Ideas for a vegetarian or vegan Christmas dinner

05 December 2017

Whether you’re trying to reduce your meat consumption or you're catering for vegetarian or vegan guests this Christmas, there's no need for anyone to miss out on a delicious and filling Christmas dinner.

Perhaps you’re cutting down on meat and looking for an alternative, or maybe you’ve got a vegetarian or vegan guest for Christmas lunch this year. Either way, there are plenty of options. Try one of these delicious recipes, or scroll down to find out what the supermarkets are offering.

Canapés and starters

Mushroom, shallot and chestnut parcels

Mushroom, shallot and chestnut parcels

These little mushroom nibbles can be served as canapés or as part of a starter, and can also be prepared as one large strudel to be cut into slices. The recipe uses butter but replace with a vegan alternative such as Flora Freedom, Pure or Vitalite if you like.

Recipe: mushroom, shallot and chestnut parcels

Baked camemberts with vegetable skewers

Baked camembert with vegetable skewers

A rich, oozing starter served with skewers of seasonal vegetables that can be dipped into the melted camembert like a personal fondue. This starter is very easy to throw together, and a vegan version can even be made using homemade cashew nut cheese.

Recipe: baked camembert with vegetable skewers
Recipe: vegan cashew cheese baked camembert

Pea and spinach soup with a beetroot swirl

Pea and spinach soup

Soup is an easy starter to make and it’s healthy too, meaning you can indulge at pudding! This pea and spinach soup has some festive flair thanks to a swirl of beetroot red against the pea green soup. Serve in a shallow bowl for a starter, or in shot glasses as a canapé.

Recipe: pea and spinach soup

Other soups that make a good Christmas starter include maple and cauliflower, leek, parsnip and chestnut, celeriac, beetroot and watercress.

Main meal ideas

Chestnut and butter bean Wellington

Chestnut and butter bean Wellington

Flaky pastry and a rich chestnut filling make this a real Christmas comfort food. What’s more you can make it a few days in advance and just keep it wrapped in tinfoil in the fridge, or even freeze it up to three months in advance. Most shop bought pastry (such as Jus-Rol or supermarket own brands) are suitable for vegans, although the ‘extra special’ ranges will often have butter in it, so check the ingredients if you’re making this Wellington for a vegan.

Recipe: chestnut and butter bean Wellington

Mini chestnut nut roasts

Mini chestnut nut roasts

These individual little nut roasts are cooked in individual bundt tins which can then be decorated with cranberries and sprigs of rosemary for some festive flair. The mixture can be baked in an ordinary tin too – but they won’t look nearly so pretty.

Recipe: mini chestnut nut roasts

Mushroom and chestnut puddings with a red wine sauce

Mushroom and chestnut puddings

These savoury puddings are stuffed with mushrooms, chestnuts and a rich red wine sauce and the suet crust is made with vegetable suet – the Atora brand is available is most supermarkets packaged in a green box instead of the non-vegetarian blue.

Recipe: mushroom and chestnut puddings


Vegan lentil nut roast

Yes, nut roast is a bit of an obvious choice and as shown above there is more to a vegetarian or vegan roast dinner than a nut roast, but it is a staple for a reason. Easy to make, completely customisable and providing lovely leftovers for Boxing Day sandwiches, this nut roast stays nice and moist thanks to the inclusion of grated carrots and red lentils. Make ahead and freeze if you know you’re going to be short on time at Christmas, and serve in a sandwich with chutney, relish or leftover cranberry sauce on Boxing Day.

Recipe: vegan nut roast

Festive vegetarian loaf

Festive layered loaf

A colourful centrepiece made with vegetarian mince, nuts and herbs, and layered with slices of roasted peppers for a lovely sweetness. Lining the tray with slices of orange gives the loaf an extra fruity kick.

Recipe: festive layered loaf

In the supermarkets

Don’t have time to cook from scratch? The range offered in supermarkets for vegetarians and vegans is bigger than ever.

Easily available vegetarian food brands Quorn and Linda McCartney both have their own joints for roast dinners. Quorn produces a large sausage-shaped joint that can be roasted in the oven and then sliced (it contains egg so is not suitable for vegans), and Linda McCartney has recently brought out a beef-style roast with red wine and shallot glaze that’s suitable for vegans. Both are available in good supermarkets. V-Bites, often sold in the chilled cabinet of Holland and Barrett stores and in selected supermarkets, make a vegan seitan (a meat-like product made from wheat protein) ‘celebration roast’ that includes ‘turkey’ slices and vegan cocktail sausages wrapped in vegan bacon in the same pack.

Supermarkets have also expanded their own-brand meat-free ranges this year. Tesco have introduced a Portobello mushroom Wellington (vegetarian) and a nut roast with a mulled wine and cranberry sauce (vegan). They have also annouced a show-stopping vegan cauliflower Wellington with a turmeric-spiced whole roast cauliflower inside. 

Marks and Spencer are selling a mushroom Wellington, plus butternut squash and sweet potato rostis, a roasted butternut, almond and pecan nut roast and a parsnip, camembert and chestnut pithivier – all are vegetarian but all contain dairy so are not suitable for vegans.

Morrisons will be selling a vegetarian roasted parsnip and chestnut en croute, although the honey and mustard sauce prevents it being vegan. They also stock a vegan nut roast with cranberry and port sauce in their The Best range.

Waitrose sells a vegetarian roast beetroot, red onion and carrot tart tatin and some pretty little parsnip rosti stars.

Food delivery company Ocado offers the biggest range of branded vegetarian and vegan food, including brands such as Linda McCartney, Artisan Grains, Tofurkey and Fry’s. See their free-from section and browse by vegetarian or vegan.

Rich vegetarian gravy

Vegetarian and vegan gravy

Try our recipe for a delicious rich vegetarian gravy (also suitable for vegans as long as the stock doesn’t have milk powder in it) or buy one of the many vegetarian and vegan brands available. Tideford Organic make a tub of fresh vegan gravy with red miso that’s also gluten free. A lot of branded and supermarket own brand powdered gravy is also vegan, including certain flavours from Knorr, Bisto and Aunt Bessie's, see a list of what gravy is available in different supermarkets on Vegan Womble.

Mulled wine sorbet


Vegetarian puddings are easy – almost every pudding will be suitable, just watch out for anything with gelatine in (vegetarian jelly mixes, such as Just Wholefoods Vegetarian Jelly available from health food shops and online, are available if you’re making your own Christmas trifle).

Visit our recipe section for a whole range of desserts.

Vegan puddings can be harder, although it’s getting easier all the time. Brands Oatly and Alpro both do pouring cream and custard (Alpro made from soy beans, Oatly from oats) and can be found in the free-from aisle of any supermarket. Even Bird’s powdered custard is vegan as long as it is made using plant milk instead of dairy. Alpro and Wall's Swedish Glace make ice creams in a range of flavours, and there is even vegan Ben and Jerry’s ice cream available from larger Tesco stores (check the packaging for the range clearly marked ‘dairy free’). Most shop bought ready-made pastry is vegan, so think fruit or chocolate tarts, pies or parcels served with a vegan cream, custard or ice cream.

Alternatively, try making your own luscious mulled wine sorbet from Diana Henry or Jamie Oliver’s creamy vegan chocolate pot.

Snacks and sweet treats

A range of nibbles both sweet and savoury should be easily available.

Think crackers with a good quality pickle and slices of cucumber, tomato and cheese or vegan cheese (Sainsbury’s do a vegan cheese with cranberries in that’s particularly good for the festive season). If making up a buffet table then stock with nuts (avoid honey-roasted if catering for vegans), pretzels, crisps (watch out for milk powder and chicken extract) and houmous with crudites. Linda McCartney and Tesco both make vegan sausage rolls (in the frozen section) and most supermarkets will sell vegetarian cheese and onion sausage rolls.

For vegan chocolates look out for dark chocolate. Own-brand after dinner mint thins are almost all free from milk (After Eights themselves contain milk powder). Asher’s, available in Poundland, make dark chocolate orange and citrus cremes. Beeches make dark chocolate fruit creams, ginger thins, rose creams and much more and all their vegan products are clearly labelled. Bendicks mint crisps, mint thins and their mint collection variety pack are all vegan.

For those that don't like dark chocolate the free-from section of supermarkets will usually stock dairy-free chocolate, including foil wrapped coins, caramels and even Christmas variety boxes.

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