You’ve laid your table and every guest has a sophisticated looking cracker, beautifully folded napkin and a sparkling set of cutlery. But in reality, no Christmas dinner table is complete without a selection of classic Christmas condiments. So, what should sit proudly alongside your salt and pepper?

Here we will make our recommendations on what to offer, covering all those essentials that you could either have a go at making yourself, or pick up from your local convenience store. And we won’t just stop at Christmas dinner condiments, we’ll also cover what you need to stock up on ahead of your Christmas evening supper of leftovers or your Boxing Day binge.

What to Serve With Christmas Dinner

Let’s start with the main meal. We’ve stuck with tradition and created a Christmas dinner condiments collection that will go perfectly alongside your turkey and all the trimmings.

Gorgeous Christmas Dinner Gravy

This is no doubt one you’ve already thought of, but as the biggest roast dinner of the year, it requires a really good gravy! How do we define a good gravy? It needs to be rich and packed full of flavour that complements but doesn’t overshadow your meal. Thick enough to leave a coating on your meat or veg, but be velvety smooth and certainly not gloopy! It’s also really important that it tastes of real ingredients and not chemically enhanced.

Can all that be achieved from a powdered mix? We think so. Many brands, including big names like Bisto and Knorr have become famous for taking the perceived hassle of Christmas dinner gravy making out of our hands, investing heavily in developing a mix that is packed full of traditional festive flavour. The Christmas or turkey range of instant gravies would always be our choice at Christmas as they have a lighter meat flavour than your regular brown gravies which are flavoured heavily with beef stock. This can really overpower the lighter flavour of poultry. Also, the consistency is a little thinner, which pairs well with the lighter texture of the meat and the softness of your sprouts.

The downside of using a mix is that you have far less control over the salt content or the thickness – certainly in the case of packet mixes where it’s the full pack mixed with boiling water. If you choose a tub of granules, you do have a little bit more flexibility and can tune the thickness to your preference with an extra teaspoon full here and there. Plus, they last a little longer, with tubs claiming up to 50 servings are possible.

If you would rather take the plaudits of making your own, here’s a simple Christmas dinner gravy recipe you can try. If the thought of handling the giblets put you off, this is the recipe for you!

You will need the juices from your roasted turkey, a tbsp of plain flour, 200ml of white wine and 600ml of chicken stock. Remove your bird from the roasting tray and spoon off any excess fat floating on the surface of the discarded juices. Place your tray over medium heat and sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes until thickened. Now stir in your wine and stock and bring to the boil – keep it moving with your spoon to avoid anything sticking to the bottom. Simmer for 15 minutes then sieve before serving in your best gravy boat.

Classic Cranberry Sauce for Turkey

Cranberry sauce should definitely be on your table. Cranberries are tangy, sharp and sour with a hint of sweetness that really elevates the buttery and sweet nutty Turkey flavour. You can learn more about the relationship between meat and sweet flavours in our guide to the best wines for Christmas dinner.

Cranberry sauce is a versatile sauce that adds colour, texture and flavour to every element of your Christmas dining, including being smeared on sandwiches packed with leftovers and your evening cheeseboard. Many of the jars that are available to buy include additional festive flavours such as port or orange zest. Our view though is that your only decision to be made when choosing a cranberry sauce for your turkey is texture. Would you rather have a smooth, jelly like sauce, or favour a sauce that is thinner in consistency but packed full of chunky cranberry pieces?

 

For us, one of the best cranberry sauces to buy is ocean spray’s whole cranberry sauce. This offers a great balance between chunky and smooth – they have left plenty of whole cranberries in there but have kept the sauce thick. They are renowned for their cranberry products and this one is a real winner.

Fancy making your own? You’ll need 100g of brown sugar, 100ml of smooth orange juice and a 250g pack of frozen cranberries. Tip your sugar and orange juice into a pan and bring to the boil before stirring in your cranberries and simmer until tender – this should take around five minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool and thicken.

Brilliantly Easy Bread Sauce

Not always a universal favourite as the texture and the general idea of a sauce made from bread can be a little disconcerting for some diners, but a nicely seasoned bread sauce is brilliant for tying together the elements of your Christmas plate. It’s also a nod to British tradition that dates back as far as medieval times, when bread was used as a thickening agent for sauces, mainly because there was often stale or leftover bread available.

It’s made from white bread crumbs, milk or cream and onions, with a festive hint of nutmeg. With savoury notes, it’s a firm favourite with poultry as it won’t mask the subtle flavours and provides a contrast to your cranberries while complementing your gravy – thick enough to hold its consistency even if covered in a drop of the brown stuff.

It’s simple to make, but if you prefer to use a bread sauce mix there are plenty out there with big names like Colman’s leading the way. Just add water and you have a tasty sauce ready to serve. But even if you’ve left it to the last minute, here is an easy bread sauce recipe you can make at home.

Take a large white onion and peel it. Add the whole onion to a saucepan with 6 black peppercorns and a pint of full fat milk. Bring to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Then remove your onion and peppercorns and stir in 110g of bread crumbs, made from stale white bread ideally. Return to the heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the breadcrumbs have been absorbed and the sauce is at your desired thickness. Stir in 40g of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.

Liven up the Leftovers with Boxing Day Pickles and More

So now we’ve covered the Christmas Dinner condiment must-haves, let’s look at some of the options for accompanying your leftovers or Boxing Day spread.

Piccalilli – always worth having a jar of this in your cupboard over the festive period. This tangy, chunky and sweet condiment is packed full of crunchy pickled vegetables and is a welcome addition to cold meats, cheese, left over pigs in blankets and more.

Mayonnaise – a versatile sauce year-round, spread it on a cold turkey sandwich or mix in with some left over roast potatoes for a rustic potato salad to serve up on Boxing Day.

Grainy mustard – we suggest a grainy mustard for the added kick but also that extra bit of ‘posh’ that Christmas celebrations deserve. Prefer to go smooth? We won’t hold it against you!

Boxing Day pickle – Bring out the Branston and a jar of pickled onions. Welcome alongside cold meats and of course cheese, these are a festive must.

Need to Stock Up on Christmas Condiments? Head to SPAR

Get everything you need to spruce up your spread at your local convenience store. And if our guide has given you last minute condiment inspiration, there’s no need to get in a festive flap, we’re even open on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas, from SPAR.