How To Cook Christmas Dinner

Dec 12, 2022

christmas dinner
Sunny Forest /

The most important meal of the year is fast approaching. Whether you’re a seasoned Christmas chef or it’s your first time hosting the festivities, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow timeline on how to cook Christmas dinner. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly, not stressed.

Christmas Dinner Shopping List

Person shopping at the grocery shop
Seventyfour /

With so much food ahead of you it's best to go light for starters. Consider a classic prawn cocktail, a duck terrine or a selection of tarts to tantalize the taste buds before the main event. When it comes to Christmas dinner, every family has their favorites. Whether it’s a turkey, goose, duck or even beef, the main is always the star of the show. For vegetarians, alternatives such as a nut roast or plant-based pastry are perfect.

Although there’s some discourse over what should and shouldn’t be included on your Christmas dinner plate, you can’t go wrong with the essentials. Fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside roasted potatoes paired with carrots, pigs in blankets, parsnips, red cabbage and maybe even a Brussels sprout or two.

‘Tis the season to indulge. From a traditional Christmas pudding drowning in cream to tins upon tins of chocolate and mince pies, there’s plenty of sweetness to go around and since everyone seems to magically gain an endless appetite over the holidays, keep faces smiling with a fully-stocked snacking station.

Find everything you need to make Christmas dinner easy with our essential shopping list...

Mains Sides Desserts Sweets & Nibbles Other Essentials
Your choice of meat
Vegetarian/Vegan alternatives
Brussels sprouts
Pigs in blankets
Red cabbage
Christmas pudding
Fresh cream
Brandy sauce
Mince pies
Tin of chocolates
Extra-wide foil
Baking parchment
Cling film
Reusable containers
Freezer bags

23rd December

christmas kitchen
Jacob Lund /

Doing as much as you can in advanced will make The Big Day that much easier. By breaking down little jobs across several days you’ll be able to avoid a whirlwind of cooking and stressing Christmas morning and leave you to be able to enjoy the festivities.

shuravi07 /


If you’ve bought a frozen turkey, it will need to start thawing today. Remember the rule that you need 10-12 hours per kilogram to defrost in the fridge (for example, a 4kg turkey will take 48 hours to defrost at 4˚C).

soup in bowl /


Give yourself plenty of time on the big day by serving starters you can make ahead. Easy starters such as chestnut soup, chicken liver pate or figs with Parma ham are perfect for Christmas Day and can be made on the 23rd and chilled until you need them.

Have one less thing on your mind Christmas morning by making your gravy ahead on the 23rd. Once prepared, leave the gravy to come to room temperature and then store in the fridge until Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve

brussel sprouts
karepa /

Whether you make a start on the vegetable peeling or finish off your baking, getting your prep done on Christmas Eve will save you precious moments come Christmas morning when the whole house is buzzing with festive cheer.


Take inventory of your fridge and ensure you have everything you need; keeping in mind the majority of supermarkets will close early today.


Prepare the vegetables: trim the sprouts, chop the carrots, make the red cabbage, prep the parsnips, put the pigs in their blankets and make the stuffing ready for the morning. Once the prep is done, put the red cabbage, Brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets and stuffing in the fridge to chill and cover the rest of the vegetables with water to stop them from browning.


If you’re choosing to make your own cranberry and bread sauce, make these now and store in the fridge. Peel and cut your potatoes and leave them in a pan of cold water overnight. All that’s left to do is put the drinks in the fridge to chill ready for the big day tomorrow. (If you’re running out of room in the fridge, put your drinks in a secure outdoor space to keep chilled).

Christmas Morning

roast chicken
Emile Henry

This timeline is based on a sit down time of 2.30pm, cooking a 4kg turkey which will serve 6 people or 4 with leftovers.

Remove the turkey from the fridge Christmas morning and leave, covered, somewhere cool. A chilled turkey will take much longer to cook; it needs to be at room temperature before it goes in the oven.

The cooking time for your turkey will vary depending on its weight, keep note of the following rule and adjust your morning accordingly:

Under 4kg: 20 minutes per kg plus 70 minutes

Over 4kg: 20 minutes per kg plus 90 minutes

roast chicken
Emile Henry

4 Hours to Go

Preheat the oven and prepare your turkey according to the recipe you’re following. Once the oven has reached the required temperature put your turkey on the middle shelf.

Relax and enjoy the festivities until 12.30pm

potato pot
Emile Henry

2 Hours to Go

This is the calm before the storm so pour yourself your favorite festive tipple and get ready to serve a Christmas lunch to be proud of.

Put the pigs in blankets in the oven.

Turn on the hob and parboil your potatoes.

roast potatoes
weyo /

1 Hour 30 Minutes to Go


Check the turkey is cooked (make a cut between the thigh and breast and look at the juices, if they are clear the turkey is cooked. Alternatively, use meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the bird.) Remove the turkey from the oven along with the pigs in blankets. Cover the turkey with a double layer of foil and leave to rest. Create a foil parcel and place your pigs in blankets inside, you’ll reheat these later.

Turn your oven up to 200˚C and put in a roasting tray with goose fat for the potatoes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander, shaking them to fluff the outsides (don’t skip this part – it’s important if you want a crispy outside and fluffy inside).


Carefully take out the roasting dish and place your potatoes in the hot fat before putting the dish back in the oven.

Boil your pre-prepared sprouts for five minutes then drain and plunge in cold water. (Putting them in cold water stops the cooking process – as you will be frying these later you don’t want to over cook them).

1 Hour to Go
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1 Hour to Go

It’s going to get busy. Ask for helpers for the last hour, especially when it comes to plating up.

Skim most of the fat from the turkey roasting tray before pouring in your pre-prepared gravy. Mix with the turkey juices and season to taste. Put the gravy on a high heat on the hob until it boils, and then simmer gently on a low heat until you’re ready to serve.

Turn the potatoes over and place the parsnips on a tray underneath the potatoes to roast. Now is the time to put your pre-prepared stuffing in the oven.

christmas dinner
sebra /

30 Minutes to Go

Heat up the red cabbage you prepared yesterday (this can be done in the microwave to free up space on the hob, if you need to).

Drain and fry off the sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts and put the parcel of pigs in blankets into the oven to get warm.

Remove the stuffing from the oven, put the carrots onto boil and heat up the bread sauce you made ahead.

Remove parsnips, pigs in blankets and roast potatoes from the oven and plate up with the turkey, stuffing and vegetables. Serve with your pre-prepared cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy on the side.

Lunch is served. Bring everything to the table and enjoy a well-deserved drink (or two)...

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