12 Christmas recipe ideas to bring the festive cheer to your kitchen

Christmas is a time for relaxation and indulgence – and after this year, we all deserve to treat ourselves. The great thing about Christmas food is that there’s something for every palate. People with a sweet-tooth can look forward to mince pies, Christmas cake, and an abundance of chocolate, and those of us who prefer savoury food are equally spoiled for choice. Plus, whether you’re cooking with family or by yourself, making traditional Christmas recipes is a comforting and relaxing way to spend a cold winter’s afternoon.

So, if you’re looking to get into the festive spirit, we’ve got you covered. From traditional turkey to exciting veggie mains, through to cocktails and cakes; these 12 Christmas recipe ideas will hopefully get you inspired.

1. Mince pies

Few foods are more reminiscent  of Christmas than mince pies. They’re great hot or cold, with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, for dessert or for a mid-morning snack. Homemade mince pies sometimes have a reputation of being rather dry and uninspired – but with the right recipe, they’re a delight. A great thing about mince pies is their versatility. You can bake classic mince pies, jazz them up with filo pastry, or add other festive flavours, like marzipan and orange, to make them that little bit more special. Just check out these 10 deliciously different mince pie recipes in this article from The Guardian to see how you can tweak these Christmas treats.

If you’re looking to make some simple, classic mince pies, you can’t go wrong with this recipe from BBC Good Food – or alternatively, you might want to check out Paul Hollywood’s recipe. If you eat a gluten-free diet then Tesco Real Food has a great gluten-free recipe. Vegans don’t have to miss out either – have a look at this simple recipe from A Virtual Vegan.

You might also want to try out our own tasty mince pie recipe, or watch the video, which shows you how to make shortcrust pastry mince pies.

2. Turkey, with a twist

Christmas is a time where most of us enjoy following traditions, and – dietary requirements aside – most people don’t deviate too much from the traditional Christmas roast dinner. In the UK, roast turkey is the most popular main, although other poultry such as chicken, goose or duck are also popular. But what if you want to do something a little different this year?

This turkey, ham and stuffing pie from BBC Good Food makes a great alternative to a traditional roast turkey, allowing you to enjoy those festive flavours while still making your table stand out from the rest. Or, if you plan to follow tradition and serve a roast turkey, it’s also a great dish to serve on Boxing Day; it uses up plenty of Christmas dinner leftovers, while still being impressive enough to serve to any guests.

Whether you’re looking for a turkey-based Christmas Dinner alternative, or just a tasty way to use up leftovers, there are all kinds of ways you can spice up traditional turkey this year. From turkey and mushroom pot pies to Moroccan-spiced turkey pie, have a look at these turkey pie recipes on BBC Good Food if you want some more ideas.

3. Gingerbread houses

If you want to enjoy a Christmas tradition that’s as creative as it is delicious, why not make a gingerbread house? There’s something magical about a house made entirely of treats – not least because of its connection to the Hansel and Gretel fairytale.

If you have grandchildren, baking and decorating a gingerbread house is a really enjoyable way to spend a few hours – although this is definitely an activity that adults can enjoy alone, too! Plus, with the variety of sweets and cake decorations available these days, there’s no limit to how creative you can get – just check out these beautiful gingerbread houses for inspiration!

When it comes to making your own gingerbread house, you have two choices: you can either bake the house from scratch using your own recipe of choice, and then assemble and decorate as you like, or you can make one using a build-your-own gingerbread house kit.

To make your house from scratch, check out this recipe from The Spruce Eats – or for more inspiration, have a look at their 15 favourite gingerbread house ideas. If you’d prefer to buy a kit instead, then you might want to check out Delicious Magazine’s ratings of 11 different kits.

Alternatively, if you like the idea of making gingerbread, but want to get stuck into a more modest challenge, then why not bake some gingerbread men? This recipe from BBC Food is delicious, yet easy enough for kids to get involved with, too. Have a watch of the video below to get inspired!

4. Mulled wine

When it’s cold and dark outside, there’s something wonderfully comforting about curling up with a cup of mulled wine – and when you make it yourself, it’s even better (and not just because you’ve saved a few pennies!). Making mulled wine from scratch is a tasty way to get your whole home smelling of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg… if Christmas had a smell, mulled wine might just be it. As these spices heat up in a pan, their scents will infuse through your home and get everyone feeling that little bit more festive.

There are lots of different types of mulled wine that you can make at home. For something quick, inexpensive, and incredibly tasty, this recipe from Gimme Some Oven should do the trick – or you might want to check out Jamie Oliver’s recipe, or our very own mulled wine recipe.

For something a bit different, but equally warming and comforting, why not make some mulled cider? You could try Nigella Lawson’s recipe, which is fruity and mellow, or this richer recipe from Vintage Roots.

5. Exciting veggie mains

The days when veggies had to make do with an obligatory nut roast at Christmas are long gone, and these days there are an abundance of vegetarian and vegan Christmas mains to choose from.

For a show stopping vegetarian main, check out Olive Magazine’s squash and ricotta Christmas wreath – which uses croissant dough to make it that bit more indulgent. Olive Magazine has plenty more mouthwatering veggie mains, like this camembert and cranberry pithivier, this pear and blue cheese tart with walnut pastry, or this stilton, chard and walnut wellington.

Nowadays the vegan mains are equally as inspired – just check out these 9 recommendations from BBC Good Food. Waitrose also has some great plant-based Christmas recipes this year, from this sweet potato and cranberry wreath, to this nutty pithivier with watercress and pistachio pesto. Or, if you’re a fan of seitan (a mock meat made from wheat gluten), either Gaz Oakley’s vegan Christmas roast wellington or stuffed ‘no turkey’ will definitely hit the spot – as well as making sure that you have an incredibly photogenic Christmas table. Have a watch of the video below to get inspired.

6. Christmas cake

Done right, Christmas cake should taste like the ultimate festive indulgence. Usually packed with butter, sugar, exotic fruits, spices, and lashings of booze, these puddings are about as decadent as you can get. Plus, spending an afternoon making Christmas cake is another way to ensure your home smells suitably festive.

For a classic Christmas cake, you can’t go wrong with Mary Berry’s recipe, which is covered with apricot jam and marzipan icing. If you’re not a fan of the traditional dark Christmas cake, you could mix things up and make this light golden fruit cake by Bake Then Eat – or alternatively, opt for this fudgy date and chocolate Christmas cake as seen on The Guardian website.

If you’re gluten-free, you could try this recipe from The Guardian instead, and if you’re vegan, this recipe from The Evening Standard looks great.

For more on how to make a deliciously moist Christmas cake, have a watch of the video below.

7. Christmas cocktails

Mulled wine is great, but if you prefer your alcohol served cold instead than hot, then we’ve got some tasty Christmas cocktail recipes for you. Cocktails are a great way to make cosy Christmas evenings that bit more special – plus, once you find your ideal cocktail, you can serve it throughout the festive season and on New Year’s Eve too.

Have a look at these 38 Christmas cocktail recipes on the Delicious Magazine website: from retro eggnog cocktails to hot buttered rum and ginger champagne fizz, there’s a cocktail for every taste here. If none of those tickle your fancy, hopefully you’ll find some recipes that suit you over on the Olive Magazine website instead; from Christmas martini cocktails with gingerbread, to winter-spiced pear cocktails, there are some very impressive tipples here.

If you don’t drink or just don’t fancy an alcoholic beverage, then there are all kinds of refreshing Christmas mocktails too – just have a look at these recipes from BBC Good Food.

8. Christmas bubble and squeak

Bubble and squeak might just be the perfect Boxing Day brunch. Not only is it hearty enough to comfort any slightly-sore heads, it’s also an ideal way to use up some of those Christmas leftovers.

Daylesford Farm has a great festive bubble and squeak recipe that uses up leftover potatoes, pancetta, sprouts and cabbage – just top with a poached egg and some hollandaise sauce to make it that bit more special. Alternatively, why not try making leftover turkey bubble and squeak cakes, like these from BBC Good Food? Not only are they great for a Boxing Day breakfast or brunch, they also make tasty snacks to nibble on throughout the day. If you’re veggie, you could try this plant-based Christmas bubble and squeak recipe from BOSH.

9. Christmas Yule log

If Christmas cake isn’t really your thing, but you still want to serve up a dessert that looks as good as it tastes, then why not make a yule log? Decadent, stylish, and rich yet moist, a traditional Christmas yule log is made with swiss roll, chocolate icing and whipped cream.

Mary Berry’s yule log recipe is one of the best, and has a lovely layer of apricot jam hidden underneath the chocolate icing. There are so many tasty ways you can put your own spin on the yule log: Jamie Oliver’s recipe uses sweet chestnut puree, honeyed cream and crushed honeycomb filling, and the BBC Good Food recipe has an unusual minty twist. For more inspiration, have a watch of the video below.

Once again, vegans and people following a gluten-free diet don’t have to miss out; check out this tasty-looking vegan recipe from Crumbs and Caramel, and this gluten-free yule log recipe from Sainsbury’s.

10. Special stuffing

If you feel like your Christmas dinner is sometimes missing a certain something, why not try making your own stuffing, to really make your roast stand out? Whether you’re stuffing a turkey or making stuffing balls, this delicious side is a real crowd pleaser – and the great thing about stuffing is how many different recipes and flavours there are to choose from.

Waitrose has an excellent selection of stuffing recipes: the traditional stuffing is sage and onion, but if you like meat-based stuffings, why not try their chestnut and bacon stuffing, or Heston Blumenthal’s pork, vanilla and apple stuffing?

Or, for something a bit different, why not make an Italian-inspired stuffing, like this ciabatta and rosemary stuffing from Olive Magazine? If you enjoy Middle-Eastern food, you could even give your stuffing an exotic twist by trying this pomegranate, pistachio and almond stuffing recipe. Plus, if you make extra stuffing balls, they’re the perfect late-night snack!

11. Christmas chutney

Chutney is a cornerstone of Christmas snacking. You can use it to add some spice to your Christmas dinner, liven up cheese boards and meat platters, and even spread inside sandwiches for a bit of festive flavour. Making a Christmas chutney is a great way to get into the festive spirit – plus, giving someone a jar of your homemade Christmas chutney is a wonderfully thoughtful present. If you make a few jars of chutney, you’ll never be caught short when someone gives you an unexpected gift!

Generally, chutneys improve with age, but if you’re pushed for time – or just want to find a way to use up leftover dried fruit after doing some Christmas baking – this last minute Christmas chutney recipe from BBC Good Food is ideal. Alternatively, why not try Delia Smith’s Christmas chutney, which is dark and spicy, and the perfect accompaniment to cheese and cold cuts?

Or, if you prefer a chutney that has more of a kick, why not try Jamie Oliver’s chilli pepper chutney? If you want to give some jars away as gifts, you could try doubling the quantities – just remember to sterilise the jars so the chutney keeps.

12. Chocolate truffles

Few things feel more indulgent than biting into a rich, smooth chocolate truffle on a cosy winter’s evening. Making and decorating your own chocolate truffles isn’t only lots of fun, it’s also a great way to impress loved ones with a homemade gift. Plus, you’ll always have some lovely sweet treats on hand if friends or family pop over – providing you’ve managed to keep some aside, of course!

Whatever type of chocolates you like, you’re sure to find your perfect truffle recipe. These Christmas truffles from BBC Good Food are quick and simple to make, and great for making with kids, as are these snowball truffles, which look suitably festive.

For something more grown-up, you might want to consider spiking your truffles with booze (it is Christmas, after all!), in which case this recipe from House & Garden should hit the spot. Or why not mix things up with some white chocolate truffles, like these from Country Living? Check out the video below to get even more inspired.

Final thoughts…

This Christmas might look a little different than other years, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t treat ourselves and enjoy some delicious food and drink. Whether you’re hoping to have loved ones over for Christmas, are visiting friends or family, or are keeping it low-key and staying at home, these recipes can be made and enjoyed by everyone.

While it’s always good to follow a healthy, balanced diet, there’s nothing wrong with indulging a bit over Christmas – especially after the year we’ve all had. So, if you want to reach for another chocolate truffle, pour yourself another mulled wine, or cut yourself another sliver or Christmas cake, we say go for it. We all deserve a bit extra this year.

Do you have any delicious Christmas recipes you’d like to share with us – or are you planning on making any of the recipes featured above? We’d love to hear about your Christmas creations! Leave us a comment below or join the conversation over on the Rest Less community forum.

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