Make-ahead Christmas menu ideas

Article by: Allrecipes staff  |  Picture by: mominml
Make-ahead Christmas menu ideas
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You might not be able to roast your Christmas turkey a week in advance, but there are lots of make-ahead Christmas recipes that will help you relax and enjoy the big day.

Make and freeze

The first key to getting ahead is making and freezing - you can do this as early as November, and everything you freeze will taste freshly made.

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Party nibbles

Party nibbles are especially easy to make in advance and freeze till you need them. Things like filo triangles and sausage rolls can go straight from freezer to oven and will taste freshly baked!

All of these party nibbles are 100% freezer friendly:

Cranberry cocktail meatballs
Mustard and chive sausage rolls
Parmesan biscuits
Mini spinach and feta rolls
Cheesy crab tartlets
Pepper and chorizo puff pastry pinwheels

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Festive biscuits

Both sweet and savoury biscuits are easily frozen after baking. Some, like these Pistachio shortbread biscuits can be frozen in a log before baking, and then rounds sliced off and baked as an when you need them. Or why not bake your Gingerbread men in advance, then defrost them at room temperature for 30 minutes before decorating with the kids?

More freezer friendly Christmas biscuits:

Gorgeous gingerbread men
Raspberry almond shortbread biscuits
Cranberry pistachio biscotti
Luxury mincemeat biscuits
Rosemary Asiago shortbread

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Starter soups

Many luxurious Christmas starter soups can be made well in advance, then frozen until needed. For best results, take out of the freezer a day or two in advance, and allow to defrost in the fridge. Then simply heat up on the hob, garnish and enjoy!

Spiced butternut squash soup
Finish with a garnish of toasted pecans and grated nutmeg

Curried prawn bisque
Freeze before adding the prawns and cream

Chestnut soup
This classic is easy to freeze!

Leek and cauliflower soup
Before serving, add a dollop of creme fraiche and chopped fresh chives

Cream of winter squash soup
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and toasted baguette

A week ahead

There are some Christmas favourites that are easily made a week in advance and will wait patiently in the fridge until you need them:

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Cranberry sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce is incomparable to shop-bought, and can be made a week in advance and stored in the fridge till needed.

Basic cranberry sauce
Cranberry red wine chutney
Brandied orange cranberry sauce
All Cranberry sauce recipes

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Chocolate truffles

Whether you give them as food gifts or serve them after dinner with coffee, chocolate truffles are surprisingly easy to make and keep well in the fridge.

Chocolate orange truffles
Easy chocolate truffles
Mocha truffles
All Chocolate truffles
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If you can't get enough of chocolate, fudge is another make-ahead option that will keep for days wrapped well in cling film, and guests will love it!

Creamy chocolate fudge
Irish cream fudge
Chocolate orange fudge
All Fudge recipes
Days ahead

You can get a head start on many Christmas dinner essentials one to three days in advance.

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Mushroom stuffing
Make this recipe through step 3, and place the casserole dish wrapped in cling film in the fridge up to a day in advance. Bake straight from the fridge, though you may need slightly longer than the 45 minutes called for.

Bacon and Brussels bake
Boil the Brussels and fry the bacon a day in advance and place in an oven-proof baking dish. Then on the day, simply make the sauce and pop in the oven.

Slow cooker glazed carrots
This recipe requires just 10 minutes preparation time! The night before Christmas dinner, chuck everything in the slow cooker and let the carrots cook on low for 7 hours. Simply reheat right before serving. Or, cook a day in advance and place in the fridge, then reheat in the slow cooker before serving.

Red cabbage
Make this sweet and sour red cabbage side dish up to two days ahead, then reheat before serving.

Make ahead mashed potatoes
Make these creamy mashed potatoes through step 4 several days in advance, then pop in the fridge. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

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Besides the usual make-ahead Christmas cakes and puddings, there are many other sweet endings that can be made days in advance:

Pots de crème au chocolat
Sounds posh, but these chocolate pots are easy to make and can sit in the fridge for a day before serving. Be sure to cover well with cling flim, and top with cream and chocolate shavings, if desired, right before serving.

Orange brandy butter
Easily made a few days in advance, this luxurious brandy butter can be kept in the fridge in its serving dish until Christmas day.

Christmas ice cream bombe
Ice cream cakes are perfect make-ahead candidates, and can be made days, if not weeks, in advance. This festive recipe has a decided Christmas flavour, and guests are sure to love it!

Egg nog custard tart
Make the digestive biscuit base days in advance, then whip up the filling (made in the microwave!) on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Chill in the fridge until serving.

For dishes made on the day

Even if you have some dishes that can't be made in advance, it's worth taking a closer look at your recipes to see what can be done ahead of time. For example, you can chop onions, celery and carrots and keep them wrapped well in the fridge for a couple of days. For last minute desserts, you can measure and combine the dry ingredients, then set them aside until you're ready to go!

More Christmas inspiration

For hundreds more ideas, check out our entire collection of Christmas recipes, and be sure to see this year's Guide to Christmas!

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