Is this your first Christmas being vegan or gluten-free and you're worrying about how to make your Christmas dinner special? Or perhaps you're entertaining a guest with dietary restrictions and don't know how to cater for them?
Don't worry, I've got your back! I've got a tried and tested full vegan and gluten-free Christmas lunch menu for you and it's so delicious that no-one will even notice that there's anything missing! Oh, and best of all... most of it is make ahead so all you need to do on the day is open presents, sip down that champagne and pop things in the oven!
I have already tested this menu out on my non-vegan, non-gf family and they all loved it and couldn't believe it was all vegan and gluten-free! So, rest assured, this is a menu that you can happily serve to vegans and non-vegans alike.
If you're not vegan yourself, why not do the meat bits but make all the rest of the dishes vegan so that everyone can eat them and your plant-based guest will feel really well catered for with lots of delicious dishes to eat? Honestly, these dishes are so tasty that no-one will even notice!
Since Christmas Day can be pretty busy, I've created most of this Christmas lunch menu to be make-ahead so that you can get organised beforehand and spend Christmas Day opening presents and playing games with your kids rather than stressing in the kitchen.
Canapés and Nibbles
Pick two pretty looking vegan & gluten-free canapé recipes that look like you've gone to a lot of effort and then add a platter of veggie sticks, olives, crackers and dips that the kids will enjoy as well as the adults!
If you want, you can add one or two easy canapés - these can all be made up to a certain point in advance and then assembled just before your guests arrive.
I have to admit, I often ditch the starters completely and just do more canapés and nibbles while people excitedly chat and mingle.
However, if you are a stickler for tradition and like to serve a starter, how about a lovely bowl of soup which you can make ahead and store in the freezer ready to defrost the night before and warm up on the day?
This is where people often get stuck thinking of a vegan and gluten-free show-stopping centrepiece to rival the Christmas turkey! This Chestnut Nut Roast With Red Wine & Porcini Jus is my ultimate decadent Christmas main meal centrepiece that you just can't go wrong with. You can make the whole thing in advance up to the point of moulding it and then just roast it on the day.
Vegan and gluten-free side dishes really come into their own at the Christmas dinner table and it can be a great way to win over the meat-eaters and persuade them to try out more vegan food! Here are veganised versions of all my old favourite Christmas side dishes that I used to enjoy before I went vegan. All these side dishes taste truly authentic but are blissfully dairy-free and gluten-free!
- Roasted Parsnips with Wholegrain Mustard & Maple Syrup
- Braised Red Cabbage with Apple & Balsamic
- Smoky Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts (Vegan)
- Carrot & Swede Vegan Side Dish
- Vegan Boulangère Potatoes
- Roast Beetroot with Herbs (Air Fryer or Oven)
- Easy Vegan Green Bean Casserole
- Vegan Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Pecans
Sauces and Accompaniments
Christmas lunch would not be complete without the sauces and accompaniments! For me, that means lashings of gravy, creamy bread sauce and a good dollop of cranberry sauce (and enough for seconds and for sandwiches in the following few weeks!).
You wouldn't believe it possible but I've actually managed to develop a delicious bread sauce recipe that's dairy-free and gluten-free (pretty amazing given that the sauce is basically all gluten and dairy!).
I'm really not a fan of Christmas pudding and I find that most others aren't either! So, I prefer serving up a plate of delicious little mince pies with vegan cream and perhaps some gooey fudgey brownies for the kids (and maybe for the adults as well!)? Or you could try a traditional English crumble? You could substitute the blackberries for cranberries in this blackberry and apple crumble recipe and add orange juice to the apple and cranberry mixture and orange zest to the crumble mixture.
Don't forget to serve a big platter of grapes, tangerines and nuts as well so that everyone can graze on them throughout the afternoon. These delicious air fryer candied walnuts can be made up to a week in advance and served whenever you want something sweet and crunchy!
Canapés and Nibbles
For a really easy option, make the easy chicory canapés and a graze board.
On Christmas Eve:
- Make two or three dips (I would go for sun-dried tomato tapenade and guacamole which are both universally loved - add a good squeeze of lim juice all over the top of the guacamole to keep it fresh and green) make the hummus for the chicory canapés, and keep them in the fridge with cling film over the top.
- Peel and chop the carrot sticks, celery sticks and bell pepper sticks and leave in a covered container in the fridge overnight.
- Separate out the chicory (endive) leaves and also leave in a covered container in the fridge overnight.
- Toast the almond flakes, leave to cool fully then put in a sealed container (not in the fridge).
On Christmas Day:
- Lay the chicory leaves out on a pretty plate, place dollops of hummus in them, sprinkle with the toasted almond flakes, pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs. (save some of the toasted almond flakes to garnish the broccoli and almond soup - see starters below)
- Give the dips a little stir and perhaps drizzle over some olive oil then place them in their dishes on a platter. Add the chopped vegetables around the bowls and some handfuls of crisps, crackers and nuts and perhaps some dried apricots and olives.
My favourite soup for Christmas Day is Broccoli and Almond Soup (which is reminiscent of the classic Christmas soup, broccoli and stilton). You can make it any time before Christmas and keep it in the freezer ready for the big day.
On Christmas Eve:
- Take the soup out of the freezer and leave to defrost.
On Christmas Day:
- Heat up the soup gently in a saucepan and serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil, a few of the toasted flaked almonds (that you made for the chicory canapés) and some fresh parsley leaves.
You can make ahead the full traditional Christmas lunch as follows:
Make ahead (any time before Christmas):
- Make the nut roast up to the point of moulding it in the tin, then leave covered with cling film in the freezer.
- You can also make the porcini and red wine gravy ahead of time but don't add the cornstarch mixture to it. Freeze (unthickened) and then thicken with the cornstarch mixture on the day.
- Make the cranberry sauce and keep in a jar in the fridge (or freezer).
- Make the braised red cabbage with apple & balsamic and keep covered in the freezer (or in the fridge if you just make it a day or two before Christmas).
On Christmas Eve:
- Take the nut roast and red cabbage out of the freezer to defrost. Leave them in the fridge overnight.
- Make the boulangère potatoes but only cook for 45 minutes, then leave to cool and put in the fridge, covered with foil.
- Make the carrot and swede dish (or you can make this one or two days before too) and keep covered with cling film in the fridge.
- Peel and chop the brussels sprouts and parsnips ready for the next day. Keep them in bowls of water in the fridge.
- Prep the chestnuts ready for cooking with the sprouts the next day. Leave them in a covered bowl in the fridge.
- You could also make the dressing for the Brussels sprouts and keep it covered in the fridge ready for the next day too. (although this is also very quick and easy to make on the day).
- Make the bread sauce but without adding the oil at the end. Pour into a bowl then add the oil (or vegan butter) on top to seal it. Keep covered in the fridge.
On Christmas Day:
- Late morning:
- Take all the main course items out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
- Turn the oven on to 200°C / 400°F.
- About an hour before you want to serve the main course, remove the cling film from the nut roast and cover it with foil instead. Roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out piping hot. (Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking). Once the nut roast is cooked, leave to rest for at least 15 minutes (but it will sit quite happily for longer, provided you loosely cover it with some foil to keep it warm).
- Put the boulangére potatoes in the oven (still covered with foil) for half an hour then remove the foil to let them brown. Cook until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out piping hot (this will depend on the size and shape of your dish and the amount of potatoes you are making and how long it had to come to room temperature before going in the oven - it should take about 30-45 minutes).
- Boil the pre-prepared parsnips in a pan of salted boiling water for 5 minutes (parboiling them) until they are just cooked on the outer edges. Then drain in a colander and shake about to roughen up the edges. Heat the oil in a roasting tin in the oven, then when hot, add the parsnips, maple syrup, mustard and salt and pepper. Mix it all about quickly in the roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes.
- Place the Brussels sprouts and chestnuts in a roasting tin with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix them all together then roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cling film from the carrot & swede dish and the red cabbage and cover both with foil, then put in the oven to warm for around 20 minutes until piping hot. (you could also do this in the microwave depending on how large your dishes are).
- Warm up the pre-made porcini and red wine gravy and add whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes while whisking constantly so that the gravy thickens without going lumpy. When ready to serve, pour into a pre-warmed gravy boat to keep warm. (Use a sieve if it has gone lumpy at all).
- Make the smoky dressing for the Brussels sprouts by whisking the ingredients together quickly (or just whisk up the dressing if you made it the day before). Pour it over the sprouts and chestnuts when they come out of the oven and pile into a serving dish. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.
- Warm up the bread sauce very carefully in a pan on a low heat, stirring constantly, until just warm. Whisk in the layer of oil or vegan butter that had been on top of the bread sauce so that it is thoroughly combined. Serve in small dishes on the table.
- Serve the cranberry sauce in little dishes and give it a good stir. You could also warm it slightly in the microwave if you prefer it warm.
Make ahead (either Christmas Eve or the day before):
- Make some mince pies and brownies and keep them in an airtight container ready for Christmas Day.
On Christmas Day:
- Serve warm or cold with some vegan cream or ice cream.
- Also set out a big bowl of nuts and some tangerines and grapes so that people can choose to nibble on those if they don't want a full dessert or for people to snack on later in the afternoon too!
So there you have it! An amazing vegan and gluten-free Christmas dinner to delight your guests and leave you stress-free on Christmas Day.
List of Recipes
Christmas Lunch FAQs
It's actually quite easy to veganise the sides and sauces (basically, just use vegetable/rapeseed oil or vegan butter wherever you were going to use butter and you're half way there! - but see my Sides category for more ideas) and then choose a main course to go with it. I love a traditional nut roast which you can decorate to make it look pretty and add some drama to the vegan Christmas table!
You can still do your Christmas turkey for the non-vegans but then make all the sides vegan and, if you really want to please the vegan at the table, do an amazing vegan main to go with it (do enough for everyone to try as I'm sure they'll all want to try it!). I have loads of vegan sides on this website as well as vegan and gluten-free gravy, cranberry sauce, and bread sauce.
Oh so many things! I love to make a big pie with all the leftovers and with a rosti topping from chopping up the roast potatoes and parsnips. And of course you can make sandwiches and wraps with the leftover nut roast, cranberry sauce and a bit of mustard or vegan mayonnaise. Bubble and Squeak is another classic English dish that can be made from leftover veggies, in particular, the potatoes and sprouts. And then once you're thoroughly bored of those heavy Christmas flavours, throw the rest of the leftovers into a stir fry with some soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil!
Absolutely! If you go to print the recipe card, then it should come up with a box saying the number of servings. Just change that number to whatever number of people you need to cater for, and it should adjust the recipe accordingly for you.
I hope this resolves all your fears of catering for a vegan and gluten-free Christmas. If you have any other questions about your Christmas dinner menu, please get in contact or comment on this page and I'll get right back to you! And please, if you use any of my recipes, give them a star rating and let me know how it goes!
Happy Vegan and Gluten-Free Christmas everyone!! x
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Camilla, what a wonderful post, with so many helpful hints and, of course, delicious-sounding recipes! Thank you very much for sharing your fabulous ideas and recipes with the rest of us!
May you and your loved ones enjoy this holiday season, and may the New Year bring good health, happiness, freedom, and peace to all beings, everywhere!
Camilla Sanderson says
Oh thank you so much! I’m so glad you find it useful! Wishing the same to you too and a wonderful new year ahead!