There’s nothing quite like Christmas dinner, with all the familiar festive flavours that you can only enjoy this time of year.
But sometimes, it can be exciting and refreshing to try something new. So, whether that’s replacing the same old turkey, adding a vibrant option among your Christmas veggies, or creating a decadent dessert, here are 10 non-traditional dishes that can make your festive meal even more exciting.
4 delicious alternatives for your main course
1. Spiced roast goose
If you want to swap out your turkey but don’t want to stray too far from convention by sticking with a Christmas bird, this Jamie Oliver recipe for spiced roast goose could suit you.
Despite technically being poultry, goose is a mouth-watering dark meat more similar in flavour to beef than chicken or turkey.
This recipe involves essentially marinating your goose in a tangy spice mix featuring star anise, fennel seeds, Sichuan pepper, and more.
Paired with a port gravy, this dish is rich, hearty, and flavoursome, the perfect alternative to a traditional turkey lunch.
2. Braised venison
This Countryfile recipe throws out the Christmas playbook entirely, replacing your main with a serving of braised venison.
Essentially a casserole, this recipe involves frying vegetables alongside your meat before adding redcurrant jelly and wine for an indulgent flavouring.
Then, roast for around an hour and a half until this gamey meat practically melts when you cut it.
By the time it comes out of the oven, your braised venison will be a hearty stew, perfect for a cold Christmas afternoon.
3. Duck with marsala gravy
In this recipe from Jamie Oliver, you can again replace the traditional turkey with another dark-meat bird in the form of duck. What makes this recipe special, however, is the decadent, boozy flavour of the marsala gravy to go on top.
Marsala is a fortified wine that comes in both sweet and dry varieties, meaning you can choose whichever flavour you and your guests will enjoy most.
The entire recipe only requires 10 ingredients in total and preparing the duck itself is fairly simple and straightforward, including a healthy serving of Chinese five spice to add some extra flavour to your Christmas main.
4. Festive nut roast
Whether you have vegetarians and vegans among your dinner party, or you simply want to try a meat-free alternative this year, a nut roast is a super alternative to traditional options.
This Tesco recipe for a festive nut roast is particularly delicious, combining butternut squash, mushrooms, and chestnuts with mixed nuts to create a moist yet crunchy roast.
It also includes fresh sage and is topped with cheese, pecans, and cranberries, meaning this nut roast is packed with seasonal ingredients for that quintessential Christmas flavour.
3 tantalising sides to include on your plate
1. ‘Nduja-fried sprouts
No doubt you’ll have guests over this year who simply cannot stand Brussels sprouts. Fortunately, this simple but effective recipe from olive magazine provides a way for you to supercharge this festive staple with just four ingredients.
Combining your sprouts with olive oil, ‘nduja, and a squeeze of lemon juice, this recipe transforms sprouts into a golden, crisp treat, imbued with the flavour of spicy Italian sausage.
Even the most notorious sprout-hating guest won’t be able to leave this glorious side dish alone.
2. Christmas cauliflower cheese
Cauliflower cheese may not be a traditional part of Christmas dinner, but this recipe in the Guardian including confit garlic is a delicious, decadent inclusion to your table.
This creamy side involves including the garlic both in the bechamel and the gaps between the cauliflower to bring that tangy flavour to a much-loved classic.
The key to this dish is patience. It’s a bit of a labour of love, as you’ll need to allow the garlic time on a low heat to reach the soft, buttery consistency that makes the perfect confit.
Remember: you can always assemble this dish a day or two before you’ll serve it and then bake it on Christmas to save yourself time.
3. Whisky and maple-glazed carrots and parsnips
Another wonderfully simple recipe from olive magazine, this recipe takes inspiration from our transatlantic cousins in Canada, using whisky and maple syrup to create a sweet-yet-savoury vegetable side.
All you need to do in this recipe is combine carrots and parsnips (or any root vegetable you fancy) and roast them as usual. Then, use the remaining ingredients to create your whisky-infused syrup in a pan and add it to the veggies for the last 20 minutes in the oven to create a sticky, delectable side dish.
This can make a great alternative to the more traditional honey-roasted vegetables. And, because neither whisky nor maple syrup are derived from animals, this version is vegan, too.
3 decadent desserts for those with a sweet tooth
1. Panettone bombe
If you want to impress your guests with a dessert that looks just as impressive as it tastes, then this panettone bombe from BBC Good Food could be a great option for you.
There are just six simple ingredients in this recipe, with the difficulty lying in the assembly of them. Your goal is to ultimately create a panettone with delicious cherry ice cream hiding inside, topped with a gloriously rich chocolate sauce made with double cream.
Remember to leave at least six hours for your bombe to freeze – and take it out the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving so that it’s frozen but soft enough to eat.
2. Iced amaretto Christmas pudding with chocolate sauce
A take on the traditional Christmas pudding, this Waitrose recipe involves combining indulgent ingredients such as condensed milk, double cream, and a healthy hit of Amaretto for that sweet-yet-acidic flavour that only alcohol can provide.
Much like the panettone bombe, this is an iced dessert, so make sure you leave plenty of time for the pudding to freeze so that it retains its shape when you come to serve it.
Similarly, it also involves topping with a hot chocolate sauce, this time containing golden syrup for an extra hit of sickly-sweet flavouring.
The result is a boozy, novel dessert packed with a range of gloriously sweet ingredients, topped with a thick, decadent chocolate sauce.
3. Chocolate truffle and honeycomb torte
No list of desserts would be complete without a rich chocolate pudding, and this torte is the perfect addition to any Christmas menu.
A no-bake recipe from BBC Good Food involving just five ingredients, it combines dark chocolate with golden syrup and cream to create a rich, moist torte.
The real delight of this dessert comes from the honeycomb, with the zesty flavour both running throughout and crumbled on top to add a sticky crunch to the velvety chocolate.
This dessert needs to be chilled for at least two to four hours, but will also keep for up to three days. So, if you want to save yourself some hassle, you could keep your torte in the fridge ahead of the big day.