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Christmas Dinner - Stuffing, Gravy and Other Trimmings

Updated on October 14, 2014
A traditional British Christmas dinner with all the trimmings
A traditional British Christmas dinner with all the trimmings | Source

Traditional British Christmas Dinner

Here in the UK, the traditional Christmas dinner is usually roast turkey with all the trimmings.

The trimmings are the traditional accompaniments like stuffings, cranberry or bread sauce, as well as gravy made from the turkey giblets.

These are all expected with a real Christmas dinner in most British households. Often, the stuffings and other extras are the favourite parts of the meal.

Roast Turkey Just Taken from the Oven


How to Stuff the Christmas Turkey or Other Bird

In the UK, the two most commonly made Christmas stuffings are chestnut and sausage meat. Traditionally, the body cavity and neck of the Christmas turkey have been cooked with stuffing inside them.

Nowadays, though, it is recommended that the body cavity is not stuffed as it could stop the turkey being cooked all the way through and may lead to food poisoning.

You can still put stuffing inside the skin at the neck end and, mingled with the juices of the turkey, it is usually delicious. If you still want two types of stuffing, you can put one in the neck end and cook the other in a separate dish.

Advice on Stuffing the Turkey from USDA

Christmas with Southern Living 2014: Our Best Guide to Holiday & Decorating
Christmas with Southern Living 2014: Our Best Guide to Holiday & Decorating

Here is Southern Living's latest Christmas cookbook. It also gives tips on many other aspects of the festive season.

Southern Living Christmas All Through The South: Joyful Memories, Timeless Moments, Enduring Traditions
Southern Living Christmas All Through The South: Joyful Memories, Timeless Moments, Enduring Traditions

This is the ever popular Southern Living's latest Christmas book concentrating on customs and traditions of the festive season.


Recipe for Traditional Chestnut Stuffing


  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 6 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can of chestnut pureé
  • 3 rashers (slices) bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tb parsley, chopped
  • 2 oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • turkey heart and liver, chopped (optional)
  • season to taste

1. Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the onion, turkey heart and liver (if used) and mushrooms until all the butter has been absorbed.

2. Break up the canned chestnut pureé in a bowl and then mix in the fried ingredients together with the parsley, bacon, breadcrumbs and seasoning.

3. Use this to stuff the neck end of the turkey, pushing it between the skin and flesh. Make sure you fold the flap of skin back under the bird when you have finished to stop the stuffing leaking out during cooking.

Stuffing for Roast Turkey
Stuffing for Roast Turkey | Source

Recipe for Easy Sausage, Sage and Onion Stuffing


  • 1.5 pounds (24 oz) of high quality raw pork sausage meat
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp chopped sage according to taste
  • 4 oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Season to taste

1. Put the sausage meat into a large bowl and then mix all the ingredients into it. The best way to do this is with your hands - it's quicker and much more effective than trying to use a spoon. Just make sure you have a bowl of hot water ready to wash your hands afterwards.

2. This stuffing was traditionally used in the body cavity but you can cook it in a greased dish or oven tin for about an hour on the floor of the oven with the turkey when it is on a low heat.

Both of the recipes for stuffing are infinitely adaptable and you can add or substitute ingredients according to what you and your family like.

"In my experience, clever food is not appreciated at Christmas. It makes the little ones cry and the old ones nervous."

— Jane Grigson, Famous British Cook
Cooking Cranberry and Orange Sauce
Cooking Cranberry and Orange Sauce | Source

Make Your Own Cranberry Sauce


  • 8oz sugar
  • 1/2 pint (300ml) water
  • 8 oz cranberries

Put the water and sugar into a pan and heat. When the sugar has dissolved, boil for 5 minutes then add the cranberries and simmer until the berries have burst open, about 5 minutes.

Cool and serve. This can be made up a day or two before needed.

What Is Your Favourite Trimming?

What is your favourite trimming that is traditionally served with Christmas Dinner?

See results

Bread Sauce - Not so Popular Now


  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves
  • 3/4 pint (400ml) milk
  • salt & a few peppercorns
  • 1/2 bayleaf
  • 3 oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • knob of butter

Peel the onion and stick the cloves in it before putting it in a pan with the milk, salt, peppercorns and bayleaf. Now heat the pan until the mixture nearly boils then remove from the heat and leave standing for about 20 minutes.

Take out the bayleaf and peppercorns. Add the butter and breadcrumbs, mix and then return the pan to a low heat for about 15 minutes so that the sauce cooks thoroughly but without burning on the bottom of the pan.

Remove the onion and cloves.

Gravy ready to serve in a jug
Gravy ready to serve in a jug | Source

Make the Gravy - At Christmas This Has to be Good!

Wash the giblets and neck and put them in a large pan with plenty of water. Chop up an onion, carrot and stick of celery and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Drain off the stock and save it to make the gravy.

When the turkey has cooked and is resting on a board or large plate, you have a roasting pan with the fat and juices from the turkey in it. Now you need to separate the fat from the juices. The easiest way to do this is by cooling it down quickly so the fat rises to the top. You could put the liquid into a jug, then stand the jug in iced water, for example.

If you like your gravy thin, just mix the turkey juices into the giblet stock. Taste, season as needed.

If you prefer thick gravy, you can use about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the turkey (or cooking oil), to make a roux sauce. Heat the fat in a pan, stir in one tablespoon of plain (all purpose) flour. Keep stirring and let it cook for about one minute.

Now gradually add the giblet stock you separated earlier, removing the pan from the heat for each addition. Immediately put it back on the heat, bring to a full simmer without stirring, then stir vigorously. Repeat until it's the thickness you like. Again taste and season if necessary.

Devils on Horseback

Devils on horseback - bacon rolled around sausage
Devils on horseback - bacon rolled around sausage | Source
Gooseberry Patch Have Yourself a Homemade Christmas (Gooseberry Patch (Paperback))
Gooseberry Patch Have Yourself a Homemade Christmas (Gooseberry Patch (Paperback))

The Gooseberry Patch, another great favorite, has published its latest book for Christmas with everything from festive recipes, to decorations, and everything in between.


The Trimmings for a Turkey Dinner

Not Essential but They Do Add to the Occasion

There are some traditional 'trimmings' usually cooked and served with the Christmas turkey.

Devils on Horseback
Wrap a slice of bacon around a small sausage (chipolata) or a piece of large sausage. Use a cocktail stick to hold them together. Repeat until you have enough or have used up all the sausages. You can cook them in a separate pan in the oven or put them alongside the turkey if it has had the foil removed. They shouldn't take more than 30 minutes to cook, depending on your oven.

Variations - Wrap the bacon around dates or prunes (dried plums), green beans or even pieces of fish, instead of sausage.

Bacon Rolls
Loosely roll up rashers (slices) of bacon and put a cocktail stick through each one to keep it in a roll. Now you can grill (broil) or cook in the oven. They won't take long, maybe 10 minutes in the oven.

Stuffing Balls
Roll your stuffing into small balls, maybe an inch or inch and a half across. Put them alongside the turkey after you've taken off the foil. These shouldn't take longer than 30 minutes.

Serve these as accompaniments to the turkey.

Gordon Ramsay's Family Christmas Dinner

© 2014 Carol Fisher


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    • profile image

      Ardy 2 years ago

      I will be having my folks over to play the Beatle's Rockband game they are ginvig us for Christmas. I can't wait to see my two 60 year old parents playing the Wii. Have good, quality time with your mom and step dad. Merry Christmas to you too!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i have never tried stuffing a chicken. Maybe this christmas dinner

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 3 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      @LouiseKirkpatrick I'm glad you like the recipe for the Sausage, Sage & Onion stuffing. It really is as easy as it sounds. On Christmas Day I have no patience at all for messing around with fiddly recipes. If you use your hands to mix it, the bowl of hot water standing by is essential!

      You could make it and the Chestnut Stuffing as well as the Devils on Horseback, etc, the day before as long as you have room in your refrigerator for them overnight.

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image

      LouiseKirkpatrick 3 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      Bread Sauce is an absolute must in our house too! My husband would eat the lot if I let him :) I like your recipe for Easy Sausage, Sage and Onion Stuffing...may well try that this year. I do a gargantuan Christmas dinner with 2 or 3 different roast meats, but I'm usually lazy when it comes to stuffing and just open a packet of Paxo! Your recipe looks delish and has inspired it's easy which suits me just fine :D

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 3 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      @Greenspirit How lovely that you still have bread sauce at Christmas and enjoy it.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 3 years ago from London

      Bread Sauce yum! I make this every time we have a roast...there's something positively Medieval about it and made well with good bread, butter and spices, it sort of ties everything together.