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8 tasty Christmas recipes: gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian alternatives

Try these festive treats at home

christmas recipes vegan vegetarian gluten
December 21, 2020
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Christmas might look a little different this year (thank you, coronavirus), but one thing remains the same - good food is always at the heart of the celebrations. While you're probably catering for a smaller group this year, it can be tricky to know what to cook for loved ones with specific food needs.

We've rounded up all the best alternative Christmas dinner and dessert recipes to cater for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegeterian diets. These dishes are so delightful, we promise the whole family will love them.

Read on for 8 of the best alternative Christmas recipes...

DISCOVER: Jamie Oliver's Get Ahead Gravy will revolutionise your Christmas meal prep

VEGETARIAN: Four-veg roast with gravy

Serves: 8Preparation time: 1 hour plus cooling/restingCooking time: 2 hours 45 minutes


25g mixed dried mushrooms1 large butternut squash (23cm long)Calorie-controlled cooking spray1 large aubergine (18cm long)1 large courgette (16cm long)1 spring onion, 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped3 shallots, finely chopped1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg1 large egg, beaten90g cooked bulgur wheat (30g dried)30g pine nuts, toasted50g sultanas5 fresh sage leaves, finely choppedSmall handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped1⁄4 tsp dried chilli flakes15g low-fat spread1 tbsp plain flour300ml vegetable stock, made with1⁄2 stock cube3 fresh thyme sprigs2 tbsp Elmlea light 1 tbsp dry sherry


1. Put the mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and cover with 300ml boiling water. Soak for 20 minutes then drain, reserving the liquid, and chop.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas mark 4. Halve the butternut squash lengthways and mist all over with cooking spray. Put cut-side up in a large roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

3. Meanwhile, halve the aubergine lengthways, discarding the stem. Cut out and reserve most of the flesh, leaving a 1.5cm border. Score a diamond pattern on the insides of the aubergine halves. Repeat with the courgette, reserving the flesh and piercing the insides with a fork. Trim the spring onion to the length of the squash.

4. Once the squash is cool, scoop out the seeds and discard. Scoop out most of the flesh, leaving a 1.5cm border all around, and set aside. Prick the insides of the squash halves with a fork. Put half the squash flesh (freeze the rest for soups) in a food processor with the aubergine and courgette flesh, and garlic. Pulse until very finely chopped.

5. Mist a frying pan with cooking spray and cook the shallots over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add the nutmeg and cook for 1 minute, then add the pulsed veg and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until browned. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool before stirring in the egg, bulgur wheat, pine nuts, sultanas, sage, parsley and chilli. Season well.

6. Assemble the roast: line a large roasting tin with foil and put the squash halves on top. Mist with cooking spray and season well. Line the squash halves with some of the vegetable and bulgur wheat mixture, using the back of a spoon to press an even layer. Put the aubergine halves inside, cut-side up, mist with cooking spray and season. Press two-thirds of the remaining veg mixture into the halves to line, then nestle the courgette halves inside. Mist with cooking spray then fill with the remaining veg mixture. Smooth over and lay the spring onion down the middle

7. Carefully sandwich the two halves together and secure at intervals with kitchen string – don’t worry if the sides aren’t touching. You may need someone to help you. Ensure the squash is secure then wrap tightly in foil so it’s fully enclosed.

8. Heat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas mark 6. Roast for 2 hours then check to see if it’s tender all the way through. If not, cook for a further
30 minutes, checking every now and then to see if it’s ready. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the foil for 20 minutes.

9. While the squash is resting, make the gravy. Melt the low-fat spread in a wide sauté pan over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the flour, stirring to form a paste. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. In a jug, combine the mushroom liquid with the veg stock, then gradually add to the pan, whisking well. Add the thyme, bring to the boil and cook for
5 minutes until thickened. Stir in the Elmea and sherry, season and simmer for 1 minute; strain.

10. Carve the squash into 8 thick, even slices
and serve with steamed green veg, such as Tenderstem broccoli, and the gravy. 

Recipe provided by Weight Watchers Magazine. 


GLUTEN-FREE: Cranberry and orange Christmas pudding    

Serves: 6-8Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus soaking (at least 3 hours) Cooking time: 18-20 minutes, plus 7 minutes standing time



300g luxury mixed fruit25g dried cranberries (cherries could be used)Zest and juice of 1 orange 100ml + 100ml water = 200ml orange juice and water50ml Brandy  1 small cooking apple, grated2 Schär Panini Rolls – made into breadcrumbs1 tsp mixed spice50g dark muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar25g hazelnuts, roughly chopped50g blanched almonds, roughly chopped85 gluten-free suet grated straight from the fridge1 large egg, beaten1 tbsp black treacle


1. Put the mixed fruit, dried cranberries, orange zest, juice and water into a large mixing bowl, microwave on full power for 3 minutes then leave to soak for 1 hour.

2. Pour over the brandy, cover and leave to soak in a cool place for a further 2 hours.

3. Add the grated apple, breadcrumbs, mixed spice, sugar and nuts, and mix together with a wooden spoon. Add the suet in 3 batches and stir well after each batch. Then, add the egg and treacle and mix again, not forgetting to make your wish!

4. Grease a 1.2litres plastic pudding basin. Spoon the mixture into the prepared basin and cover the top with cling film and pierce a few times.

5. Cook in the microwave on medium for 10 minutes, stand for 5 minutes then cook on medium for a further 8-10 minutes. If eating immediately, stand for a further 2 minutes or when cold wrap in cling film and foil and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. (Cooking times may vary according to the type of basin and microwave).

NB: Reheating – Remove foil and cover lightly with cling film, pierce a few times, then microwave on full power for 3 minutes, allow to stand for 3 minutes, then cook on medium for 5-7 minutes. Then leave to stand for a further minute before turning our of the basin – the temperature needs to be approximately 65C in the centre of the pudding.

For more information visit


GLUTEN-FREE: Sausage rolls

Makes: 12Preparation time: 20 minutes plus chillingCooking time: 30-35 minutes


250g Gluten-free white bread flour, plus extra for dusting1 tsp xanthan gum190g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1cm dice140ml cold water400g pack gluten-free sausages, skins removed1 x beaten egg, for glazing


1. Put the flour and xanthan gum in a large bowl. Add a third of the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips to create a rough breadcrumb texture. Add enough water to form a soft dough, then turn out onto a floured sheet of cling film and roll into an oblong about 30cm x 20cm in size.

2. Dot the remaining butter over the bottom two-thirds of the pastry sheet. Fold the top third down over the butter, then fold the bottom of the pastry up to completely enclose the butter in an envelope of pastry. Press down the edges to seal.

3. Turn the dough 90 degrees then roll out into a 10 x 30cm rectangle. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up once more, as if creating an envelope, then press down the edges. Chill for about 20 minutes then repeat this process twice more. Chill for 30 minutes or more before using.

4. Preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6, and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment. On a floured surface, roll the pastry out into a large rectangle about 30cm x 40cm, trim off any ragged edges, then cut down the middle horizontally into two long rectangles.

5. Roll the sausages in your hands to elongate a little, then place down the middle of each pastry rectangle. Brush a line of beaten egg along one edge of the pastry, then roll the pastry over the sausage meat onto the egg-washed edge, tucking it under to seal. Press down and trim off any ragged ends.

6. Cut each pastry roll into 6 individual sausage rolls. With a sharp knife, score lines across the top of each roll, then brush with egg wash. Place the sausage rolls onto the lined baking trays and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until crisp and golden, and the sausage meat is completely cooked through.

Visit Waitrose for more gluten-free recipes.

READ MORE: Jamie Oliver's one-pot vegan Christmas recipe is a game-changer


DAIRY-FREE: Delicious Yule Log

Makes: 8 slicesPreparation time: 40 minutes (including filling and decoration) Cooking time: 15-18 minutes


For the sponge

1 x 400g Delicious Alchemy vanilla sponge cake mix180g soft dairy free spread3 large eggs20ml water2½  tbsps cocoa powder sieved5 pieces dairy-free plain chocolate, melted in a microwave

For the filling and decoration

175g dairy-free plain chocolate (chopped)250g icing sugar225g soft dairy free spread


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C for fan-assisted ovens. Grease and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put the cake mix, dairy free spread, eggs, cocoa powder, melted chocolate and water into a bowl and beat together with an electric whisk for 15 seconds. Stop, scrape down the bowl and mix for a further 10 seconds.

2. Pour the mixture into a baking tray (roughly 23 x 33cm) and spread into an even layer. Bake for 15-18 mins until springy to the touch. Leave to cool for ten minutes.

3. Dust a large piece of baking paper with icing sugar and carefully flip the warm sponge out onto it and peel off the baking paper. Trim off the edges and cover loosely with a clean tea towel.

4. Whilst the cake is cooling, make the icing by melting the chocolate in a microwave. Leave to cool. Sieve the icing sugar and add the dairy-free spread and mix until smooth. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and mix again to make a smooth icing. 

5. Whilst the sponge is still flat, spread some of the icing thinly over, going right out to the edges. Use a sharp knife to score a line roughly 2.5cm from one of the shorter ends - this is the side you will be rolling. It will help you when rolling the sponge, but be careful not to cut all the way through. From this end roll up the sponge tightly. 

6. Once rolled, cut one inch off the end at a slight angle, reserving the remnants, and place the yule log on a board or long dish. Add the slice you’ve just cut to create a branch coming off the big log.

7. Spread the yule log and branch with the remaining icing and leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes. Once chilled, create a wood-like texture by marking along the length of the log with a skewer and draw circles on each end to create tree rings.

8. To create a freshly fallen snow effect, finish your festive masterpiece with a dusting of icing sugar and decorations.

For more information visit 


VEGETARIAN: Cranberry and Brie Tartlets

Makes: 24


225g shortcrust pastryAbout half a jar of Tracklements Cranberry, Orange and Port Sauce200g brie cut into ½ inch cubes (with the rind left on)Fresh thyme to garnish


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4.

2. Roll out the pastry out until it is 3mm thick and stamp out circles to fit in a tartlet tin and then chill 30 minutes. Bake the pastry cases blind for 10 minutes.

3. Remove from oven and put one teaspoon of Cranberry Sauce in each pastry case along with one or two cubes of brie.

4. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes until raised and golden brown. Top with a sprig of fresh thyme. 

For more information visit


DAIRY-FREE: Mince Pies

Serves: 12Cooking Time: 25 minsSuitable for home freezing


225g Plain flour¼ tsp Salt85g TREX, plus a little extra, for greasing3-4 tbsp chilled water

For filling

411g Jar luxury mincemeat1 Large egg, beaten with 1 tbsp cold waterIcing sugar, for sprinkling


1.  Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the Trex, rubbing it in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the chilled water and mix it in with a roundbladed knife until the pastry clings together. Use your hand to form the dough into a ball – it should be firm enough to roll out without cracking. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 10 minutes.

2.  Preheat the oven to 200C, fan oven 180C, Gas Mark 6.

3.  Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm (¼in) thick. Stamp out 12 rounds with a 7.5cm (3in) cutter, then 12 rounds with a 6cm (2½in) cutter, re­rolling the pastry as necessary.

4.  Place the larger rounds of pastry into patty tins and add 1 heaped tsp of mincemeat. Brush the pastry rims with water, then place the lids on top, sealing the edges together. Use a sharp knife to make a small hole in the top of each pie. Brush with the beaten egg, to glaze.

5. Bake for 20- ­25 minutes until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.

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VEGETARIAN: Maple-Glazed Parsnip, Chestnut & Olive Loaf

Serves: 4-6


2-3 large parsnips, sliced lengthways into 1 cm slices3 tbsps oil1 red onion, finely diced100g mushrooms, finely diced1 clove garlic, crushed100g cooked chestnuts100g walnuts50g oats50g flour3 tbsps Fragata Black Olives, sliced3 tbsps fresh rosemary, chopped1 egg, beatenSalt and black pepper2 tsps dried mixed herbs1 tbsp maple syrup3 tbsps cranberry sauce


1. First grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper to cover the base.

2. Parboil the parsnip slices for about 5 minutes so they have softened (not too soft, you don’t want them mushy!). Drain then leave to cool a little.

3. Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan then gently cook the red onion, mushrooms and garlic for 5-10 minutes until softened. Leave to cool slightly.

4. Place the chestnuts and walnuts in a blender or food processor to finely chop. Tip this out into a large bowl, then stir in the oats, flour, olives and rosemary.

5. Stir in the cooked onion and chestnut mixture along with the beaten egg, salt, pepper and dried herbs. Mix to combine then set aside.

6. Heat the last tablespoon of oil and the maple syrup in a frying pan then add the parsnip slices. Cook on both sides for a few minutes to allow them to turn golden brown.

7. Arrange a single layer of these parsnip slices on the bottom of the tin, then evenly spoon over the cranberry sauce to cover. Now spoon in the chestnut mixture and pack it in tightly, it should reach to the top of the loaf tin.

8. Cover with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes, until firm and golden. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate or chopping board and serve up for your Christmas feast!

Recipe from Pamela Higgins of For more information visit 


VEGAN: Pineapple chutney from Fiona Hunter

Makes: 2 x 500ml jars


3 x 400g Nature's Finest Pineapple in Juice2 tbsp rapeseed oil3 red onions, finely chopped1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds1 tbsp nigella (black onion) seeds1 tsp turmeric1 red chilli, deseed and finely chopped2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed or finely choppedThumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped250g soft light brown sugar175g cider vinegar1 tsp salt


1. Heat the oil in large heavy based saucepan. Add the onions and spices and cook over a medium heat for 5mins.

2. Add the chilli, garlic and ginger and cook for 1minute.

3. Drain pineapple (keep the juice for making smoothies) and roughly chop fruit. Add to the pan along with the sugar, vinegar and salt. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 45mins or until mixture starts to thicken.

4. Pour into sterilized jars, allow to cool then cover with a disc of waxed paper and a lid.

DISCOVER: The royal family's Christmas menu: breakfast, lunch, dinner AND afternoon tea

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