How to make the perfect Christmas dinner for all dietary requirements

5 Nov 2020


Christmas Dinner for Everyone – All Diets Included! | Hotel Chocolat

The perfect Christmas dinner is difficult enough as it is to get right; no one wants the reputation of being the person who serves dry turkey, soggy roasties and mushy vegetables. But what do you do when one of your guests has a special dietary requirement?

Not only do you want to make sure that your Christmas dinner is one of the tastiest ones your guests have ever tried, but you also need to make sure that all dietary requirements are catered for – no guest should have to sit staring at a pitiful plate of sprouts whilst everyone else tucks into plates brimming with rich and indulgent foods. We’ve pulled together a guide on how to cater for all dietary requirements at Christmas so everyone leaves the table feeling satisfied and, most importantly, merry!

bottle of wine on christmas dinner table

How to deal with dietary requirements at Christmas

Although the Christmas season is often fraught with frantic last-minute shopping trips, you don’t want to be racing around Tescos on Christmas eve, desperately hunting for any remaining food items on the shelf which meet a forgotten dietary requirement. Here are some simple steps to follow to ensure you don’t get stuck in this hectic trap:

Plan ahead

When making your guest list to your Christmas dinner, make sure to double-check with friends and family that they have no special dietary requirements. Don’t automatically assume that the person will always let you know – after all, they might forget to remind you!

By making sure you have everyone’s dietary requirements noted down, well in advance, you can get any special ingredients in, or even make their dinner beforehand and freeze it should they have any serious allergens.

christmas planning

Don’t cut corners

Even if a guest has very specific dietary requirements, it’s important not to cut corners on their Christmas dinner: they should feel as valued as everyone else at the dinner table. Instead of buying a pre-made dinner from the supermarket, or simply serving them the things they can eat from a traditional Christmas dinner, put as much thought and care into their meal as you would with a normal Christmas dinner.

Take this as a chance to get creative – festive curries, pies, nut roasts and more can all be made in advance. Not only does this mean you don’t need to make a whole other meal alongside your Christmas dinner, but it also means you can make it in an environment which is free from any cross-contamination.

Don’t forget the little touches

Whilst some might think the main event of a Christmas dinner is a plump and golden roast Turkey, we think all the sides, trimmings and puds are what really make an excellent Christmas dinner.

Make sure guests with dietary requirements can tuck into those little extras. You can whip them up an alcohol-free mocktail, or leave a special sweet treat for them to enjoy at the end of the meal. This will really show you’ve put thought and care into ensuring their Christmas dinner is just as enjoyable as everyone else’s.

christmas cocktails

Vegan Christmas dinner

Veganism is a growing trend, with more and more people ditching meat and dairy products for plant-based alternatives – we’ve dug a little deeper into the world of veganism here. Although a vegan Christmas dinner might seem like the antithesis of a typical festive feast (say goodbye to the turkey for starters), a vegan Christmas dinner is easier to prepare than you might think.

The main

OK – so finding something which looks and tastes exactly like turkey is going to be pretty difficult. However, there are plenty of festive flavours that you can incorporate into a vegan Christmas dinner; think mushroom nut roast, winter-vegetable filled vegan pie, cranberry and lentil bake.

The sides

You can serve most sides in without altering them too much for a vegan Christmas dinner – instead of using goose fat for roast potatoes, use an oil of your choice (just make sure the oil is piping hot before you put the par-boiled potatoes in your pan).

roast potatoes

Although vegetables often cry out for a glossy sheen of melted butter, this doesn’t mean your vegan guest has to settle for naked boiled veggies. There are plenty of vegan butter-alternatives – simply set a bowl of veg aside for them before you coat it in plant-based buttery goodness for a dairy-free Christmas.

Don’t forget the gravy! To keep things simple, either by a ready-made vegan gravy, or find instant gravy granules; these still have that meaty and rich gravy flavour, but contain no animal products.

The pud

A vegan pudding might sound daunting, but there are plenty of vegan Christmas desserts out there which both vegans and non-vegans can enjoy. However, if you’re really running out of time then don’t fret: our Vegan H-box lets them enjoy the creamiest truffles, smoothest caramels and nuttiest pralines. A dairy-free Christmas, without any extra fuss; so good even the non-vegans will want a taste!

Gluten-free Christmas dinner

A gluten-free Christmas dinner is easy and hassle-free, requiring little substitution for you to make a delicious and irresistible festive feast:

The main

Whilst your turkey or roast goose doesn’t contain gluten, the stuffing you may normally choose to fill it with might. This is because many brands and recipes add breadcrumbs to the mix. You can find gluten-free bread in most shops – consider switching your typical bread-based stuffing for one which everyone can enjoy. Alternatively, try your hand at making a wild rice stuffing, filled with dried fruits and herbs.

roast turkey

The sides

Don’t compromise on the gravy! You can use cornflour as a thickening agent, producing the exact same result as ordinary flour would. You can even make bread sauce gluten-free as well. Jamie Oliver suggests using gluten-free bread to achieve that creamy, lightly spiced moreish sauce.

The pud

Trifles, fruitcakes, roulades – give all of these a gluten-free twist by simply switching ordinary flour for gluten-free flour. However, many desserts are already gluten-free and don’t need any substitutes. A Bûche de Noël contains only eggs, sugar and dark chocolate, and there are plenty of festive flavours you can incorporate into a flourless pudding.

christmas pudding at christmas dinner

Think cranberry and orange pavlova, cinnamon and nutmeg creme brulee, or salted caramel torte, studded with champagne truffles. Our Champagne Truffles don’t contain any wheat, but we can’t promise that they are made in a gluten-free environment. This means it might not be the ideal choice for those with a serious gluten intolerance.

If you’re not sure how serious their allergy is, we suggest you ensure the ingredients haven’t been anywhere near allergens. We make our Free From Chocolate in a separate factory to the rest of our products, meaning there’s no risk of cross-contamination. Perfect for a decadent mousse au chocolat or chocolate tart to serve after your gluten-free Christmas dinner.

Nut-free Christmas dinner

Nut allergies can be very serious, which is why it’s important to make sure there’s no cross-contamination in the kitchen. If possible, try to avoid using nuts at all when making your Christmas dinner so that your guests feel safe and can enjoy their dinner without any worry.

Luckily, nuts don’t play a huge part in a Christmas dinner. Whilst some might enjoy a few almonds in their Christmas pudding, this is not essential to a yuletide feast. Mains, sides and desserts can all be easily prepared in a nut-free environment.

Keto Christmas Dinner

For us, Christmas is all about excessive indulgence – weight-watching can wait until January. However, we applaud those who stick to their goals and try to preserve with their targets, even through the holidays.

A keto diet actually might be one of the easiest diets to stick to throughout December; this particular diet bases itself on a high-fat, low-carb food regime. This allegedly induces a state of ketosis, prompting your body to burn fat for energy, rather than glucose. The most common keto diet requires you to eat 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs each week. This is a little complicated – but not impossible – to incorporate into a Christmas dinner.

The mains

Luckily, rich and fatty meats are not off the cards for a keto Christmas dinner. Select any type of bird you want and feel free to wrap it in bacon for that extra succulent taste. When it comes to stuffings, avoid breadcrumb based options; we suggest a sausage and chestnut stuffing for a rich and flavoursome keto vegan Christmas dinner.

The sides

This is where it might get a little more tricky. For those who are strictly keto , roast potatoes, parsnips and other starchy vegetables might be a no-go. Provide them with other little delicacies instead! Dishes such as cauliflower cheese or pigs in blankets will surely make up for the lack of roasties.

Most green vegetables are also suitable for a keto Christmas dinner. The best thing about a keto diet is that followers can still eat butter, so feel free to take the healthy edge off your veg with a thick coating of melted butter.

brussel sprouts

The pud

With sugar off the table for a keto Christmas dinner, it might seem like puddings aren’t an option. However, even with a Christmas diet, moderation is everything, so offering some low-sugar alternatives is a great way to make your guest feel satisfied at the end of their meal.

Why not offer out a few low-sugar chocolates – we use high-quality cocoa to make up for the reduced sugar, letting those nuanced and delicate cocoa notes speak for themselves in each bite. Of course, a cheese board is a good alternative for those who are strictly no-sugar – substitute biscuits with apple and celery instead.

How to make puddings and snacks for everyone

Although it might be tempting to want to go overboard with the puddings and snacks, remember you’ve already got your work cut out preparing the main section of Christmas dinner! Opt for a pudding that you can make in advance and whip out at the last minute: trifles, Christmas puddings, pavlovas can all be made a couple of days prior to the date of your Christmas dinner.

If you have multiple guests with different dietary requirements then it might be easier to settle for a smaller dessert to serve alongside a cocktail or spirit: our Free From chocolate is nut, dairy, gluten and wheat-free, made in an environment free from any cross-contamination. Serve alongside a festive tipple (our Cocoa Gin makes the perfect base for any cocktail) for a sophisticated and satisfying end to a splendid Christmas dinner.

Whilst making a Christmas dinner suitable for different dietary requirements might seem daunting, we’re confident that your cooking skills will make every guest feel merry – Merry Christmas, and bon appetit, from all of us at Hotel Chocolat!