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14/11/2013 12:45 | By Helenka Bednar, contributor, MSN Food

Alternative Christmas dinner ideas

If you're over the whole turkey thing this year, we've got some delicious Christmas dinner alternatives that everyone will love tucking into.

No room for any more turkey? If you've had enough of it to last you a lifetime, here are some delicious alternatives to whet your festive appetite. From luxurious salmon en croute to quick and simple vegetarian ideas, we've got something to suit everyone this Christmas.

Goose (© Corbis)

A golden goose will have everyone's stomachs rumbling at the dinner table on Christmas Day. If your goose has been trussed, loosen the string a little so that the bird cooks evenly. Remember to check for giblets inside the cavity and stuff the empty space with a lemon sliced in two, and a handful of fresh herbs. Baste regularly in the oven and glaze with honey 30 minutes before its cooking time ends, for a moreish finish. Lastly, remember to make the most of all that delicious goose fat in the roasting tray – it’s perfect for making roast potatoes that taste too good for words.


Spoil everyone at the dinner table on Christmas Day with a whole fillet of salmon. Stuff with watercress pesto and asparagus for a delicious luxury dish. Wrap up your salmon fillet in shortcrust pastry and glaze with beaten egg for a glossy and tempting finish. Filo or puff pastry can be used instead of shortcrust, but however you do it, it's the perfect festive centrepiece for slicing at the table without any tricky carving!

Salmon (© Sainsbury's)

Vegetarian tartlets

If you need to cater for vegetarians at the Christmas dinner table, try making seasonal vegetable tartlets, flavoured with festive ingredients such as cranberries, chestnuts, stilton or even a layer of stuffing. Serve them up to your veggie guests with lots of roasted veg and all the trimmings, and freeze any leftover tartlets for those moments when you're catering for a vegetarian unexpectedly.

Beef (© Getty Images)

Beef joint

If turkey doesn't get the vote in your household, a big joint of beef can make a great alternative on Christmas Day. Roasting a large beef joint looks impressive and makes a beautiful centrepiece to bring to the table. Work festive flavours into a rub for the joint, such as orange zest, cinnamon, juniper and cloves, and carve into lots of juicy slices once the joint has been cooked and left to rest.

Roast ham

A roast ham isn't just for Boxing Day – it makes a delicious Christmas Day centrepiece too. Great for feeding a hungry crowd, simply slow-roast it in the oven, (taking care when you remove the skin half way through cooking). Score a diagonal pattern through the covering of fat and stud the ham evenly with cloves. Coat in a treacle, maple syrup and mixed spice glaze for the last 30 minutes of cooking and watch your guests drool as you take it out of the oven.

Duck (© Sainsbury's)


With its rich, luxurious flavour, duck makes an indulgent alternative to turkey at Christmas time. Give your family and guests a real treat by finishing off the roast duck with an orange marmalade and cinnamon glaze. Serve with all the festive trimmings, and try adding a little brandy to the gravy for an extra kick. (Make sure you cook off the alcohol in the gravy if you have kids at the table, or leave it out completely.)


If turkey has been turned down this year because of its reputation for blandness, pheasant and venison make flavoursome alternatives. With bold flavours that stand up well to winter berries, lots of red wine and even chocolate, they make great roasts to bring to the table on Christmas Day. Like turkey, all of these kinds of game contain little fat and can dry out during the cooking process, so try wrapping pheasant in bacon before roasting and basting the roast regularly to keep it juicy and tender. Younger diners might not appreciate the taste of game, so if you're going down this route, be sure to supply plenty of pigs in blankets!

Nut roast (© Sainsbury's)

Veggie cheats

If you have just one vegetarian to cater for on Christmas Day, alongside a handful of meat-eaters, ready-made options can be quick and simple lifesavers.

Instead of giving yourself another dish to cook on such a busy day in the kitchen, try popping Sainsbury's Vegetable and Pearl Barley Risotto Bake in the oven, or serving up Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Nut Roast with Feta. These can both be served with the roast trimmings, though you will need to eschew the goose fat for your potatoes and prepare a vegetarian gravy.

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