Eating turkey on Christmas Day remains a popular tradition that’s observed by most people – but if it’s not your favourite meat, there are plenty of delicious alternatives to choose from.
Whether you find turkey dry or bland, or you fancy trying a vegetarian or vegan option this year…I say go for it – it’s your Christmas, after all.
You could go for something completely different – or change up your centrepiece but retain some of the familiar festive flavours by sticking with the crispy roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, parsnips and carrots!
Check out my suggestions for alternatives to turkey for Christmas dinner:
Roast turkey on Christmas Day is a relatively recent tradition, with goose remaining a popular choice until the Victorian era.
Goose is very tasty, with much richer, darker meat and delicious crispy skin.
It also has a higher fat content which helps keep the meat moist – so if it’s the dryness of turkey you want to avoid, goose could be a great alternative.
I suggest wrapping the legs in foil for the last half hour of cooking time to help prevent them drying out.
Plus, if you’re feeding the masses (and you don’t think one chicken will be enough), you could always cook two!
If you have chicken for a standard Sunday dinner and you can afford it, you could make it extra special for Christmas by sourcing a locally reared, slow growing, free range bird.
It’s better for animal welfare than standard intensively-reared birds and I think the meat tastes more delicious, too.
Lasagne, Chinese – or another family favourite
Is there a non-Christmas related meal the whole family gets excited about?
If so, why not serve that on the big day?
Huge crowd pleasers in my house include lasagne with salad and garlic bread – or a Chinese-style buffet with duck pancakes, spring rolls, tofu stir fry, egg fried rice and prawn crackers.
We’ve had both on Christmas Day as an alternative to turkey and they were definitely dinner winners – and, because they were something a bit different, we still talk about them years later!
Both lasagne and Chinese food are also easy to adapt if you’re catering for vegetarians and vegans, with lots of tasty recipes available online.
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, roast beef could be the way to go.
Beef is a popular alternative choice for the festive meal – perhaps because it still has an air of luxury about it, even though it’s often eaten for regular Sunday lunch.
It also works very well with all the usual veg and Christmas trimmings…plus it’s an excuse to add delicious Yorkshire puddings to your menu!
Go meat free
I’m the first to admit that, in the past, veggie Christmas dinner options could be underwhelming.
But these days there are SO many products and brilliant recipes to choose from, I think it’s easy to create a tasty meat-free Christmas dinner.
When I was a child we used to eat boiled cauliflower with white sauce as a side dish. It was okay…but, if I’m honest, also a bit boring.
I’ve recently rediscovered cauliflower and I’ve been amazed – you can do so much more with it!
Cauliflower soaks up spices and flavour brilliantly, so it’s fantastic in a curry – and just spectacular roasted whole with smoked paprika and fresh herbs.
Give it a try – I highly recommend it!
Fish and seafood
Fish might be a more unusual choice for Christmas Day in the UK, but Italians enjoy seven fish and seafood dishes on Christmas Eve as part of the La Vigilia (The Vigil) tradition.
It’s a tasty but lighter alternative to turkey, and if you have a pescatarian coming for lunch this Christmas it could save you the effort of cooking different dishes for everyone.
A whole side of salmon makes a versatile and particularly stunning Christmas dinner centrepiece.
I think ham roasted at home is one of the yummiest things I’ve ever eaten: I much prefer it to turkey.
It’s just as tasty cold as it is hot, so in the unlikely event that you have any leftovers on Boxing Day, it’s the perfect addition to your buffet!
Ham’s not difficult to cook, but usually involves a bit of extra prep as salty gammon joints need poaching before they’re roasted – but believe me the end result is definitely worth it.
It tastes so much better than shop-bought!
I hope this post has given you some delicious inspiration for your Christmas dinner this year – and let me know if you have any other alternative festive lunch ideas!
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