Cheat your way to a five-star Christmas dinner

Cheat your way to a five-star Christmas dinner

From mince pies in minutes to well-prepped roasties, here’s how to whip up a feast without breaking a sweat.

From mince pies in minutes to well-prepped roasties, here’s how to whip up a feast without breaking a sweat.

Even if you’ve been cooking Christmas dinners for the last 20 years, the pressure never seems to go down. If anything it’s harder, having to keep everyone happy year after year. Not only do you have to create everyone’s idea of a perfect roast (redcurrant or cranberry? Sprouts or green beans? Fresh gravy or granules?) but you have to do it with a smile on your face and a festive flourish! And when you have to please your kids’ other halves and your vegetarian grandkids too, it’s amazing we all get through it!

Well Christmas has to be fun for you too, doesn’t it? And for most people, that doesn’t involve toiling over a hot stove for four hours while everyone else sits around eating chocolate and playing with their new toys. So here are some great tried-and-tested tricks to get you through Christmas dinner and onto the good bit – slumped on the sofa with a rerun of Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life!

Keep the decks clear

You’ve probably got a tried-and-tested method for this by now, but it’s always worth a reminder that keeping your work surface clear and staying on top of the washing-up will save time and stress later, when you’re trying to serve up – as well as avoiding the post-dinner come-down when you see the dishes piled up! So keep cleaning up as you go, rather than leaving it all to the end. Enlist the help of your other half or extended family if you can bear them in the kitchen. If you have a dishwasher, you can just throw your cooking utensils in while you’re serving up, and then it’ll be clear for the plates and glasses when you’ve finished eating.

Choose a powerful but gentle detergent such as Fairy Platinum or Fairy Original washing-up liquid and dishwasher tablets, to make sure all that roasted-on grease is dealt with, without being harsh on your best crockery and cutlery.

Ditch the turkey

Essentially Christmas dinner is just a slightly bigger Sunday roast. Sure, you might have relatives round, but it’s still just meat or a nut-roast, veg and gravy. In fact, you don’t even need turkey – you’ve definitely earned the right to go for an easier roast such as beef, lamb or chicken! You can slow-cook them, so if you’re running late with the trimmings you won’t end up with dried-up turkey breast and burned wings. And they take up less room in the oven, which makes the rest of the roast easier, as well as leaving space for any veggie or vegan alternatives for the grandkids.

Make-ahead roast potatoes

Did you know you can make your roasties the day before? And they’ll still come out perfect! Simply peel and parboil the potatoes as normal (making sure you shake the colander when you drain your potatoes to fluff up those edges) and then roast at 220C for 20-30 minutes. Then cool and keep in the fridge overnight. On the big day, simply reheat the potatoes in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes.

Prep everything else in advance, too

It’s not just roasties you can get ahead with. You can make a good stock gravy, weeks in advance, and freeze it till the big day. On the day, just warm it in the pan and pour in the roasting juices (use some stock to deglaze the roasting tin for extra flavour).

Braised red cabbage is super-easy and tastes even better a day or two later, when the flavours have had time to develop.

And if you’re making any sauces from scratch, such as bread sauce, cranberry sauce or brandy sauce for the pudding, get them done well in advance – they’ll keep in the fridge quite happily for a few days, and you can freeze them for a few weeks.

You can also chop all the veg the night before – get everyone to help. If you’ve got grandkids it’s good for them to learn how to peel and chop vegetables safely.

Don’t make everything from scratch

Sure, some things are better home-made – roasties and gravy among them – but do you really need to wrap your own pigs-in-blankets or make your own stuffing balls? Most supermarkets have excellent versions in foil trays ready to go straight in the oven, so there’s really no need, unless you absolutely love cooking!

Use cooking to entertain the grandkids

If you do insist on homemade mince pies and Christmas cake, then you could kill two birds with one stone and use it as an opportunity to get your grandchildren away from their screens. There are plenty of easy mince-pie recipes online that the little ones can get busy with – they’ll love rolling out the pastry and putting in the filling. And you could make little Christmas figures out of marzipan to go on the Christmas cake.

After all, this is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?

Have you tried Fairy Washing Liquid or Dishwasher tablets? We’d love to hear what you thought of them, so why not leave us a review?

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That Magic Fairy Liquid

Olliebeak1951 23/12/2018

Have been cooking Christmas Lunch for 45yrs - ever since the first one after being married. I saw my m-i-l dish up 'powdered mash with too much water' that went 'slurrrop' onto the plates, and decided to 'give her a rest from the cooking' the following year - never had a year off since! I don't have a dishwasher, but make sure that any roasting tins are put to soak with Fairy Liquid and hot water while we enjoy our dinner - makes it so much easier for 'whoever' is doing the dishes ;-)!

Cleans And sparkle dishes


This is only best to clean grease and make everything sparkle fairy does fabulous job washing up after any meal . Dish washer or not I use it all the time .kids like using it for bubbles if not watched.

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