16 Dec, 2021

You look forward to the festive family roast all year, but we don’t blame you if you’re looking for alternative Christmas dinner ideas to replace the usual turkey. After years and years of cooking the same meat, maybe it’s time to try something new?

This year, why not start looking at alternatives to turkey for Christmas? If some of the family aren’t keen on giving up the big bird altogether, perhaps suggest that you’ll bring something a little different to sit alongside it. It may even end up outshining the turkey.

Meat-free Christmas dinner alternatives

When looking for ideas for a great alternative meat-free Christmas dinner, the go-to’s are usually a basic nut roast or just piling on enough trimmings to constitute a meal but there’s much more to making the perfect meat-free Christmas dinner.

Vegetarian Christmas Food

Vegetable tarte tatin

You’ll need:

  • Puff pastry
  • Blue cheese
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Shallots
  • Garlic cloves
  • Sage, rosemary, and cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Caster sugar
  • Red wine vinegar


  1. Boil your vegetables and cook your shallots in the oil and butter with your herbs, sugar, and vinegar until you get a syrupy texture.
  2. Then, roll out your pastry into a pan and top with your vegetables and syrup mixture. Then simply bake for around half an hour, until the pastry looks golden brown.

Full recipe here

Packed vegetable wellington

You’ll need:

  • Puff pastry
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Kale and spinach
  • Chestnuts and pine nuts
  • Garlic cloves
  • A few slices of sourdough bread
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Butter and milk
  • Egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Roast your sweet potato for around 45 minutes – while they’re cooking, mash your herbs together and cook your onions and chestnuts in the oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Next, toast the bread in oil, tear, then add to the pan with the zest. Set this mixture to one side and start cooking the mushrooms in garlic, lemon juice, and butter until they’re soft.
  3. Cook your kale and spinach briefly then combine with the pine nuts and a little oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
  4. Now for the fun part – spread your mushrooms onto the pastry, then combine your other mixtures and place on top. Roll the rest of the pastry over the top. You’re looking to create what’s essentially a giant sausage roll, so keep this in mind. Give it a generous egg wash and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.

Full recipe here

Our pairings:

What goes better with fresh seasonal vegetables, crunchy greens, and pastry than a crisp white? We’d recommend our bright and citrusy Dark Horse Sauvignon Blanc, which will help to freshen the palate between bites of buttery pastry and perfectly complements root vegetable dishes.

If you’re looking for a red wine to sip alongside your meat-free dishes, we recommend our rich, smooth Dark Horse Malbec. The hints of blackberry and aromatic notes will pair well with the herby flavours of the meal and the buttery pastry will cut through the tannins creating a plush, velvety finish.

Christmas Roast Goose

Dabble with different meats

If you’re a meat eater who doesn’t want to be pigeonholed by turkey, then there are plenty of meat centrepieces for you to try out this year. The great thing about most meat recipes is that they can be adapted over time to create something truly unique. You never know, the next greatest family recipe might well be within your grasp.

Traditional slow roast goose with festive side salsa

You’ll need:

  • A goose

For the spice rub:

  • Cloves
  • Star anise
  • Cinnamon
  • Orange zest
  • Chicken stock

For the salsa:

  • Onions
  • Cranberries and cranberry sauce
  • Green chillies
  • Orange zest and juice
  • Lime zest
  • Thyme leaves
  • Olive oil


Did you know that serving goose at Christmas dates back to Ancient Greece? They can still be found on festive dinner tables today but they’re nowhere near as popular as they once were – so perhaps it’s time to bring back this old classic.

  1. For this Christmas goose recipe, simply toast then grind your spices, mixing in the crumbled stock cube and orange zest and then rub it onto your goose. Roast for around two hours.
  2. For your salsa, fry your onions in the oil then add your cranberries. Once soft, mix in everything else, simmer, set aside, sorted!

Full recipe here

Sweet and spicy roast ham

You’ll need:

For the gammon:

  • Around 3kg green gammon
  • Blonde or golden ale
  • Chicken stock
  • Bay leaves and peppercorns

For the glaze:

  • Chilli jam
  • Lemon zest
  • Ginger

Or, if you want to impress everyone and make your own chilli jam, you’ll need:

  • Red chilli peppers
  • Red peppers
  • Jam sugar
  • Cider vinegar

Chilli jam method:

  1. Blend the chillies and peppers in a food processor.
  2. Cook sugar and vinegar on a low heat.
  3. Add pepper mixture to pan and boil.
  4. Allow to cool before storing in jars.

Full jam recipe here


If birds aren’t your thing, then an alternative cut of Christmas roast ham topped with a sticky and spicy glaze might well be the perfect dish for you. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to prepare and make. Mountains of bold flavour with little effort – that’s how we like it.

  1. First, pour over the stock and ale mixed with the bay leaves and peppercorns over the ham, and cook for around three hours. You’ll want to drain it, leave it to cool, and chill overnight for the best results.
  2. On the big day, remove the skin and mix the jam with the lemon, spreading it evenly. Cook for another 40 minutes until heated through and the jam has caramelised. And done – a quick and easy recipe for the best baked ham to serve at Christmas.

Full recipe here

Our pairings:

Both goose and gammon are interesting meats, in that they both pair well with white and red wine. For the latter, we would suggest our vibrant medium-bodied Merlot, which pairs well with the richness found in both goose and ham. Alternatively, our rich, smooth Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon stands up to the bold flavours of the meat, while the fats help soften the tannins. A perfect pair.

For white wine, a dry and balanced Pinot Grigio is intense and crisp enough to cut through the fattiness of both meats.


More unique Christmas dinner side dish ideas

Although the table centrepiece is, well, the centrepiece, what’s Christmas without gorging yourself on too many sides? Creating alternative Christmas dinners doesn’t just stop with the main event, in fact, we think one of the best bits about the roast is all the tasty trimmings. If you want your Christmas dinner to be remembered for all the right reasons, it’s time to get adventurous with your sides.

Glazed root vegetables

You’ll need:

  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Beetroot
  • Celeriac
  • Garlic cloves
  • Thyme
  • Maple syrup and olive oil
  • Butter


If you’re looking to serve indulgent roasted vegetables, then look no further than this one-tray dish, which makes for a great alternative Christmas dinner idea. Prepare your vegetables, toss them in the oil, syrup, garlic, and thyme and then roast for half an hour. After this, drizzle over a little more syrup and the butter, then roast for a further 20 minutes. Soft, crispy, sweet, extremely festive, but a bold switch up from the norm – it’ll be a dish to be remembered!

Read the full recipe

Sweet potato and cabbage gratin

You’ll need:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Double cream
  • Gruyere (or cheddar)
  • Nutmeg

For the filling:

  • Red cabbage
  • Onion
  • Grated Dutch cream potato (can use regular potato)
  • Juniper berries (can be substituted by rosemary)
  • Salt, bay leaves, cloves, caraway seeds
  • Unsalted butter
  • Wine, apple juice, and honey


  1. When making the cabbage filling, simply toss the cabbage in salt and set aside. Then cook the onion in all your spices until it has that nice onion-y colour. You know the one.
  2. Add the cabbage, wine, apple juice, and honey and cover. Cook on a low heat for around half an hour, add the Dutch cream potato, then cook for another 30 minutes. Combine the mixture with the butter then drain away any excess liquid.
  3. Finally, time to layer your gratin. Place the sweet potato at the base, then add the cabbage, and then the cream. Repeat until your dish is full – leaving enough room for the cheese and nutmeg.
  4. You can leave this to soak for a while, or simply put it straight into the oven for an hour until golden and bubbling and overflowing with creamy cheesy goodness.

Read the full recipe

Our pairings:

Of course, with cream and sweet roast vegetables on the table – and with it being Christmas – this is the perfect time to sip our rich Dark Horse Chardonnay. The classic dry and buttery notes complement the cream and dairy excellently, with the fruity notes pairing well with most vegetable dishes. Not only is it a great accompaniment to the meal, it’s also a perfect celebration wine.


Feeling ready to host an adventurous celebration after reading these unique Christmas dinner ideas? Grab some bold Dark Horse wine to accompany your festive feast and toast to the season.

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