a few notches.
Pigs in blankets
Mmmm… now these are something that the whole family watches over, to make sure that they are divided completely equally. No one is getting short-changed here! For any overseas readers, these tasty little morsels are a little sausage that has been wrapped in bacon. These are normally positioned around the platter with the turkey crown on it.
They’re a delicious, salty treat that is just a little bit more luxurious.
These British favourites are the proud creations of Yorkshire’s culinary minds. With a recipe that dates as far back as the 1700’s, these crispy treats have been much-loved across the country for centuries. They’re made by whisking together eggs, milk and flour to form a liquid batter which is cooked in the oven.
They’re an essential component of the typically British weekly Sunday roast, but come Christmas dinner, we tend to treat ourselves to a few extras.
Thought we’d be finishing at pigs and blankets? Absolutely not. We Brits love a bit of decadence at Christmas, and we’ll worry about our salt intake later.
Although stuffing recipes vary across the world, British stuffing normally includes lots of herbs. At Christmas time, we normally use a sage and onion stuffing, which is cooked as a delicious slab, then served chopped into generous squares.
These options all (turkey, pigs in blankets and stuffing alike) all come in delicious vegetarian and vegan varieties. So, if you fancy adding a meat-free version of these British classics to your festive menu, have a read through some veggie cookery books, or scour your local supermarket for different varieties. Nut roasts, veggie sausages, ‘facon’, and chestnut stuffing are all equally as delicious.
I adore mixing sweet and savoury. Apparently, so do a lot of British people. Cranberry sauce (often used by our friends across the pond as an accompaniment to their Thanksgiving dinner) is a perfect addition to turkey. It’s sweet but a little tart, which means that you can liberally add it to your dinner. It boosts the flavours and saltiness of everything else around it, to round the whole dinner off perfectly.
We may all have slightly different methods when it comes to making the perfect gravy at home, but we can certainly agree on one thing - no Christmas dinner would be complete without it. It’s made by using the drippings from the turkey, and cooking it off with other seasonings and thickenings. This forms a rich, meaty sauce which brings a whole new dimension to the dinner.
Once you’ve got your plate piled high with festive foods, complete the dish by drizzling over a generous serving of rich, aromatic gravy. We can’t get enough of it.
The final showstopper for the festive dinner comes with the dessert course. Make sure you leave some room after your savoury for your sweet.
While chocolate, cakes and biscuits all have their place at Christmas, this is certainly the most traditional British festive dessert of choice. We adore this stodgy, spiced, boozy and fruity pudding. Alongside being absolutely delicious, it also adds a bit of drama to the table, as it is traditionally set alight to allow the alcohol to burn off in a beautiful blue flame, before it is dished out amongst the table. You can have it warm as it is, or with a generous dollop of brandy butter (in case it wasn’t rich enough already).
To complete the perfect British Christmas dinner, it’s got to be mince pies. If you haven’t stuffed ourselves too much already, these delicious little treats are a much-loved festive treat - when you see the mince pies out in the shops, that’s when you know Christmas is coming.
They are traditionally filled with a variety of dried fruits (including raisins, sultanas, cranberries and fruit peel), which are slowly cooked, alongside lots of rum and plenty of spices. These are baked in a pastry case, and topped with a dusting of icing sugar. What better way to finish your festive dinner?
We hope you liked our round up - it’s certainly got us all excited about the countdown to Christmas!
Since we’re already on the topic of our favourite festive foods, it seems fitting to consider how we can bring an equal amount of decadence to our Christmas drinks menu. After all, the treats should not stop at the food - at this time of year, after we’ve eaten our fill, what could be a better way to round-off an evening, than by sitting by the fire with a mug of creamy warming hot choc in hand?
This boozy take on a traditional hot chocolate is rich, thick, creamy and just for grown-ups! We love the way that this recipe doesn’t hold back, and is designed to be a really rather special treat, the kind of thing that we Brits would look forward to all year round.
Grown-up raspberry hot chocolate recipe
Milk chocolate chips, 285g
Whole milk, 350 ml
Heavy cream, 120 ml
Unsweetened cocoa powder, 32g
Chambord, 80 ml, for the reducing step (plus another dash to taste)
Whipped cream and raspberries, to decorate
- Add the chocolate, milk, cream and cocoa powder to a small saucepan. Set the mixture over a medium-low heat. Stir the mixture occasionally, and continue until the chocolate has completely melted.
- After the chocolate melts, continue to heat the mixture, but stir it more frequently. You should find that the mixture thickens a bit and that all of the chunks of chocolate completely dissolve. After 5-10 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the Chambord to a seperate small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid to a simmer. Cook for a few minutes until the Chambord has just thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Pour the hot chocolate into four little mugs (the servings are only small, because it’s such a rich drink!). Add an extra dash of Chambord to taste. To decorate, top with whipped cream and raspberries, then pour over a drizzle with the Chambord reduction.
Don’t bother with hot choc from a packet - it’s Christmas! Go the whole mile, and make a lavish dessert drink with real chocolate. Trust us, it makes the whole thing infinitely more delicious.
Christmas is all about these little treats, and traditional Xmas food certainly demonstrates that. If you’re looking for the perfect gift to prep your kitchen for all these delicious dishes, we’ve got just the thing for you. Our Smarter kitchenware technology is designed to provide an easy, affordable way to level-up your kitchen performance.
What’s more, to celebrate the festive period, we’ve now re-launched our range of Smarter gift sets. It’s a wonderful, thoughtful gift that any home cook would be delighted to find under the Xmas tree. Have a browse through our festive product range on the Smarter website.
Written by Josephine Walbank