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Cooking Christmas lunch fact sheet

Tags: Nutrition

Cooking christmas lunch - mainNutritionist Sarah Schenker has drawn up the following list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions to make sure you’ve got everything in for the big day.

What to buy − the basics:

  • The turkey
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Frozen peas
  • Potatoes for roasting
  • Parsnips
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme
  • Garlic
  • Cocktail sausages
  • Streaky bacon 

You will also need:

  • Ingredients for your starter – Gravadlax with mustard and dill dressing is light yet tasty
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Stuffing
  • Christmas pudding
  • Brandy butter
  • Drinks and wine and port
  • Cheese and biscuits 

Your step-by-step guide

If you want your turkey on the table by the time the Queen is starting her speech – start early.


Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.

If your turkey takes up all the oven space, roast your potatoes and parsnips for 40 minutes now and finish them off later when the turkey is out the oven and resting.
Peel and chop the potatoes and parsnips, and parboil for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain in a colander and place on top of the empty saucepan. Place back over the heat and steam for a few minutes whilst giving them a shake to get fluffy edges, which will roast well once in the hot oil.
Place the roasting tin over a high heat, add some oil and, when hot, carefully tip them into the tin. Season and add fresh thyme or rosemary. Put them in the oven for 40 minutes.

A 6kg (13lb) turkey (about 12 servings) needs to go in the oven now. Adjust timings accordingly for a bigger or smaller bird. Remember you need to let it stand for half an hour before serving it.
Place the bird on a bed of root vegetables (such as onions, carrots and parsnips) and add some thyme, a pierced lemon and a couple of cloves of garlic in the cavity. Drizzle with olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and pour over a couple of glasses of red or white wine.
Cover the turkey with foil until the last half an hour or so of cooking to prevent over-browning.

Prepare the pigs in blankets (chipolatas with streaky bacon rashers wrapped around them).

10:15am, 11:00am, 12:00am
Baste the turkey (spoon the juices over it).

Baste the turkey one final time and take off the foil so that the turkey skin can brown.
Pour excess juices from the turkey into a jug, leave to cool and pop it in the fridge to de-fat (the hardened fat will form a layer on top).

Open any red wine you are going to drink so it has time to breathe.
Warm your plates and vegetable dishes.


Take the turkey out of the oven. Check it is cooked by inserting a fork into the inner thigh area near the breast of the turkey but not touching the bone. If the juices run clear, it is cooked – if they are still pink, cook for another 15 minutes.
Once the turkey is cooked, take it out, cover with foil and a clean tea towel on top of that. This keeps the turkey warm for 30-45 minutes.


Place your wrapped sausages and stuffing on a baking tray and place in the oven to cook.
Pop the potatoes and parsnips back in the oven to finish roasting and put the water for veg on to boil.
Cook the veg to the following timings: finely-sliced carrots and Brussels sprouts – 6 to 8 minutes; broccoli 5 minutes; frozen peas 2-3 minutes.

Make the gravy by pouring 3 tablespoons of fatty juices from the turkey roasting tin into a pan and stirring in 3 tablespoons of flour.
De-fat the rest of the turkey juices by removing the top layer of fat. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned.
Stir in turkey stock, 150ml of de-fatted turkey juices, and a splash of red wine. Bring to the boil, stirring. Season to taste and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

It's time to eat! Get one person to carve the turkey straight on to warmed plates while someone else puts all the veg into warmed dishes. Serve with cranberry sauce. Bask in glory…… 

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